So love at first sight may turn out to be more, much more, than what at first meets the eye! Thus, we also invariably rate the elements of our acquaintance with the potential beloved. Does he have a good sense of humor (according to you)? Is he articulate? Does the tone of his voice resonate well with you? Are her morals, as expressed, consistent with your own (for example, she says she’s against factory farming and so are you)? What messages is she conveying to you through her body and are you comfortable with them? What is she saying to you with her eyes? Here, the evaluation of such acquaintance appears to take place largely at a visceral or “gut” level. One does not carefully analyze and construct rational arguments to defend one’s ratings. One at first reacts. Such is what gives legs to the metaphor of “love is blind.”
Of course, sexual attraction for the other is part of “the chemistry” and adds its flavor to the overall gestalt, but it is not the only ingredient in love at first sight. This love potion appears to be quite complex, a concoction of acquaintances of sundry sensible varieties and their visceral ratings, including cognitive ingredients. All of these informational ingredients are “mixed” (mentally processed) into a whole, which is greater than (distinct from) the sum of its parts.
Clearly, a substantial part of this information processing is performed in a relatively brief time period, for example, on a first date or even when meeting someone for the first time in grocery store; and it is such information processing that is needed to make sense of the idea of love at first sight. Indeed, such elements of acquaintance and their (visceral) ratings seem to account for the chemistry between persons. So, leaving aside, any metaphysical views of prior acquaintance, perhaps it is more edifying to speak in terms of love at first acquaintance , rather than love at first sight; inasmuch as reference to sight obscures the fact that visual perception is not the sole basis of such love. So is there such a thing as love at first acquaintance? Indeed, this broader question seems to resonate well with what is usually intended when the narrower question is raised, only it is more intelligible for the stated reasons.
Still, behind this broader question is a further pressing question: How can you tell the difference between liking and loving someone at first acquaintance? Indeed, liking someone, even liking someone a lot, is not the same as loving the person. So, while you can definitely have liking at first acquaintance, can you also have loving at first acquaintance? To answer this question, we obviously need to have an idea of what it means to love someone.
In my blog, “How good are you at loving?” I presented my view of loving as an activity involving a set of caring activities including being loyal, consistent, candid, trustworthy, considerate, empathetic, tolerant, beneficent, and being there. As such, I have maintained that “loving is an intimate, personal activity that seeks the welfare, happiness, and safety of another.” In the case of love at first acquaintance, which is a kind of romantic love, there is also sexual attraction for the other, which is lacking in other kinds of love such as that of a parent for a child. On the other hand, the deep caring for the other associated with all kinds of loving relationships appears to be absent in love at first acquaintance, since the time needed to cultivate the activities involved in this caring relationship is absent. So, does this concept of loving as intimate caring mean that it is impossible for there to be love at first acquaintance?
Gabriel D Odonkor