128. Sex & Love: Interpreting Body Language & Non-Verbal Flirting Cues

10 important lessons from this video:

00:00:23 Everybody has that 6th sense, but some humans are masters of it while others have no idea it exists. You’d be amazed at what you can understand about other people by simply observing their actions. Poker players call these subtle non-verbal cues tells – unintentional changes in a poker player’s behavior which provides clues as to the true value of the player’s poker hand, contrary to what the player is attempting to communicate.

Without these ‘tells,’ flirting – as well as sex as we know it – would cease to exist.

Hone your 6th sense, and then go to any bar, any club, or any party and you’ll be able to see the following non-verbal flirtatious behavior in action.

During four hours 30 singles (50% men & 50% women, all apparently heterosexual and British) were invited to a make-shift bar and cameras were set up to record every person’s movement.

The following observations were gleaned from this social experiment:

00:02:47 Upon the entering of a male into a woman’s vicinity, women begin flicking their hair, a sort of preening which allows the woman to:

  • Flaunt her soft, bouncy, youthful cranial features
  • Communicate to the man she has noticed his presence
  • Capture the man’s attention among all the other shiny objects in the room

Once one woman has begun flicking her hair, other women will also begin competitively flicking their respective hair, ensuring that they are looking their best.

00:04:25 Men typically believe that it is them who initiate conversations, however it is in fact the woman who has – using a barrage of non-verbal cues such as smiling, staring, subtle glances and the above hair-flicking

– shown interest in the man and given the man permission to approach her.

It is these ‘less-than-a-second’ behaviors given by the woman that decide the fate of men, thus making courtship almost always a female choice.

The typical man, however, is ridiculously poor at reading women’s behavior and usually doesn’t register a woman’s subtle non-verbal cues, and so approach a woman convinced that it is in fact him taking the lead.

Awkward and socally-inept men either lacking the ability to correctly identify and then react to an ‘approach tell,’ or completely misunderstanding a woman’s behavior as an ‘approach tell’ are destined to find themselves akwardly rejected to no avail.

00:06:44 In situations where multiple female friends may be competing for the attentions of the same man, they will flirtatiously use their repective hair, mouths, eyes, neck, shoulders, increased body animation and physical contact in an attempt to attract and keep his attention.

Respectfully, while one woman employs her cues, her friends may politely look away, withdrawing to give her the temporary spotlight.

Men, once aroused by a particular woman, will keep an eye out for her, keeping her has the center of his attention and exchanging glances with her often to demonstrate that he is still interested in her and that she is still interested in him.

If a woman feels she has begun losing the attention of a man she is flirting with, often times she will revert once again to preening herself in an attempt to recapture his attention.

00:08:23 People who are interested in a person specifically will orient themselves toward that person with their legs crossed and their faces, torso and feet directly facing each other. They may even lean themselves against a nearby object, visibly demonstrating that everything and everyone else is less important.

As the mood changes and one or more of the people involved in a conversation wish the encounter to end, their body language will shift, facial expressions will become more controlled and their feet will begin pointing away from the person they were originally oriented towards.

00:09:31 Performed prominently by women, ‘eye popping’ is the act of closing one’s eyes and then suddenly opening them and gazing directly at their target with a loving stare.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: In their book The Definitive Book of Body Language, Allan & Barbara Pease explain that the ‘eye pop’ is effective because closing the eyes dilates the pupils. Dilated pupils are synomomous with attraction and protection. Babies’ pupils are typically dilated in an evolutionary attempt to demonstrate to its caregivers that it should be protected and cared for.

In advertising, female and baby model’s eyes are almost always photoshopped so that they are dilated. Doing this naturally draws the potential consumer’s attention to the model, and then to the product being sold. For more on advertising tricks, browse through my interviews with advertising professionals.

Conversely, Allan & Barbara Pease explain, the opposite of dilated eyes are ‘beady, snake-like eyes’ which give the impression that you are shady, untrustworthy, and dangerous.]

00:11:49 When third parties approach a group, the physical arrangement of the group members demonstrates alliances, and sides are drawn as the people in the group subconsciously gravitate towards the person/people they feel most comfortable with.

00:12:25 Men who view the presence of another man in the vicinity as a threat tend to react by giving off distress signals such as a more controlled and expression-less face, attempting to appear relaxed and in control, cleaning his teeth (his primitive animalistic weapons) with his tongue, and tucking his chin in in an attempt to protect himself.

00:13:41 Women flirt with men even when they are not sexually interested in him, partly because women consider flirting as good manners.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Personally, I consider the above argument moot, as my experience and critical thinking skills research has taught me that men are typically prone to associate ANY attention given to them by a woman as flirting.]

00:13:46 Often times, the parties involved in the flirting process will not be aware that they were involved in a flirting process. Men, being naturally poor female behavior decoders and convinced they are making the first move, approach women and are rejected, confused as to why the woman rejected him.

130. Human Behavioral Biology: Intersexual Competition & Male/Female Hierarchies

10 lessons from this lecture:

00:04:17 The same optimization building blocks discussed at length on the previous lecture on the collision of game theory and evolution about genetics can also be applied to behavior:

  1. Do whatever is possible to pass as many copies of your own genes into the next generation as possible.
  2. Help your relatives pass their genes into the next generation; this can sometimes be the best way for you to ensure that your genes are passed on into the next generation.
  3. Reciprical altruism: You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours which allows un-related and dissimilar animals to peacefully coexist.

00:13:11 Babies, regardless of the animal, are always adorably cute and you want to take care of it and protect it. Their eyes dilate as soon as you’re around them and field biologists believed up until about the 1970s that:

  1. Everything about a baby’s characteristics are to demonstrate reduced aggression. 
  2. Humans were the only animals that killed for pleasure

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Recall in the mini-documentary Sex & Love: Interpreting Body Language & Non-Verbal Cues as well as in their book The Definitive Book of Body Language, Allan & Barbara Pease explain that the ‘eye pop’ is effective because closing the eyes dilates the pupils. Dilated pupils are synomomous with attraction and need for protection. Babies’ pupils are typically dilated in an evolutionary attempt to demonstrate to its caregivers that it should be protected and cared for.

In advertising, female and baby model’s eyes are almost always photoshopped so that they are dilated. Doing this naturally draws the potential consumer’s attention to the model, and then to the product being sold. For more advertising tricks, browse through my interviews with advertising professionals.

Conversely, Allan & Barbara Pease explain, the opposite of dilated eyes are ‘beady, snake-like eyes’ which give the impression that you are shady, untrustworthy, and dangerous.]

Field biologists have since proved that infanticide exists in many animals.

00:14:14 The first response to reportings of infanticide was denial – arguing that there must be some sort of abnormal pathological behavior going on.

However upon further investigation behavioral patterns emerge explaining the role of infanticide in the species:

  1. It tends to be the adult males who kill the infants.
  2. It tends to  be adult males who kill the babies of other males – competitive strategies for reducing another male’s reproductive success.
  3. It tends to be more common in competitive species where the average inter-birth interval among females is longer than the average tenure of a high ranking male. Meaning if you’re not the alpha-male, then your best chance at becoming the alpha-male is to kill the alpha-male’s babies and then have your own babies, thus decreasing that male’s potential for reproductive success, and because the female will begin ovulating shortly thereafter.

This behavior is a blatant violation of the idea of behaving for the good of the species.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: For more information on pathological behavior, browse through the lectures and interviews under the How To Shape Human Behavior: criminal profiling category.]

00:18:49 An alpha-male challenger would be less inclined, however, to kill all of the alpha-male’s babies in situations where the alpha-male is the challenger’s brother or relative. In some species, such as in rodents and horses, the presence of a new male causes pregnant females to release certain stress hormones which disrupt uterine maturation which leads to miscarriage.

This has developed through evolution because the female, in an attempt ot pass as many copies of her genes into the next generation, is faced with one of three options, the third of which is the most evolutionarily efficient: 

  1. Continue on having the baby, only for it to be killed by the alpha-male challenger after the baby’s birth, or 
  2. Have a miscarriage and become a potential partner for the new alpha-male, or
  3. Go into pseudo-estrus, in which the pregnant female demonstrates signs that she is ovulating when in fact she isn’t, the male is tricked into believing she isn’t pregnant, and thus the new male doesn’t kill the baby after it’s birth believing the baby is his.

This entire process is obviously male-bias, with the female making the best out of her situation. Following the principle of passing your genes into the next generation, it’s observed that older female mothers will be more protective of their children because their ability to turn around and have another child diminishes with age, whereas younger mothers have more time and opportunity to have more children.

00:27:35 It has also been observed in some species of monkeys that when two monkeys are about to fight, the smaller, weaker monkey may grab a child and hold it against it’s chest. But the smaller monkey isn’t just grabbing any enfant monkey, it’s ‘kidnapping’ children likely to be the offspring of the stronger, high-ranking monkey.

00:32:22 In a competitive tournament species where 5% of the male population actually have children, having a male is a big gamble that he will not pass his genes into the next generation. Having a female, who will grow up to have from 1-5 children, is a much greater advantage and ability to pass her genes into the next generation.

It follows that it would be more advantageous for females who are in higher-ranking families to give birth to males, whereas it would be more advantageous for females who are from lower-ranking families to give birth to females.

00:33:40 With the human species, typically the human sex ratio is approximately 1:1. However in certain parts of the world, and during periods of famine and ecological duress, the percentage of females being born should increase because female fetuses require less caloric intake and strain to the mother’s body than male fetuses, which also makes the mother more vulnerable.

00:37:39 Polyandry is the practice of one woman having multiple husbands at the same time. In nature, for example among lions, it may be two brothers sharing the same wife, thus ensuring that the genes are passed from one generation to the next. This is known as adelphic polyandry, or fraternal polyandry.

Adelphic polyandry is even evidenced in humans, for example in traditional, rural Tibetan society where in agriculturally impoverished areas where a family with land inheritance has several sons, dividing the land among the sons would put each son below subsistence level. So rather than dividing up the land, they create a family which is one reproductive unit where one woman is married to all the sons.

01:00:42 The controversial notion of group selection which has creeped back into biology is when one small group of a species becomes somehow isolated from one another, and continue on mating and reproducing independently. Eventually, the smaller isolated group becomes more inbred simply because there is a smaller, less diverse gene pool, thus making family ties among the group more intricate.

Kin selection states then that cooperation among the members of the smaller, more closely-related group will be much higher than cooperation among the larger groups because of the higher  degree of relatedness.

If the smaller, more cooperative group of the species then somehow reenters into the larger group, the more cooperative group will begin outcompeting the rest of the group, which will slowly conform to the smaller group. This is referred to as the Founder effect.

In the financial world, an example of this could be when one small, cooperative group offers each other flexible, low interest loans, which increases the financial success of that small group. Slowly, other non-group members will begin joining the smaller group and benefiting from the advantages of their cooperation and trust model.

It follows then that although A>B, BB>AA. 

Meaning: if “B” is making flexible, low interest loans to just anybody, he will be dominated by “A,” who makes inflexible, high interest loans. However if “BB” are making flexible, low interest loans to members of their own community, they will dominate “AA,” the group who makes inflexible, high interest loans.

01:34:22 There are many arguments against this theory, however the most controversial is perhaps the socio-political implications which lead to questions like:

  • “Are there species of humans which are genetically inferior to others?”
  • “Is rape a human psychopathology or a competitive strategy?”
  • “Is the fact that children are more likely to be killed by step-fathers than by biological fathers a form of infanticide as individual selection?” Noting above that it tends to  be adult males who kill the babies of other males – competitive strategies for reducing another male’s reproductive success.

136. Sex & Dating: The Psychology of Love & Phases of The Breakup Process

11 important lessons from this video:

00:02:30 Love isn’t just one thing – one emotion, but “a variety of different feelings, states, and attitudes that range from interpersonal affection to pleasure,” and varies from brothers and sisters to boyfriends and girlfriends to grandparents to best friends.

00:03:32 A loving relationship is a mutually-beneficial partnership where the partners make each other a better person.

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 Sternberg’s triangular theory of love identifies intimacy, passion, and commitment as three fundamental elements of love which can be combined in multiple ways to create multiple relationships. 

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(photo edited from Wikipedia)

To increase the probability of love sustaining itself, it’s important that your love have more than one element (intimacy, passion, and commitment) to it because over time each of these three elements

wane. 

00:10:10 Dignity and abuse cannot go hand-in-hand. Physical and emotional abuse cannot be present if love is present.

00:10:54 Humans love as a means of:

  1. Survival – Humans have a drive to live in communities because as a species we are really inadequate. We are neither fast, strong, have large teeth, skillful hiders. Humans have survived through the development of our brains and by congregating into groups.
  2. Procreation – Survival is also dependent upon passing our genes into the next generation, and so have created marriage and other cultural norms which correlate the baby process with a coupling process. 
  3. Socialization – having people to spend time with, share experiences with and learn from.
  4. Affirmation – Beyond survival and socialization, the friendships we form and keep affirm who we are, helping us feel good about ourselves.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Recall in Robert Sapolsky’s lecture Human Behavioral Biology: Intersexual Competition & Male/Female Hierarchies for Stanford University that evolutionarily speaking, an animal’s objective is to:

  1. Do whatever is possible to pass as many copies of its genes into the next generation.
  2. Help its relatives pass their genes into the next generation; this can sometimes be the best way to ensure that its genes are passed on into the next generation.
  3. Reciprical altruism: You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours which allows un-related and dissimilar animals to peacefully coexist.]

00:13:28 Do birds of a feather flock together, or do opposites attract? For basic mating purposes, opposites do/can attract in the short-term if their smell is distinctly different from ours because of the biological need for genetic diversity, but considering the above four points on survival, procreation, socialization, and affirmation, love relationships with opposites don’t make for sustaining relationships because opposites are not affirming.

Familiarity breeds affection. Attraction is generally caused by:

  1. Proximity – Humans have a tendency to naturally gravitate more towards people who are constantly in closer proximity to them than people who aren’t.
  2. Interaction – the more time you spend with people, the more you tend to like them.
  3. Anticipation of interaction – the mere expectation of interaction is enough to increase the perceived likeability of a person.
  4. Mere exposure – the more you’re exposed to something, the more you like it. Advertising, people, songs, brands…
  5. Exclusionary criteria – in addition to a checklist of things you look for in relationships, you equally have a checklist of things you will not settle for. This list you refuse to settle for tends to be even stronger than the list of things you look for. It follows that the longer your list, the more picky you are and the less chance you have of finding a partner.
  6. Similarity – Religious beliefs, introverted or extroverted, personality profile, etc. are a major imperative for any long-term relationship. If part of the reason why we choose someone is because they affirm us, then we will only choose them because they are like us. How long can a relationship expect to last when one partner prefers staying in and reading at night while the other likes going out every night?
  7. Reciprocal liking – we like people who like us. In fact, simply believing that a person likes you causes you to like them more, again because of affirmation – if this person likes me, there must be something really smart about this person for liking me. This becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy because believing somebody likes you causes you to like them, which in term causes that person to like you.
  8. Social exchange – this depends on your answer to the question “what kind of partner do I believe I deserve.” If you believe you deserve better than a person, or if you believe that a person is too good for you, you’ll be less likely to pursue a relationship with that person. During your relationship you periodically reason with yourself “Should I settle for this person, or should I hold out and wait for somebody better to come along? What is the probability that I will find somebody better?”  
  9. Attractiveness – humans are attracted to attractiveness. Studies have shown that babies spend more time looking at culturally attractive than unattractive faces. We tend migrate towards attractive people and find attractive people who look similar to ourselves. Attractive people are attributed to being smarter, more philanthropic, more friendly, more successful, even less promiscuous. Women tend to say attractiveness doesn’t matter, but their behavior shows that it is just as important to them as it is to men, who say attractiveness is among the top 3 most important traits in a partner.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: In his book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Robert Cialdini looks at how these 9 causes above can be used to great effect in persuading people.]

00:30:58 Successful relations depend on your ability to form attachments. Babies are innately attracted, both physically and emotionally, to its care givers. Those attachments developed when you were very young stay with you throughout your life, and are broadly defined as either:

  1. Secure – you feel good about other people and about yourself, and you trust yourself and other people in relationships.
  2. Anxious/ambivalent – you feel good about other people,  but not so much about yourself, worried that other people may hurt or leave you. As a result you tend to be clingy and ‘do everything you can’ to keep a person interested in you.
  3. Avoidant – you don’t trust other people, and don’t really care whether or not you have a relationship.

While the baby’s early years are critical to which of these attachment strategies are formed, they are not absolute and with effort can be re-orient. Likewise, a series of really bad and disappointing relationships can cause you to begin questioning your values, which would also re-orient your attachment style.

00:35:14 Successful relationships depend on whether or not we feel like we are in an equal relationship. Equity can be defined as:

  1. Equity-based – In the beginning of a relationship while you’re cautiously assessing whether or not the other person is abusing you, you’re in a tit-for-tat relationship where each person keeps a score sheet of who did what – both good and bad.
  2. Communally-based – healthy, long-term relationships develop beyond the early tit-for-tat equity where partners expect equity, but are no longer keeping score (Example, I took the kids to soccer practice, but you mowed the lawn and washed the clothes). The long-term success of any relationship can be predicted simply by measuring the depth of the communal equity in the relationship. Couples who, after several years still keep score sheets, haven’t yet developed into a mature, nurturing relationship.
  3. Self-disclosure – the ability to create intimacy by sharing your beliefs, goals, feelings, and secrets with your partner. Intimacy breeds passion, and tends to be the primary focus of most healthy relationships. Your pre-frontal lobe is your greatest sex organ you can have.
  4. Acceptance – Successful, happy couples tend to have a less harsh, above-average optimism when talking about their partner. 

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Recall in Robert Sapolsky’s lecture Human Behavioral Biology: Where Game Theory & Evolution Collide, tit-for-tat (TFT) starts off by cooperating with the individual. If that person cooperates with you, you begin by cooperating with that individual again in the next round, and so on until a round occurs where the person cheats against you, in which case you cheat against them the next time. If they cheat against you, you continue cheating against them until they return to being cooperative with you, at which time you return to being cooperative. The TFT strategy is the optimal strategy for cooperation.]

00:39:52 Unbeknownst to many people, studies have shown that statistically, you are happiest in your marriage at the beginning. The happiness bottoms out on your 5th year of marriage and, if you survive, slowly climbs upwards, with a major bump up when your children leave the house. But, you will never be as happy as the first day you were married.

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Despite this bad news, there are some important things you can do to sustain your relationship:

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[EDITOR’S NOTE: Helen Fisher gives an informative TED talk about how intimacy wanes and the three different types of love.

https://embed-ssl.ted.com/talks/helen_fisher_tells_us_why_we_love_cheat.html

Or watch it on TED.com.]

There are also some important behaviors and things you can look out for to determine if your relationship is becoming unhappy:

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For every negative comment you make, you need to make 5 positive comments to bring equality back into your relationship.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: If you’re having difficult staying positive, or if your marital arguments turn into hurtful fights – insulting each other rather than addressing the real issue, I would highly recommend reading the book The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense by Suzette Haden Elgin.]

Argument, when done properly, is a conversation about an issue that we want to resolve. Arguments, even in love, need to be looked at in a very analytical way.

Abuse is me exerting my authority over you; emotionally and/or physically.

00:49:35 Normal relationship breakups following a similar cycle:

1. Breakdown – Aspect(s) in the relationship causing unavoidable disatisfaction:

  • Intrapersonal – one or both of partners in couple focus on dissatisfation with the relationship, ranging from ‘I’m unhappy,’ ‘I can’t stand this anymore,’ to ‘I deserve better.’ 
  • This may be from external changes in life, expectations from your partner, expectations you make, or have made, upon yourself, etc.
  • Cost/benefit analysis – the person considers the consequences of ending the relationship such as financial, children, legal, etc. As long as the consequences of ending the relationship are greater than the inconveniences of being in the relationship, the person will likely continue in the relationship.
  • This very process is stressful because the partner is lost with themselves. “I’m unhappy and I’ve mixed feelings about what to do.”

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Recall in Oussama Ammar’s talk How To Start A Startup: Managing Your Professional & Private Life, when it comes to running your own business, having a clear timeline and definition for success is extremely important when it comes to explaining it to your friends, family, husband or wife. Not having clear definitions means that the people you love and care about don’t understand what you are doing and why. As an entrepreneur, if you don’t have clear goals and definitions to communicate to people who aren’t in the startup environment, they will simply compare you to Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg. This unfair comparision will only lead to misunderstandings, disappointment, judgement and arguments.]

2. Threshold – the person feels adequately justified or prepared for the breakup; the consequences of staying together have become greater than the inconveniences of ending the relationship:

  • Dyadic – these feelings are expressed to the other partner, and there, hopefully, is a discussion with an attempt to reconciliation of the relationship.

3. Threshold – attempts to reconcile the relationship have not worked, and the partner is now more convinced in the necessity of ending the relationship. “I’m serious.” or “I mean it.” It is common for the other partner not to fully understand the scope of this threshold:

  • Social – The breakup is negotiated (who gets what, when, how, etc.) and the breakup is announced (officially or unofficially through gossip) to friends and family. This is a major reason why you cannot get a true account of the actual reasons for the breakup and who is truly at fault because each person is creating the gossip which benefits their reputation and reassure ourselves that “I’m doing the right thing.” 
  • Social reaction – how friends and family react to this further compounds the cost/benefit analysis and factors on when/if the relationship should end. Assuming the news is met acceptingly by friends and family, the breakup becomes inevitable.
  • Social division – friends and professional networks will inevitably be pressured into choosing which side of the relationship they will take.

4. Threshold – “Now it’s inevitable.”:

  • Intrapersonal – each partner writes their own story of the breakup to help them make sense and cope with it.
  • Self-evaluation is conducted in an attempt to understand why did the relationship end? Why did I accept to be in this relationship to begin with? What lessons can I take moving forward to avoid the same mistakes?

00:54:07 Steps to take when faced with an abusive relationship:

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Concerning an abusing person, the issue is not you; the issue is a deeply-rooted problem within that person who is abusing you. Something that isn’t going to just magically disappear.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: In her informative TED talk, Leslie Morgan Steiner explains Why Domestic Violence Victims Don’t Leave.

https://embed-ssl.ted.com/talks/leslie_morgan_steiner_why_domestic_violence_victims_don_t_leave.html

Also, Jackson Katz explains how violence against women is as much a ‘man’s issue’ as it is a woman’s:

https://embed-ssl.ted.com/talks/jackson_katz_violence_against_women_it_s_a_men_s_issue.html

Watch Leslie Steiner’s and Jackson Katz’s talk on TED.com]

So what can I do to find love?

  1. Believe that you can and should be loved. Pay attention to the words you use when you talk and think about yourself.
  2. Work on yourself. Reading books, exercizing, etc. Get to the point where you feel confident about yourself.
  3. Be around. Nobody is going to knock on your door and ask you out; you have to go out and do things.
  4. Learn how to show (and decode) interest
  5. Get the person to do something for you. Contrary to the popular belief of doing something for the person such as buying them flowers, ask that person to go out of their way to do a favor for you. Cognitive dissonance causes the person to reason that because they chose to go out of their way and do something for you, they must like you.
  6. Do something “exciting.” Misattribution of emotion states that the scary, positive emotions associated with an external event, such as going on a roller coaster ride, will be attributed to you.
  7. Make it equal. This not only creates the foundation for a good relationship, it actually empowers you. If the person you go out with is ‘always’ paying for dinner, always driving, and choosing what to do, you feel the need to find equality, and you will begin looking for ways to make the relationship equal. This obligation may force you into doing things you really don’t want to do.
  8. Take a chance! Of course you’ll get your heart broken at some point, but that is how you learn and find the right relationship for you.

168. Sex & Dating: The 3 Phases of Love & Why We Love and Cheat

07 takeaways from this talk:

After putting 32 people into a Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (FMRI) brain scanner, we found that…

00:01:36 The falling in love process goes pretty much like this:

  1. Lust & sex drive. Your instinctive and uncontrollable desire for sexual gratification gets you out of your pajamas and off your couch on Friday nights and out in public. Knowing how to interpret body language & non-verbal flirting cues determines whether or not you meet someone or, as Louis CK puts it, “you beat up a stranger at the end of the night to get your energy out that way.”
  2. Romantic Love: Obsession and craving. Your ability to focus your sex drive on one individual person. The mere thought or sight of the person you are in love with causes your brain to produce dopamine, an organic chemical associated in reward-motivated behavior. As a result, this person takes on ‘special meaning.’ Their wine glass is different from every other wine glass, their gestures and things are set apart from everything else. With each continued experience with this person, your brain becomes conditioned to producing, and your body becomes addicted to, this dopamine. This addiction results in extreme mood swings and illogical behavior. You become sexually and emotionally possessive of the person. If this feeling is mutual, then the both of you two love birds are on your way to step three. If, however, the other person does not reciprocate your romantic feelings, then you learn how to cope with rejection and the breakup process.
  3. Deep, long-term attachment. The sense of calm and security experienced with that one person that allows you to tolerate him or her and remain together indefinitely; or at least long enough to rear children.

“Love consists of over-estimating the differences between one woman and another” George Bernard Shaw

00:05:43 Love is not a series of emotions, but an ambitious drive the comes from the same reward-center of the brain that pushes you to study harder and earn your diploma, to strive for a promotion at work, and to fight the odds of failure and make your startup a success.

Love is also more powerful than your sex drive. Having your sexual advances rejected isn’t the end of the world; you’re disappointed but not heart broken. But being rejected in love is something humans throughout the ages have killed and fought wars over.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Recall in Glenn Wilson’s lecture Lovesickness: The Problematic & Pathological Side of Love that if being in love is painful, the loss of love and unreciprocated love is excruciating. Researchers have found that the degree of pain registered in the brain resulting from the loss of love and unreciprocated love is equal to being physically burned on your skin.The same limbic system areas of the brain are activated whether a person is experiencing unreciprocated love or trying to overcome a drug addiction.

Also, watch Frank Conner’s lecture The Psychology of Love & Phases of The Breakup Process for more information on managing a broken heart.]

00:08:21 Thousands of years ago men and women had equal status, with women bringing in as much as 80% of the family reveneue and food. However, plow agriculture with it’s ability to mass produce food and the requirement of physical strengh women did not have put men into a dominant position in the household and in society, but the industrial and post-industrial revolution has brought men and women back towards equal footing, and all over the world women are moving into the job market and regaining an equal status, economic power and education with men.

00:10:25 There are many things men and women have in common, but also many, many gender differences, with more and more being discovered every day. These differences should be acknowledged and respected because men and women need each other to advance:

  • Communication. Women tend to be much better communicators than the average man. Roughly 54% of all writers in the USA are women.
  • Sexual expression. Women are beginning to have sex earlier in life, have more sexual partners, and express less remorse for the partners that they do have, marry later, have fewer children, and leave bad marriages and parters for better ones.
  • Marriage equality. With gender equality, marriages are predicted to become more symmetrical and companionate as both men and women would prefer to remain single than be in a relationship with someone they neither respect nor are romantically attracted to and ‘in love’ with.
  • Marriage stability.

    Humans are living longer and healthier. In the US, 85 years old could still be considered as middle-aged. And statistically, the older you become the less likely you are to get divorced.

  • Intelligence. Never before have women been as interesting and educated as they are now.
  • Problem-solving. Women tend to have better social skills, be able to collect and work with larger amounts of data, and be ‘web-thinkers’ with the ability to handle complex problems, whereas the average man removes ‘extraneous’ information to focus on the core issue solve problems using a step-by-step approach.

There are many more male geniuses in the world, and there are also many more male idiots in the world. When the male brain works well, it works extremely well.

00:16:42 The three systems: lust, romantic love and long-term attachment do tend to go together because with orgasm comes a spike of:

  • Dopamine, which is associated with obsession and romantic love
  • Oxytocin and vasopressin, which are associated with attachment

Which is why you feel such a cosmic union with a person you’ve made love to, and why a seemingly casual, open-sexual relationship can quickly develop into a romantic attachment.

But these three systems aren’t always connected linearly, and you can experience all three of these phases separately and simultaneously. You could be perfectly happy and attached to your long-term partner with absolutely no intention of leaving him or her, while also simultaneously feeling an obsessional romantic love for someone you’ve just met or work with, while also feeling the strong sexual urge for sexual gratification.

“In short, humans are capable of loving more than one person at a time.”

00:18:19 Over 100,000,000 anti-depressant prescriptions are written every year in the US. While anti-depressants may be necessary for the short-term, they can have horrible consequences in the long-term because anti-depressants work by raising your levels of serotonin, which suppress the production of dopamine and kills your sex drive, which also kills orgasm, which you recall releases the dopamine, oxytocin and vasopressin which is associated with romantic love and attachment.

Your brain and its systems are all interconnected, and when you tamper with one system, you affect the entire system.

In effect, the long-term use of anti-depressants sabotages your ability to love.

Dr Helen Fisher

(Photo from here. Go to Helen Fisher’s Website.)

170. Sex & Dating: Love Sickness: The Problematic & Pathological Side of Love

14 takeaways from this lecture:

00:01:08 Lovesickness is the “informal physical and mental afflictions and negative feelings associated with rejection, unrequited love or the absence of a loved one.”

Symptoms of love relative to a mental illness can include:

  • Mania – an abnormally elevated mood, inflated self-esteem, and extravagant gift-giving
  • Depression – Tearfulness, insomnia, loss of appetite & inability to concentrate
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) – Preoccupation, impulsively checking text/email messages, hygiene rituals, hoarding valueless but resonant items

Italian scientists have found that the presence of serotonin in the brain is similar for humans in love and humans suffering from OCD.

Frank Tallis theorizes our body’s reaction to love is to override our logical mind, causing humans to do what we normally wouldn’t do, or what goes against logic.

00:05:14 If being in love is painful, the loss of love and unreciprocated love is excruciating. Researchers have found that the degree of pain registered in the brain resulting from the loss of love and unreciprocated love is equal to being physically burned on your skin.

The same limbic system areas of the brain are activated whether a person is experiencing unreciprocated love or trying to overcome a drug addiction. Note: this was found on a group of people who identified as having lost love but ‘had not yet given up on fixing the relationship with their ex-lover.’

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Recall in the documentary How to Run A Business: Superbrand Secrets From The Fashion Industry that most of human behavior is driven by unconscious brain processes. The human brain evolved to make us better at surviving and breeding:

  • The limbic system is where humans feel emotions. This is why the acts of eating and having sex are so enjoyable.
  • The neocortex is the intellectual part of our brains and developed on top of our limbic system as we evolved. While your neocortex allows you to make sense of your decisions and explain them, it doesn’t change the fact that deep down your decisions, reasoning and preferences originate from your emotions.

Also, priming is “a process in which the processing of a target stimulus is aided or altered by the presentation of a previously presented stimulus.” When you see things that you have been primed to like, the pleasure centers in your limbic system responsible for reward, craving and addiction activate.

Connect one stimulus with another enough times, and your brain unconsciously connects the two.]

00:08:30 Studies show that social rejection has measurable consequences on the autonomic nervous system – the part of the body which “regulates bodily functions such as the heart rate, digestion, respiratory rate, pupillary response, urination, and sexual arousal.”

A study was done where participants where told that an attractive potential mate had said s/he found the participant unattractive. The researches noticed the participant’s heart rate slowed down and took longer to return to normal. This reaction was greater if the rejection wasn’t anticipated: saving the fight for another day.

Your sympathetic nervous system is responsible for gathering resources for fight or flight and energy expenditure, whereas your parasympathetic nervous system is reserved for calming you down and gathering and preparing resources for future use.

00:10:28 The immense grief that comes with losing a partner has been shown to actually lead do premature death. “40% of men and 26% of women die within 3 years of their partner.”

00:12:20 Mending a broken heart:

  • Is in many ways similar to overcoming a drug addiction.
  • Don’t blame yourself or your ex because there are many reasons why relationships end.
  • Seek out social support rather than drive them away.
  • Distract yourself with hobbies & work projects that evoke old memories.
  • Avoid the photos, locations and objects that bring back associations related to your broken heart.
  • Stay healthy and in good shape.

00:14:26 There are two dimensions to attachment style which can actually help to predict how people will respond to a broken heart:

  1. Avoidant – feeling uncomfortable when people get too close to you
  2. Anxiety – feeling constantly afraid your partner will abandon you

[EDITOR’S NOTE: For more on why relationsihps end, watch Frank Conner’s lecture Sex & Dating: The Psychology of Love & Phases of The Breakup Process.

Also, recall from Frank Conner’s lecture that successful relations depend on your ability to form attachments. Babies are innately attracted, both physically and emotionally, to its care givers. Those attachments developed when you were very young stay with you throughout your life, and are broadly defined as either:

  • Secure – you feel good about other people and about yourself, and you trust yourself and other people in relationships.
  • Anxious/ambivalent – you feel good about other people, but not so much about yourself, worried that other people may hurt or leave you. As a result you tend to be clingy and ‘do everything you can’ to keep a person interested in you.
  • Avoidant – you don’t trust other people, and don’t really care whether or not you have a relationship.

While the baby’s early years are critical to which of these attachment strategies are formed, they are not absolute, and with effort can be re-oriented. Likewise, a series of really bad and disappointing relationships can cause you to begin questioning your values, which would also re-orient your attachment style.]

00:17:12 Pathological love is defined as an ‘uncontrollable, over-possessive caring for a partner that is recognized by the individual themselves as detrimental to other aspects of their lives.’ (Sophia et al (2009))

The personality profile of pathological lovers tend to be impulsive, reward-dependent, spiritual and with a low self-esteem, and have a more anxious attachment style (explained above).

00:19:18 Pet owners have been shown to be more attached to their pet than to their partner. In part, this is because:

  • Pets emit infant signals that arouse their owner’s parental instincts. Often pets may serve as child substitutes.
  • Pets don’t argue, complain and leave.
  • Pets reduce stress and can actually increase life longevity.

00:20:10 Jealousy is a normal protective human emotion (if kept in check) and serves to behave in a way that keeps your partner from leaving you. Men tend to be more jealous of being their partner’s only lover, while women more jealous of being their partner’s only emotional provider.

But jealousy can vary according to the above mentioned attachment styles:

  • Women tend to be more jealous of being their partner’s only emotional provider, and jealousy is increased when their competitor is attractive. Also, contraceptive pills high in synthetic oestrogens such as ethinyl oestradiol increase jealousy.
  • Men tend to be more jealous of being their partner’s only lover, and social dominance is priority, with physical height being a key element. Shorter men tend to experience more jealousy than their taller competitors, and men with low prenatal testosterone tend to be more jealous.

00:24:35 Stalking is defined as the ‘repeated, unwanted following or harrassment of another person.”

About 8% of women and 2% of men have been stalked. Reasons for stalking may vary from:

  • An ex-lover’s refusal to let the relationship end
  • An effort to start a relationship with a celebrity or someone ‘out of reach.’
  • Social incompetence – the person doesn’t understand that his or her ‘clumsy courtship’ is construed as stalking.
  • Revenge
  • Planning a sexual assault. Serial killers will sometimes stalk their victims.

Women have been known to qualify men and test their devotion by putting them through ‘tests.’ The man’s persistence can pay off, provided he correctly reads her cues.

00:28:47 Second to being stalked by a serial killer is being stalked by an ex-lover because:

  • Ex-lovers who stalk are usually ‘controlling,’ psychopaths with a history of abusive relationships, and so are likely to have stalked before.
  • Phrases such as “The relationship is over and I never want to see you again” are interpreted as provocation.
  • They can be extremely intrusive because as ex-lovers they intimitely know you and have some influence in your environment, i.e. your children, colleagues and neighbors, etc.
  • Their stalking can last years, resulting in an increase in anxiety, fear and depression; particularly when there are threats of violence.
  • There tends to be a 50% chance the ex will become violent.

00:30:36 Around 50% of murdered women are killed by an ‘intimate.’ Studies have shown that 2/3rds of the women murdered had been assaulted prior to the murder attempt. Those women who had been spied on were twice as likely to be victims of murder/attempted murder. Also, women with children had a 9x higher risk that their children may be harmed if the woman did not get back together with the ex.

00:32:26 De Clerambault’s Syndrome, or erotomania, is the ‘delusional belief that one is loved by another person.’ A common example of erotomania would be a middle-aged woman who believes that a high status male is secretly in love with her but he is prevented for one reason or another from declaring his love for her. “See, he is wearing my favorite color” is an example of the logic associated with erotomania. Extreme cases may result in the person harassing or even murdering their lover’s wife so that the man can now declare his love for her, or murdering the man out of anger of his ambiguous signals and mixed messages.

But not all erotomania is delusional, as it may begin with a fling or an affair followed by the person developing an obsession for the person.

image

00:38:23 Evolutionarily speaking, the various forms of lovesickness may be understood as evolutionary adaptations that have become exaggerated, or have gone wrong:

  • Obsessional love likely comes out of the mechanism for narrowing your mate choice. Lust is based on sexual desire, while obsession is narrowing your range of partners so you don’t waste your time chasing too many partners; this, according to Helen Fisher in her TED Talk ‘Why We Love and Cheat,” is what ‘being in love’ is all about.
  • Depression may be an advanced form of your parasympathetic nervous system (mentioned above) calming you down gathering and preparing resources to fight another day.
  • Extreme jealousy and stalking may be extremely clumsy courtship and mate retention tactics to the point where they are counter-productive.
  • Female erotomania may stem from a woman’s parental investment theory and evolutionary desire to acquire high-ranking, long-term mates who can protect and provide for them.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: For more information on the biological and evolutionary implications of extreme jealousy and female erotomania, watch Robert Sapolsky’s lectures Intersexual Competition & Male/Female Hierarchies and Where Game Theory & Evolution Collide for Standford University.]

Males do tend to be more dangerous in whatever it is they’re doing.