Science of Attraction!

 Science of Attraction!

In the first ten seconds after meeting a lady for the first time, the average man will spend more than half his time staring at her – ?
If you said ‘breasts’ to that you’re just like me, but just like me you would also be wrong. Because the right answer, apparently, is ‘mouth’. Yes, mouth. Now on some thought that might make sense, because when a lady speaks, her mouth moves, and by watching it and listening carefully to what is coming out of it, by paying attention to it, you give yourself a good chance of responding intelligibly, and of building a conversation that is meaningful.
But as it turns out, the ‘true’ reason why men stare at women’s mouths is not as much social as it is biological. A woman’s lips give clues as to how estrogen-rich she is – full lips equate to wealthy; thin lips equate to impoverished (so to speak). And the theory goes that estrogen-rich females, biologically speaking from a male perspective, are more desirable as mates because they’re more ‘feminine’ than their more estrogen-deprived fellow beings.
So there you have it; what you’re really doing while pretending to listen to her words is checking her out. Which is not surprising, really; men have been known to be ruled by their genitalia. We’re proven failures at mastering our instincts. But what about women? Is there any truth to their oft-repeated claim that ‘looks do not matter’? Are they immune to attacks by these dastardly hormones or do they merely hide them better?
Well, it appears testosterone does not play favourites. Research suggests that women, when high on testosterone, are more attracted to ‘masculine’ men than otherwise, and men who are high on testosterone are more attracted to ‘feminine’ women. Now admittedly the definitions of masculinity and femininity in this context are loose; for instance, masculine men are those who are ‘square-jawed, big-chested and v-torsoed’, whereas feminine women are those with doe-eyes, thin noses, full lips, and hips that match the waist. Not rigorously scientific as definitions go, one would have to agree, but scientific-sounding enough to make a vague point.
Because making vague points and keeping us guessing is what this supposed science of mate selection appears to be hell-bent on doing. Today you read how testosterone-rich people are sexually desirable, and just as you’re reaching for that syringe to give yourself a nice swig, you come across how ‘new research now suggests’ that women (or men) like feminine (or masculine) -looking men (or women) – yes, so it’s now time to make those lips fuller, that nose straighter, those eyes bigger and rounder. Only just as you’re about to stick a needle into your bottom lip, your half-closed eye falls upon yet another piece of new research that announces symmetry is more important than anything else, and that if you’re not symmetric, you can forget about it all, testosterone or not. Now what are you going to do about that left eye-brow?
I can see why there is so much popular demand for research like this; after all, every magazine that purports to be for the youth carries sections on sex and relationships, and each one of them gives dating advice based on ‘latest research’. So you hear there is research that good dancers are good in bed, so you should go enroll for that Salsa class; you hear that research indicates that pheromones make (wo)men crazy for you, so you should have that exotic plant extract which (research indicates) will make you a veritable volcano of pheromones; today you will hear that the waist to hip ratio is the most important measure of sexiness, tomorrow you will hear paeans written – based on research, mind – to long legs and big feet.
I am not bagging the research here. I appreciate the seriousness with which social psychologists approach their professions, and human mate selection is a topic worthy of all the study in the world. But when something as complex and chaotic as human relationships are broken down into bite-sized chunks for mass consumption, and when magazines pick and choose which findings to report and which to ignore, you get such contradictory, nonsensical notions that masquerade as science, even sometimes sound like science, but are absolutely, definitely, not science.
For instance, there is enough research to suggest that non-physical traits (personality, psychological and emotional health, agreeableness and openness to name a few) play a significant part in mate-selection. Yet how often do these results get reported? Perhaps it makes sense in some strange twisted way; it is not good business to tell people to be ‘agreeable’ or ‘open’ or ‘nice’ when you can play on their instincts and sell them pheromones and testosterone and beauty tips. Even from the point of view of the reader it makes sense; so much easier to go out and buy a perfume that turns you into Adonis rather than work on your flaws and improve yourself as a person.
Because if all this research and the constantly changing ‘things-to-do’ are any indication, these people have no clue how mate selection works; and thank god for that. It is an extremely complex process which is affected by physical, social, cultural, biological and demographical factors in ways that we cannot even fathom, much less tabulate and commit to memory for reference and ready recall. Perhaps the only rule with mate-selection ought to be that there is no rule at all; or perhaps the one rule of mate-selection, the one that matters, is not much different to the rule by which we make and retain friends. In two words: be nice.
So by all means stare at the lady’s lips while she speaks to you, but also make sure you listen to what she is saying so that you could say something back to her, and after twenty minutes or so of exchanging thoughts and words, you might realize that her big nose does not matter all that much, or that black mark on her cheek, or, god forbid, her flat chest.
And then of course, you hope that she ignores your big yellow teeth.

Sharath Komarraju

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