Sunday, December 31, 2006
What Makes People Fall in Love? The Six Elements
What are the long-awaited results of Berscheid's early studies and the deluge of those that followed? Well, maybe Freud was right. Romantic love is enigmatic. It is difficult to capture and convert into computerized, controlled bits and bytes of information. Instead, treating it as if it were a virus, scholars are tackling specific questions about love, nailing down a few facets at a time. They have made tremendous progress. Out of the cascade of studies, six verities emerge about what makes people fall in love. To be a successful Hunter or Huntress of hearts, you must, like Cupid, be a skillful archer, and aim your arrow dead center at the following six targets. I. First Impressions You Never Get a Second Chance at Love at First Sight The first moments you spot your Quarry—and he or she gets a glimpse of you—can be decisive. Herein lies a ''go/no go" decision. Scientists tell us that love's seeds are often sown during the first few minutes of a relationship. When two cats meet for the first time, they stop and look at each other. If one hisses, the other bristles his coat and hisses back. However, if the first kitten gives a little nudge with its cold nose, the other kitten responds in kind, and they wind up purring together and licking each other's coats. A man and a woman getting to know each other are like two little animals sniffing each other out. We don't have tails that wag or hair that bristles, but we do have eyes that narrow or widen. We have hands that flash knuckles or subconsciously soften in the palms-up "I submit" position. There are dozens of other "involuntary" reactions that take place in the first few moments of interaction. The good news is that we can learn to control these presumed involuntary reactions. The moment you set eyes on each other, your Potential Love Partner subconsciously reads the subtleties of your body language. In these first crucial moments, he or she can unconsciously resolve to try for romantic takeoff or abort thoughts of love. His or her mind then becomes computer-like, and your PLP continues to make rapid decisions about you during your first conversation, your first date. In Part One, we will cover techniques to lure Potential Love Partners into approaching you, into liking you, and then into making a first date. I'll share scientifically sound methods of keeping the conversation exciting and making the first date stimulating for your Quarry. II. Similar Character, Complementary Needs I Want a Lover Just Like Dear Old Me (Well, Almost)! If you pass the first impressions test, you enter the second phase. Here your Quarry starts making judgments about you as a Potential Love Partner. His or her subconscious mind is saying, "I want someone like me. Well, almost like me." If there is to be compatibility for a lifetime, or even for a date, some similarity is necessary. Our hearts are finely tuned instruments that seek someone who has values similar to ours, who holds beliefs similar to ours, and who looks at the world in more or less the same way we do. Similarity makes us feel good because it confirms the choices we have spent our whole lives making. We also look for people who enjoy the same activities so we can have fun together. Similarity is indeed a launch pad for a good relationship takeoff. But we get bored with too much similarity. Besides, we need somebody to make up for our lacks. If we have no head for mathematics, who is going to balance the checkbook? If we are sloppy, who is going to pick up our socks? So we also look for complementary qualities in a long-term love partner. But not any complementary qualities—only the ones we find interesting or that enhance our lives. Hence, we seek someone who is both similar and complementary. In Part Two, we will explore methods of planting subliminal seeds of similarity in your Quarry's heart and ways to make him or her know that, even though you two are basically alike, you are different in so many utilitarian, fun, and interesting ways. III. Equity The "WIIFM" Principle of Love "Hey, baby, everybody's got a market value! Everybody wears a price tag." How pretty is she? How much prestige does he have? How blue is her blood? How much power does he wield? Are they rich, intelligent, nice? What can they do for me? Does this sound ugly? Researchers tell us love is not really blind. Everybody—even the nicest people—has a touch of crass when it comes to choosing a long-term partner. It's no different than in the business world where everybody asks, " WIIFM ?" What's in it for me? I can hear some of you protesting, "No, love is pure and compassionate. It involves caring, altruism, communion, and selflessness. That's what love is all about." Yes, that's what love is all about when good people are truly in love. You've probably even met couples who are deeply devoted and would sacrifice everything for each other. Yes, this kind of selfless love that we all dream of having exists. But it comes later—much Page 12 later. It comes only after you've made your partner fall in love with you. If you want to make someone fall in love with you, researchers say, you must initially convince them they're getting a good deal. We may not be conscious of it but, science tells us, tried and true market principles apply to love relationships. Lovers unconsciously calculate the other person's comparable worth, the cost-benefit ratio of the relationship, the hidden costs, the maintenance fee, and the assumed depreciation. Then they ask themselves, "Is this the best offer I can get?" Everybody has a big scorecard locked away in their heart. And, in order to make people fall in love with you, you have to make them feel they're getting a very good deal. Is all lost if you weren't born drop-dead gorgeous, or if your grandfather's name wasn't Vanderbilt or Kennedy, or if you don't have the compassion of a Dr. Schweitzer? No. In Part Three, we will explore silver-tongued verbal skills to replace the silver spoon that was never in our mouths when we were born. In that way, we can satisfy some very choosy Quarry. IV. Ego How Do You Love Me? Let Me Count the Ways At the blazing core of first romantic rumblings is ego. Perhaps Cupid misses the mark when he aims his little arrow at Quarries' hearts. Science shows us where to really level our ammunition and take fire—right at their egos. People fall in love with people in whose eyes they behold the most ideal reflections of themselves. Would-be lovers should be thrilled that ego makes the world go round, because Quarries' egos are very vulnerable targets. There are multifarious ways to make your Quarry feel beautiful, strong, handsome, charming, dynamic, or however he or she wants to feel. There are big-stroke compliments, little-stroke caresses, and a myriad of deliciously devious means to make your Quarry feel special. Subtle procedures can convince Quarries what they've suspected all along: "I am differ-ent. I am wonderful. And to thank you for recognizing this amazing fact, I'll fall in love with you.'' Everyone also hungers for security and validation. We seek protection in our primary relationship from the cruel, cruel world. In Part Four, How to Make Anyone Fall in Love with You explores ways to make your Quarry feel that you are the salvation—you are his or her safe harbor from the storm of life. V. Early-Date Gender-Menders Is There Love After Eden? Everyone smiled knowingly in 1956 when Rex Harrison moaned from the Broadway stage, "Oh, why can't a woman be more like a man?" He knew his Fair Lady was a very different animal indeed. But in the era following My Fair Lady, feminists cast serious doubt onhis convictions. Now, after many decades of pondering, presuming, and postulating on whether men and women really differ in anything but their genitals, the envelope has been opened. The answer is—drumroll please—yes! Men and women think and communicate in dramatically different ways. Neurosurgeons can point to clumps of neurons in female brains that cause men like Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady to call women "exasperating, calculating, agitating, maddening, and infuriating." Scientists aim their needles at the molecules in the male brain that make women accuse men of being "insensitive clods." Despite the torrent of data flowing in about the genetic, cerebral, and sexual differences between men and women, both Hunters and Huntresses continue to assume we think alike and persist in courting each other in the way they'd like to be courted themselves. Perhaps recent scientific findings will give men and women more insight into each other's style, but nothing short of a frontal lobotomy could make a permanent change in which brand of neurons our brains give off. Women will continue to be "exasperating," and men will still be "insensitive." And both will keep on communicating in styles that turn each other off, especially on the first dates. To avoid scaring off their prey before they bag it, serious big-game hunters know all the characteristics and habits of deer, moose, caribou, bison, and wild hogs. Likewise, serious love Hunters and Huntresses must be well versed in gender differences if they intend to make the kill. Part Five briefs you on how to avoid the most common early-date turnoffs to make even the most wary Quarry comfortable letting down his or her guard. Love-shy Quarry who usually take flight when a man or woman gets too close will happily come within firing range of your arrow. VI. Rx for Sex How to Turn on the Sexual Electricity Many books on how to turn on your partner make sex sound like flipping the switch on the night-light next to your bed. "Press here to speed up orgasm. Stroke there for an extra charge." Yes, sexuality is electricity, but your Quarry's bodily buttons only speed up or slow down the physical functions. Mindpower is what drives the mighty machine and keeps it generating heat for many years. The most erotic organ in your Quarry's body is his or her brain. For details and how-tos, there is no lack of reference books. They have names like How to Drive Your Man Wild in Bed, How to Drive Your Woman Wild in Bed, How to Drive Your Man Even Wilder in Bed, and How to Satisfy a Woman Every Time and Have Her Beg for More. The list goes on. Such manuals are replete with detailed data for women on how to tickle that spot just below the "cute little helmet" to drive him out of his gourd. Men can examine idiotproof charts on where to let their fingers do the walking so as to not miss the U-turn that leads to her G-spot. All of this is important stuff—very important stuff. But when it comes to actually making somebody fall in love with you, it pales in comparison to what I'll call brain fellatio—sucking the dreams, the longings, and the fantasies out of your Quarry, and then creating a lifelong erotic aura that he or she luxuriates in. Gentlemen, far more important for a woman than how many times you can "do it" in a week (or even in a night) is the sensuality and passion you create in every aspect of your relationship. And the sensations you give her every time you look at her. Ladies, far more important to a man than your bra-cup size or the curve of your hips, is the size and curve of your sexual attitude and how you deal with his individual sexuality. No two sexualities are alike, just as no two snowflakes are alike. I will give you techniques to uncover your Quarry's unique sexuality and then make love to him or her just the way he or she likes it. In Part Six, we will explore the right kind of sex to make your particular Quarry fall in love with you. Let us now embark upon our six-part journey, starting with what happens physically when we fall in love.