“DO you believe in love at first sight, or should I walk by again?” Most of us have heard that corny pick-up line before. However, there may be more truth to it than we realise. A recent study in a relationship journal showed that people decide what kind of relationship they want within minutes of meeting, thus deciding how much effort they are willing to put into that first encounter.
Dr Johnben Loy Teik Cheok strongly believes in the existence of love at first sight.
"It is a very real feeling and emotion which should not be misunderstood. Where it gets more complicated, however, is when people argue that love at first sight is not 'real' love, because people do fall out of love with the person they fell in love with at first sight. "Sociologist John Alan Lee, theorised that there are six different love styles -- eros, ludus, storge, pragma, mania and agape.
"Falling in love at first sight would fit under the category of eros love," said Loy, a marriage and family therapist attached to Taylor's University College. Eros or "marital love", is passionate love, with sensual desires and longing. The term "erotic" is derived from eros. But is there a difference between love at first sight and physical attraction? "When I think of physical attraction, the idea that a person is attracted to someone because of their physical and sexual attractiveness comes to mind.
"However, love at first sight is more than just physical attraction. The couple is attracted to each other also because of an emotional connection. The chemistry between eros lovers is often both physical and emotional. "We see all kinds of couples fall in love at first sight, both very good-looking and the not-so-good-looking ones. Of course, to the eros lovers, even not-so-physically attractive partners are the most beautiful or handsome people they can imagine, that is, while they are still in love." Loy says "first love" is a natural and powerful bond between couples. "I see many couples who are in distress after being married for years, some even decades. "One of the things that I do with couples is to help them return to and rekindle the 'first love' that they felt for one another. Many times, it is that eros love. "That love is the passion that fuelled the intimacy bond in the couple. It is a very powerful and emotional connector." However, dating agency Lunch Actually director Violet Lim has a different view. "In the last six years, we have arranged more than 15,000 dates. Of the couples formed from these dates, I think less than 10 per cent fell in love at first sight. "Most couples had a good impression of each other on the first date, and they decided to go on second and subsequent dates to find out more about each other, and eventually fell in love. "I think it really depends on how people define love. I believe there are three different levels of love -- biological, significance and meaning. It's possible to have biological attraction at first sight. "I think it's highly likely that love at first sight is largely based on physical attraction because it's difficult to ascertain the person's character, personality, values and outlook in life just by looking at him or her for the first time." Oh yes, it does exist "IF by love at first sight, you mean love at first encounter -- seeing a person across the room and knowing that you are meant to be together -- then I do believe it exists," says former Miss Malaysia Universe Andrea Fonseka. "Sparks only fly for me when there is chemistry, and chemistry for me is being able to have a really good conversation with the other person, on top of everything else. "Honestly, it wasn't the physical attributes that drew me to Paul (Dewar). "We were in a club in Perth, Australia, it was somewhat dark and I wasn't really paying any attention to how he looked at all. It was the conversation and chemistry that drew and kept me with him. "It was only on our first date the following day that I noticed he was actually an incredibly handsome man. "He tells a different story, though. He noticed me when he walked in, and luckily for both of us, we were connected through a mutual friend. "However, he has admitted that it was only after we started talking, non-stop for the next six hours, that he saw that there was something very special between us," confesses Andrea. She says love at first encounter is different from physical attraction. "In my opinion and experience, love at first encounter lasts whereas physical attraction can fizzle out." For married couple John Lim and Anna Ng, theirs was truly love at first sight. "It was during our company's annual dinner that I spotted Anna with several of her friends. "I was new to the company and very shy. The place was dark so it wasn't as if I was drawn to her brown eyes or long eyelashes. "I'm a firm believer in soulmates, and I have no doubt that when I turned my head to speak to a friend, this woman who had caught my eye was the one I was meant to spend the rest of my life with," he says. Lim and Ng have been married for two years, and are expecting their first child. "There is definitely a greater force that draws two people together, when they are truly meant to be connected," says Lim. Love does not guarantee a happy marriage “EROS love alone is not enough to build a long-lasting marriage. We not only need an understanding of the realities of marital and family life, we also need positive social support from friends and family members to help us build our marriages,” says Taylor’s University College’s marriage and family therapist Dr Johnben Loy Teik Cheok. “Increasingly, families living in busy urban contexts are becoming more and more isolated from traditional supportive communities. As in other modernising economies, Malaysians are also experiencing such isolation. “Young couples fall in love and marry, sometimes without the blessing of friends and families, or religious community support. “These support structures have traditionally played the role of helping the younger new family when conflict and troubles arise.” Loy says being isolated without community support weakens the ability of the couple to overcome challenges. “For example, a young couple falls in love and decides to getmarried and have their own apartment, all without the support of family. Both are working and life is rosy. “Then their first child comes, diapers start to stack up, dishes are not washed, clothes are not ironed, and the tension begins to build up. “Or one of the two loses his or her job and financial stress starts to enter into the marriage and they have difficulty managing. “These stresses of life are normal and should be factored into consideration before getting married.” He says no matter how strong the eros love was when they got married, the stresses of marital and family life can erode a couple’s love. “When stress arises and conflicts increase, instead of seeing their partners as wonderful lovers, couples start to look at each other through angry eyes, or worse, they stop looking at each other altogether.”