Post No.: 0462
A big part of romantic love is letting yourself fall in love for another. Both love and fear make the heart beat faster and so they can be potentially confused with one another. For sure, falling in love naturally involves a bit of fear because surrendering one’s heart to another can be scary. It can cause apprehension to be in that vulnerable state. But maybe the other person would like a chance to see if a relationship could work between yous as much as you would too?
The main tension in any kind of new relationship is whether to trust the other person or not. Trust implies that we leave ourselves a little bit vulnerable – to being let down for trusting in a person we shouldn’t have. Confiding in someone, such as with our secrets or intimate thoughts, leaves us vulnerable to them too. But without trusting someone, we cannot expect them to trust us in return. Without vulnerability, there is no romantic love. It’s a huge risk to surrender your heart to someone because they may later let you down or be found to be someone you didn’t think they were or someone who was only using you – but if you don’t give someone a chance and give them a little bit of your heart in the beginning (even if you’ve been hurt by someone else before) then you’ll never know if they could be ‘the one’?
When we fall in love, we experience a range of fluffy neurotransmitter and hormonal chemical reactions. There’s a rush of dopamine as well as cortisol; motivation for reward as well as stress; passion as well as anxiety; and flushed cheeks as well as sweaty palms. Both adrenaline/epinephrine and noradrenaline/norepinephrine levels increase, which are key components of a fight-or-flight response. Serotonin, which regulates mood (amongst other things), gets depleted, which results in preoccupying thoughts and infatuations, hopes and fears. All this results in us feeling obsessed, and leads to those cases of ‘love is blind’.
I personally believe that understanding our biology when we fall in love doesn’t make it any less amazing or special, nor does it mean that we can be excused if we behave inappropriately – it can conversely help us to be self-aware if we risk behaving inappropriately, such as if we have feelings of desire for someone else when we’re already in a relationship.
The self-fulfilling prophecy effect can come into play when people expect to get along with those who are supposedly well-matched for them, as well as when people expect not to get along with those who are supposedly not well-matched for them. This tells us that (in any kind of context) we should really give everyone a positive chance instead of prejudging any stranger negatively.
Whenever people say they’re attracted to a certain ‘type’ of person, they usually mean attributes like their ethnicity or physique. This positive stereotype might seem like nothing wrong but it’s typically a superficial judgement rather than a deeper one about an individual’s personality or values. It’s also still a stereotype and thus discriminatory, and it treats groups or imagined groups as if homogenous and individually interchangeable. It also negatively discriminates against people of other ‘types’ – to fetishise one group or imagined group based on superficial features is to logically negatively discriminate against all others based on such superficial features. Many online dating apps don’t help in this situation either since people can filter their choices based on such preferences of ‘type’.
While we’re on the subject of dating apps – most dating apps allow people to essentially be anonymous (apart from their profile pictures, which might not even exactly look like them anyway!) and this means all the things related to behaving anonymously (e.g. a reduced accountability for one’s decisions or actions). Compared to face-to-face interactions, people tend to be more curt and rude (e.g. ghosting, benching and zombieing behaviours are more prominent), and judgements are made within just ~3 seconds of seeing a picture and glancing at a bio i.e. judgements are even more superficial. These apps are also gamified in order to keep users coming back for more even though people may have found someone suitable for them (‘dating’ is their business model after all, more than ‘marriage’). Because of the sheer numbers of users, people feel that they can be far pickier since plenty of fish do seem to be in the sea, as it were; or some can become paralysed by this sheer amount of choice if they’re perfectionist.
There are various dating apps for different niche markets and they have worked for many people who are looking for a serious and lasting relationship rather than a mere hook-up; although the success rate is incredibly low for this. Still, it adds another option for those looking for love, and it opens opportunities for those who have niche interests or who don’t live or work so close to each other to otherwise bump into each other.
Social media in general has in some regards shifted people away from making deeper assessments – of both people and putative facts – but we need to look deeper. Remember that looks will always eventually fade! Beauty has thus got to be far more than skin-deep for love to be real and for love to last. ‘It’s what’s on the inside that counts’ – we hear this all of the time; mainly from older, more experienced, people talking to younger, less experienced, people. And in this case, this cliché is true. However, horny adolescents in particular can find it difficult to unshackle themselves from the instincts that make them feel more attracted to whomever they personally consider better looking on the surface. One must feel physically attracted to another person for sure – but more sophisticated people will start to see those who are beautiful on the inside as being beautiful on the outside, rather than hope that people who are beautiful on the outside will be beautiful on the inside too, which they may or may not be. The ‘deal makers’ and ‘deal breakers’, as it were, should pertain to a person’s deeper rather than shallower attributes.
If there’s an enchanting or popular celebrity (or even fictional movie character) and she/he looks (or sounds) a certain, highly distinctive way – her/his charm or desirability can become associated with ‘that look’. Now some people will start to fancy others who share a similar look or make themselves look similar to them. But other people who look similar to this person won’t necessarily possess the same talents and deeper desirable traits. Consciously, we know they aren’t the same person, but subconsciously, they’ve become associated. It’s instinctive to build associations as mental effort-saving shortcuts, just like glittery stuff being associated with expensive bling. And so people are often too quick to intuitively infer the deeper traits of others based on what’s associated with the way they look on the surface rather than how they might be like as an individual. This is related to the ‘halo effect’. That’s why there’s a lot of ‘ooh she/he’s hot because she/he looks like that famous person’. But all that glitters is not gold. This applies to negative associations too (like perhaps moustaches being associated with some dictators in history. But their moustaches were not the sources of their political views – their attitudes, held inside their minds, were!) Often the blind see more truth because the blind ignore the surfaces. Meow.
Okay, we do need a way to cut a long list of potential people down but we should do so according to deeper values such as family values, level of education and life aspirations. Sexuality might naturally reduce one’s options too. (Note that for most people at least, their sexuality is not a choice, otherwise heterosexual people could just choose to go out with members of their own gender… if only they wanted to(!))
In life in general, try not to judge anyone by what they were born with – only by the things they choose and do – otherwise you could miss out on all the good that’s out there. Pretence is rife on the surfaces – faking is a common strategy in nature, in both natural and sexual selection. The only way to get to the truth is to look deeper. Compatibility (see Post No.: 0281) and in turn a successful and happy relationship is less about physical traits or age and far more about deeper values and personality. First impressions are influential because they bias future expectations, but try to reserve your judgements until you really get to know someone – it’ll take time (and many different situations) to know the true character of a person, so take that time.
Both women and men can say one thing on paper when it comes to what they find attractive, and the genders may generally differ (e.g. women tend to rate earning potential with higher importance than men do, and men tend to rate physical attractiveness with higher importance than women do – although this might now be outdated data). Yet when it actually comes to face-to-face dating, women and men generally behave the same way and want the same things. The message is don’t judge too strongly on what you read or hear – meet people in the flesh as soon as you can before ruling people in or out. People sometimes lie, exaggerate or at least very carefully curate what they wish to be known, shown or hidden on screen too. Believing things at face value, which is a form of superficiality, leads to being scammed more easily too (e.g. by catfishing).
There’s plenty of ‘you can tell the personality of someone just by looking at their x’ over-extrapolations presented mainly in gossip cod-psychology sources. Something more direct like whether someone prefers to read than go to parties is more informative, but not something so indirect like what shoes or car someone has because a lot of other factors affect these choices (or lack of choices in the case of not being able to get the car one really ultimately wants, whether due to finances and/or current practical needs). Too many people think that they can glean so much from so little information i.e. from so little effort, education and research – hence it speaks so much more about those who judge in such ways instead(!)
The entire institution of astrology is therefore terrible because it assumes that we can judge everyone’s personality and future based upon one of just twelve star signs! It appeals to people who think that they can know so much from so little, but they end up jumping to conclusions that could be unfairly or dangerously wrong. Confirmation bias upholds their beliefs because if the ambiguous horoscopes or readings don’t fit then they’re dismissed or reinterpreted with hindsight.
Some character traits can be reliably judged externally though because they do reflect that person’s free, non-coerced-by-circumstances choices, such as if they wear super-long fake nails every day, which suggests that they don’t like doing serious manual work. This has a functional effect, and it’s by free choice.
In the end, only cavepeople (as in people who primarily make shallow rather than deeper judgements) prefer other cavepeople, and keep on doing so like a housefly constantly head-butting a window because it’s unable to adapt to account for the modern invention of glass! I suppose each to their own as long as they’re all grown-up enough and in consenting and non-abusive relationships. But if you’re a good catch but a caveperson doesn’t fancy you – it’s logically never your loss!
Meow. A good catch, plenty of fish in the sea, catfishing… I think I should take this sole oppor-tuna-ty to finish flounder-ing on this perch, put my skates on, get trout of this plaice, mullet over another time, stop carp-ing on about pollocks for cod’s hake and get myself some dinner! I still haven’t caught me a coelacanth.