Love Before First Sight
"I knew I loved you before I met you, I think I dreamed you into life... "When a character is in love with someone they haven't met yet. The character knows what their beloved looks like, or knows their name, or sometimes both. But for one reason or another, the infatuated one has never seen the person they love in real life. They know that they'll meet someday, Because Destiny Says So, and they'll wait for their beloved to make an appearance. Traditionally, the beloved was seen in a dream or premonition, was foretold by a fortuneteller, described by a third party, or seen in a portrait, sculpture, or drawing. New technology has added photos, videos, e-mail, phone conversations, chat, or online gaming sessions, and radio, tv, or movies to the possibilities. Rarer methods involve finding an item of clothing, a book, or some other personal possession of the beloved one. May result in Stalker with a Crush. Can be the result of a Reincarnation Romance. Girl of My Dreams is the subtrope that covers specifically dreaming of the beloved before actually seeing them.
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Anime & Manga
- In Fullmetal Alchemist, Mei Chan develops a crush (and claims she's "in love" with and wishes to marry) Edward Elric, after misinterpreting a description of the Fullmetal Alchemist and his legendary exploits. She sets off in search of him... and unfortunately, the real thing doesn't look at all like the one she imagined. She ends up falling in love with Ed's younger brother Al, which is a bit of an unusual variation of this trope, because although she's "met" Al, he's actually just a soul alchemically bound to an empty suit of armor, on a quest to get his physical body back.
- Fushigi Yuugi: Hotohori as a child already wondered if the priestess of Suzaku "could love him one day". He did not change his opinion by meeting her but it's subverted because it is not with him that Miaka is in love.
- Though of debatable merit, some characters may have predicted that Hayate would fall for Hinagiku in Hayate the Combat Butler before she was even introduced in the manga. Given that Even the Girls Want Her, and she falls for him when she does first meet him, this is plausibly explainable.
- In Descendants of Darkness, the evil Dr. Muraki fell in love with Tsuzuki at first sight... from his photo. He further became obsessed with him when he read his grandfather's (who was Tsuzuki's doctor) records of Tsuzuki's symptoms and mental health.
- In Ouran High School Host Club Rich Bitch Eclair actually had fallen in love with Tamaki through the stories of her housekeeper... Tamaki's mother.
- In Haiyore! Nyarko-san, Nyarko fell head-over-heels for Mahiro the moment she the mission report about him, and immediately begged to be assigned to his case. When she actually tells Mahiro this, he's more than a little surprised...mainly since she's already progressed to "Desire to Bear Enough of His Kids to Start a Soccer Team Before First Sight"...
- Mint Na Bokura has Yoshiaki, who fell for Maria after hearing his brother talking about her. When they finally meet, he promptly asks her out.
- In Black Jack, the titular doctor performs a retinal transplant on a blind girl, allowing her to see. She starts getting visions of a young man, who she becomes curious about and gradually falls in love with. It nearly goes very badly when it's discovered that the man she's seeing is an imprint of what the previous owner of the retinas saw, and that said previous owner saw him because he'd murdered her and was quite willing to murder again to hide what he did.
- In W.I.T.C.H. (unlike in the Animated Adaptation) Cornelia first sees Caleb in her dreams, and meets him for real later; the feeling became reciprocal.
- Later tragically averted in two alternate reality stories that show why their relationship will never work.
- In Scott Pilgrim, Scott dreams of Ramona and becomes infatuated with her before they meet, because Ramona's using his head as a Warp Zone.
Films — Live-Action
- In Amélie the shy Amelie would like to give Nino, her new love interest, his lost album photo back. Without having to speak to him. Naturally, this is true love.
- The whole premise of Ben X is romance in an MMORPG. The main couple meet in RL only in the last scene.
- In Don Juan De Marco, the title character falls, hard, for a centerfold model he's only seen in a magazine. After many attempts he manages to phone her- when she tells him to bug off, his response is rather disproportionate.
- In Enchanted, Giselle sees her true love in a dream, and builds a statue of him, being certain that he both exists and that he wouldn't find this creepy. The statue looks as much like Edward as Robert, anyway (dark-haired guy with light eyes).
- Subverted in French movie (two versions) "Fanfan la Tulipe", Fanfan believes a (fake) prediction done by fortuneteller Adeline. So, he believes he'll marry king Louis XV's younger daughter. But, he ends up disappointed after he meets her, and prefers Adeline.
- Arguably in Just Like Heaven, one of the main characters is or seems to be a ghost. They meet because the other character rents her former apartment. Near the end of the film, they have fallen in love, but still technically never have met in person. When they do, it seems to be a Downer Ending as she doesn't remember him, but turns into a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming when their hands touch and she remembers him.
- This was Tatiana Romanova's cover story in From Russia with Love, which was the reason that the only agent who could extract her was James Bond.
- Parodied when Ron eats chocolates laced with a love potion in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
Ron: I'm in love with her!
Harry: Okay! You're in love with her! But have you ever actually met her?
Ron: No... could you introduce me?!
- In the movie The Lake House, the main female character has not met the man she is writing letters to, as he is two years behind her time.
- In the 1944 Film (noir) Laura, the detective investigating the titular character's murder falls in love with her through his investigation, even going so far as sleeping under her portrait. Subverted somewhat when he finds out that she's not really dead and the victim was actually another girl the murderer mistook for Laura. The two actually do fall in love and justice is served to the miscreant.
- In the French movie A Lovely Witch (Un amour de sorcière), Hot Witch Morgan tells to her infant son, Arthur, the story of a little witch. This witch fell in love with the portrait of a young man, and found a magic spell that would get her pregnant by him without actually requiring his presence. Then the little witch was punished with a mindwipe, and the portrait was also erased, save the eyes of the man. Later, Morgan meets and falls in love with Gadgeteer Genius Michael. Suddenly, we guess: Arthur was never seen with a father around him, and there is a portrait with only the eyes visible in Morgan's room. Eyes identical to those of Michael.
- The romance in A Matter of Life and Death starts with them meeting over an SOS call.
- In Only You, 11 years old Faith hears in a spiritualism session her soulmate will be named Damon Bradley. Ten years later, on her wedding day, she gets a call from a guy named Damon Bradley. Naturally, she drops everything to go meet him.
- The whole plot of Sleepless In Seattle. The official couple, Annie and Sam, meet face-to-face only in very last scene. Annie is engaged, and she has never seen Sam; she only knows his voice, thanks to radio. This doesn't stop her from breaking off her engagement for a guy she doesn't know yet.
- The whole plot of You've Got Mail. Meg Ryan's character falls in love with a guy she's online dating.
- The Shop Around the Corner (on which You've Got Mail was based) has the two leads fall in love with another just by reading their letters/mails.
- This is one of the triggers for the plot of Somewhere In Time. The main character falls in love with an actress after seeing an old picture of her, making him use Mental Time Travel to meet her after he learned that she'd already died of old age.
- In The Terminator, Reese claims to have been in love with Sarah ever since seeing her picture, which kind of comes off as being creepy. This takes a strange turn when it's revealed that John Connor, Sarah's son from the future, chose Reese to go back in time to become his father.
- The Thirteenth Floor puts Love Before First Sight and Love at First Sight in a cocktail shaker and mixes with glee. The two main characters have never met, but fall instantly in love in what one of them explicitly says is love at first sight. Plot twist: the main character is a simulated reflection of the other one's husband - which means he's similar, but not identical. So she's seen him before, but not *really* him. She's been following his life for a while, and explicitly says she fell in love before they met. Which of the two tropes to apply is left as an exercise to the reader.
- The (historical) troubadour Jaufré Rudel of Blaye was famous for falling in love with the (also historical) princess Hodierne of Tripoli, after having simply heard about her. Supposedly Jaufre embarked on the Second Crusade just so he could meet her, only to fall sick on the voyage and die romantically in her arms upon his arrival in Tripoli.
- In the tale of "Maguelonne", Pierre of Provence, a southern French nobleman in Middle Ages, compares himself to Rudel. He once heard pilgrims talk about Napoli's princess, Maguelonne, and her golden hair. He falls in love with the description, rushes to Napoli, confirms his love for the princess, and she even starts to love him as well.
- Countless fairy tales are about a prince falling in love with the heroine's portrait. For instance, in the tale of "Doe in the woods" by Mrs d'Aulnoy, the prince Guerrier (Warrior) falls for Princess's Desiree picture. Later on, the evil and ugly Desiree's maidservant came to Guerrier home pretending to be the princess. Poor prince believes at first he's in love with an inaccurate painting.
- Also that Russian tale, Seagull princess : a prince discovers a lady's portrait in his best friend's room, falls in love with it, and immediately tries to kill his friend, believing it's his fiancee's portrait. Wrong: It's his sister's actually, and he'll introduce her to the prince at soon as possible.
- In some versions of Donkeyskin the princess has never seen the prince before being asked to bake a cake for him. But she still puts her ring in the cake so he can find her later, ultimately marrying him.
- The Egyptian tale of "Rhodopis" is an old Cinderella-like story, with even fewer meetings for the official couple. An eagle steals a sandal from Rhodopis, a Greek slave, then drops it in front of the Pharaoh. He is surprised by the tiny size and swears to marry the lady to whom it belongs... Never mind that all that he knows about Rhodopis is her sandal; he marries her when he discovers that she is the one who fits it.
- "Yeh-Shen", another version of "Cinderella", does something similar with the king finding or being sold Yeh-Shen's lost gold slipper and becoming so fascinated with its tiny size that he vows to find and marry its owner.
- Tristan and Iseult plays with this concept. King Mark insists on marrying the girl who left a single blonde hair on the edge of his window... except that the only reason he's thinking about marriage at all is that the barons want him to be, so he decides to choose someone impossible. But his nephew Tristan guesses that girl must be the blonde Iseult, and he brings her to the king. Then, well, you did read the title.
- In A Brother's Price, men are rare, and unmarried man are chaperoned by their sisters, for STD Immunity is thoroughly averted, and a man who is not pure anymore would be unmarriageable. As a result of this, falling in love with a description is not all that unusual. Therefore, it is no surprise that Ren spends the night in the kitchen in the hopes of meeting Jerin, of whose beauty she knows only from the description of her sister Odelia. She does meet him, and is just as smitten with him as Odelia.
- Alice and Jasper in Twilight. Alice can see the future, which is how she knew where to meet him in the first place.
- In Belgarath the Sorcerer (the prequel to Belgariad), King Riva has interesting dreams about a particular girl — who turns out to be the titular sorcerer's daughter - the younger, mortal one Beldaran. They get married and start the line that leads to the protagonist of the main series.
- Drustan falls in love with Ana due to seeing her in visions in Juliet Marillier's Blade Of Fortriu.
- In The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold, Bergon falls in love with Iselle when Cazaril describes her to him. Upon meeting, she quickly reciprocates.
- In The Vampire Diaries, Elena's best friend Bonnie, who is a psychic, reads Elena's palm and tells her that in the future, she is going to meet a "tall, dark, and handsome" stranger. A few minutes later, Elena sees Stefan for the first time. Elena instantly and immediately falls in love with Stefan the moment she sees him.
- Britomart for Artegall in The Faerie Queene after seeing him in a crystal ball.
- In Tom Holt's Mind Screw book Falling Sideways, the protagonist falls so hard for a portrait of a long-dead woman burned as a witch that he tries to get her cloned. After much confusion and many, many lies, it turns out he was genetically engineered to feel this way precisely so the entire plot of the book could unfold as it did.
- Played with in Les Misérables. Marius and Cosette have only seen each other and not actually spoken, but they fall in love somehow. When Jean Valjean moves and takes Cosette away with him, Marius gets so depressed he does everything he can to find her, even though they've still exchanged nothing more than a few glances.
- Eva Ibbotson's Magic Flutes has David Tremayne falling for a princess he's never met, just from pictures of her and others' anecdotes about her kindness and bravery. Thing is, he's the assistant of said princess's Love Interest, so his love goes unrequited.
- In Someone To Run With Assaf follows a dog which is supposed to lead him to its master. While he does so he speaks with people the girl knows, later even reads her diary and is already half in love with when he finally meets her. And he only falls harder from then on.
- Grace Greenwood's poem "To —".
We never met; yet to my soulThy name hath been a voice of singing,And ever to thy glorious laysThe echoes of my heart are ringing.
- Eragon plays with this a bit with the title character having visions of a girl in prison. He crushes on her and rescues her, but she's not interested in him in that way.
- Virginia for Lorenzo in The Monk.
- Emma: Emma Woodhouse feels Attraction Before First Sight towards Mr Frank Churchill. He's son of her close family friend, though they have never met each other. They are socially equal and close in age, and both are intelligent, charming and handsome.
- In Lavinia by Ursula K. Le Guin, there's a sort of case of Destiny Before First Sight: Lavinia knows by her belief in prophetic visions that she will marry Aeneas even before he arrives in Italy, and knows that this is the right thing to do for the sake of her people; she rather loves Aeneas before meeting him, too, but that's a bonus.
- In love stories within the Arabian Nights / 1001 Nights corpus, love before first sight is ubiquitous—for the practical reason that there was no way a man could have set eyes on an unmarried upper-class female. So, in this version of the Cinderella story, the young man can only identify his beloved by the slim ankles that led to her dropping an ankle bracelet; he has not yet seen her face.
- A somewhat more believable variant is a man falling in love with his mother's description of a woman - at least, the mother actually knows the woman in question - in some versions, it is her Really 700 Years Old best childhood friend.
- The song "Mystery" from A Bit of Fry and Laurie is all about the singer's love for someone who happens to live in a different country... and to be dead. And who probably wouldn't have liked him anyway. Hence the title.
- Shawn of Boy Meets World finds a lost purse and, from its contents, becomes convinced that the purse's owner is the perfect woman for him. He's actually already met the owner of the purse's contents (the owner of the actual purse didn't own the contents), but didn't get to know her well enough to start a long-term relationship.
- A somewhat twisted example from Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Oz and Veruca.
Veruca: I've wanted you even before I ever saw you. I sensed you. Did you sense me?Oz: Come in here.Veruca: Did you?(Oz nods tensely.)
- Paul falls for Echo after seeing a picture of her - though after he's told it's pathetic, he really does try to return to real life. Eventually he turns out to be right about Echo and him.
- Both Topher and Bennett had crushes on each other before they even saw each other, having "known" each other through their various scientific achievements. After their first kiss, Topher admits he even had a crush on Bennett "back when I thought you were a dude."
- Phil falls for Keely in Phil of the Future before they officially met in the first episode; his family comes to 2003 during Christmas, and Keely walks by. He becomes so infatuated that he goes back in time several times to fix a glass star Keely was responsible for as Pickford Yultide Princess that Pim broke (and keeps getting broken).
Barbara: And don't forget the star!Keely: That's my favorite part.Phil: I know. You were the Pickford Yultide Star Princess, after all.Keely: That's right. Wait, we didn't even know each other then. How'd you know about that?Phil: Well, see...I actually met you before you met me.Pim: Met her? You followed her around like a pathetic puppy.Keely: Really?Phil: Psht. Sputters incoherently.Pim: You were like 'Oh, we have to help the pretty crying girl!'.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation:
- In episode "Haven", it is revealed that Troi is due for an Arranged Marriage. When she meets her husband to be, she sees a bunch of drawings he made showing a woman's face from childhood to adult. The groom claims this is a woman who has been appearing in is dreams from a young age and always assumed it was Troi. Sure enough, said woman turns up later in the episode, prompting the groom to run off with her returning us to status quo.
- Geordi LaForge falls in love with starship designer Leah Brahms after working with a holographic version of her. It makes things really awkward when he meets the real (and already-married) Dr. Brahms who unlike the hologram turns out to be bossy, cold and highly critical of Geordi's work (to makes things worse, she gets really pissed when she finds out about the hologram). However, they manage to become friends, and the final episode suggests they end up getting married in at least one timeline.
- The TV series Catfish which centers about online romances runs on this trope. The premise is people who have fallen in love but never met in person. Every time, one of the potential people is hesitant to meet, because they are hiding something. Usually has a Downer Ending because the lies, even if for innocent reasons (such as insecurity about his/her real appearance or career), break the trust upon which the relationship was built.
- Terriers, of all shows, uses this one. Britt saw pictures of Katie when he robbed her apartment, tracked her down at the bar where she worked, and asked her out. And immediately gave up burglary.
- In the Wings episode "Ms. Write", Brian falls in love with "R", the author of some very passionate, poetic love letters delivered to his house by mistake. He eventually meets "R", who turns out to be a 12-year-old girl.
- Bryce and Keiko in FlashForward (2009). Each even makes a trip to the other's home country in an effort to find each other.
- On Angel, Wesley says this about Fred:
"I have loved you since I've known you. No, that's not...I think maybe even before."
- Doctor Who: A Forgotten First Meeting and various time travel weirdness nonwithstanding, the first time the Doctor properly becomes aware of Clara's existence, he could neither see nor touch her because she, or rather the particular version of her was currently in denial over having been forcibly converted into a Dalek. Her voice over the intercom was enough for her to impress him with her intelligence and willpower, and do lots of flirting. This is also why he doesn't immediately recognize the next version of her that he comes across; by the time he realized that they are basically the same person, they had already kissed.
- The song "I Knew I Loved You" by Savage Garden.
- In the song "En attendant ses pas" ("While Waiting for His Steps"), by Céline Dion.
- Björk's song "I Miss You"
I miss you, but I haven't met you yetSo special, but it hasn't happened yetYou're gorgeous, but I haven't met you yetI remember, but it hasn't happened yet
- "The Day We Never Met" by the Crash Test Dummies.
The lips I never kissed, are lips I can't forgetThe dress you never wore, on the day we never metThe name I never whispered, as it echoed in your mindThe man I never was, the sweet thing that's not mineI drink to you, I toast your name, a name that I don't know
- The song "Haven't Met You Yet" by Michael Buble. Especially noticeable in the official music video, where the singer dances around a department store and sings about how amazing he and his future (imaginary) lover are going to be, including the repeated line "I just haven't met you yet"... only for him to wake up from his daydream and get out of the department store embarrassed. Except as he's walking out, he walks past and notices a girl that looks identical to his imaginary lover.
- Another case of two people affected by this trope is the David Bowie video "As the World Falls Down" — a woman falls in love with a man (Bowie) when a photo of his face mysteriously materializes via her copy machine. The man is already in love with a painting of her. She figures out where he is, but only gets as far as opening the door before turning back.
- "I Will" by The Beatles.
For if I ever saw youI didn't catch your nameBut it never really matteredI will always feel the same.
- "Before you came into my life, I missed you so bad..."
- Vienna Teng's "Nothing Without You":
I am nothing without you, but I don't know who you are
- In Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest both Gwendolen and Cecily dream of loving someone called Ernest, and decides to love Ernest Worthing immediately after hearing of his existence.
"Even before I met you I was far from indifferent to you."
- Mozart's The Magic Flute has the hero Tamino fall in love with Pamina from her picture, and she apparently fell in love just from hearing from Papageno that he's a great hero who's in love with her.
- The Ming-dynasty play The Peony Pavilion (Mǔdāntíng) is about two people who fall in love without ever meeting one another: The girl Du-Liniang falls deeply in love the boy Liu-Mengmei in a dream and, knowing that there is no way the love can be requited, dies of a broken heart. She, however, leaves her portrait near the titular Pavilion. Years later, the actual Liu-Mengmei comes upon the portrait and gets romantically smitten. Du-Liniang is brought back to life by The Power of Love, and everyone is happy.
- In Bells Are Ringing, Ella, as Jeff's telephone answering service girl, falls in love with his voice before meeting him in person.
- In The Most Happy Fella, Tony falls in Love at First Sight with a waitress who can't recall his face, not even after he leaves her a tie-pin and a love letter as a tip. A few months of correspondence later, she travels to the Napa Valley to marry him, with a picture of the handsome young man she assumes is Tony but unfortunately isn't.
- Edmond Rostand (better known for Cyrano de Bergerac) wrote a play La princesse lointaine based on the story of Jaufré Rudel (see "Folklore", above).
- A quest in Fable II involves a man who has fallen in love with the long-dead Lady Elvira Grey. The player helps him by collecting her scattered body parts so she can be revived, Frankenstein-style.
- This seems to be the case for Camus O. Laphroaig, the leader of the Hell Hounds, in the first Galaxy Angel game. He proclaims his love for Milfeulle Sakuraba, despite the two never having met before, and demonstrates it by revealing several facts from her past at Elementary School and Pilot Academy. Befitting his nature as a Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain, this scene is as silly as you can imagine. In the manga, however, Camus personality is completely different, which results in his advances being downright terrifying.
- In King's Quest II: Romancing The Throne, Graham sees Valanice in the Magic Mirror, and sets off to find and marry her without having met her. (The Fan Remake adds an element of Mindlink Mates to this). Being as King's Quest is as bad as Shrek when it comes to screwing with Fairy Tale Tropes, this is pretty easy to shrug off.
- This occurs in "Palla", a two-set book you can find and read in Morrowind. The story's narrator falls in love with Pal La after seeing a statue of her fighting the monster that ultimately killed her; being a necromancer, he sets about the monumental task of bringing Pal La back to life, so they can live happily and in love ever after. He finally succeeds, but before he can join his beloved, he finds out that Pal La was the monster. Who is happy to meet him.
- In Quest for Glory IV it's possible for the hero to fall in love with a woman that he's only met in dream sequences. Also, for the first four games in the series, she's dead - but it's possible to bring her back to life and eventually marry her in the fifth.
- Space Quest plays this. After a big mess involving Time Travel, Roger's Kid from the Future shows him a holographic projection of Beatrice Wankmeister. Roger is instantly smitten, and (contrary to what his kid states) doesn't forget his trip to the future. At the opening of Space Quest V, Roger still can't quite get Beatrice out of his mind. In the course of the game he meets her, and the pair start up a romance.
- At the start of Bravely Default, Ringabel is strongly attracted towards Edea before meeting her, due to what is written about her in his mysterious journal that predicts the future. Needless to say, her actual personality is a bit different than what the writings implied.
- Kanaya initially hero-worships Rose Lalonde based on a Game FA Qs walkthrough written by the latter. Whether this is romantic is not canonically addressed, but shippers find it excellent fuel.
- They do later become an unofficial item and go on outings that both carefully avoid referring to as dates except when Rose's newfound drinking problem makes her late for one.
- Vriska goes on to get a crush on Nic Cage, and then, more seriously, John.
- Jane, Dirk, and to a lesser extent Roxy all fell for Jake just from chatting with him over pesterchum, plus Roxy for Dirk as well. It's even worse in Dirk's case, as he's separated from Jake not only by distance but by hundreds of years of time.
- Kanaya initially hero-worships Rose Lalonde based on a Game FA Qs walkthrough written by the latter. Whether this is romantic is not canonically addressed, but shippers find it excellent fuel.
- Kevin Kindle and Kell Dewclaw of Kevin & Kell met and dated online long before they met in person. This enabled them to get over the fact that Kevin is a rabbit and Kell is a wolf. The story starts one year after they got married, and they are still together 16 years later.
- Professor Madblood of Narbonic fell in love with Helen when he read about her development as a clone as a project. He went mad as a teenager.
- The main couple in Dreamless live on different continents, but see through each other's eyes instead of dreaming when they sleep. Living each other's lives, they fall in love. He's Japanese, she's American... and it's the 1940s.
- When Eleanor asks her father why he never wondered about her speaking Japanese, his reply is that he speaks German for the same reason. It didn't work out for him.
- In Noob, Arthéon is implied to have never met Kary, his Season 4 girlfriend, in real life.
- In Archer, Katya Kasanova betrays the KGB because she fell in love with Archer during training, while being briefed on enemy agents and seeing his photo.
- Elizabeth Barrett first heard of Robert Browning when he sent her a fan letter. They became pen pals and fell in love with each other long before they ever met in person.
- Zhuge Liang had fallen in love with Yue Ying when she had started spreading rumors about herself that she was highly unattractive, but very smart (this'd be in late 2nd Century, early 3rd Century China). Upon finally besting the few other suitors, Zhuge Liang fell even more deeply in love with her and proposed to her on the spot when he finally met her.
- Mark Twain fell in love with his future wife on seeing a portrait of her. Their courtship was largely through the mail.
- Before there was an Internet, but after reliable mail service became well established, couples might first get acquainted by long correspondence. The most common US version of the trope involved male settlers in the gender-imbalanced West marrying a woman from back East. The bride may never have set eyes on her husband until shortly before the wedding.
- A very common phenomenon on online communities, including this one.
- I love you.