It’s funny how some people bring out very specific instinctual reactions in us. The whole phenomenon of “love at first site” can be attributed to this. Whether one truly considers it “love” or not, it’s undeniable that certain people bring out very particular reactions well before we have enough information to justify them. Obviously, some “love at first site” cases are just an attempt to add depth to the observation of “Hey, he/she is not”. But I think that it goes beyond that. There have been cases where I have been immediately taken by someone that was not objectively any more or less attractive than people that did not elicit the same reaction.

But what I’ve found since I’ve gotten married and off the market and all that, which is that these sort of instantaneous reactions are everywhere in all sorts of directions.

For example, my personnel manager at work – my contact with the contracting agency I work with – makes me want to hug her. I have no idea why. She would be too old to be a partner if I were single but too young to be an obvious motherly figure. But whenever I talk to her, I want to hug her goodbye. All I can guess is that she unconsciously reminds me of somebody that I used to hug hello and goodbye to. She doesn’t look like anybody in any obvious manner. But subconciously or unconsciously or something, I get some sort of reaction.

A guy that I am sometimes in the smoker’s area with, on the other hand, brings out the exact opposite in me. Wherever he is, I want to be somewhere else. There is something about the guy that I just don’t like. I wondered if it was the fact that he’s a real metrosexual sort, but there are people like that who don’t bother me. Even the transvestite/transsexual (I know the difference, but don’t know which she is) doesn’t send up as many flags. Maybe he sets off some sort of gaydar and I’m not as comfortable around homosexuals as I think I am (I don’t get a whole lot of practice)… but I have no particular reason to think that he’s gay other than how he dresses. It’s just this weird sort of thing where he’s dripping with Trumwill-repellent. Again, I wonder if there’s somebody that he reminds me of.

That all makes me wonder if the whole Love at First Site is really mental shorthand for “You outwardly remind me in some way of somebody that I once developed feelings for”. Love at First Site when you’re young is often shorthand for “Hey, you’re hot”, but when you get older, I wonder if it’s just not an association of sorts with someone that you know and like very much. Maybe not even someone in real life. Maybe a TV character that you became really taken with or something.

I remember a girl in high school that made me think of Gadget from Chip’n’Dale’s Rescue Rangers. I’m not saying that I was taken with her because of that resemblance (cartoon anthropomorphic mice aren’t what I’m into), but maybe the familiarity alone was enough to make me give her a second or third look to notice how attractive she was. I choose that one because it’s by far the most trivial. It’s not just physical resemblance (the girl did not look like a mouse!). It could be posture or some mannerism so subtle that the conscious mind never quite isolates it.

What I find is that these instincts are very, very rarely wrong. Obviously, if I hugged my handler at work I would be sued for sexual harassment, but I would be surprised if she were not a hugger of some sort. Few people that I take an immediate “irrational” dislike for do I end up saying “Oh, hey, she’s okay!” There are cases where I am sorta neutral on someone and later really like them or that I sorta like only to find out that they’re a bad person, but for someone whose gut instincts on all sorts of things lead him awry, that’s one area where it rarely seems to happen.


Category: Coffeehouse

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10 Responses to Something At First Site

  1. Barry says:

    After I read your post, I tried to remember if there were any women/girls I was immediately taken with on first sight – I could think of two, one from high school and one from college.

    The first was when I was freshman in high school and she a junior or senior. She and I were both students of the same piano teacher and I the first time I saw her was when she was waiting for a make-up lesson after me. I saw her again later at a recital, this time a little longer. She had dark, sandy brown hair and dark eyes, petite, almost sultry. I remember thinking how much she reminded me of Strawberry Fields from the Sgt Pepper movie (Ok, don’t laugh. Ok, please stop laughing – just stop!!). I eventually went on to briefly have a chorus class with her, but never got beyond a hi/bye conversation due to our ages. She eventually graduated and I never saw her again. But what an impression she made – she made my breath catch in my throat. The music of the recital I played that year was moody, minor, which I still equate with her in a way.

    The other girl was in college – I worked at a movie theatre and she went to the local high school. She’d come in late on the weekends with some friends and I’d catch sight of her a few times. Short, cute, blond, chipmunk-cheek with an adorable squeaky voice that caught my imagination. I always kept an eye out for her on the weekends, and eventually found out her name and struck up short flirty conversations with her. Me being in college and her still in high school it didn’t go farther. I lost track of her after I quit the movie theatre.

    Then a couple years later, I was in Theatre class in college, then a senior I guess and she turns up in my Acting class. And, through random luck, she is my acting partner for a scene. A scene that just happened to have kissing in it 🙂

    So those infatuations do happen, but as far as I was concerned never amounted to anything…

  2. a_c says:

    Interesting…I have never had this come up in a romantic context but I certainly have liked or disliked some people “at first sight,” without sufficient information to make an informed judgment.

  3. Sheila Tone says:

    “Love at first site …” does that happen to archaeologists?

  4. Kirk says:

    “Love at first site …” does that happen to archaeologists?

    I was thinking “website,” but bravo. Also, in another post, our host used “know” instead of “no.” I’m thinking he may have done that out of irony, however.

  5. trumwill says:

    As I think I’ve said before, the voice in my head and my fingers work faster than my brain.

  6. trumwill says:

    Barry,
    What about non-romantic encounters? Ever in a room full of people you don’t know and see some guy and say “That’s the guy I’m going to go talk to” for some non-obvious reason (ie not because he’s wearing a Dragonlance shirt or something)?

  7. Barry says:

    Probably, sure, but I don’t know if I’d chalk it up to a straight version of “Love at first sight/site”. While I might notice a guy in a group that looks interesting and I’d like to get to know, I don’t think I’d ever have obsessed about it like I would have it were a girl. For one thing, the two girls’ looks were striking and unique in a way that attracted me instantly. The high school girl turned out to be pretty shy and the college girl turned out to be a little ditzy, so neither would’ve likely panned out past the initial infatuation phase.

  8. trumwill says:

    Barry,

    Well, romantic attraction is typically going to be much more intense than platonic attraction. Hormones are involved. I still think that they’re at least partially fueled by the same source, though, even if the intensity and nature of the attractions differ somewhat.

  9. Brandon Berg says:

    What I find is that these instincts are very, very rarely wrong….Few people that I take an immediate “irrational” dislike for do I end up saying “Oh, hey, she’s okay!”

    Could be. Alternatively, it could be confirmation bias.

  10. Becky says:

    I’m the same way, esp. on a platonic level. I can gauge someone’s personality fairly quickly and whether I’m going to be comfortable around him/her. I think that with the people that I’ve been in long term relationships with, there was a spark pretty quickly, maybe not on first site but at least within the first meeting and we actually had a conversation.

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