We’ve all had dates where something just ‘didn’t click’. Particularly annoying when we’re sat across the table from a good-looking, charismatic girl or guy who’s obviously perfect relationship material.
So what’s behind that lack of chemistry? And more to the point what’s going on when the flame does spark into life? The scientific facts behind flushed cheeks, heaving bosoms and racing hearts are compelling:
It can take between 90 seconds and four minutes to decide if we fancy someone. There’s a lot going on in those precious seconds. Our subconscious minds are weighing up whether we ‘like their genes’ – in other words, whether we think they’re a good match with our own makeup in terms of reproduction. Symmetrical faces are thought to indicate good genetics, which is why we’re supposedly more attracted to those with even features. We’re also hugely influenced by their smell. We’re more likely to fancy them, say scientists, if their smells remind us of our parents and the odours surrounding us in early childhood. All this is happening on a subconscious level – it’s not like we can just have a good sniff of our prospective other to see if it’s worth a second date!
There are three phases to falling in love and different hormone sets are at play in each. In stage one – the ‘lust phase’ - we are governed by sex hormones oestrogen and testosterone. In stage two – the attraction phase – we are truly ‘love struck’. We can’t think of anything but the other person, or, to put it in more scientific terms, adrenaline is coursing through our veins, and serotonin (the happy chemical) might be sending us temporarily insane! In stage three, oxytocin – the same chemical which makes new mothers produce breast milk – is linked to ‘attachment’. We’re over the bonkers stage where we can’t sleep, eat or think straight and we’re forging lasting bonds. And we can finally get some work done!
As if you didn’t know it already, chat up lines don't work - that's according to science. Those who’ve toiled away in labs conclude that 55% of the fancying factor comes to us through body language, and 38% is the tone and speed of our voice. Only 7% is what we say.
It’s said that the eyes are the windows to the soul, and when it comes to love that would seem to be scientifically proven. An American psychologist conducted a study, which showed that the simple act of staring into another’s eyes has a powerful impact. He asked sets of strangers to reveal intimate secrets about themselves – a process which went on for 90 minutes. They were then made to stare at one another silently for four minutes. After this exercise many subjects confessed to feeling deeply attracted to the other, and two couples even married!
Playing hard to get doesn’t work! Scientists say that there’s no evidence to suggest that men or women are attracted to members of the opposite sex who make it hard work. What we are attracted to, say the laboratory experts, is a member of the opposite sex who makes themselves available to us but to nobody else. They put this to the test by evaluating the online dating responses to three different women. Subject one showed no interest in any matches. Subject two was interested in various matches. Subject three was keen on just one of her matches. The majority of the male matches subsequently showed a preference for subject three.