Is Love Blind: Exploring Scientific Evidence

Netflix released a reality series ‘Love is Blind’ attempting to explore a human emotion so murked with controversy that any hopes of objectivity are long gone. Stories of people eloping and others defying parents and guardians for love abound. My mother says, though my dad vehemently denies it, that my grandpa didn’t particularly approve of him at first. “What’s there not to like about me?” My father always asks. Surprisingly, both men are now inseparable. My mother occasionally reminds her father of her existence; much to dad’s amusement. I rejoice in being a favorite for all!

Blind is love…love is blind?

When it comes to love, are people truly blind? In other words, do they abandon all rationality and objectivity when they fall in love?

According to some scientific studies, the answer may be yes. For example, one study found that love can actually change our brain chemistry and distort our perceptions. Specifically, the parts of the brain associated with judgment and critical thinking tend to shut down when we’re in love.

So it’s possible that people do fall in love blindly, at least to some extent. But it’s also worth noting that not everyone is equally susceptible to this phenomenon. Some people seem to be able to remain fairly objective even when they’re in love.

Psychology shows, in reality, deviations from reality characterize our daily existence, especially in social interactions. In love, people might not be as blind as the popular saying goes, but they do often see things in their partner that aren’t really there.

This is what researchers call the “rosy glow” effect, and it basically means that we tend to view our partners in a more positive light than they deserve. We tend to overlook their flaws and focus on their good qualities.

So while love might sometimes be blind, that doesn’t mean it always is. In many cases, people do evaluate potential partners pretty carefully before making any commitments. They just might not always be completely objective about it. Perhaps, this is why love requires one to overlook flaws in their partner.

Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder

Except when you’re drunk. Here, beauty lies in the eyes of the beer holder. A study done by Brown & Taylor, 1988 showed three types of positive illusions that differentiate individuals.

1. The first one is the love is blind phenomenon where individuals in love tend to overlook their partner’s negative attributes while accentuating the positive ones (self-positivity illusion).

2. The second is the ‘my partner can do no wrong’ phenomenon where individuals tend to excuse their partner’s bad behavior by giving them a benefit of the doubt or finding an explanation for it that doesn’t involve malice (optimism about the future illusion).

3. And lastly, the love makes me beautiful phenomenon where people in love see themselves as more attractive than they actually are (perception of control illusion).

Partner perceptions

Love doesn’t exist in a vacuum but rather from a comparative paradigm in relation to our partners. It results in a situation where we overemphasize our positive characteristics while suppressing negative factors. However, an unhealthy emphasis on these factors leads to the derogation of our significant others, friends, and colleagues leading to dissatisfaction. If unchecked, it becomes damaging to a relationship. The self-enhancement is lesser in close relationships compared to the distant ones. In romantic relationships, we perceive our partners more positively.

Role of Physical Appearance

There are different love types, and one of them is limerence. This love type is associated with an intense preoccupation with the other person as well as a fear of rejection. It’s often physical appearance that draws someone to this love type. The problem with this love type is that it often doesn’t last because it’s not based on anything substantial.

Sex and desire cannot be overlooked in determining the success and satisfaction levels of relationships. A study found that love and sexual desire are two different things. The problem is that often times we confuse the two. Love is a more stable emotion that’s based on factors like trust and commitment, while sexual desire is more of a physical reaction to someone. Interestingly, the concept of love being blind ignores vital elements such as emotional intimacy while exalting social ideals and acceptance.

While love might sometimes be blind, that doesn’t mean it always is. In many cases, people do evaluate potential partners pretty carefully before making any commitments. So love may not be entirely blind, but oftentimes, we rely on our attraction to another person to make up for what we lack in objectivity.

Love may not be blind

So what does this all mean? It’s hard to say for sure. But it seems safe to conclude that love can sometimes make us blind to our partner’s faults. Whether that’s a good or bad thing is up to each individual to decide.

Our sincerest prayer at the Joy Vibes is that you all find true love!

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