Love is complicated. Physical chemistry is decidedly not– it’s either there, or it isn’t.
Once upon a time, my friend introduced me to his very good-looking boss at a party. This man was in his low 30’s, nicely-dressed, tall, olive skin (he’s from Portugal), and had that twinkle of mischief in his eye that always snags my attention. Then he opened his mouth, and….
AAAAAAAAAGGGGGHHHHH!!!! Brown teeth! The misfortune!
I was single at the time and would have loved nothing more than to meet a single, intelligent, worldly, handsome man such as himself. But every time he opened his mouth, visions of skeletons and worms danced through my head like a post-apocalyptic horror movie. It wasn’t as if his teeth were just crooked, or simply yellow or unbrushed. They were poop brown, thanks to years of cigar smoke.
I decided I was being superficial, so I pushed myself to give him a chance. Sure enough, this man was incredibly interesting and funny (damn!). He told me about growing up in Portugal and working in Africa. He speaks 4 languages fluently, asked about my tastes in music and books, talked about philosophy, made references to the story of Cleopatra and other interesting pieces of history and literature. But throughout the whole fabulous conversation, my subconscious was screaming Death! Decay! Stay away from this man!
Sure enough, I ended up rebuffing his advances and never returned his call. And since then, I’ve been absolutely fascinated by the biological reasons behind physical attraction. I’ve gathered information from countless articles (here‘s a good one, if you’re curious), and I’ve discovered some verrry interesting facts.
Physical attraction is mostly about sizing up another person’s biological fitness. Women want men who look healthy and strong, who have symmetrical features, whose immune systems will complement our own, who appear to be the best providers of security and desirable genes.
Men tend to be attracted to women who look the most fertile– large breasts, perfect hip-to-waist ratio, early-to-mid 20’s.
Other interesting facts:
-Bi-racial people are often deemed especially attractive because their hetero-zygote genes make them the most immune to disease and deformity (as opposed to say, children of incest)
-Women are attracted to more feminine-looking men during the least fertile times of their menstrual cycle, but are attracted to more masculine-looking features (including facial scars) during ovulation
-Humans are most attracted by smell (pheromones) to the members of the opposite sex whose immune systems are the most different from our own.
Attraction is all about health, fitness and longevity; this man’s brown teeth signaled death, age and decay. It is possible that, had his teeth not been brown, we could have fallen in love, challenged and entertained each other forever, produced a gaggle of non-cigar-smoking, white-teethed children. But decades of natural selection took over, and they deemed this man unfit for a biological pairing with me.
Isn’t that fascinating? Anyone else have a similar experience?