Falling in Love

Two new students meet each other for the first time.
Photo by Ryan Racca via Flickr

How do people fall in love? Bruce Gulland and Liz Waid look at the science behind the emotion of love. Could you fall in love with a stranger just by asking questions?

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Voice 1 

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Bruce Gulland.

Voice 2 

And I’m Liz Waid. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1 

Have you heard the English expression “love at first sight”? Here is an example, from the film Titanic. This film is a very popular love story. The love story happens on the famous Titanic ship. In the film, a young man and young woman meet for the first time. Their names are Jack and Rose. One day, Jack sees Rose standing high up on the ship. His face changes. He thinks she is beautiful. Rose looks at Jack too. Something happens between them - a kind of connection. They have to meet. They already love each other! They have experienced “love at first sight.” They fell in love the first time they saw each other.

Voice 2 

Love at first sight is common in films and stories. Some people say it can even happen in real life. But can it? Is love at first sight real love? What makes people want to have a relationship with a particular person? Today’s Spotlight is on the science of falling in love. What makes us feel closeness with other people?

Voice 1 

Falling in love can seem mysterious. Strong feelings develop, sometimes quickly. But why? Scientists and experts study love and attraction - that feeling that you want to be closer to another person. They study changes in a person's body, when that person feels love.

Voice 2 

One thing that scientists measure is hormone levels. Hormones are substances in the body that affect behaviour and emotions. Scientists found particular hormones in a person who is falling in love. These give people more energy and make them feel happy. Other studies show that over time, different hormones also appear. These give people a sense of happiness and closeness through many years of a loving relationship.

Voice 1 

There are many complex reasons why and how we fall in love. Like Jack and Rose in Titanic, some people experience “love at first sight.” They do not choose to feel attraction. But what if there was a scientific way to make any two people have a closer relationship with each other?

Voice 2 

Dr. Arthur Aron performed a study to test this question. Aron studies relationships between people. He wanted to see if he could scientifically make people feel an emotional connection with another person. Dr. Aron created a list of 36 questions. He designed the questions in a special way. He made them to create a sense of closeness between the people asking them. Dr. Aron chose two people at a time for the experiment. They did not know each other. The two people sat together in a room. They took turns asking and answering Dr. Aron’s 36 questions. Here are some of the questions they asked:

Voice 3 

“When did you last sing to yourself? When did you last sing to someone else?”

Voice 4 

“Name three things you and the person you are talking to appear to have in common.”

Voice 3 

“What is your most terrible memory?”

Voice 4 

“Tell the person you are talking to what you like about them; be very honest. Say things that you might not say to someone you have just met.”

Voice 3 

“If you were to die today with no chance to communicate with anyone, what would you most regret not having told someone? Why have you not told them yet?”

Voice 1 

The two people spent almost an hour talking together. Then they wrote about the experience. They answered questions about how close they felt to each other. People in the study said that their relationship to the person they talked to was close. After only one hour, they said that the closeness was equal to their average relationship.

Voice 2 

From this study, Dr. Aron found that relationships grew quickly when people shared more about themselves. The questions were personal and equal. The questions also became more complex over time. This, Dr. Aron says, is how close relationships are made. Dr. Aron even found that the study created lasting relationships in the real world. Many of the people who talked to each other continued to see each other and do things together. But did this study produce real closeness? Dr. Aron answers this question in a journal article about the study:

Voice 5 

“We think that the closeness produced in these studies is similar to closeness in natural relationships that develop over time. But it seems unlikely that these questions produce loyalty, dependence, commitment, or other important qualities of a relationship. These qualities may take longer to develop.”

Voice 1 

So Aron’s questions do not really make people have a relationship. But they show the kind of conversations that help two people feel closer to each other.

Voice 2 

Mandy Len Catron wanted to test Dr. Aron’s theory. Catron is a writer for the New York Times. She tried her own experiment with Dr. Aron’s 36 questions. She met a man in a restaurant. They asked each other Dr. Aron’s questions. Catron noticed how quickly she and the man talked about personal issues. For most people, it can take months to talk about important personal issues. Discussing them made Catron feel much closer to the man very quickly. She wrote that the experience was very good:

Voice 6 

“What I like about this study is how it is based on the idea that love is an action. It is based on the idea that what matters to the person I am talking to, matters to me.”

Voice 1 

Catron did fall in love with the man she talked to in the experiment. But she knows this does not happen for very many people. For most people, forming close relationships takes time and energy. Relationships are also very complex. Science has shown that many things influence who we are attracted to and why. But Aron’s study shows that what is important for relationships is learning to grow closer together. Sue Johnson wrote a book called “Love Sense.” It looks at the science of loving relationships. She told the Huffington Post:

Voice 7 

“It is completely terrible for us to keep defining love as a big mystery. We just need to know about it. We need to know how to shape it.”

Voice 2 

What about you? Do you think love is an action? Have you ever fallen in love with someone? Was it love at first sight? Or did you take time to build a feeling of closeness? Tell us what you think. You can leave a comment on our website. Or email us at radio@radioenglish.net. You can also comment on Facebook at Facebook.com/spotlightradio.

Voice 1 

The writer of this program was Rena Dam. The producer was Michio Ozaki. The voices you heard were from the United Kingdom and the United States. All quotes were adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight. You can listen to this program again, and read it, on the internet at www.radioenglish.net. This program is called, “Falling in Love”.

Voice 2 

We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.


Have you ever fallen in love at first sight - before you even knew a person? If yes, do you think it was real love? If no, do you think this is really possible?


Avatar Spotlight
Mai Hoai Tien
said on April 14, 2015

i’m newbie.

Avatar Spotlight
said on April 16, 2015

thank you spotligt

Nina Madeira's avatar
Nina Madeira
said on April 17, 2015

Love is very good.

Green Kale's avatar
Green Kale
said on April 23, 2015

I do believe that “Falling in love at the first sight” theory is real. But I don’t think it gonna lead to a true love, may be or may be not.  Attraction captures the mind but personality captures the heart.

Avatar Spotlight
said on June 07, 2015

I really like this topic because I think I understand the feeling of “falling in love at the first sight”. My first love so far is about a boy - my friend who I met at secondary school. Up to now, I still like him. For 5 years :)

Avatar Spotlight
said on December 29, 2015

“Love at fist sight” I think it is on film.

Avatar Spotlight
said on January 13, 2016

I don’t believe in love at firts sight, because for find the correct person, it takes time, specially for met how is she really. Thank you spotlight.

Avatar Spotlight
said on February 23, 2016

I have never happened to me, but I dont know if love at first sight exist, because you have to meet the person very well, and if the other person is married ?? What happen, What I supoused to do?, any way

I believe in love but not at first sight.


Avatar Spotlight
said on May 13, 2016

i do

Avatar Spotlight
said on September 13, 2016

I used to fall in love at the first with with a boy when i was high shool, but we cant go together as he dont have feeling with me. Anyway, we still keep good relationship as friends ^^ and i always feel happy since thinking of him althought i have had boyfriend , lol
In my opinion, real love is a love is built by real emotion, loyalty, no aim money or property

Avatar Spotlight
said on September 14, 2016

I really like reading this program. I am not sure for I have ever fallen in love at frist sight. Because I don t know what it was real love.

Kaleb Kolaibi's avatar
Kaleb Kolaibi
said on September 14, 2016

In fact, I do not believe in love at first sight because I think that it is not real love but possible is a desire or admired for the body .
The real love comes through long cohabitation and known each other.
God bless you

Severino Ramos da Silva's avatar
Severino Ramos da Silva
said on September 25, 2016

From: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) (Severino Ramos)
To: spotlight programme
Subject: answer to the questions above
Date: Sunday 25, September 2016
São Paulo SP Brazil

Dear Liz Waid, Rena Dam, Bruce Gulland, and Michio Ozaki:

At first, I want to thank you to bring us readers and learners of English more one great article. Thanks!

No, I have never.
Yes,  I do. I think so this is really possible because my grandmother and my grandfather fell in love to each other at first time. So, they had married for 70 years old. My grandfather died first and my grandmother died 15 years later. They were born and grew in a small farm in Pernambuco countryside.
However, they knew each other and they fell in love at first time. Therefore, they got married and they had got six boys who are my uncles and one daughter who is my mother (Isabel).

The best regards,
Severino Ramos

Avatar Spotlight
said on February 15, 2018

Love is beautiful. We respect beautiful good things. Love helps us live to be a good person. We live to be a good person to deserve true love. If we do not respect love not-good things affect love badly. If we do not respect love not-good things kill love. There are many beautiful good things in life. We love beautiful good things. We live to be a good person. We live to be a good person with all our effort. Love is beautiful. We respect beautiful good things.

Avatar Spotlight
said on April 12, 2018

Love has no explain. It happens and we don’t know why nether when.

Avatar Spotlight
said on April 24, 2018

I don’t believe in Love. It is a lie created by the rich to have free sex

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Stella Andrea
said on October 18, 2018

I have fallen in love at the first sight with a boy in secondary school , his name is Huy . I didn’t know anything about . I want to know more about Huy so I tried to make friend with him but I didn’t succeed :(  because he is a ntroverted person. I think it was real love. I have loved him for 1 year

Avatar Spotlight
Nguyen Thị Minh Hạnh
said on January 25, 2019

I have never fall in love at first sight, but I believe this is real. Love is great!