Is it love, genetics, pheromones … or what?
The age-old question, ‘what is love?’ - never satisfactorily
answered - seems a good subject for post-Valentine’s Day reading. ‘Hot’ or
‘Not’, to use 21st-century parlance!
Victorian and earlier poets romanticised love, in times when often, for the
majority of people, survival was a more urgent subject for consideration. In
spite of realities though, man still met woman (whatever the social
conditions), Cupid’s arrow still found its mark and the human race continued
to increase in numbers.
So, how to explain this phenomenon? To many modern and slightly cynical
humans of both sexes, the magical meeting of minds is a myth; the entire
progression being simply nature’s way of ensuring that a particular species
survives. The same humans would point out that dogs, for example, don’t fall
in love (how would they know this?), nor might they consider that the
conjugal habits of certain species of birds, known to stay together during
their entire lifetimes, has anything to do with mutual regard.
At the other end of the spectrum, how many of us believe that the reason why
the soul mate in our life understands us so well is that he/she was
important to us in our previous lives?
Behavioural scientists (most of whom seem to be qualified in the
post-Freudian fashionable and possibly overrated specialisation, psychology)
have their own favourite theories on this and many other aspects of the
human condition, although this writer often wonders which lunatics finance
many of the studies undertaken, and whether their money could have been
better spent elsewhere!
Everyone’s heard of pheromones and hormones, the easy answer to this eternal
question, but many other theories hark back to the early beginnings of the
human race, when life was a great deal more dangerous and unpredictable than
it is now.
Ever wondered why that vastly overweight, septuagenarian and, quite frankly,
ugly guy has been married three times in the last 20 years to much younger,
quite frankly, gorgeous women? Easy answer - he’s powerful. Rich, also -
that’s the added bonus - but it’s power that attracts, simply because it
protects. Ten thousand years ago, it wasn’t the best idea to be attracted to
the guy who had sand kicked in his face regularly, as he wasn’t going to be
a great deal of use against an angry mammoth, nor when the tribe in the next
valley decided it preferred your cave! Life was, and still is, precious, and
we’re still programmed to find the best way possible to preserve it.
Intelligence also counted for a lot in those far-away times, just as it does
now, as it promotes status if properly used, which, again, leads to power
and protection. This is particularly important when a woman is at
child-bearing age. Protection, for our ancient female ancestors, involved
support, both during pregnancy and whilst children were growing up; an
intelligent, rich partner with an elevated tribal status, would have been
far more able to provide this.
One study of older women, whose fertility was no longer of importance to
them, showed that the importance of status in a partner had also declined,
with compatibility taking its place. Interesting.
As regards the reasons why men fall for women - not surprisingly, it seems
rather more straightforward. ‘Gentlemen prefer blondes’ - wasn’t just a
universal male reaction to the late and undeniably lovely Marilyn Monroe. It
would seem that blonde hair, in men’s subconscious minds, represents youth,
health, fertility and the ability to safely produce healthy children.
Certainly, in the West, many children have blonde hair that darkens as they
grow older, so a connection, at least in that hemisphere, with youth, could
well be logical.
Preferred physical properties, for men, differ according to culture, but
seem still related to health and child-bearing abilities. For example, in
Africa and the Middle East, female body sizes ranging from large to
extremely large are seen as the height of attractiveness, as this indicates
resilience. In certain African areas, a woman’s well-padded, often out-of
proportionately large butt attracts a great deal of attention as the fat
stored in that region aids survival during times of food shortage. Of
course, in the West, during the last 100 years, the fashionable and
fanciable shape for women has shrunk by at least 4 dress sizes (by today’s
standards Marilyn Monroe was decidedly overweight!)
Both men and women seem to choose the same physical type of partner
throughout their lives. The theory that this preference stems from our
perception of our parents is based on evolutionary reasons. Subconsciously,
when we decide to have children, we need to do so with an individual whose
genes, we know, are tried and tested. Since we cannot do this with our
fathers, we tend to select a male whose similarity factor coincides with
this instinct. However, too close a resemblance will repel, due to our
genetic fear of inbreeding.
Men, however, will tend to choose partners who are perceived to be less
intelligent than themselves – back to blondes again! To those of us who are
blonde - please note the word, ‘perceived’!
So, it’s all down to our ancient forebears and our genetic inheritance, plus
a search for the best genes with which to mix our own - with a few modern
media, fashion and ego-dictated preferences thrown in … Right. BUT - no
scientist or psychologist, male or female, has ever been able to explain the
‘feeling’ we have - all of us, however young or old, whether gay or
straight, when we meet a potential partner. That delicious mix of
nervousness, anticipation, eye contact, confusion, immediate closeness,
friendship and instinctive understanding - all in the same moment, at which
even the most ‘together’ of us wonders what the hell to say next, without
seeming a perfect fool.
Love - it’s just a word; living the word, with all that this involves, is
the proof that there’s a lot more to it than pure survival and genetics,
even although we don’t, and probably never will, understand its true
and we learn…
These words were sent to me by a friend, and written by Andy Rooney, a
man who has the gift of saying so much with so few words. Enjoy... and
read to the bottom... and remember that the gift of being cared about by
a true friend is the best gift in the world.
I’ve learned ... That the best classroom in the world is at the feet of
an elderly person.
I’ve learned ... That when you’re in love, it shows.
I’ve learned ... That just one person saying to me, ‘You’ve made my
day!’ makes my day.
I’ve learned ... That having a child fall asleep in your arms is one of
the most peaceful feelings in the world.
I’ve learned ... That being kind is more important than being right.
I’ve learned ... That you should never say no to a gift from a child.
I’ve learned ... That I can always pray for someone when I don’t have
the strength to help him in some other way.
I’ve learned ... That no matter how serious your life requires you to
be, everyone needs a friend to act goofy with.
I’ve learned ... That sometimes all a person needs is a hand to hold and
a heart to understand.
I’ve learned ... That simple walks with my father around the block on
summer nights when I was a child did wonders for me as an adult.
I’ve learned ... That life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer it
gets to the end, the faster it goes.
I’ve learned ... That we should be glad God doesn’t give us everything
we ask for.
I’ve learned ... That money doesn’t buy class.
I’ve learned ... That it’s those small daily happenings that make life
I’ve learned ... That under everyone’s hard shell is someone who wants
to be appreciated and loved.
I’ve learned ... That to ignore the facts does not change the facts.
I’ve learned ... That when you plan to get even with someone, you are
only letting that person continue to hurt you.
I’ve learned ... That love, not time, heals all wounds.
I’ve learned ... That the easiest way for me to grow as a person is to
surround myself with people smarter than I am.
I’ve learned ... That everyone you meet deserves to be greeted with a
I’ve learned ....That no one is perfect until you fall in love with
I’ve learned ... That life is tough, but I’m tougher.
I’ve learned ... That opportunities are never lost, someone will take
the ones you miss.
I’ve learned ... That when you harbour bitterness, happiness will dock
I’ve learned ... That I wish I could have told my Mum that I love her
one more time before she passed away.
I’ve learned ... That one should keep his words both soft and tender,
because tomorrow he may have to eat them.
I’ve learned ... That a smile is an inexpensive way to improve your
I’ve learned ... That when your newly born grandchild holds your little
finger in his little fist, that you’re hooked for life.
I’ve learned ... That everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but
all the happiness and growth occurs while you’re climbing it.
I’ve learned ... That the less time I have to work with, the more things
I get done.
Confusion reigns … OK?
Given the upcoming 2nd World Holistic Healing Seminar, and the
worldwide increase in reliance on natural and holistic therapies, we
thought that the following news item might be of interest….
‘New regulations listing natural pesticides such as neem, citronella
grass, tumeric, ginger, Chinese ginger, African marigold, Siam weed or
bitter bush, tea seed cake, chilli, Chinese celery, ringworn bush, glory
lily and stemona as hazardous substances are causing concern to organic
farmers. The plants are regularly used as affordable and safe
alternatives to expensive and toxic chemical pesticides, and are now
being targeted with stringent regulations as to their use. Breach of the
regulations, which are being applied to growers, manufacturers,
importers and exporters of pesticides made from the 13 herbal plants,
will result in jail sentences and large fines.
‘Sumalee Tanyachareon, an organic farmer, in Suphanburi province, states
that the new regulations will be an obstacle and a burden to all organic
producers, and adds that she previously used chemical pesticides, but
decided to switch to the natural version as it was safer and cheaper.
‘The Department for Development of Thai Traditional and Alternative
Medicine’s director general, Dr Nara Nakwattananukul said there had been
a misunderstanding about the implementation of the industry ministerial
regulations regarding the listing of the 13 herbal plants as hazardous
substances. Under the regulations, farmers are allowed to use herbal
plants as medicine, and do not have to register with the Department of
Agriculture if they only have small herbal plantations.’
More research – trust your instincts
We’ve all had ‘gut feelings’ about many different issues which
arise in our lives - sometimes we go with those feelings and sometimes
we don’t. At the same time, as we get older, we often feel that our
decision-making processes are somehow diminishing, and we may , as
result, lose confidence in them, or spend a great deal of time sifting
through options without arriving at a conclusion.
Recent research by psychologists suggests that, as we grow older, our
natural instincts (our ‘gut feelings’) tend to become much stronger at
the same time as our memories become less focused, thus protecting us
from the damage which may be caused by an inappropriate decision.
The reason for this is because our instincts are based at an emotional
level, which does become stronger as we grow older due to emotional
input of the various diverse experiences we encounter during our lives.
Emotional abilities, therefore, counteract the decline in memory skills
which is, for most people, inevitable as they grow older.
Tests at Cornell University, New York, showed that decisions made
quickly by older people using preserved emotional skills were as viable
as considered decisions made by much younger test subjects. The study
was based on hypothetical decisions, with objective alternatives
provided. Before the study began, the older subjects were focused in
their ‘gut feelings’ by the research team.
One further advantage of relying on one’s instinctive feelings may very
well be that unnecessary and time-consuming discussions about one’s
reasons for a certain decision can be avoided by the simple phrase,
‘Because I know it’s right!’