Love at first sight is a concept that we are all familiar with.
Whether it’s experiencing our first crush, seeing it in movies, or reading about it in romantic novels, it seems as if love at first sight is the most normal experience ever, right? Well, not exactly.
Even couples like Romeo and Juliet might not have had a true “love at first sight” experience.
In the end, Romeo and Juliet teach us that love at first sight isn’t exactly a genuine feeling.
In fact, there are several myths about love at first sight that are important to break down in order to have a healthy relationship.
This might seem like a question that has no solid answer. In a way, that’s partially true. What we experience as “love” will be different for everyone.
Not all people or couples will have the same definition of love, which leads to vastly different experiences in relationships.
Nevertheless, science is now showing that love has more to do with compassion and giving back than a fiery feeling.
This immediate, fiery feeling that we associated with “love at first sight” might not be love after all but instead is lust masquerading as love.
Experiencing lust is quite common. To “lust after something” means to desire it in a sexual manner or in a manner that benefits you.
As opposed to love, lusting after something is a feeling that is more intense, and perhaps more passionate, but is not centered around compassion or giving back.
Lust is incredibly common. In fact, it is an evolutionary mechanism driven by hormones such as estrogen and testosterone.
Lust was created by mother nature as a way to stir our sex drives and ensure we reproduce and continue the human race.
Since lust is an evolutionary mechanism, does this mean that feelings of lust are only sexual desires, and not love? Well, not exactly. This brings us back to Romeo and Juliet.
Who’s to say that Romeo and Juliet were experiencing lust and not “love at first sight?”
It might seem obvious to people familiar with this tragic story that Romeo and Juliet are in love. After all, they died for each other, right?
On the contrary, what Romeo and Juliet experienced might actually have been lust and not love.
Keep in mind that in this Shakespeare story, both Romeo and Juliet are teenagers. Romeo is said to be 16 and Juliet is said to be 13 years old.
Coincidentally, these are the ages when women are beginning their menstruation cycles (and estrogen levels are high) and men are hitting their peak in puberty (with testosterone levels also high).
This alone can lead us to believe that what Romeo experienced in seeing Juliet for the first time was actually “lust” and not love.
Supporting this fact, even more, is that Romeo had only days prior been “in love” with Rosaline, another girl in the play.
Once he sees Juliet, Romeo describes her as being a light in his darkness. He understands that these feelings he has for her must be true love, and they must be real.
Juliet, on the other hand, also falls madly in love with Romeo, even at the tender age of 13.
Although it is possible for teenagers to date and fall in love, most people say that they actually fall in love later, at ages 15 to 18.
Although the difference in ages between a 13-year-old and a 15-year-old might not be apparent, maturity levels tend to differ greatly in teenagers.
First and foremost, the ending of Romeo and Juliet makes it impossible for us to ascertain whether or not they were truly in love.
This is, of course, because they both commit suicide.
This, in and of itself, is an incredibly toxic notion that should by no means signal true love.
In fact, people threatening to commit suicide for your love is not flattering or true love, but a sign of abuse.
In addition, research has shown that young girls between the ages of 12 and 15 (like Juliet) were at increased risk of abuse and depression if they were dating during this period.
Although we can’t say for certain that Romeo and Juliet truly experienced love at first sight, there are several things we can learn from this tragic couple.
For starters, Romeo did have his reasons for loving Juliet. He described her as a “holy shrine,” meaning he wasn’t necessarily only lusting after her, but held her in another regard spiritually.
This teaches us that being attracted to someone is more than just finding them attractive.
Even if someone claims they “loved you at first sight,” it’s important to ask them what else attracted them to you.
For Romeo, it was Juliet’s ability to appear angelic and give him hope.
For people that claim they loved you when they first saw you, was it only your looks that attracted them? Your smile? Your personality?
A relationship where someone “loves” you based on only your looks is incredibly flawed. Of course, looks don’t last.
If someone does claim to fall in love with you at first sight, this is a bit of a red flag.
It’s fine to be sexually attracted to someone at first sight, but love should be deeper than simply finding someone attractive.
The importance of teenage attraction
Romeo and Juliet were, in essence, two teenagers that felt so attracted to each other that they ended up killing themselves and cutting their lives short.
Although this might seem like a romantic story, in real-life, this would be a devastating tragedy.
Unfortunately, it happens all too often that teenagers take their relationships too seriously, leading them to depression, suicide, anxiety, and a host of other issues.
As a parent, friend, teacher, or other loved one, the story of Romeo and Juliet teaches us the importance of listening to your teenagers and taking their feelings seriously.
As we mentioned earlier, most people claim to first fall in love at the age of 15.
There’s nothing wrong with dating as a teenager.
Dating has many benefits, including teaching us how to be compassionate, listen to the needs of others, put others before us, and be better human beings overall.
However, dating is also incredibly complicated, even for fully mature adults.
If your teenager claims they are “in love,” and now want to date, it’s important to take this situation seriously.
Sit down with your child and teach them about the importance of respect, boundaries, commitment, and communication in a relationship.
Learning these things early on can help your child as they grow older.
Who doesn’t want to be with someone whose been dating for decades and knows how to treat someone right?
The story of Romeo and Juliet is tragic, and maybe they weren’t really in love at first sight.
However, this doesn’t stop 56 percent of Americans that believe love at first sight is essential to their relationship and marriage.
We’re not saying to give up hope in love at first sight!
In fact, being able to have strong values can help you choose the best partner in your life and can help you make healthy decisions when it comes to picking your lifelong partner.
However, it’s also important to take into consideration other factors, such as:
- Do they respect you as a person?
- Do you have a healthy sex life?
- Are they communicative?
- Do you love them for their personality?
- What does love mean to both of you?
When you ask yourself these questions and add them to your criteria in addition to “love at first sight,” this is much better than relying on intuition or lust alone.
Romeo and Juliet dealt with the emotions of teenagers during their dating phase.
Although the emotions of teenagers are valid and should be heavily talked about, this doesn’t mean Romeo and Juliet were truly in love at first sight.
Sadly, we will never know if their feelings were truly love. Partly because this is only a play that never happened. Partly because they’re both dead.
The story of Romeo and Juliet teaches us about the subtle differences between lust and love.
We can learn to look for other criteria when choosing a partner besides simply relying on our lust and physical attraction.