The Science of Attraction

28 09 2009


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? 








9 responses

28 09 2009

bad teeth is an inexcusable thing to have in 2009, especially for someone with the means to fix it. Understandably, the man was from europe, which is hardly a bastion of great dental hygiene, but given his years in the states, he had no excuse to not have addressed the situation promptly, particularly because there is a link between janked up teeth with 3 inches of plaque and tartar and cavities and faeries and goblins hiding in molars and heart disease. I would also point you to an article in the great Vanity Fair equating great looking teeth and dental hygiene with the capacity to give fantastic blow jobs, so I see no reason why this standard for women’s ORAL hygiene should not be extended to also apply to a man’s: did you really want that tobacco plaque giblets kibbles and bits going down on your lady parts? oozing cavities on your, ahem, and who knows what could have grown afterwards from the transfer. this is a pretty cut and dry case.

28 09 2009

Well I think bros said it all and pretty damn well too. That IS fascinating. No wonder I made out with that beefcake last week, my eggs wanted me to! Damn this makes me want a boob job.

29 09 2009
It's All Greek To Me...

About eight or nine years ago I had a mad, crazy crush on one of the most beautiful women I have ever met before or since. She was Greek, pale skin, amazing hair, piercing dark eyes… and terrible bad breath. I might have gotten over it, but then she went back to Greece, became and opera singer, and married a shipping tycoon (yawn!).

29 09 2009

This series piece on American dentistry in slate kind of goes off topic in the later entries but the first has some interesting commentary on how a foreign, westerner views American norms of dental health and how it affects socializing.

29 09 2009
Crest White-Strip Junkie

Hmm, Timur…interesting comment, because you’re absolutely right that there is a high cultural standard in America about hygiene and particularly about teeth. We strap our teens in braces as soon as all their teeth are visible and pay outrageous amounts of money for teeth-bleaching. Wasn’t it Britney Spears who took some heat for bleaching her 2-year-old’s teeth? And while I’m aware that I’m being brainwashed by my American culture, I still prefer shaved legs and armpits, and…. hope no one finds this offensive….circumcisions.

29 09 2009
Edward Dandyhands

I heard that Killer bees kill via pheromones… one killer bee can’t kill you, but when you’re stung, you emit an “enemy pheromone” that the other bees pick up on. Then you’re swarmed, your body goes into shock, etc… bada bing.

There could be an animal planet/Spike TV show called “When pheromones go bad…”

I also saw this other documentary where 3 random girls wore a plane white T-shirt all day (work/school/normal routine) without any perfume/deoderant/fabric softener/etc.. and then were immediately placed in sealed containers. Then randoms bros had to smell all three t-shirts and pick which one they liked the best. (there were multiple groups of 3 girls)… and some crazy number, like 75% of the time, of bros would pick the girl that they were actually attracted to based off looks/interaction from a previous experiment. Pollo loco.

29 09 2009
Southern Girl

Dandyhands? Intriguing name. I think I’m attracted to you.

1 10 2009

I don’t know If I said it already but …Great site…keep up the good work. 🙂 I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say I’m glad I found your blog. Thanks, 🙂

A definite great read..Jim Bean

12 10 2009
Plastic and Hungry « District Ramblings

[…] lb., blonde, C-cup woman with a perfect nose.  Not even most them want that– it’s not scientifically possible. […]

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