The Science of Love – The Date Mix Dating and Relationship Advice for Today's Daters Sun, 18 Mar 2018 08:00:24 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Infatuation Symptoms: What Happens When You’ve Really Got It Bad Wed, 21 Feb 2018 09:00:58 +0000 This is your brain on love.

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Nearly everyone has experienced the bliss of new love. Infatuation symptoms are not difficult to recognize or understand—constant preoccupation with someone, day-dreaming, butterflies when you’re planning on seeing them, smiling like an idiot, gushing to your friends constantly, or turning any benign conversation about a deal on avocados into an excuse to discuss their glittering eyes. But infatuation causes actual chemical effects in the body that can lead to physical symptoms that you may not necessarily equate with the joyfulness of being in love.

According to the Harvard Department of Neurobiology, new love increases levels of dopamine in the brain, but those heightened levels of dopamine also signal and increase in cortisol—the “crisis handling” chemical, and norepinephrine, an adrenaline hormone that can cause insomnia, cravings, and loss of appetite Basically, infatuation can completely scramble your brain.

Here are a few infatuation symptoms you may encounter when you’re really interested in someone:

1. Flaw-Blindness
Raging dopamine levels do all kinds of things to your brain and body, and one of them is majorly clouding your judgment. Yes, your new boo is probably absolutely wonderful, but the chance that their completely and utterly perfect is pretty slim. If the way they smack their lips when they eat ribs is just freakin’ adorable now, give it time to simmer before you declare it’s your favorite thing about them.

2. Forgetfulness
In crisis mode, your brain narrows its scope down to a singular focus—what’s essentially tunnel vision. That means that when you’re preoccupied with a new special someone, your brain may be dropping off its list all the other things that aren’t “important.” If you’re driving home with every intention of stopping at the bank, you may find yourself in your driveway before you even realize you’ve forgotten.

 3. Sour Stomach
When the stakes are high, your anxiety levels naturally heighten, and that can drop your desire to eat. If you’ve been on cloud nine lately and you’re finding that your stomach isn’t cooperating, this may be the reason why.

 4. Insecurity
Cortisol can caused heightened anxiety, and when you’re focusing on impressing someone new (and worrying about whether or not they’re as into you as you’re into them) this can cause you to turn your anxieties inward, and focus on your imperfections. Suddenly, you may find that you can’t let go of the size of your calves, or you’re fretting about if you’re savings account is too small. Things that you normally take in stride may become incredibly bothersome.

5. Exhaustion
Your preoccupation may hit whole new levels if it’s disrupting your sleep patterns. You can lie awake for hours thinking of all the wonderful things about your new crush, fretting over all the things that could go wrong, waking up early to do some extra primping in case you run into them, work out a little harder and cut back on calories to look your best, and not to mention panic sweat when they even look in your direction. These heightened activities can really take a toll on the body.

When you consider the havoc being newly in love wreaks on your body and mind, it can be daunting, and frankly, a turn off. But here’s the best part: You’re so in love, you don’t usually care. None of these symptoms even compare to when that dream person looks into your eyes. So keep sailing on that sea of love, dear friends. Soon the newness will wane and you’ll be left with the long lasting comfort of being able to sleep, eat, see, and remember things again.

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Youngest, Oldest, Middle, and Only: What Your Date’s Birth Order Says About Them Sun, 16 Jul 2017 08:00:01 +0000 Are you dating an only child? How about an older child? Here's what you should know.

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You’ve already conducted an astrological and numerological compatibility test on your date, but have you looked into what their birth order says about them?

It turns out that where a person falls in their family’s sibling hierarchy—oldest, middle, youngest, and even only—can play a pretty significant role in how they relate to others, especially in a romantic relationship.

It all boils down to the fact that your parents and your siblings were the first people who you interacted with. How you related to each other, and where you fit into your family dynamic, pretty much set the path of your future relationships.

Birth order and its potentially lasting impact on a person’s life has fascinated both the scientific community and us mere Muggles for centuries. It was Alfred Adler, an Austrian psychotherapist, who first recognized birth order as a significant factor in personality development. He believed that “even though children have the same parents and grow up in nearly the same family setting, they do not have identical social environments,” which affects how we deal with tasks, careers, friendships, and relationships later in life.

Which is why determining your date’s birth-order is just one strategy to help assess your compatibility—a theory backed by science and not the stars.

Here’s what you need to know about birth order types, and how it can affect your love life.

If your date is the firstborn…
He or she likes to be in control. Most likely they will choose the restaurant where you’re meeting, and because they’re also known to be conscientious and well-organized, they’ve also scoped out additional activities to explore post-dinner, and will either be early or on time—but never late. Because they’re reliant and overachievers, firstborns are the kind of partners who you can count on for support, both financially and emotionally. Though you might have to prod them to embrace their spontaneous side from time-to-time.

If your date is the middle child…
You’re in for a mixed bag. Bridging the gap between the eldest and youngest child, the middle child is generally known the as Type O child—they get along with just about anyone. Which is probably why in his book, The New Birth Order Book: Why You Are the Way You Are, Kevin Leham said middle children tend to be mediators. Most likely your middle child date will be easy-going and have a go-with-the-flow attitude when it comes to date night. Even though middle children are highly sociable, they can also be hard to read. Leham notes middle children are choosy about who they confide in—so if your date opens up to you, it’s a good sign that they trust you.

If your date is the youngest…
Because they’ve fought hard to find their social footing—and because they were mostly likely babied within the family—your last-born date is super sociable, extroverted, and is in need of some extra TLC. Chances are your youngest born date is up for anything, which is super fun and exciting, but because they didn’t take on much responsibility as a kid, they might look to you to take the reins. However, because they spent a lot of time with adults and older children, they get along with a variety of people and is probably the funniest person in the room.

If your date is the only child…
Only children get a bad rep for being selfish, which Adler didn’t help much by calling them “dependent and self-centered.” However, as much as only children are a little spoiled (hey, they didn’t have to share with anyone), they are also known to be responsible, mature, and organized. If you’re dating someone who’s a bit younger than you, but is also an only child, you may find that they’re pretty smart and ambitious. Because they mostly hung out with parents and adults for most of their young lives, you may also notice that their communication skills are strong. Like firstborns, only children are perfectionists but because they’re the sole child, they’re super perfectionists. Your date night will be A+, but will leave little room for flexibility. And if something goes wrong? You can bet they’ll be super hard on themselves.

Although a person’s birth order by no means determines the path of a current or future relationship (a recent study found that birth order does not effect extroversion, emotional stability, agreeableness, conscientiousness, or imagination) it’s still fascinating to see how our place within our family during our earliest years could still impact our relationships, years later.

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Why Do Girls Like Bad Boys? Secrets from the Science of Attraction Mon, 10 Apr 2017 08:00:07 +0000 As it turns out, there's a reason why we're attracted to those nefarious characters.

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From James Dean to James Bond to George Clooney (pre-Amal), girls have always had a soft spot for bad boys. And now science knows why. Recent research has found that men who have vain and somewhat er, well, psychopathic tendencies usually get more dates than the average male. Wondering what’s up with that? Well, here’s why.

They’re more attractive.
It’s not your imagination—bad boys really are ridiculously good looking. Research has found that people with so-called ‘dark’ personality traits such as narcissism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism—otherwise known as the ‘dark triad’ of personality traits—are more physically attractive than others. The study by Nicholas Holtzman and Michael Strube of Washington University in St. Louis found that narcissists, unsurprisingly, are better at making themselves look physically appealing. Which explains why it’s definitely not a coincidence that bad boys have both an amazing wardrobe and amazing hair—they work hard at it.

Additionally, those within the dark triad were found to be, “more likeable and had more confident body language, and more attractive facial expressions,” than their counterparts. In short, a bad boy make a darn good first impression. This works well in his favor because, according to the research, when we find someone super hot, we tend to assume they’re also smart, kind, and confident (even if it isn’t true). No wonder bad boys are so irresistible.

They’re more fun.
From motorcycles to daredevil trips, bad boys know how to have a good time. A 2016 study conducted at the Hospital Clinic of Barcelona showed that a number of women were attracted to bad boy types because they were considered captivating. “While they are selfish, rule-breaking, imprudent, and rebellious, they are also brave, temerarious, independent, and self-reliant—and they live frantic, galvanizing lives,” said lead researcher Fernando Gutiérrez. He added that this behavior could function as “a signal that the subject has such good genetic quality and condition as to live dangerously without suffering harm.” The study went on to say those traits included in the dark triad, such as neuroticism and impulsiveness, “are not being weeded out by natural selection and actually may confer an evolutionary advantage.” Therefore ‘nice’ guys with their reliably structured existence just can’t compete with their wild bad boy counterparts who apparently have nine lives to boot—it’s evolution’s fault.

It’s hormonal.
If you find yourself ogling the bad boy at the bar, you can blame your ovaries for that. According to research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology back in 2012, women, in the week of ovulation, “delude themselves into thinking that the sexy bad boys will become devoted partners and better dads,” said study researcher Kristina Durante of The University of Texas at San Antonio. “When looking at the sexy cad through ovulation goggles, Mr. Wrong looked exactly like Mr. Right.” That means, during a certain time of the month, women can’t help but be attracted to the bad boy. (Just another thing to blame your baby box for.)

As much as bad boys are downright hypnotizing, it’s important to note that their charming ways quickly wear out. Although bad boys find it relatively easy to begin new relationships, research says that, over time, they find it difficult to maintain their mesmerizing first impression. In fact, they’re noted to be selfish, cold, and arrogant—pretty much the opposite of who you thought they were. (Just be careful because it could take several weeks before your bad boy exposes his true self. That’s because people with dark personality traits are skilled at keeping their unpleasant side hidden.)

Bottom line: bad boys are great for a fling, and it’s only natural to be attracted to them. (It’s science.) But if you’re looking for a long-term relationship go for the nice guy.








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Over 10 Love Facts You’ve Probably Never Heard Of Fri, 03 Mar 2017 09:00:48 +0000 Did you know things literally taste sweeter when you're in love?

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It’s no secret that love and relationships can be complicated and there are a lot of theories, opinions, and debates about what does and doesn’t work while you’re dating. However, there are a few things about love and relationships that are indisputable. We did a little research and found 11 love and relationship facts, based on science and data, that you may not have heard of before.

Fact #1: Love works like a drug.
You know what’s better than cocaine? Love. It’s no secret that being in a loving relationship unleashes a host of neurological reactions in our bodies. One study found that increased levels of adrenaline, oxytocin, and dopamine are found in the brains of people who are in love. This leads to euphoria-like symptoms, not unlike what happens with cocaine.

Fact #2: Love, or at least attraction, can be at first sight.
The brain calculates an amazing amount of information in a short amount of time, including knowing in a few moments whether you’re attracted to someone. The prefrontal cortex region of the brain plays a major part in making that decision, as was shown in another study when the region buzzed up when people saw photos of individuals they were attracted to or liked. Researchers took the information into a speed dating setting, and found a link between who people buzzed for and who ultimately exchanged numbers at the end of the session.

Fact #3: Being close to someone doesn’t necessarily mean it’s meant to be.
The perfect fit in a relationship may not be the right fit for you. A 2013 Columbia University study of 732 couples found that couples who felt too close to each other were just as likely to break up as people who didn’t feel close enough. However, it’s important to note that some couples in the study realigned what their definition of closeness was over a two-year period, improving the quality of their relationship.

Fact #4: People have tried to come up with a formula for love.
One popular theory of love is the triangular theory of love developed by a psychologist named Robert Sternberg. He presented it in 1985 and hypothesized that a combination of intimacy, passion, and commitment constituted romantic love in its complete form. And what’s perhaps even more interesting is that when one of these three factors is missing you get stuck with other forms of love such as empty love, liking or friendship, or compassionate love. Unfortunately, the theory was tested by others, and the results were less than stellar. The researchers concluded the theory needed more sound measures.

Fact #5: Japan has two Valentine’s Days.
While Valentine’s Day does exist in Japan, the nation has a follow up to the romantic holiday called White Day. It’s tough to understand the full meaning of the holiday from the title so here’s a short explanation: In Japan, Valentine’s Day is for women to present chocolates and treats to men. Men reciprocate a month later on White Day, giving gifts to the women that found the courage to express their love.

Fact #6: It was once thought that the ring finger had a vein that led straight to the heart.
The idea of the ring finger is more than just a tradition. It stems from Greek and Romans who theorized that the fourth finger on your left hand (the ring finger) had a vein that led right to the heart. It was called the vena amoris (the vein of love). Unfortunately, modern science demystified the belief, saying there is no vein that goes directly from the finger to the heart but it’s still a nice thought.

Fact #7: Love potions used to be made with sweat.
Back in the days of yore (think Shakespeare), people would use their sweat as an active ingredient in love potions. Women would carry peeled apples in their armpits to soak up the fragrance before giving it as a treat to men. For men, it wasn’t fruit but hankies stuffed into their armpits that gave them hope of attracting women with their scent.

Fact #8: Many think laughter leads to love.
One theory is that laughter leads to some of the best relationships. It’s been shown that couples who laugh together have a more unique moment, leading to the ability to share a memory of the unique moment and thus a connection.

Fact #9: Love makes us taste things differently.
One study showed that thinking about love can make things taste better—particularly, it can make them sweeter. Participants were asked to write about love and jealousy then eat gummies and bitter chocolate. People who wrote about love said the candy was sweeter than those who wrote about jealousy. Scientists also did a second experiment, repeating the process but changing it from candy to water. Again, those who wrote about love talked about the water having a sweeter taste.

Fact #10: Love makes you lose your focus.
There may not be a specific disease associated with being love sick, but there is science to show that you’re less productive. People who had high levels of passionate love had decreased efficiency in individual performance. In short, you lose the ability to focus and gain the ability to think about the other person constantly.

Fact #11: Speed dating was created in the late 90s.
The first official speed date was organized in 1998 by Rabbi Yaacov Deyo, who wanted to expedite the process for young Jewish singles to meet each other. Organizers used Excel spreadsheets to track would-be matches. One thing they couldn’t track was how fast the idea would catch on. Television shows centered around speed dating cropped up, even after the company Deyo trademarked SpeedDating.


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Why Love Makes You Fat (And 4 Other Weird Things That Happen) Fri, 06 Jan 2017 09:00:40 +0000 Love changes you in more ways than you'd think.

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A lot of people will wax on about how love changes who a person is and how they act. Maybe you’ve seen a few romantic comedies that showcase all the fun quirks—people start dressing a little bit nicer, they’re calmer, and they’re more likely to let the little things at work or with friends slide.  But how do people actually change when they fall in love?  We turned to science to find the answer:

There’s more love to go around.
OK, so we’ve all teased our friends about it (or been teased in return) but a happy relationship really does mean more pounds. According to a UCLA study of 169 newlywed couples, people in meaningful and fulfilling relationship tend to gain weight. The study found that the reason was because people unsatisfied with their relationships were aware of the potential of having to find a new significant other, and thus stayed on top of any efforts to be healthy and keep their weight down. But people in healthy, happy relationships tend to relax a little in their efforts to lose weight because of their confidence in the relationship.

You really do get butterflies in your stomach.
Well, ok, not real butterflies. But the next time you get knots in your stomach and feel something aflutter, know that it’s your body reacting to a high stress situation. The age old saying of butterflies in the stomach is actually a trio of glands—the hypothalamus, the pituitary, and the adrenal glands—coming together to create a physiological response that includes a faster heart rate, an increase in your breathing, more sweat, and a burst of energy.

You may remember your science teacher talking about the “fight or flight” reaction and that’s what happens when you’re nervous or stressed. In the olden days (think before computers and online dating), this was the body’s way of helping you fight bears in the wild or run away from a pack of wolves. For the modern age, this is the body’s not so subtle way of saying that you like someone.

Hormones go crazy.  
Forget concocting a love potion, how about a love hormone? Google oxytocin—a chemical released by the pituitary gland in your brain—and you’ll get a lot of results saying it comes from cuddling and plays a role in sex. People who say they’re in love have higher levels of oxytocin and it’s also been found people post-orgasm. The chemical is linked to creating stronger bonds between total strangers as well as building trust between couples.

Everything becomes less stressful.
Love and committed relationships come with their own set of stress factors but it can also reduce stress in other parts of your life. In 2010, scientists took a group of business graduate school students, asked them to play an economic computer game and told them it was a test that impacted their career placement. (AKA, they created a high stress situation.). Of the 500 students, roughly half were married or in serious relationships and that group had lower cortisol levels (meaning, lower stress levels) than their counterparts who weren’t in relationships. Their conclusion was that having a loving partner to support you creates a buffer against stress.

“Although marriage can be pretty stressful, it should make it easier for people to handle other stressors in their lives,” said Dario Maestripieri, lead author of the study and professor of comparative human development at the University of Chicago. “What we found is that marriage has a dampening effect on cortisol responses to psychological stress.”

You can take the pain.
Love isn’t exactly a drug but it’s like being on pain killers. The sensation of love is associated with regions of the brain activated by drugs used to treat pain. A Stanford University study of people in new relationships found that those looking at photos of their romantic partners were able to endure a certain amount of pain, similar to how people distract themselves with math or topics during unpleasant experiences. While the result was the same, the two methods had different routes. Using love to distract test subjects, researchers found the brain’s reward center was activated, similar to how opioids work.

“This tells us that you don’t have to just rely on drugs for pain relief,” said Arthur Aron, one of the study’s authors, in a 2010 article. “People are feeling intense rewards without the side effects of drugs.”

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Summer Love Is a Real Thing Tue, 21 Jun 2016 02:29:17 +0000 Thinking of having a summer fling? There might be a scientific reason for it.

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The official first day of summer is here, and if you’re single, you know what that means: It’s time for summer love!

Summer love has been sung about by everyone from Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta to Andre 3000. It’s referenced to death on TV, in movies, and in pop culture. Still, every year, we can’t help it: When the warm weather creeps in, it sends a signal to our bodies that we need to free ourselves from the darkness of winter and get out there and mingle.

Summer is filled with opportunities to meet people. It’s an incredibly social season! Just think of all the barbecues, vacations, pool days, and impromptu happy hours that occur during the summer simply because it’s sunny out. You meet new and exciting people at these gatherings, and often times, you hit it off. It’s that mystery and intrigue of someone new that sparks summer love. But there’s also a scientific aspect to that kind of intense short-term attraction—yes, really.

“Keeping each other guessing increases the production of dopamine, a hormone associated with excitement and anticipation that makes couples feel more sexually attracted to each other,” says Scott Haltzman, M.D. and author.

On top of that, our skin is exposed to more sunlight, which triggers our bodies to produce mood-boosting dopamine, serotonin, and a hormone called MSH. We show a lot more skin and dress more casually in the summer. We bare our arms and legs instead of hiding underneath sweaters. We slip our feet into sandals instead of cramming them into boots. And we find ourselves with many occasions to wear a bathing suit. When we meet someone at the beach wearing just a bikini or swim trunks, there’s high potential for sexual arousal. Plus, seeing that much skin sends a signal to our brains that the person is lighthearted and fun—the perfect summer love interest. Chances are you take people you meet at the beach less seriously than you would if they were covered up.

“Time spent with someone increases attraction in general—in a classroom, at the workplace, et cetera,” explains Catherine Sanderson, a psychology professor at Amherst College. “But it also means that people may feel more free to engage in romantic and sexual experiences if ‘on break’ from their real life. You can see this anecdotally with spring break and summer romances.”

Another reason we’re so casual in the summer is because it doesn’t carry the stress of the holidays like the winter does. Yes, we celebrate Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, and Labor Day, but those don’t come with nearly the same amount of pressure to be hitched that Thanksgiving and Christmas do. (Not to mention that New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day follow shortly after.) Summer is for short-term attachments and having fun, not worrying if the person you’re seeing will invite you to spend the holidays with their family.

The concept of summer love might seem subjective, but there’s actually data to back it up. According to Facebook statistics from 2010 and 2011, an increased number of breakups (indicated by a changed relationship status) occurred between May and August, across all age groups. People tend to break things off at the beginning of summer so they can enjoy the ride unattached.

You can fall in love at any given moment, but it’s just more common in the summer. Think about it: When it’s cold out, we don’t participate in as many activities. We scurry home at the end of the day, longing to be comfortable and warm. Our moods are lower too, due to less sunlight. So when summer hits, we’re itching to start something up. We’re naturally drawn to summer flings because they don’t typically come with complicated emotions—just casual fun.

“You don’t have to wonder, ‘Where is this going?’ ‘Is he the one for me?’” psychologist and relationship expert Jane Greer explains of summer love. “It hits you quickly—everything is packaged all together, and you already know what’s going to happen. There’s a certain wild abandon that can be very exciting.”

If you want to have fun this summer but aren’t ready to commit to something serious, get out there and flirt your way to a summer fling. Just know what you’re getting into and make sure you’re on the same page as your new flame. Otherwise, someone’s feelings could get hurt come Labor Day.

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