Thursday, September 9, 2010

Decoding love

I am serious when I say I have been thinking about relationships lately... I have all these relationship ideas just floating around. So I am going to try to share them in some random, non-sensical fashion.

I think a lot about why we choose the people we choose, why we see some people as potential life partners whereas others just don't measure up. Our bodies must react, either negatively or positively, on several different levels.

I think biology has a lot more to do with it than we think. Do you ever wonder what kind of assessments or analysis your brain is doing sub-consciously?

I was reading an article about the science of love that mentioned research that was being done on the "major histocompatibility complex." It was only explained briefly, and it is not completely understood, but from what I understand, it deals with the messages your body sends through smell--chemicals, pheromones. At some level it is a kind of biological selection-choosing someone who is genetically compatibile with you.

This idea is fascinating because smell has always been a big factor for me--is that weird to say? It is not about deodorant or cologne or morning breath, just that bare-bones, man-in-his-essence smell that has to speak to me. I love my husband's smell; it has always driven me crazy. It is like my body knew that we would make these:

(One of my favorite pics of all time, captured by the hubs)

Not that all kids, or even my kids, are genetically perfect, or you may even choose not to have kids, but it seems that bodies send some kind of biological messages, which other bodies decode--the idea of sensing strong genetic what-ifs...

Do you ever think about the biological side of love? Does that take away some of the "magic"?


Dee said...

Ah! The biological side of love. This is something that has been on my mind too. Yes, I was a little bummed to find out that his smell that makes me all weak in the knees has a practical purpose. There is a science to love and I think our Northamerican culture doesn't do the best job at accepting that fact. I think it is wise to realize this. It is a framework, which is essential, on which we build our relationships. However, being the complex beings that we are, it is our emotional, intellectual, and spiritual connections with our soul mates that makes our relationships the wonderful things that they are. So yes, generally men are drawn to youthful women with breasts and hips because they are at the peak of their fertility and women are generally ok with a man with a few grey hairs because he is an experienced provider. But there is so much more than this.

lydia said...

Haha, I personally am not a big "smell" person, in an obvious way. I tend to find a lot of smells negative, I hate colognes and perfumes, insence, etc..
My boyfriend always talks about my smell. I find it weird, because its a little creepy to me that I have "a smell" because that makes me paranoid I need to shower more or something, or that I'm radiating some smell Im obviously unaware of hahaha.

I read once an article about this that really interested me. I think it may have been the one i link below. Anyway the one below talks about how mice choose mates with the least similar (stuff relating to biology and smell) which means they are probably not related, reducing inbreeding and increases range of disease resistance, and a similar condition in humans..prefering the most different smell.

Howeve,r it said that taking birth control reversed the effect and you are more likely to like a man similar to you! Though when there are similarities infertiilty, spontanious abortions

Another time i read that some cultures are less affected by smell attraction. americans included. and also that some, like japanese, might be less affected by attraction due to smell because of their history of arranged marriages where smell didnt come into play! Interesting, no?

anymommy said...

Yes, I do think about the biological side and it doesn't lessen the magic for me. The whole concept of "loving" someone in a romantic way, needing them and their attentions so much, is fascinating. And it's interesting to me that there are others that we can take or leave right away.

I think the magic remains, probably because I think there are a lot of possible matches out there for each of us and who we end up with depends a lot on geography and opportunity. Not very romantic, am I?

teamawesomesquared said...

I know a LOT about the MHC!! I'd be happy to write something up and post it if you're interested. Let me know.

Phoenix said...

I'm big on smell too, oddly enough. I'm also very, VERY big on physical trust. So you could say I went both the biological way and the way of my emotions. Smell is very biological - I can't help but be attracted to the type of men that I'm attracted to. But to be with a guy that I physically trust is equally important - I would try to date those guys that I was so attracted to but I was terrified of, so it just didn't work.

Thank God I found someone whom I'm madly attracted to but I also trust like nobody else! I lucked out big time!

sarabeck said...

re: what Lydia said, I heard about that study too. Crazy!

I think the smell or phermones part of it is huuuuge. I love how L smells and he doesn't even do anything too special. It's just his skin, I think.

Abby said...

The article that Lydia mentions (or a VERY similar one) is cited in a "Stuff Mom Never Told You" podcast called "Do Opposites Attract?" This is the article that goes with the podcast, I couldn't find the actual podcast but if you search in iTunes you can find it.

Anyway, this topic is super interesting. I'm a smell person too, but I'm a little paranoid that my birth control is going to make me choose the wrong guy...:/

Annje said...

Lydia-haha, I am sensitive to strong smells too, but I think we all have a smell, which is different, I think than smelling like perfume. I can't help but thinking that even when there is not an obvious smell, per se, that there is "information" that is transmitted.

Abby, the article I read, which was a summary of a lot of other primary sources, said that hormonal birth control kind of blunted the ability to choose based on "smelling" genetic compatibility and that women should consider going off the pill if they are thinking about marrying someone--which, of course, seems contradictory to the whole birth control thing...

I'll have to look up some of the articles and podcasts you guys have mentioned.

team awesome, I would love a cool concise post on the MHC! I'd love to know more...

Phoenix-physical trust is huge for me took, which is why that long list of things I don't have to deal with in a previous post is so important for me-my husband doesn't turn on any of those very sensitive danger radars I have-possibly the safest man on earth (except yours, of course)

teamawesomesquared said...

Posted! If the jargon is on too thick let me know. I love talking about this stuff, and would be happy to continue discussing it!!