L=Love Continue reading
L=Love Continue reading
Can the tasty cacao bean predict your next love-life move? Not necessarily…but since I’ve already drawn one dubious parallel between food preference research and matters of the heart, why stop there?
Good, that’s what I thought too. Let’s consider, then, how our behavior in the presence of proliferating chocolate choices could predict our course of events when faced with a clamor of potential dates. Continue reading
I recently read Jane Austen’s Emma for the first time–a great read if you like the romantic antics of Victorian England. (And who doesn’t?) This quote reminded me of the series I’ve been posting lately, called “How Exactly You Talk Yourself Into Dating the Wrong Person:”
Emma, the novel’s heroine, has just heard that her friend Harriet has accepted a marriage proposal from a local farmer. In surprise, Emma says: “I had reason to believe her very lately more determined against him, much more than she was before.”
The stately and attractive Mr. Knightly, deliverer of this juicy news-morsel, retorts: “You ought to know your friend best, but I should say she was a good-tempered, soft-hearted girl, not likely to be very, very determined against any young man who told her he loved her.”
Ahh…how malleable we are.
I’ll leave you with Pascal:
We’re finally here–the culminating theory of how mate selection works! (According to the research I’ve been reviewing in this series)
As we’ve discussed, lots of research, including this study, has demonstrated that most of our choices, from vacations to friends to decor, follow a lawful genetic pattern to some degree. Picking a spouse, however, sticks out like a sore thumb. An important choice for which there is no pattern.
The researchers offer an intriguing explanation for this blip: they argue that picking a partner is not really a “choice.” We are looking at it all backwards, they say. Instead of approaching this logically, people are mysteriously drawn to certain people, but not to others. It starts with “I kinda like him or her,” and while we may subsequently decide against some of these people in a logical manner (e.g. alcoholic, serving jail time, no thanks), the “liking” part is not a choice.
The researchers’ theory is this: the juicy force prompting these not-exactly-choices is infatuation, it has evolved into a specific mechanism for finding a partner. Infatuation, they believe, occurs by chance, rather than according to a lawful, genetic pattern. Sort of like being thirsty or wanting to succeed. Instead of choosing a partner, they theorize, infatuation goes off like a homing beacon and then…well, you just want that person.
If they are right, and infatuation’s purpose really is to flag potential partners for us, does that mean we should go with the flow? Not exactly. Arguably, my body wants me to produce symmetrical, healthy babies, but might not be thinking about my desire for stimulating weekend conversation. Lots of dating advice books will tell you to ignore this homing beacon. Don’t pay too much attention to chemistry, they say, attraction can develop over time if you have a good foundation.
While I agree this is true, I suspect that one partner usually has the infatuation-homing-beacon thing going on, and then works to win the affection and attention of the other, who might feel a glimmer, or nothing at all. “Love at first sight,” by contrast, probably happens in those rare circumstances when you both have the homing beacon experience at the same time. I do think we can say that if neither of you are googley-eyed after a while, then you’re making a logical decision instead of one inspired by chemistry. We don’t have the data to argue that a logical relationship is a bad approach, but I’ve always been a fan of chemistry, and I think the work of Lykkegen and Tellegen would suggest that a different partner very well could bring out the spark that you’re missing.
At the time (1993), this infatuation theory was just a logical hunch. The authors did not conduct an experiment to test the role of infatuation; they simply proposed the theory when the other logical possibilities–our genes and our environment–had been ruled out. Many, many smart people have since run with this theory, and have learned all kinds of good stuff about how infatuation works. One day, I’ll come back to this topic, but if you can’t wait, check out Helen Fisher’s book Why We Love for a great introduction.
We finished a series!
Very soon, I’ll be talking about sexual satisfaction in long-term relationships. Stick around–you know you’re curious.
[i] Pew Internet and American Life Project, a 2005 survey of internet users. An additional 55% of singles reported no active interest in seeking a romantic partner! I think I smell an upcoming post series…