The Interesting Science Behind Physical Attraction

The Interesting Science Behind Physical Attraction

Your body is playing cupid for you more than you realize.
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Think of the person you’re most attracted to. It could be your girlfriend or boyfriend, a crush you’ve only met a couple times, or one of your friends. What is it that pulls you to them? Is it their hair? Smile? Voice? Smell? Or a combination of all of the above? What if I told you that the reason you’re attracted to someone is actually all a part of a mating game that you’re completely unaware of? You probably think everything that attracts you to a person is surface level or just “your type," but in actuality, your body chemistry is playing matchmaker more than you realize, and all for the purpose of reproducing.

All of your senses are involved in attraction more than you might think. Three of the most prominent and responsible ones are sight, smell, and hearing. Obviously, looks play a huge role in attraction. Although the definition of beauty varies among cultures, there are some characteristics that scientifically, everyone is more or less drawn to. Traits such as long hair and smooth skin are universally desired because they are signs of good reproductive fitness. They broadcast that the person is healthy, youthful, and fertile. Although I can’t scientifically prove that blondes have more fun, research has shown that blonde hair is a sign of youth and therefore indicates greater reproductive value. Blonde hair darkens with age, so the lighter one’s hair is, the younger your body perceives that person to be.

Also, your sense of smell is incredibly important. No one wants to be around someone who smells terrible, much less get physical with them. But your nose picks up on physical or genetic information much more complex than the perfume or cologne your partner is wearing. In a study done at the University of Texas at Austin, men smelled t-shirts worn by women in different stages of their ovulation cycles and were asked to rate the smell of each one. The t-shirts worn by women in their most fertile stage of their menstrual cycle were ranked the “sexiest” smelling of them all, which makes sense considering fertility is a high priority in the mating process. Women’s noses, however, are acutely tuned to pick up on MHC molecules, or major histocompatibility complex molecules. These are basically disease-fighters in your DNA. In this case, “opposites attract” applies. Women will want men that have different MHC molecules than them, so that their offspring will be immune to a greater variety of viruses and bacteria. For example, if I am immune to disease A and my partner is immune to disease B, I will be more attracted to his scent than that of someone also immune to disease A because I want my child to be immune to both diseases, not just one.

People’s voices also have an effect on attraction. Typically, men prefer women with higher pitched, breathy voices, indicative of femininity and fertility, while women like men with deep voices, showing masculinity and the ability to raise a family. Ariana Grande is a good example of someone with a high pitched voice, and Josh Turner or Chris Hemsworth are good examples of men with low voices. Ladies, if you’ve never heard Chris Hemsworth speak, watch a movie or interview of his and you’ll know what I’m talking about…but the British accent doesn’t hurt him either.

Once the match has been made, hormones come into play. When you’re into someone, your body releases a certain group of neurotransmitters called monoamines to encourage you to continue pursuing that person. These three are dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin.

Dopamine, one of the main “pleasure hormones”, is released throughout the body. Its functions have to do with motivation and rewards, and it is responsible for our desire to acquire something, whether it’s food, drugs, an achievement, or sex. These hormones incite feelings of intense energy, bliss, and exhilaration. Dopamine has the exact same effect on the body that cocaine does, and you can easily become addicted to it. (so yes, love is indeed a drug.)

Norepinephrine creates the same feelings that adrenaline does; it’s your fight or flight instinct. It causes you to be more alert, energetic, and focused on the task at hand. If you’re talking to the person you’re attracted to, it helps you to say the right things and pay attention to what the person is saying, so that the end game will work out in your favor and the attraction will be mutual. Norepinephrine levels increase during the first kiss as well; you probably remember your first kiss with someone pretty vividly, right? This is because this hormone increases your ability to remember the moment, as the fight or flight instinct prepares your body for more, sending signals throughout your brain that something exciting is happening.

Serotonin is also released. Serotonin is the natural chemical that makes you happy, and it affects things like mood, appetite, sleep, memory, and sexual desire. Low serotonin levels can cause depression and decrease libido. It is one of love’s most important chemicals and can actually make us temporarily insane. So to all the crazy girlfriends out there: just blame it on your serotonin levels and thank me later.

Now that you know a little about how your senses and hormones are involved in attraction, you can appreciate all the different ways your body is playing cupid for you the next time you set eyes on that beautiful stranger!

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To The Person Who Feels Suicidal But Doesn't Want To Die

Suicidal thoughts are not black and white.
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Everyone assumes that if you have suicidal thoughts that means you want to die.

Suicidal thoughts are thought of in such black and white terms. Either you have suicidal thoughts and you want to die, or you don't have suicidal thoughts and you want to live. What most people don't understand is there are some stuck in the gray area of those two statements, I for one am one of them.

I've had suicidal thoughts since I was a kid.

My first recollection of it was when I came home after school one day and got in trouble; and while I was just sitting in the dining room I kept thinking, “I wonder what it would be like to take a knife from the kitchen and just shove it into my stomach." I didn't want to die, or even hurt myself for that matter. But those thoughts haven't stopped since.

I've thought about going into the bathroom and taking every single pill I could find and just drifting to sleep and never waking back up, I've thought about hurting myself to take the pain away, just a few days ago on my way to work I thought about driving my car straight into a tree. But I didn't. Why? Because even though that urge was so strong, I didn't want to die. I still don't, I don't want my life to end.

I don't think I've ever told anyone about these feelings. I don't want others to worry because the first thing anyone thinks when you tell them you have thoughts about hurting or killing yourself is that you're absolutely going to do it and they begin to panic. Yes, I have suicidal thoughts, but I don't want to die.

It's a confusing feeling, it's a scary feeling.

When the depression takes over you feel like you aren't in control. It's like you're drowning.

Every bad memory, every single thing that hurt you, every bad thing you've ever done comes back and grabs you by the ankle and drags you back under the water just as you're about the reach the surface. It's suffocating and not being able to do anything about it.

The hardest part is you never know when these thoughts are going to come. Some days you're just so happy and can't believe how good your life is, and the very next day you could be alone in a dark room unable to see because of the tears welling up in your eyes and thinking you'd be better off dead. You feel alone, you feel like a burden to everyone around you, you feel like the world would be better off without you. I wish it was something I could just turn off but I can't, no matter how hard I try.

These feelings come in waves.

It feels like you're swimming and the sun is shining and you're having a great time, until a wave comes and sucks you under into the darkness of the water. No matter how hard you try to reach the surface again a new wave comes and hits you back under again, and again, and again.

And then it just stops.

But you never know when the next wave is going to come. You never know when you're going to be sucked back under.

I always wondered if I was the only one like this.

It didn't make any sense to me, how did I think about suicide so often but not want to die? But I was thinking about it in black and white, I thought I wasn't allowed to have those feelings since I wasn't going to act on them. But then I read articles much like this one and I realized I'm not the only one. Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, and my feelings are valid.

To everyone who feels this way, you aren't alone.

I thought I was for the longest time, I thought I was the only one who felt this way and I didn't understand how I could feel this way. But please, I implore you to talk to someone, anyone, about the way you're feeling; whether it be a family member, significant other, a friend, a therapist.

My biggest mistake all these years was never telling anyone how I feel in fear that they would either brush me off because “who could be suicidal but not want to die," or panic and try to commit me to a hospital or something. Writing this article has been the greatest feeling of relief I've felt in a long time, talking about it helps. I know it's scary to tell people how you're feeling, but you're not alone and you don't have to go through this alone.

Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, your feelings are valid, and there are people here for you, you are not alone.

If you're thinking about hurting yourself please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit suicidepreventionhotline.org to live chat with someone. Help it out there and you are not alone.


Cover Image Credit: BengaliClicker

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5 Instagram Clothing Brands That'll Make You Wish You Had More Credit Cards

Instagram fashion labels have been all the rage lately, some more than others. Let's support some small businesses by taking a look at five Instagram "boutiques."

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I'll be honest: I indulge in retail therapy a little too much. I may or may not have a problem, but that's alright because at this point I almost always know where to go to get the cutest clothes. Keep reading to see five clothing stores you can shop, all from the comfort of Instagram.

1. Olivia Rose The Label — $$

Olivia Rose hand-makes and ships all of her designs from London, a testament to true entrepreneurship, ingenuity and dedication. Not to mention all of her clothes are gorgeous! She's been worn by everyone from celebrities — Dua Lipa most notably — to Instagram models. Most of her pieces tend to be in $100-200 price range, hence the two dollar signs.

This may seem a little pricey given the seeming simplicity of her clothing, but keep in mind it's all hand-made! My favorite designs have to be the Greta top and the Ophelia dress, both of which bring out the inner girly-girl in me. She is supposedly releasing a new collection soon, so be sure to keep an eye out!

2. Lisa Says Gah — $$$

Lisa Says Gah is a retail website that carries a variety of brands and is the epitome of breezy West Coast style that every girl dreams of achieving. Their selection consists of gorgeous dresses in interesting prints, unique blouses with a feminine flair and beaded bags that walked straight out of your childhood. Be warned, though, they are extremely pricey. Most of their pieces are out of the typical consumer's budget.

They do have a sale section though! There's still hope for those of us who can't afford to pay full price.

3. With Jéan — $$

With Jéan is based in Australia, and it shows. Their designs are infused with the golden rays of the Australian sun. They convey a sense of happiness and warmth that not all clothing has. Their prices are pretty similar to those of Olivia Rose, if not a little bit more expensive. However, their sales section is reasonable!

This shop and Olivia Rose are the closest to my personal style, but they're definitely not for everyone! If you have more of a risqué style, the shops below are for you!

4. Daisy — $$$

Another star-studded brand, Daisy has been repped by the likes of Cara Delevingne, Selena Gomez and Madison Beer. Their styles are the most risqué in this list. I am normally hesitant to wear anything revealing, but their looks are so cute that I'd be willing to break my sartorial M.O., as it were. Once again, they are pricey, so not everyone will be able to afford their clothing. You have been warned!

5. Motel — $

By far the most popular and affordable brand on this list, Motel Rocks has something for everyone. Whether your style falls on the "edgy" side, the feminine side or the stereotypical "Instagram model" side, Motel has you covered. They're the ones who invented that famous angel crop top, so they deserve quite a bit of credit! While you're checking them out, you should take a look at one of my favorite Insta pages, @beautyspock. I discovered this brand (and Olivia Rose) through her, so she's definitely one to watch if you like the stores on this list!

*This article is not sponsored*

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