Mick claims he fell in love with me at first sight, which he revealed a whole two weeks into our relationship. I really like him, but I’m a little weirded out. Why would a guy say he’s in love that soon? Does love at first sight really exist? It’s very awkward saying nothing when we hang up the phone and he says “I love you.” Will it scare him off that I don’t love him back (yet)? How do I handle this?
Yes, Virginia, there is love at first sight.
In research outside the USA, between 11% and a whopping 43% of people said their long-term relationships began that way; one American study found that 55% of the respondents who had fallen in love within moments of meeting had married that person.
And despite my skepticism as to how well a relationship based on immediate passion would fare, at least two studies found that love-at-first-sight couples do remarkably well. Even when their personalities mismatch, those who fall like stones can come up roses by romanticizing how similar they really are.
Yet you’re confused. Why? Here are two possible reasons—and ways to get clarity.
Possibility #1: Mick Really Loves You.
Studies agree that men aren’t just more likely to be the first to say “I love you”, they’re usually first to feel it too. In a world where women have literally shaped men’s evolution by favoring the commitment-offering, this makes sense; guys who took too long to attach may have been locked out of sex as women chose their competitors who could and would offer lasting love. Also, there’s truth to the saying that men fall in love with their eyes, since men can accurately assess women’s fertility by seeing (or, in the case of blind men, touching) youth and beauty. In some ways, guys can afford rapid love; they can rapidly gauge whether a woman can help them pass their Genes onward.
Also, how old is Mick? Despite my own guess that folks would become more cautious with the accumulation of birthdays and heartbreaks, the one study I found on that topic disagreed: Men and women became likelier to reveal love quickly as they aged. It’s just one study and so not something we should put too much stock in yet; still, it’s intriguing.
Possibility #2: Mick Is Lying.
So much for the romantic way this response began.
Studies have revealed that many men say ILY very early in a relationship without meaning it. The liars have feelings, alright. But those feelings are more aligned with another L-word: Lust.
Why? In brief(s), when men give a fake commitment, they often get a real orgasm.
The longer answer is that Genes are motivated to cast themselves into the future by whatever means will get them there, and lying frequently gets them there. Any trait that results in successful survival and reproduction eventually spreads throughout a species. Can you even imagine a world where lying was impossible? Lying has gone global.
Men and women, facing different problems to accomplish Gene perpetuation, tell different lies: the ones the other sex wants to hear. So some women interested in long-term mates lie about possessing what commitment-minded men seek—signs of fertility and fidelity—by posting old (young) photos of themselves online, underestimating their own age, telling men they’ve had fewer sexual partners than is really the case, etc. And some men hoping to get casual sex lie about what women want—signs of commitment and resources—by faking things such as degrees, cars, homes, incomes, assets, and long-term interest.
Of course, most people most of the time are truthful. And the existence of lying as an adaptation doesn’t excuse, condone or minimize the behavior or the misery it creates. It just means lying exists because at least sometimes it has Worked to get guys into girls’ skirts and girls into guys’ wallets. Lying is likely to stick around for a while yet; be alert for its signs and listen to your intuition that is urging caution now.
What To Do: Watch And Wait For Mick’s Actions To Match His Words.
Worldwide, women see a man’s profession of Love as being a good sign of his Commitment. And it is *one* sign. But it’s not the only sign, nor even the most important. Actions are. Do Mick’s actions and words line up?
My guess is no: Your inherited mating psychology is balking because Mick’s delivering lip service without compelling actions. Women around the globe recognize that many acts, small and large, show whether a man is invested with his heart, not only his loins. In Westernized cultures, this might mean he spends time with you, offers exclusivity, pays for dinner, pays attention to everything about you, and/or gives a gift symbolic of his desire to commit. Acts show whether he is emotionally and literally banking on you; for where a man’s resources are, so is his heart.
Put another way, saying I Love You is easy, and any guy who simply wants to use a woman can use that line. Mr. Right doesn’t just tell his love; he shows it. And that takes time to see.
So take that time. Women have evolved a highly effective method for eliminating the “snakes in the garden of love”: Making Him Wait. Just say No to sex until you feel sure Mick’s words and actions add up to Commitment. Mick will then either disappear because he was playing, or he’ll fall harder and faster, demonstrating real investment.
While you’re at it, take time to develop your own feelings. Regardless of Mick’s motives, you deserve all the time you need to let your emotions develop. So don’t let his confessions of l ’amour pressure you to say what you don’t yet feel.
Instead, at That Awkward Moment when Mick says “I Love You” and you’re not there yet, kindly say so:
“I don’t know if I’ll love you, but I know I like you a lot and I hope we’ll be together for me to find out.”
Bonus: This will *not* scare away a man in love; au contraire. If he really loves you, Mick will see your hesitation as a sign of high status that may make him even more devoted.
Virginia, love is a risk, but you can hedge your bets and improve your odds. Watch. Wait. Let your own feelings develop while you assess his. Hopefully, Mick loves you. But even if he doesn’t—you do.
*Note: In that study, the researchers were comparing those who had fallen in love quickly to couples who had been friends first. Therefore, the 43% probably reflects the selection bias in the study, not how common it is to fall hard for someone you’ve hardly met. Yet other research confirms love at first sight is pretty common, and that people act on it: In that study, almost half the respondents having fallen in love at first sight. Other scientists examining data from multiple sources say 20% is a fair figure.
All material copyrighted by Duana C. Welch, Ph.D., and LoveScience Media, 2012.