Love and attraction are arguably the most confusing of all human emotions. Poets write about them, philosophers ponder them, and virtually all humans actively seek them. Self-help guides and magazines are filled with tips, tricks, and suggestions to help you find the right mate, but the advice can be conflicting.
Love and attraction have been studied extensively by science, and what has been unearthed might surprise you. Here are 7 surprising but true scientific facts about love and attraction. We might not know exactly why these things happen, but no doubt at some point in our evolutionary history, they served our ancestors well.
- Men Are More Patient
Although popular culture tends to cast women as the sex more likely to sit by the phone, this isn’t actually the case. According to research, women wait just 7 days to hear back from a date before giving up. Men are willing to wait an average of 11.25 days. Men are also 80% more likely than women to go on a date with someone with whom they do not yet feel chemistry.
- Your Voice Changes When Talking to Someone Attractive
Studies show that both men and women change their voices when speaking with someone they perceive as attractive. Interestingly, for both sexes, the vocal tone actually drops down. And independent raters consistently rate the lower tone as more attractive when compared with the speakers’ normal voices.
- Premarital Sex Isn’t New
It turns out that your grandparents’ generation wasn’t as innocent as they led everyone to believe. Humans seem to be biologically hardwired for premarital sex. Surveys show that even among women born in the 1940s, supposedly a much more chaste era, more than 9 out of 10 had sex before getting married. When taking all generations from the 1940s through today into account, 95 percent of people have had sex before marriage at least once.
- Beauty Really Can’t Be Ignored
First impressions do matter, and attractiveness counts for a lot, according to scientific research. When subjects were asked to attend to a cognitively demanding task while ignoring irrelevant faces that popped up periodically, attractive faces were far more distracting than unattractive ones. Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but once you see it, putting it out of your mind can be challenging.
- Women Are Attracted by Dogs
Guys have long claimed that taking a dog to the park is a great way to meet women. It turns out that is actually true. Across multiple studies, researchers found that a man with a dog in tow was a stunning three times more likely to get a woman’s phone number.
- Men Prefer the Lady in Red
Women: if you want to up your odds of being noticed without drawing too much attention, opt to wear something red. For reasons that are not yet clear, studies consistently show that when the same woman wears red versus a different color, men are more inclined to engage her in deeper conversations. This is true even when the clothing styles are otherwise identical.
- Women Really Do Like Wealth and Prestige
Sorry, men. Despite protests to the contrary, science shows that wealth and prestige affect women far differently than men. When the same woman is seated in a high status car rather than an average one, men tend to rate her as equally attractive. When a man is seated in a high status car, however, women consistently rate him as more attractive. Maybe this is an evolutionary holdover from the days when men were providers?
Love and attraction are complex and, at times, frankly bizarre. It can be difficult to navigate the waters of early dating, so why not take every benefit you can? Walking a dog or wearing a red shirt is no guarantee of love, but it can’t hurt, either.
Looking for verifiable information on the science of attraction and relationships? We’re a neuroscientist and a biological anthropologist eager to help you put the Anatomy of Love to work in your own life.