No, we're not talking werewolf romance here. I've got a love at first sight scene that I've been toying with -- putting it in, taking it out... I love that moment in a romance where the hero and heroine's eyes first meet... and they might not know it's lerve... but we-the readers do.
While I was dithering over my own scene, I was thinking about how I was recently interviewed on the radio, and one of the questions the interviewer asked me was whether I believed in love at first sight.
I said I did. She was surprised but she laughed and said, "That's what I get for asking a romance writer. So has it happened to you?" I said no it hadn't, but it had happened to a few people I know, including my parents, an aunt and uncle, and a few others. "Really? "she said. "It doesn't just happen in books?"
So I told her about my aunt and uncle. My uncle Stan was in the army with my dad. They were posted overseas. One day Stan saw a photo of my dad's kid sister. "She's a bit of all right," he told Dad. "I might write to her."
'You'll do nothing of the sort," said big brother Dad. "She's not even sixteen yet."
Unbeknownst to my dad, Stan wrote to my aunt the minute she turned sixteen. He introduced himself and sent her a photo of him. Unbeknownst to my (very strict) grandmother and my dad, my aunt wrote back. The secret correspondence flourished, and two years later, when the guys were back in Australia, and both were on leave at the same time, Stan decided he'd travel down with Dad and take in the sights of Melbourne. (Stan was from Sydney.)
Two weeks later my aunt and uncle were engaged and as soon as they could talk Nana and my dad around, they were married. It was a long, happy and loving marriage. My aunt said she knew for sure the moment she met him. I love that story.
I think that immediate "coupe de foudre" as the French refer to it, probably happens to a lot more of us, but then fizzles out pretty quickly. Love at first sight is something you might feel in those first few minutes of meeting someone, but only time proves you right. When you meet that person who instantly sets your bells and whistles ringing, it's the first step. It's what happens afterward that determines whether it's really love, or just instant attraction. Does the other person feel the same? Are they responding, too? All that talking, all that eyeballing, and maybe the touching you do in the first little while — it's all trying to work out whether this is it, or not.
According to Wikipedia, "Research has shown two bases for love at first sight. The first is that the attractiveness of a person can be very quickly determined, with the average time in one study being 0.13 seconds. The second is that the first few minutes of a relationship have shown to be predictive of the relationship's future success, more so than what two people have in common or whether they like each other."
Some anthropologists have suggested it's to do with primitive mating habits of our long distant ancestors — in short, dangerous lives, we had only a short time to seize up and choose a mate that would give us a healthy child. Helen Fisher, an anthropologist known for her research on attraction and love, believes three minutes is all you need to know whether someone will be in your life for a while.
For some, it's love at first sight, but according to some researchers, it's also love at first sniff. Apparently pheromones play a strong role, but it's also to do with who would make the best mate for you. For that reason we often find the smell of people who are genetically close to us, less than attractive — nature's way of discouraging in-breeding. A friend of mine told me that once her sons hit puberty, she couldn't stand their smell.
Wikipedia quoted an article in The Economist about a famous study found that women who sniffed (freshly) sweaty shirts and ranked them in terms of attractiveness tended to rank shirts that belonged to the most genetically different men the highest. Their sniff test was amazingly successful inpredicting who would make a good genetic match.
So there you go, you don't need to bother dating a guy — you just need to get a whiff of his sweaty T-shirt. (fresh sweat, not stale, please.)
So what about you? Do you believe in love at first sight, or first smell, or do you think people are kidding themselves? Has it ever happened to you? Ever done the sniff test? How did you first meet your partner?