The biology of romantic attraction

Can anyone explain romantic chemestry between people. My current bf have an incredible chemestry. I realize that it is all about hormones but why do certain people provoke a stronger hormonal response than others? I read somewhere that we are attracted to those who smell the least like we do as an instinctual way to keep the gene pool most highly varied. But then wouldn’t most of our lovers smell similarly? I wonder because the chemestry between us seems off the charts of what either of us has experienced with others in the past. What makes it happen in the first place? Why does it tend to fade over time?

Chemistry - my favourite subject! There have been lots of studies on this, and lots of theories floating around…

I read one that suggests women on the pill have an altered reception - which means they may feel a chemical attraction for men they wouldn’t consider suitable without being on the pill. According to this study, the default (sans pill) is that women are most likely to feel attracted to men who ‘smell’ like… Dad! Researchers speculate that fertility induces women to choose partners that would make better fathers…

In my experience, when I’m most attracted to men, they don’t register as having a smell at all - sort of like the way our own homes don’t register as having a particular scent, but other peoples’ homes do (or is that just me?). I’ve also had relationships ruined by incompatible ‘smell’ issues (where all other factors indicated compatibility).

It’s most interesting how some people seem to give off a scent that has mass appeal, while others… well, that’s a different thread, isn’t it? here

Great book (fiction) on this subject: Perfume, by Patrick Susskind.

Yikes now you are scaring me…we are both copmpletely fertile, I am not on the pill and and his scent is very attractive to me and I know my scent is to him.

We are compatible but have had to work at it. It didn’t come naturally and at those times, the chemestry kept us together.

My totally amateurish WAG:

People understand that hormones can affect the way we feel, think, and act/ That’s what PMS is all about, right? But people (except for me) don’t seem to like the idea that it goes the other way also: the way you feel, think, and act will affect the hormones. That’s what adrenaline is all about!

Think about it: A sudden highly emotional state releases a bunch of adrenaline, which in turn helps the body react to whatever caused those emotions. Another example is physical exersize, which also causes certain chemicals to be release, which promote a general feel-good feeling.

Same for romance. You are with someone you find attractive, it causes an emotional reaction, which releases whatever chemicals, and the cycle keeps on spinning.

Makes sense to me. Any comments?

I don’t think it’s adrenaline that causes you to feel ‘in love’. It’s Phenylethylamine, a neutotransmitter like adrenaline but responisble for love/limerance.

Limerance is the emotional feeling you get from Pheny. when you fall in love.

Phenylethylamine is also the stuff in chocolate that makes people feel good when you eat a ton of it.

Makes sense to me too. Ever notice that when you’re in love, or at the beginning of an exciting relationship, suddenly other people find you more attractive? And that you feel - or even think you look - more attractive yourself? I think the chemical interaction between people alters the output of an individual as well.

Also, consider the opposite scenario: When you feel bad about yourself, it negatively affects your chemical output, which puts people off (and therefore reinforces the bad feelings, unfortunately).

If I do anything at all that can be considered altruistic, it’s making an effort to send ‘positive vibes’ to other people I encounter - to try to get them to feel good about themselves. I think even the smallest gestures make a difference. And okay, there’s a selfish aspect as well - I think the vibes come back to me, affecting my chemical output for the better…

mipiace: Don’t be scared - but do be careful :wink:

And here I always thought that was just women being women! Back in the day, I used to go to the club and ask the ladies to dance. More often than not, I’d be turned down. Then one night, I happened to stop at the club after work, and I had a female coworker with me. Suddenly, I had all the women in the club asking me to dance. I thought that was just plain rude.

Anyway, about the chemistry of attraction - there must be something to that. After all, my fiancee doesn’t fit my physical ideal (I really don’t like large breasts, but she’s got 'em) and I don’t fit hers (she doesn’t like bald men, and I’m shaved). Yet we still seem perfect for each other.

Thanks macbresoul…I think that is sort of what I am looking for and being with him is totally like a drug. Sometimes I feel like I am addicted. He and I have discussed this and wondered if it is possible to have an addiction to hormones or to be addicted to another person. It’s not an emotional dependency type of addiction but the chemestry between us pretty over powering at times.

I do agree that when you are in love or at least getting regular sex you are much more likely to have a lot more people seeking you out. My girlfriends and I call this the “taken girl syndrome” or feast or famine. From a female perspective, a part of it has to do with body language and how much time and trouble a woman goes to with her appearance etc. but at the same time I have guys at the gym hitting on me and the copier repair guy who never even noticed me before asked me out AFTER I started dating the Studmuffin so there is something to be said about transmittal pf pheremones.

Hmmmm - wonder who is hitting on HIM!

Biology is the study of living things mipiace. The word you are looking for I believe is ‘physiology’, right?

So what are you the vocabulary lawyer? I do prefer romantic attraction in living things! LOL although if you know about dead things being attracted feel free to chime in.

Actually, I was a Bio major, UCSD, '78 :slight_smile:

"When two people are attracted to each other, a virtual explosion of adrenaline-like nuerochemicals gush forth. Fireworks explode and we see stars. PEA or phenylethylamine is a chemical that speeds up the flow of information between nerve cells. "


Sometimes it’s a learned response–the “smells like dad” someone mentioned above. I had to change deodorants because they stopped making my favorite. I randomly picked Old Spice Original Scent. My wife immediately said “you smell good!”

The step-kids said “you smell just like dad’s house.” Yes, I had chosen the scent that my wife’s former husband always wore. <sigh> And I always wanted to be loved for my own self. :frowning:


Well, re: the smell issue: Sometimes I am congested due to allergies, so my sense of smell gets diminished. Sometimes this is a good thing, like when someone makes a fart! :slight_smile: So I do not think it is someone’s smell that attracts me. It is the whole person, I think. I really need to interact with someone in person. Online stuff does not do it. There have also been times when I first meet someone, and then something “develops” later.

I was just thinking about this topic recently because I can go to different parts of the country or world, and a romantic attraction occurs, & I wonder why. The people never all look alike. Sometimes we cannot even speak each other’s language very well.