Love at First Site or Lust at First Drool?

I think most men, upon encountering a woman to whom they feel deeply attracted, simply cannot distinguish between the emotions of "love at first sight" and "drool, drool, pant, pant; oh-my-God, I think I'm regressing back into the missing link."

Men may claim they are "in love" right off the bat -- and, in fact, may state as much to the particular female whose Lycra tights elicited such an emotion. This sort of thing often occurs in quotidian habitats such as the shopping mall, the sidewalk, the "revitalized" or Disneyfied urban downtown and the microbrewery-featuring-restaurant/sports bar. In any case, this brand of "love at first sight" has a strange way of decaying into "not returning phone calls after third sight," if you catch my drift. But I have to wonder if anybody at all is actually capable of so-called love at first sight. I know, the romantics would say, "It's just never happened to you!" and they may be right. But because I think that in order to love someone you have to really know that someone, it seems unlikely that love can happen instantaneously, before words -- or words of any significance -- have been uttered.

So I am somewhat skeptical of women who say they believe in love at first sight as well. A little like the men who sometimes use that expression, women who employ it may be bringing a huge set of expectations, projections, desires, fantasies, and often, a big dollop of pure animal attraction to the table -- and calling the whole mélange "love."

Perhaps it would be accurate to say that love at first sight occurs when two people who are psychologically and emotionally ready to fall in love meet each other at a fortuitous moment. In such cases, the object of the first-sight love will usually fit some "look" or trigger some fantasy model the subject has been carrying in his or her head for a while. But this can't take the place of the hard work of really getting to know someone else. It's after that, as I see it, that true, meaningful love ensues. However, fantasies and fictions can have a surprisingly long life -- so long as both authors are willing to keep constructing them.

Andy Erdman is a journalist and television writer. He also has a Ph.D. in theatre and has taught at the college level. He has never worked as a topless dancer.

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