Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Mysteries of Love

So I've been on a kick lately... found their short article describing 10 topics of relationships and attractions extremely interesting. This is just an excerpt but I highly recommend you follow the link to the full text. Sigh... science explaining love and relationships? Doesn't get any better than that. Cheers.
What rules attraction? In general, you gravitate toward people like you. Good-looking people tend to go for similarly good-looking types, and those from a particular socio-economic background favor their own. Experts believe this happens because perceived equality contributes to a stable union. Well-known actresses pair up with rock stars, for example, because such men tend to be as rich and famous as they are. But once you get past the bone structure and bank account and into personality attributes, opposites often attract. “We’re apt to fall in love with those who are mysterious and challenging to us,” says Helen Fisher, a professor of anthropology at Rutgers University, in New Brunswick, New Jersey, and the author of Why We Love: The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love (Owl, $15, “This pull to another biological type could also be adaptive,” says Fisher. “If two very different people pool their DNA, they’ll create more genetic variety, and their young will come to the job of parenting with a wider array of skills.”
Why are some more reluctant to commit than others? Gene variation may be partly to blame. Scientists at Emory University, in Atlanta, looked at the effect of vasopressin in two closely related kinds of rodents — the prairie vole and the meadow vole. Like humans, the prairie vole is one of the 3 percent of mammalian species that form monogamous pair bonds. The meadow vole doesn’t. But when male meadow voles were injected with a gene responsible for releasing vasopressin receptors, they immediately lost their wanderlust, paired up, and settled down.The study’s researchers think the number of vasopressin receptors an individual has could lay the foundation for his propensity to commit. “There’s something at work with a couple that stays together for 50 years, bad years included,” says Melvin Konner, M.D., a professor of anthropology and behavioral biology at Emory, who wrote a commentary on the experiment. “It’s hard to imagine that it’s just a question of compatible personalities or strict beliefs.

Why do people cheat? Attraction, romantic love, and attachment involve three overlapping but separate brain systems. “It’s not hard for somebody to sexually desire one person, be infatuated with another, and still want to spend the rest of his or her life with a third,” says anthropology professor Helen Fisher. Because each kind of love serves a unique need and exists in a different context, cheaters are able to divide their emotional resources.What makes one person more likely to cheat compared with another? The answers are both inconsistent and varied. Fisher suspects the propensity to stray may be stronger in people who have novelty-seeking, dopamine-sensitive personalities. But factors unique to the relationship — a need for attention, a desire to get out of the situation — are just as likely to fuel infidelity.

What keeps people together?
Hormones and hard work. Restlessness sets in one to two years into a relationship, according to new research from the Universities of Pavia and Pisa, in Italy. That’s the period in which the chemical activity associated with new love (high dopamine, for example) dies down.Fortunately, there are ways to keep the spark alive. Sexual contact drives up dopamine levels. Novelty does, too, which is why you tend to feel so good about somebody after taking a trip or going through an unusual experience together. Frequent physical contact is most likely to maintain elevated oxytocin levels, which is why holding hands, stroking your partner, or any other kind of touch can create feelings of attachment.
Read the full article here for answers to ....

How much do looks count?
Is love blind?
Can love be addictive?
What makes people commit?
Does love make you more trusting?
Can love affect your health?