What all these wise people knew was that to get love, you have to give love. Give a love that is a deep caring for the well being of another person. That person may not look like you, act like you, or even believe in what you believe. But you can extend a loving hand to that person.
One of the best ways to extend a loving hand is through volunteering to enhance the well being of others. Volunteering can be anything from giving your time to giving your skills to help another person. Most important is the care you are giving that person. A gentle touch or a loving word can mean so much to someone who is isolated or in need.
“But what is the love you are receiving by volunteering?” you may ask. Indeed, you may not feel like the other person reciprocated or even thanked you. Yet, it is in the giving, not the receiving that you feel love.
Doing something nice for another person gives you the social connection you may have been longing for. And it makes you feel better because you are focusing on someone else instead of the anxiety and loneliness you may be feeling. Indeed, research has shown that oxytocin, the “feel good” neurotransmitter, spikes in some people who regularly volunteer. The increase in oxytocin also helps you to better manage stressful events.
Finally, volunteering gives you a sense of purpose. When you are isolated not only do you miss the social connection but you also start losing a sense of purpose. You can find meaning and direction (as well as an activity to just get out of the house) by helping others.
As you can see, the secrete the ancients knew is supported by today’s research into giving to others. So, now get out there and do for others what you would want done for you. Share the love.
Maskhole: An individual who wears a mask in a way that makes it completely ineffective—e.g., below the nose, under the chin, on the back of the head.
Face naked: The state of facial exposure that occurs when an individual declines to wear a mask in public. For example, “Pence went all face naked to the Mayo Clinic.”
Body mullet: What most people wear on Zoom calls: a nice top and, below the waist, underwear or less. (“Business up top, party down below.”)
The novid-19: The nineteen minutes after a too-close interaction with a maskless stranger during which you experience a thickness in your throat and a certainty that you’re dying. This sometimes lasts longer if frantic hand washing, antiseptic gargling, and estate planning are not readily available.
Overdistancing: When the guy in front of you in line has a metric understanding of the six in six feet, allowing twenty feet to open up between him and the next person in line, which then allows others to interpret that next person as the end of the line and to cut in front of you.
Domino distancing: When the person behind you in line stands too close, causing you to crowd the person in front of you, and on and on until everyone dies.
Emotional distancing: Deciding that now really isn’t the time to make big decisions about a relationship or, for that matter, to have a conversation about it.
Covideo: A short video featuring a quarantined individual’s child doing something adorable and/or profane, the public sharing of which falls somewhere between cute and a cry for help.
Stockholm syndrome: The assumption that everyone would be just fine without any government restrictions.
Someday, Noneday, Whoseday?, Whensday?, Blursday, Whyday?, Doesn’tmatterday: Days of the week.
Parenting: The ability to figure out why the PlayStation isn’t working with the Wi-Fi.
Body Zoom-morphia: Finding your own image on a group video call so unappealing that you are unable to focus on anything else.
Quorumtine: The minimum number of family members necessary to decide what to watch on TV.
Pan-demic: A potentially dangerous increase in the baking of bread in a quarantined home.
covid-30: Formerly covid-15; the amount of weight gained by an average adult during quarantine. Sometimes related to a pan-demic.
Helter shelter: That moment in the quarantine day when everything seems dirty and chaotic and you feel like saying, “Fuck it, let’s go outside. I don’t care if we die and a bunch of other people do, too.”
Flattening the curve: Trying to fit into your jeans after three months of sweatpants. (See covid-30.)
Germophobe: Formerly, crazy people (e.g., Howard Hughes); now everyone except crazy people.
Before the social distancing and isolation brought on by Covid-19, there was an epidemic of loneliness in the United States. A recent poll identified three out of every five Americans as suffering from chronic loneliness. Among millennials the percentage is even higher.
With Covid-19 even more Americans feel lonely. It’s not just about being physically alone. It’s a feeling that no one really cares about you. Yes, there is social contact online and by telephone. There is maybe even talking with someone six feet away. But none of this contact is the same as interacting with co-workers or others on site. The deep connection is missing.
Several of the patients in my practice as a clinical psychologist tell me they feel the pain of not being touched physically nor emotionally day after day. They begin to think of themselves as not really mattering to anyone.
Because I am also a psychology professor, I try to give my patients some ways of thinking about being alone that psychologists have found are helpful.
Realize Loneliness Is a Label about Yourself Put on a Feeling
Being alone can create a feeling of emptiness, anxiety, dis-ease. Humans are social animals with a need to bond with others. When this need is not satisfied, there is a feeling of lack. Yet, it is not the lack itself, but the label attached to this lack that creates the pain of loneliness.
In trying to figure out why there is not someone there for you, you might label yourself as not loveable. Or you think that something is wrong with you, which whomever you are with will quickly notice. That lonely feeling, then, comes from thinking of oneself as a loser. And when you label yourself as a loser you lose the motivation to begin or renew a relationship with others. You then isolate even more, creating the very conditions that are distressing you.
Notice and Then Change What You Are Saying to Yourself
If you thought of yourself as loveable you might be more comfortable being alone. And you might also be more willing to seek out opportunities to be with others.
But how do you see yourself as more loveable? First, notice what you are saying to yourself that is not helpful. Are you labeling yourself as flawed and that everyone eventually will see those flaws? That is a sure way to not venture out of your shell. Now change the flawed message to one that is more helpful. Identify some of your attractive qualities and remember these each time you see yourself negatively. In this way, the flaws are balanced out with the attractive qualities.
Reach Out to Others
Now you are ready to connect with others. Yes, you will have to initiate the connection. That can be uncomfortable but, if you are now giving yourself the message that you have some positive qualities to share with others, it might be a little easier to reach out to others.
Yet, another thought might quickly enter your mind and keep you from taking action to connect with others. You might be thinking, “When I’m with others I think they are constantly evaluating me—what I say, how I look, what I do.” That self-talk holds you back so you have to change it into something more helpful.
Challenge that thought by saying “I will focus on the other person instead of focusing on the anxiety I feel when I feel I’m being evaluated.” Focusing on the other person instead of yourself takes the pressure off of what you are feeling.
Let the other person know what you noticed or heard instead of worrying about what you should reply. Stay with this stance. Everyone wants to be acknowledged as noticed and heard. It starts the connection and it deepens it.
Where to Find Others
If you don’t have some friends or relatives that you can reconnect with, try volunteering to help others. Volunteering increases your sense of really mattering to someone, which is the opposite of what you might have been thinking when you were isolating.
Think about who you would get the most satisfaction from helping. Would it be children, teenagers, adults in special circumstances, senior citizens? Then do an online search for where you might be most needed. The search terms would be the name of your city and the word, “volunteer”. Or, you can make the search more specific, by adding the name of the group you would like to help (e.g. neighbors, homeless, migrants, special needs). VolunteerMatch.com and CreateTheGood.com are two sites that list volunteer opportunities in your local community. Not only would you be making a positive change in your community, you would be meeting other people who are also volunteering. And in this time of the Covid-19 crisis, so many people need so much help.
If you want to help but still want to stay home, there are many ways you can volunteer virtually. You won’t have quite the same experience of connection but you are taking the first step in reaching out to others.
Thus, by opening up your mind and focusing on the needs and words of others you will start to recover from loneliness.
You meet someone on line. Then you text. Then you Zoom or, if possible, meet for coffee. But why, as the interaction increases, do so many of these possible lovers turn into duds?
Maybe it is because what is presented online is not who the person really is. Or maybe it is because spending so much time with people online leaves no time to build relationship skills.
So, what should you look for online in a possible partner? And how do you best present yourself online?
To find the partner you really want, make a list of the qualities of that person that you feel are important for a good relationship. Consider whether you are looking for a short-term or a long-term relationship because, in one study, both men and women focused on sexual desirability when evaluating a prospective short-term relationship. They cited qualities such as physical attractiveness and athleticism. Yet, when a long-term relationship is desired, honesty, warmth, kindness, and intelligence were cited.
Next, prioritize these qualities. The first three priorities will then become what you will look for in online descriptions. A person who really has those qualities will list them rather than just presenting superficial desirable qualities.
If only one of the qualities you desire is listed, you can use later interactions to ask questions that might elicit the other qualities or even some surprising other desirable qualities. For example, you could ask what qualities the online prospect is looking for. Then you will know whether there is a mismatch in what you both are seeking. Or you could ask about a time when the person told a lie and how they felt about it.
What you often do not see immediately online are some qualities that are red flags. Everyone is initially trying to present an ideal self. And you might be so enamored at the beginning that you are blind to the subtle cues that indicate that person is not a keeper. Often, it isn’t until you are much deeper into the relationship that these red flags begin to show. For example, does the person want others to do things their way; blow hot and cold; get highly threatened by differences of opinion? (More of these red flags can be found in Beverly Palmer’s Love Demystified: Strategies for a Successful Love Life). We all show some of these characteristics some of the time but it is the insistence and persistence of them that create problems in relationships.
How do you find out about characteristics that do not bode well for a long-term relationship when you are just interacting online? One strategy is to ask how they would react in a given situation. Ask, “If someone interrupted you when you were trying to tell them something important, what would you feel and what would you do?” Or, “Tell me about a time when you were disappointed because someone didn’t think or act the way you expected them to.”
Now focus on yourself. How are you presenting yourself online? There is not a long list of qualities you have to have in order to be loveable. There is only one main thing you have to do: listen to the other person. Online communication or texting can present some impediments to getting the full message that is being communicated. But, if you pause before shooting off your reply, you can pick up the essence of the message and you can let your partner know what that essence is.
Everyone wants to be listened to and acknowledged that they were heard. Showing you have listened to others makes them feel appreciated and valued. They then love you because you make them feel this way.
To listen closely enough to the other person to understand what they are trying to communicate is not easy. First you have to de-center and focus on the other. You have to let go of any anxiety or concern about how you should respond. Focus entirely on the other person instead of what you are thinking or feeling. After you have heard what was said, do not give your instant reaction. Instead, repeat back the essence of what you heard. After you have acknowledged that you understood what was communicated, you can say what is important to you. Throughout your conversation you have to let the other person know you have listened before stating your point of view.
You might also want to assess how good of a listener the other person is. Since two people showing they are really listening to each other could be the start of a loving relationship.
Regan, P.C., Levin, L., Sprecher, S., Christopher, F.S. & Gate, R. (2000). Partner preferences: What characteristics do men and women desire in their short-term sexual and long-term romantic partners?. Journal of Psychology and Human Sexuality. 12 (3), 1-21. https:// doi.org/10.1300/J056v12n03_0
Here’s How to Keep the People You Are Cooped Up with from Getting on Your Nerves
Sue and Sam are both working from home (and their tiny home is feeling tinier by the minute). Alisha is bored out of her mind and has never felt so alone even though she rooms with Jordan. And then there is Luz who is losing her mind trying to entertain kids nonstop day in and day out.
You might be working from home or have children at home–all day long. Does it seem like every five minutes someone wants something? And do you find yourself sometimes snapping at those in your home or even those on the screen?
You probably have discovered that criticizing or trying to control the behavior of other people in your life just doesn’t work. So, what, then, can you do to not have frayed nerves?
First, set aside a personal space and a time of no interruptions for each person in your home. It’s the constant demands for attention that get on your nerves. Even in a small home, find a corner where you can set up a table and a chair, or if you have particularly pesky people around, you might even have to close a door or cordon your space off with a rope and hang and sign on it that says “shhh”. Some private space and a quiet moment can help everyone decompress. But don’t forget to also set aside a mutually agreed upon time to interact. After all, you don’t want to look like you are never approachable.
Perhaps you can’t avoid those taxing people (you may even be trying to homeschool them), but if you find yourself starting to snap at others, use this phrase instead of the snippy one to state your concern. Fill in the blanks in this phrase: “When you….I feel….and I want/need to…..” For example, “When you interrupt me, I feel harassed and I need to focus on what I’m doing for the next half hour.” A statement like this does not criticize nor try to control the other person, because there is no “you” in this statement. It simply states what you are feeling and what you need.
Another way to respond to triggering behavior is to monitor your rising tension or anger so you can do something to reduce it before giving a curt response. Stand up, stretch, and then take 3 slow, deep breaths. Periodically do this even if you are not tense or angry because it can head off those feelings. The deep breaths create a relaxation response as well as giving you a moment to re-group and re-focus. If all of this fails and you catch yourself starting to yell, take a walk outdoors (but do tell the people in your house when you will be back).
Sometimes writing your complaint down on paper instead of saying it can be helpful. The irritation is then on the paper instead of on your mind and you can even toss that irritation in the trash. Or you can stash it away for a time when you can voice the complaint more calmly.
A great way to break the cycle of irritation and keep the peace is to say something positive. Psychologists John Gottman and Robert Levenson found that it is not the amount of negative statements that dooms a relationship but the ratio of negative to positive statements. For a harmonious relationship there must be five positive communications for every one negative communication. If a complaint or criticism does slip out, follow it with telling the other person what you appreciate about them. It will keep them from feeling attacked and defensive, and may remind you why you choose to live with them in the first place.
It only takes one of you to follow these suggestions and improve your household vibe. Your choices can create the model for how to treat one another. Then the people you interact with will tend to follow your lead. An example of the other person following your lead is seen in empathetic communication. If you put aside your concerns and listen intently to the other person, you will be able to give that person empathetic feedback. When someone receives empathy, they are more likely to give you empathy. These minor changes can help to create a happier relationship with those at home with you during these trying times.
“Climate change is a hoax,” my cousin said during a family
birthday party. “I saw on Twitter it’s just a way to get people to buy
expensive electric cars.” I sighed while thinking, “How can he be so
misinformed?” Indeed, what I wanted to say was, “Good grief, social media lies
are all you read.”
No doubt my cousin thought the same of me, when I said
Republican senators are too afraid of the president to do what’s right. Not
wanting to create a scene, we let each other’s statements slide by in icy
As a psychology professor and clinical psychologist in private
practice, I know my relationship with my cousin would have improved if we could
have discussed those issues in a nonthreatening way. If only.
I’m not alone in my frustration – and my desire for change. A
December 2019 poll conducted by Public Agenda/USA TODAY/Ipsos showed more than nine
out of 10 Americans said it’s time to reduce divisiveness, which
they believe is exacerbated by government leaders and social media. People want
to stop the animosity and relate to one another again. But how?
Based on my knowledge of psychological research, here are four approaches you can use to overcome divisiveness.
Avoiding interactions with people who have different
opinions perpetuates divisiveness. Risk
connecting with these people. Relate through activities you enjoy such as
volunteering, joining a “Meetup” group or starting a book club.
You could even invite people from various backgrounds to a potluck dinner at
What activities like these share is a common goal, which creates
a cooperative atmosphere instead of a competitive one. Research demonstrates
that contact alone does not ensure
cooperative interaction. To truly connect, you both have
to demonstrate respect while working on a common goal.
2. Find common ground
It’s important to remember the basic need to feel secure is shared
by all people. Focusing on commonalities can lead to a deeper understanding of
another person, while focusing on differences will lead to arguments.
An argument involves two people asserting one is right while the
other is wrong. But what gets lost in this scenario is the common ground of the
problem they both are trying to wrestle with.
Restate the problem. Together, brainstorm all the different ways
it might be solved.
For example, a person might say the only way to protect America
from terrorism is to sharply limit immigration. Instead of challenging that
immigration must be limited, you can restate the problem – then ask if there
might be ways to deal with terrorism besides limiting immigration. You might
find some solutions you agree upon.
Listen more and talk less. Show the other person you have
understood what they said before jumping in with your thoughts.
Everyone wants to be acknowledged as heard. If they are not, they will continue to press their point. So, to stop an argument in its tracks, start listening and reflect back what you’ve heard.
You’ve probably experienced listening for only what you want to
hear – and possibly found yourself not listening at all. You may just be
waiting to give a knee-jerk reaction to what the other person is saying.
To listen well, you need to first open your ears, eyes and
heart. Examine your biases so you can hear without judgment. Suspend your
self-interest and stay with what the other person is saying. Then tell that
person what you heard.
Now, it’s time for you to share where you’re coming from. Take a
deep breath. Cool down and reassess your thoughts so you can give a considered
response, instead of a quick reaction. You can disagree without being
Communication using the above process leads to a conversation instead of an argument and builds a more trusting relationship. It takes only one of you to create an empathetic conversation, as empathy begets empathy. The more compassionate understanding you give, the more you get.
4. Learn to critically evaluate
Don’t passively accept all that you see and hear. There
are too many
sources of distorted facts, unsupported opinions and outright lies
available today. Critically evaluate what is being presented by considering the
source and fact-checking the content.
Above all, if the message seems fake, don’t share it. Google has
a fact-checking tool, and First Draft News has tools
to evaluate false content and the way it is disseminated. You can also
consult Full Fact and CUNY’s
fact-checking guide. So, when you hear or see someone sharing fake
information, don’t challenge it. Instead, show how to fact check the
Avoid anger and hate in the content you consume. Evaluate
whether it is seeking to pit you against another person or group. Follow media
that supports empathy, compassion and understanding. But don’t get lulled into
a bubble by reading only content you agree with. Help children and teens, not
only to critically evaluate media, but also to become kind and caring toward
people who are different from them. Teach tolerance by showing tolerance. Yes,
you are only one person trying to create change, but your influence does
As for me, the next time I see my cousin, I plan to listen with empathy; let him know I understand his point of view; and try to identify a common goal around which we can share our perspectives.
With Valentine’s Day Approaching, Try These Tips To Make This Day A Special One.
Does Valentine’s Day make you wish you had someone to love (and to love you)? Don’t despair—there are ways to dispel loneliness during the Valentine’s Day hype, and help get you out doing something you enjoy. When you are deeply involved in an activity with other people you have a common goal and interests that connect you. Frequent exposure to others increases their liking of you, so besides having an enjoyable time, you might find a new love by engaging in some of the following suggestions from Beverly B. Palmer, Ph.D., professor and clinical psychologist.
Think about who you would get the most satisfaction from helping. Would it be children, the homeless, migrants, senior citizens? Then, search online for where you might be most needed. VolunteerMatch.organd CreateTheGood.org are two sites that list volunteer opportunities in your community. Not only would you be making a positive change, you would be meeting others with similar values.
Foster or Adopt a Pet
You may find a pet to be a loving companion. A cat can give you comfort as it curls up on your lap, while a dog will get you out of your house on a daily basis where you will meet neighbors and other doggie lovers at the park. You then instantly have something in common with those around you and something to talk about. Petting a dog or cat releases the “love hormone”, oxytocin, in both the person’s and pet’s brains, according to a group of Swedish researchers. Oxytocin creates a feeling of being loved and insures a strong bond, so your pet can help you feel less lonely. Contact your local pet adoption group or borrow a friend’s pet before taking the plunge.
Join a Special Interest Group
If you have a hobby you could join a group of people who share that interest. Every city has an abundance of special interest groups, professional association functions, alumni events, and civic organization meetings. Find group activities on websites such as meetup.com. These may involve hiking, cooking, developing a new skill, discussing a topic, or participating in a sport.
Sign up for a Course or Fitness Center’s Program
If you have a regularly scheduled event where you are with other people, you already have a way not to be lonely during the upcoming Valentine’s Day. Seek out adult classes that interest you at your local university, or join a gym. Both men and women are attracted to the other’s sweat, reports a Swiss study, which explains why health clubs are such popular hunting grounds! Don’t forget to reach out and connect to others by asking for advice or noticing when someone needs help. Don’t wait for someone to find you—smile and start talking with someone who is engaged in the activity with you.
Read a Good Book
Visit your library or bookstore. Selecting a book from browsing the shelves gives you an opportunity to interact with others before going home to read. Escape to another world through an engrossing fiction. Learn something new through a helpful nonfiction book, such as Love Demystified: Strategies for a Successful Love Life, which will give you even more suggestions on how to avoid the Valentine’s Day blues.
We’ve all been there. Someone compelling comes into view, and our heart rate speeds up and body temperature rises. Attraction comes over us like a wave, powerful and seemingly unstoppable. But is it? Can we control whom we’re attracted to?
Not surprisingly, sexual attraction is largely unconscious.
That’s because it’s galvanized by the limbic system, a primitive section of the brain responsible for regulating essential functions like hunger. When encountering a potential mate, a part of the brain called the hypothalamus spurs the release of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin, causing the sensations of lust or love. Thanks to the efficiency of this loop, “people often make up their mind about someone within the first three minutes [of encountering them],” Helen Fisher, Ph.D., a biological anthropologist, senior research fellow with The Kinsey Institute, and author of Anatomy of Love: A Natural History of Mating, Marriage, and Why We Stray, tells mbg.
The limbic system is a powerful force, so sexual or romantic yearning tends to overpower thoughts from our higher-order prefrontal cortex. As Fisher points out, “We can overlook a great number of problems” in the object of our desire.
So, what do we find attractive?
The answer is part cultural and part biological, says Fisher.
First, we tend to be drawn to people who are similar to us. We’re commonly attracted to those who remind us of loved ones, such as parents, former significant others, or friends. “Subconsciously, hormones are activated because the other person has triggered some kind of similarity or resemblance,” says Beverly B. Palmer, Ph.D., a psychology professor at California State University, Dominguez Hills, and author of Love Demystified: Strategies for a Successful Love Life, to mbg. One study found we may find ourselves less attracted to people who differ significantly from ourselves in terms of personality traits, and we’re more attracted to those who are complementary toward ourselves or perhaps “better versions” of ourselves.
That attraction to what’s similar likely explains why we also tend to date people who share our race, socioeconomic status, education level, and political affiliation. U.S. Census data shows just 10% of marriages in 2016 were interracial or interethnic, and a well-known2014 analysis about race and dating preferences conducted by OkCupid found that although a significant percentage of respondents indicated that they would date someone of a different race, they didn’t walk the walk when it actually came to swiping and connecting with matches. Similarly, 77% of Republicans and Democrats said their spouse or partner was in the same party in a Pew Research Center survey from 2016, and the importance of shared politics has gone so far as to lead to the rise of separate dating apps for conservatives.
Another factor frequently cited in pop culture is smell, sometimes in the context of pheromones. Some experts, like Fisher, say that the sense does not have significant bearing on whom we find attractive. (“It’s love at first sight, not love at first smell,” she says, explaining that the human sense of sight is much keener than smell.) That said, other experts do believe factors like deodorants, perfumes, and bodily smells can play a role in attraction. Research on this specific topic is inconclusive, with one study indicating that women preferred men whose genes displayed a different immune response from theirs, and another revealing that women were turned on by men who smelled similarly to them. Still another showed that women were drawn to men whose perspiration was similar to their father’s.
“When we consciously state our preferences for an ideal long-term partner, most of us say that traits, such as kindness, mutual affection, and intelligence, are more important than physical attractiveness,” she tells mbg. (According to research, altruism, in particular, is a compelling trait, particularly for women.) But in actuality, “physical attractiveness has a stronger impact on our dating decisions than factors such as personality or education.”
This emphasis makes sense. After all, humans link “attractive” physical features with health, youth, and fertility. For men and women, symmetrical faces are appealing. Research has also shown straight men prefer women with a waist-to-hip ratio of about 70%. Why? “People who vary from that basic percentage are more likely to have miscarriages and are more susceptible to certain diseases and fertility challenges,” says Fisher. Similarly, straight men in one study responded to a specific spinal curvature in women, one linked with the ability to successfully birth children.
Importantly, many of the studies available on this subject are based on relatively small groups of primarily white people, meaning the findings may very well not be representative of people of other races or of the general population. This is an issue in many areas of scientific research, but it’s particularly important to point out in the case of attraction, much of which may be heavily influenced by factors such as race, socioeconomic status, or other aspects of identity. These factors play a large role in our cultural understanding of beauty, and so studies that don’t take them into account may not fully capture the truth about attraction.
Indeed, cultural body ideals play a sizable role in what people find attractive. For instance, the glorification of thin frames is a relatively recent, Western phenomenon. From the “Venus of Willendorf” figurines from tens of thousands of years ago to the voluptuous women portrayed in paintings by Rubens and Rembrandt, bigger and rounder figures have historically been idealized. In fact, “The scarcity of food throughout most of history had led to connotations that being fat was good, and that corpulence and increased ‘flesh’ were desirable as reflected in the arts, literature, and medical opinion of the times,” according to an analysis by Garabed Eknoyan, M.D., a nephrologist at the Baylor College of Medicine. “Only in the latter half of the nineteenth century did being fat begin to be stigmatized for aesthetic reasons,” he writes.
To that end, we also tend to be influenced by the opinions of our friends, family, and society as a whole. When media narratives frequently show us images of thinner, light-skinned women as the beauty ideal, for example, we internalize them until they become a subconscious preference. Validating this, according to one study of white college students, men preferred women with lower BMIs than are actually healthy. “Cultural and family norms can have a big impact on the types of people we might choose to pursue or not pursue as potential romantic partners,” Fugère says.
All that said, sometimes looks aren’t everything. Palmer adds that “there is some interesting research showing that finding out that a potential partner has a good personality can broaden our acceptance of different body types.”
Interestingly, the qualities people seek out also differ depending on whether their goal is a fling or serious partnership.
“Research shows that when we ask women to think about having a short-term relationship like a one-night stand, they are more interested in men who are more physically attractive,” Fugère says. “In contrast, when we ask women to think about a long-term relationship, physical attractiveness is less important. These preferences may reflect the evolutionary trade-off of the importance of good genetic quality versus the importance of finding a partner who will stay over the long-term and potentially help to raise offspring.”
Beyond the cultural and biological, we’re also intrigued by another’s romantic and sexual interest in us, explains psychologist and researcher Arthur Aron. In fact, a recent study revealed that being the object of attraction is a predictor of sexual desire for women.
Another predictor is the ineluctable energy we experience with certain people. A recent study had prospective daters complete more than 100 surveys describing themselves and their mate preferences, but researchers still couldn’t predict who would hit it off at a speed dating event. “When we feel a spark when interacting with a potential date, our preferences and deal-breakers [such as education level or height] may not matter at all,” Fugère wrote in Psychology Today.
Selecting more intentionally.
At the end of the day, our attraction to others is largely instinctual and primitive, but according to Fisher, we can definitely “triumph over these basic feelings” to some extent. If we wish to adjust or be more open-minded about our attractions, it helps to understand the factors that influence our pull toward others. By remaining conscious of our innate preferences and qualities that trigger our attraction, we can engage our higher-order thinking if we choose to do so. The result: a more intentional process for finding potential mates.
Need a unique Christmas gift for the young adult on your list? Help them have a successful love life with Love Demystified: Strategies for a Successful Love Life.
No matter where on the road to love someone is, this book will help them to avoid or work through the inevitable bumps along the way. This book gives tips on each stage of a relationship, from finding a partner and making sure it is the right “one”, to creating a lasting love.
Instead of opinionated advice one might get on the internet or from their social media, this book gives them tips and techniques based on the science of what actually works. The gift keeps giving because they will refer to it both now and throughout the years, because as their love life evolves new chapters will become relevant.
Available as a paperback or e-book at Amazon.com (amzn.to/2Kft05b or amzn.to/2YvQJls).
Oh, and if you are a young adult who is reading this, buy a copy of Love Demystified: Strategies for a Successful Love Life for yourself (and maybe even one for a friend).