The Science of Attraction

The Science of Attraction

Shelby Simons

There’s more to love than you may think. Not everyone has their fairy-tale love story, or that ‘love at first sight’ thing. Someone like me is skeptical of love; it can’t be that difficult to find someone compatible. Some people just don’t get the butterflies in their belly, or the sweaty palms. To me, love is confusing. It’s messy, overly complicated, and just downright difficult. 

Human attraction is an interesting thing to ponder. Why are the couples you see in the hallway together? How did they know that they were compatible with each other? Was there a feeling in their heart that begged them to fall head over heels… or could it be something else? And why is it so hard for others to find their partner (someone like me, who is the single senior of this story)? 

The science of attraction tells us what goes on behind the scenes. High levels of dopamine and norepinephrine are released during attraction. These chemicals can make us energetic, giddy, and can even lead to a decrease in appetite and an increase in insomnia… which means that you actually can be ‘in love’ if you can’t eat or sleep. 

More than anything, love hurts. Love is most often accompanied by jealousy, erratic behavior, and irrationality. The chemicals that make us feel all of the good can also make us feel all the bad.  Dopamine is responsible for the majority of the brain’s reward pathway. 

Claus Wedekind, a Swiss biological researcher, conducted a study that is known as the ‘sweaty t-shirt study’.  The study followed men wearing the same shirt for two days and placing them in identical boxes. The woman rated the smell of men they liked and didn’t like by smelling the shirts. The more different the DNA was from the women, the more the women liked the smell of the t-shirt. 

So, to put it all into simpler terms, the love that you feel is just hormones. Hormones that make you happy and feel good inside. So it makes sense that spending time with someone, enjoying their company, and touching them would make you feel more attracted to them. 

The concept of finding ‘the one’ is more complicated and confusing than I originally thought.