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One of the most dangerous distractions in the quest for healthy, romantic relationships of honor, esteem and respect is the myth of “love at first sight.”

A desert oasis and so-called love at first sight have at least two things in common: Both attract people who are desperate and dying of thirst (for water and love, respectively), and both nearly always turn out to be illusions. Also, in both cases, fools rush in—in the case of dating and romance, bypassing the personal growth and relationship education necessary for healthy, authentic love, in favor of the tantalizing short-cut of instant “love.” Believing the mirage of love at first sight is not only an unhealthy distraction, but can also put your body, money, home and heart in real danger.

What we have been taught to call “love” at first sight is merely instant attraction, which is just as real, but not authentic love. It is possible to find love with a person you are instantly attracted to, but the initial attraction is not love itself; believing otherwise results in poor decision-making and unhealthy relationship outcomes.

Love evolves over time; it is never “instant.” Instant attraction is a dozen long-stem roses; romantic and beautiful, but destined to die. Love is the rose bush; it does not instantly appear in full bloom, but must be planted and carefully nurtured over time.

It’s important to recognize the difference between instant attraction and “love” at first sight. It’s impossible to instantly know someone, and therefore impossible to love or be loved by them. It is not possible to have genuine feelings toward someone you don’t know. You can develop feelings for who you imagine and/or desire that person to be. However, once you love a person for who you want them to be, it becomes extremely difficult, if not impossible, to love them for who they actually are.

Don’t be distracted from the healthy, loving relationships we all desire and deserve, by illusions of love that can only lead to disappointment, danger and disaster. As we always say in the Grown Zone: The right person is worth the wait; the wrong person is never worth the risk.