Love and attraction are weird and mysterious things.
There’s a lot we don’t understand — and a lot that’s idiosyncratic to individual people and couples.
That’s why a lot of research into why we mate is bizarre to the point of incoherence — cultural norms as well as oddities in research methods can create a lot of noise.
Yet it turns out that there is a lot of science about why people fall in love that is at once super strange and actually fairly credible.
Keep in mind that no one study is enough to draw definite, broad conclusions. That’s especially true because this research tends to focus on the specific behaviours of heterosexual undergraduate students at the universities where researchers work.
Still, there’s a lot of fascinating knowledge out there about our habits of love and attraction.
Here are nine of the most interesting findings:
1. People tend to fall in love with other people who are like them. Shared values, life experiences, levels of attractiveness, and age can all make a major difference.
2. There's some evidence that scent can play a role in attraction. Ovulating women, for example, may prefer the scents of men with more testosterone. And men may prefer the scents of women at certain times in their menstrual cycles.
3. If you keep an open posture, then that can make you seem less closed off -- and more inviting and attractive.
4. Sharing thrilling or scary experiences looks like a great way to jump-start attraction. So maybe skip that coffee date for some skydiving?
5. If you and your crush live close to one another, then it's more likely to turn into something because you can get to know one another through running into each other. At least, that's the case for college students in their dorms.
6. Smiling is another great way to seem attractive. Research suggests that many people are just drawn to more positive partners.
7. The best way to fall in love with someone is to get to know them. One researcher famously showed this by having pairs of strangers ask one another just 36 questions in 45 minutes. The results demonstrated exactly how people can build intimacy with almost anyone -- if they tried.
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