After announcing their engagement earlier this week, Prince Harry described the moment he knew Meghan Markle was "the one." He says he knew "the very first time we met."
The idea of love at first sight like this certainly fits their romance, which could be lifted straight from a rom-com. They met when a mutual friend set them up on a blind date and then quickly fell for each other. Only a year-and-a-half later, they're now engaged and have described their romance as a "whirlwind."
"I fell in love with Meghan so incredibly quickly — it was a confirmation to me that all the stars were aligned," Prince Harry said in an interview about their engagement. "This beautiful woman literally tripped and fell into my life. I fell into her life."
Maybe it seems like something that only happens in fairy tales — or if you're part of a royal family — but love at first sight isn't actually all that uncommon. In fact, new data from Match's Singles In America database, which collected information from 5,500 singles across America, found that nearly 34% of those surveyed said they've experienced love at first sight — that's about 1,870 people.
What's more, men were more likely than women to think they'd fallen in love the first time they met someone. Of the 34% who said they had experienced love at first sight, 41% were men compared to 29% who were women.
This actually lines up with other scientific research on people who feel immediate romantic connections. In a video from 2014, the YouTubers behind ASAP Science describe a study that also found men are more likely to fall in love at first sight than women. Researchers on that study hypothesized that this is because men more readily fall for visual cues (aka, whether or not they think someone is hot) and women tend to take more time to develop trust in a person before falling in love.
This theory relies on generalizations, of course, and leaves out people who don't identify as a man or a woman as well as men who are attracted to men and women who are attracted to women. But the Match data actually did address the LGBTQ+ community as well, and found that queer people are even more likely than straight people to say that they've fallen in love at first sight. About 50% of people who identified as gay, 40% of people who identified as a lesbian and 36% of people who identified as bisexual said that they had formed an immediate romantic connection with someone.
Still skeptical that what these people were feeling was really love? That's understandable. Plenty of scientists are still adamant that love at first sight isn't a real thing. But others believe it could be real, and has a basis in survival.
“Love at first sight is relatively easy to explain. Romantic love runs along curtain electrical and chemical pathways through the brain which can be triggered instantly,” Helen Fisher, PhD, a biological anthropologist who works with Match said in a statement to Refinery29. "Men fall in love faster, statistically speaking, and have experienced love at first sight more often, probably because they are more visual. It's a basic drive, like thirst and hunger."
According to Fisher, making romantic connections is important for survival because it "leads to bonding, mating and sending your DNA into tomorrow."
Put that way, Prince Harry's declaration that he immediately fell for Markle might seem a little less romantic, but Fisher says it's natural. "He was ready to fall in love. Then, boom."
Read these stories next: