Survey: Most Men Believe in Love at First Sight

A meaningful glance across a crowded room. A glimpse of a smile. A whiff of perfume. That, it seems, is all it takes to fall head over heels in love – if you are a man. A chap barely even needs to have spoken to the object of his desire before declaring she is the one, a survey has found. Women, on the other hand, appear to take much longer to give their hearts away. While a man may be swooning at first sight, she needs more time before she decides he is Mr Right. In the survey, one in five men claimed to have fallen in love at first sight.

Just over half were smitten after one meeting and nearly three-quarters had lost their hearts within three dates. In contrast, only one in ten women said they had experienced love at first sight. Most waited until at least the sixth date before deciding whether or not they had found the ‘real thing’. The findings appear to fly in the face of the popular conception that those lightning-bolt moments of instant love are a somewhat feminine experience. But experts said the results probably tell us more about the differences between men and women’s views of what it means to fall in love and how they choose a partner.

Professor Alexander Gordon, a chartered psychologist and member of the British Psychological Society, was intrigued by the findings and agreed that the gender difference was stark. He said men tended to tick more superficial boxes, such as looks, to help them decide whether they were ‘in love’. Women were a little more complicated and likely to weigh up the pros and cons before settling on their choice. “Women are better at reading social situations and are more likely to ask more questions of themselves after meeting someone, like is he going to make me feel secure and will he be a good father to my children. They are cannier than men at making a lifetime choice,” he said.

The survey, of 1,500 men and 1,500 women aged 16 to 86, was commissioned for the launch of Elizabeth Noble’s novel, The Way We Were, the story of childhood sweethearts who reappear in each other’s lives years later. According to the findings, the average British man falls in love just over three times in his life while the average woman falls in love only once. And more men than women claimed to have loved someone who did not love them back. Men were also more likely to say ‘I love you’ first and to pine after their first love. Both sexes did agree on one thing though. They declared their first love was the one that took the longest to get over. One in four said they felt they would never fully recover from the heartbreak.

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