How We Choose the Person to Love

How do we choose the person to love? It may be much different than you think.

Here we are. The person we’ve always dreamed of appeared in our life.! It may be that this person corresponds to us or it may not be so. It may be a love that is happy or full of clouds. Especially in this second case, we will happen to ask ourselves: but why him/her?

Generally, we tend to attribute the guilt/merit of this meeting to destiny,. We are led to think that everything happened only by chance, without us being able to influence fate in the slightest. We found ourselves in a certain place, at a certain time, and fate (only it) made us meet.

But the studies carried out in this regard would show that this is not the case. The choice of the person to love would not be at all casual but would be the result of our careful, although unconscious, research. We, therefore, determine our destiny and make it happen. But what determines our choice?

Love: An ideal or a rational choice?

There is something mysterious that pushes us to choose one person among a thousand others, that makes us find attractive just that certain person, that makes us notice him/her in the midst of all those with whom we happen to come into contact on a daily basis.

Some studies deal with the differences that exist in a more irrational type of bond, such as that resulting from the so-called “lightning strike”, and a more rational one, driven by an intellectual choice. It has even reached the hypothesis of the existence of a “hormone of falling in love” which would be set in motion once it had identified a suitable partner.

Although there is no definite evidence, it cannot be excluded that there is a kind of biological programming that guides our choices, this could explain the sympathies/ instinctive antipathy that we feel towards people we do not know and of whom we know nothing.

A “love map”

John Money, a New Zealand psychologist, spoke about a “love map” that each of us has encoded in his brain and that identifies what we like and what we do not like, the colors (of the eyes, of the hair…), the timbre of the voice, the way of smiling, the physical appearance. This map also outlines the personality traits that best suit us: affectionate, strong, few words, chatty

So basically, this map provides us with the kind of features that our ideal partner has to have. It creates, on an unconscious level, a model to which we refer in our choices and that orients us in one direction rather than the other. To this is added that each of us has a certain unconscious ability to evaluate the model of the other and to feel attraction for those who believe he may have a project complementary to his own.

The characteristics of this model are already evident in childhood. Lived experiences provide us with benchmarks that allow us to assess our needs, our ability to interact with others, their responses and the characteristics of others that best combine with ours to obtain the result of a relationship as satisfying and rewarding as possible. The formation of our model is also affected in large part by the strong influence exerted by parenting figures. Very often we look for what we found in others and claim to find in the partner some characteristics (both physical and character) of our parents.

Better similar or different?

loveBut let’s go back to examining what catches our interest. We often hear that opposites attract, do they? Probably, but only partially. Usually, we are looking for someone who is living or has lived experiences similar to ours, but also that presents differences with our way of being. In the partner we look for an image that reflects ourselves (it is said, for example, that physically attractive people look for equally fascinating partners), but also something that completes us, so at least in part different from us.

Most of us are surrounded by people in the same social sphere, which means that we’re hanging out with people who live in the same city, who have behind them a type of education similar to ours,and share objectives roughly equivalent to ours. Generally,we are comfortable with these people, we feel we have a common basis that makes us understand each other.

But there is also an opposite need. In addition to a certain affinity, a certain kind of understanding, we need compensation that is someone who manifests personality traits that will match our own. For example, a person who loves to talk a lot will need someone who knows how to listen, a more aggressive or exuberant person will look for someone more peaceful, who can balance his excesses.

This search for balance also urges us to look for someone from whom we can learn something that can be useful to us. For example, someone who, despite having lived similar experiences to ours, has developed behaviors or has found answers different from the ones we had. This will represent a great opportunity for us to learn by conquering a psychological completeness, which we could hardly reach by relying only on the experiences lived in first person

It’s not just a matter of romance

Photo by Alex Iby on Unsplash

On this basis we will move when we are looking for a person to love. Often the desire to attribute to destiny the cause of an encounter and a relationship is also a way to give a more romantic impression to the feeling and not to see the utilitarian aspect that every relationship must satisfy in order to be desirable.

But that’s just the way it is. Although we like to think that love is only the result of an irrational attraction to one and only one person, in reality, things are a bit different. The purpose of falling in love is the same as everything  we want, which is to improve our life. The goal that drives us is always the search for a better condition.

Differences between men and women. Historical reasons.

Helen Fisher, biological anthropologist and leading expert in the science of human attraction, found that the brains of men and women behave differently when they are in love.

Men are more inclined to look at and give importance to what they see. Women fantasize and, therefore, are more attracted to those who know how to arouse in them a fantasy that best meets their expectations. Another difference is that men fall in love faster than women.

These differences are explained by habits that go back millions of years and that have evidently remained in our DNA. When the purpose of the couple was seen as a simple means of reproduction, the man chose the woman according to the requirements that indicated her as fit to have healthy children. So it was based on the gaze: a young woman, healthy, with certain physical characteristics (such as large hips) seemed to respond better to these requirements and was therefore preferred. For the woman, the speech was more complicated. They were looking for not only a mate to breed but someone who could give them security, protect them and be close to them for as long as it took to raise their children.

A longer-term project, for which a simple glance could certainly not be enough.

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