You never tell me you love me

One of the most frustrating arguments to watch goes something like this:

“You never tell me you love me.”

“Of course I love you. Everybody knows I love you. I talk about you all the time.”

“But you never tell me that you love me.”

That middle line, the “Of course I love you. …”? That’ll be spoken by a male. It won’t matter if this is a gay or straight relationship because males, as a group, aren’t good at verbal communications.

And when those verbal communications are about feelings and emotions, ie, about making one’s self vulnerable?

Oy!

What’s fascinating about this is that the male’s last sentence, “I talk about you all the time.”, is probably quite true. Men, as a group, will share information with other male or mixed gender peer groups gladly.

Note the use of “groups” in the above.

That’s the kicker; Men will talk up their partners in peer groups gladly, loudly, proudly and unequivocally. But one-on-one, in an intimate verbal moment? Not so much.

The disconnect here is that people like to hear that they’re special, that they’re loved, that someone special feels for them as they feel for that someone special.

Fortunately there are ways to reconnect. Does your significant other male lack verbal skills? Ask them to write you a love note. Nothing elaborate, just something for you to keep and hold to yourself. Most men are happy to do so (although sometimes trust can be an issue. Promise not to share it with anybody). Their prose may be a little rough, a little awkward, and remember, it’s a start.

Give them time. They’ll be bringing you flowers, taking you out to dinner, the movies, and generally courting you all over again soon enough.


Posted in , , , , , ,

You smell so good to me (Matings Bonus)

Continuing with the thread introduced yesterday in You Smell Funny, we discovered some more research about how humans non-consciously use their olfactory sense (sense of smell) for mating purposes (like dating, finding the one you love, finding the one you’ll love once versus forever, finding the “me love you good Charlie, me make you happy long time”, all that kind of stuff) and thought to share it because we know you’re all out there just dying to know…

Guys and gals, are you in the courting/flirting/tension release stage of a relationship? You may tell yourself you’re looking for someone long time and if, in your heart of hearts, you know you’re only looking for someone short term, go to the ones who are heavily perfumed/masked/scented. They won’t disappoint.

It turns out that one aspect of our evolutionary heritage is to emit scents that let potential mates know our fecundity (“The state of being fertile; capable of producing offspring”).

And here’s the interesting way this has gotten disabused in most modern societies; We now lather and immerse ourselves in baths, oils, perfumes and such to mask the very scent that would tell the world, “Hey there hiya how you doin, I’m a’ waitin’ and ready!”

But wait, it gets better.

Those individuals who so obviously lather and immerse themselves? Consciously or not (we’re betting on not) are trying to signal potential mates’ olfactory senses that they would be a good long term catch when studies show they’re not good long term catches at all. Quite the contrary. At least on average.

But what about those folks who don’t put a lot of effort into masking their natural fragrances?

It turns out that on average the men and women who don’t lather and immerse themselves, who are subtle in their use of perfumes and colognes and such, are the ones who are consciously or not (again, we’re betting on not) signalling that they are genuinely good keepers, worth the effort and will be fruitful (in more ways than one) long term investments.

Canis Major (A Tale Told 'Round Celestial Campfires), by Joseph carrabisIf any of you have read Canis Major in either its Kindle or Tales Told ‘Round Celestial Campfires form, you may remember that it was Sherry’s subtle use of perfume that drew Iggie to her.

And, in the end, he was quite the catch.

So, ladies and gents, are you looking for someone to be with you throughout the years regardless of what life brings you?

Sniff out someone who uses fabricated scents at their minimum, to hint and suggest.

Are you looking for someone for an hour to a week or month at most?

paintbrush
They won’t be subtle. They’ll have applied their favorite scent with a housepainter’s brush.


Posted in , , , ,

You smell funny

[[this post originally appeared on the other platform on 29 Jan 2010. We’re resurrecting it because J found some more research along similar lines and will be sharing it in You smell so good to me (Matings Bonus), which will be available about this time tomorrow.]]

Perfumers and associated industries spend an incredible amount of money producing various scents for our use. Deodorants mask the caucasian from smelling like goats for example. And I’m not kidding about the goal smell, either.

Some people appreciate that there’s only one scent/perfume/olfactory mask they can wear and all others make their scent foul. I’m one of those lucky ones. I can only wear musk based scents. Wear any others and I quickly clear rooms.

Ah, the joys of individual body chemistries.

And that brings us directly to this post’s topic; how do you pick a scent that will be pleasing both to you and to those you want to please?

what ever happened to love potions 1-8?

Pleasing perfumes, deodorants and their kin evolved from what we once called love potions. We would go to our village wisewoman and she would ask who we wanted to have fall in love with us, when we would see them next and whether others would be present. You’ll find this mix of questions in fairy and folk tales from around the world and with good reason.

What pleases us olfactively and vomeronasally (collectively “our sense of smell”. Don’t worry if you’ve never heard of your vomeronasal sense. Nobody knew it existed until the late 1990s) is first based on our common biologies — we are designed to like certain scents and not others, then on our family’s preferences, then on our culture’s and then on our society’s as a whole.

Our olfactory senses are among the most primitive. The only older sensory system our bodies have is also the most dominant; our sense of touch. Our whole body is devoted to that sense and even our other senses yield to it. This is why it hurts when we poke ourselves in the eye. Why should it hurt? Why not just go blind for a moment or two? Because our sense of touch signals the eye is damaged before our sense of sight signals “Cover Your Eyes!”

Because olfaction is one of the oldest it often goes unnoticed by most people until there’s a really good smell or a really bad smell wafting towards us. Does the smell of freshly baked bread or frying garlic or apple pie cooling or pot roast cooking or bao steaming make your stomach growl? Or maybe just the thought of those things?

Congratulations, you’ve just noticed one evolutionary purpose of our sense of smell — to find good things to eat.

Likewise does the smell of a ripe horse or cow field cause a hasty retreat? Excellent, that’s another of it’s evolutionary purposes — to keep us out of nasty environments and situations.

And both of these grew out of our sense of smell’s original purpose — finding us someone to love.

That’s where the wisewoman’s questions come in. Did we want everybody to fall in love with us or just one person (and if personal genome sequencing kits ever come to WalMart®, be careful)? Was this someone from our village or another village? When would we see them?

The last question deals with dispersal method. Do we ingest it so that we disperse that magical scent through our pores (it takes a while) or apply it topically so that our body heat activates it (fairly rapid)?

The second question deals with those things we smelled as babies and growing up and have long forgotten. Just as there are comfort foods so there are comfort smells. Knowing where someone is from answers this.

The first question tells us the type of scent required; animal, vegetable or mineral.

The wisewoman’s questions are the same one perfumers deal with today. Much more scientifically, of course.

And usually with far worse results.

So the next time you’re considering which $150 bottle of perfume to purchase for that special occasion, consider whom you’re wanting to entice. If you know enough about them you might be just as well off with some bread, wine, cheese and a flower for your hair.


Posted in , , , , , ,

Appropriate Dress (Matings Part 6)

[[…continuing what was started in I Love the Way You Say That (Matings Part 1), Sex on the Beach (Matings Part 2), Sing Me a Little Song (Matings Part 3), Sing Me to Sleep That I Might Learn Thee Loves Me (Matings Part 4) and Want to kick the habit? Play Some Music (Matings Part 5)]]

On average, who spends more time on buying clothes, accessorizing them, and staring at their reflection to make sure everything is on just right, men or women?

This isn’t an easy one so take your time with it.

And while we’re at it, let’s up the ante — will an individual spend more time looking good when they’re out with friends or out looking for a mate?

Let’s start with whether women or men spend more time dressing and buying. If you guessed that it’s about equal, you’re correct.

Myself, I answered “women” than held up my hand. “Let me think about this,” I said.

And think I did.

Clothing is one of the most obvious and immediate demonstrations of group identity, cultural identity, ethnic identity, social class, peer recognition, … (I cover much of this in Reading Virtual Minds Volume I: Science and History, fyi). It turns out that if you measure across the broadest spectrum possible men and women spend equal amounts of time making sure they look just right with men leading the mirror charge as economic groups go higher and higher.

John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever

And if they want to climb an economic or social ladder, watch out. Did you think John Travolta’s Tony Manero character spent all that time on his hair just for kicks?

It’s a pretty interesting study, the science of ornamentation, dressing and such. Anthropologists and archaeologists spend lots of time studying such things because they reveal so much about cultures, peoples and most of all mating habits.

That last part leads us to whether people spend more time pruning and preening when they’re out with friends or out mate-hunting. If you guessed people will spend more time preparing for a night out with their friends than out looking for a mate, good for you, you got it.

Women going out with the girls for a night on the town have an acute if nonconscious sense of peer group pressure and hearing “I love what that dress/blouse/skirt/… does for you” is enough to make the night grand. Likewise, men will compliment each others’ appearance, if not with outright statements then with reflective comments such as “That woman over there thinks you’re hot.”


Posted in , , , ,

Want to kick the habit? Play Some Music (Matings Part 5)

[[…continuing what was started in I Love the Way You Say That (Matings Part 1), Sex on the Beach (Matings Part 2), Sing Me a Little Song (Matings Part 3) and Sing Me to Sleep That I Might Learn Thee Loves Me (Matings Part 4)]]

If you’ve following my last few posts you know I’ve been studying how sounds affect people. This is known as psychophysics and more directly, psycho-acoustics. It’s fascinating stuff.

For example, did you know that the parts of the brain that respond to music are involved in the response mechanisms to addictive substances and behaviors?

The evidence comes from various brain-scanning technologies (PET, fMRI, etc) and targeted drug therapies.

And it gets a little better, too. Not only abuse drugs, but it seems these neuronal circuits also are involved in our enjoyment of food and sex.

Food, sex and music.

Reminds me of Yasgur’s Farm.

Seriously, there’s a reason responses to food, sex, abuse drugs and music all occur in similar brain areas.

Imagine yourself as an amoeba in the primordial slime a few billion years ago. There were only two things you really wanted to do; eat and replicate. In fact, there wasn’t much about your primitive biology that was geared to doing anything else. Not only your primitive biology but the primitive biologies of every other living organism that was going to survive, eating and replicating were extremely important, and because they were you and your kind survived.

A few million years go by. Your multi-cellular. You might even be swimming in some ocean and getting ready to traipse across some land. There’s really only two reasons you’d want to do that. First, there might be food. Second, there might be someone cute.

Food and sex still rule.

Many million more years go by. Many, many. You’re walking around on the land now and you might still be swimming. You might be flying or gliding. In all cases, your mobility is a function of your need to eat — find food — and reproduce — find yourself a cutie. These two functions have taken on such importance to both your and your species’ survival that your brain has started to do things to get your attention when you eat or mate. It started to develop some reward circuitry and about the only time it fires is when you’re doing things that directly insure both your and your species’ survival.

Food and sex again. Only now we’re getting rewarded in new ways for our efforts.

Lots more millions of years go by. You’ve done well. There are so many of your species now that in order to reproduce you have to demonstrate that you’re better than your peers. How might you do that? Evolution comes up with a way. Originally your flopping around or flapping your wings or clapping your flippers happened by accident but it still made potential mates look your way rather than at your peers. Given eons those accidental sounds became intentional mating calls, tweets, splashes and flaps.

Then we started adding rhythms so that potential mates would be able to pick our grunts and groans out of the crowd.

Then we started howling and calling. That’s how music was born.

And the ones of us who made the best music got the most reward.

It’s those reward circuits that drugs of abuse fire. The same ones that got us standing up on our hind legs and reading these words rather than dying off millenia ago.

Knowing their origins, it’s not odd at all that food, sex, abuse drugs and music go together, is it?

So if you really want to kick the habit, learn to play some music. Food, sex and drugs are sometimes recognized as addictional vectors in our society. Not so with music. Not yet.


Posted in , , , , , , , ,