4Your Ear and Forearm
The Romantic Notion:
"When the right person comes along, you'll just know."
The reason your brain might "just know" could simply be a matter of which side of your body the person was standing on when he asked you out. Of course, it's not all that simple. To really improve his chances, he'd have to do something drastic, like touching your arm.
Don't think of it as a commute. Think of it as dozens of potential soul mates.
The brain is a really complex organ. But after decades of studying it, most psychologists and neurologists feel comfortable making a couple of generalizations -- namely, that the left side of your brain handles verbal information and is tuned in to positive emotions, while the right hemisphere concentrates on nonverbal stimuli and more negative emotions. They also know that information that goes in your left ear is handled by the right side of the brain.
Armed with this information, psychologists in Italy devised a study that tested how the different sides of your brain process information. What they found is that requests are 50 percent more successful when heard from the right side than the left. In the study, a woman approached people at a club and asked for a cigarette, leaning in to one side or another. Exactly double the number of people obliged her when she asked on their right. In a dating situation, not only could the chances of someone saying yes to a date hinge on who is standing where, but the emotional aspect could come into play as well. Sure, you might agree to go out with someone who talked in your left ear, but your first impression might be to associate him with more negative emotions.
Sorry, lady. From now on, he thinks you're kind of a bitch.
You're even more likely to accept a date if the person asking also touches you on the arm. A French study found that women were more likely to accept an offer to dance with a man at a club, and to give their number to a stranger on the street, if he lightly touched their arm while asking. When questioned about why they said yes, the women who had been touched said they thought the man was more dominant, which might be expected, but they also rated him as more attractive physically.
In addition to proving that French and Italian scientists are exactly as slimy as we'd expect, the studies suggest that standing to someone's right and repeatedly touching that person's arm does the trick. Of course, if you're the sort of person who whispers into a potential partner's ears and lightly touches the person on the arm, you're probably already pretty confident. For the rest of us, just try to keep in mind that a light touch seems to do the trick.
No! Too much!
3The Taste in a Kiss
The Romantic Notion:
"Ah, the kiss, the connection of two souls, the action that binds both young and old lovers for eternity. The romantic tension ... the passion ... the intimacy ... the lust ... the burning desire ... the hunger for more ..."
The smell of an egg burrito and last night's bourbon on your partner's breath ...
There's a cluster of chromosomes present in the body called MHC (major histocompatibility complex) that controls part of your immune system. And when you're out looking for someone to breed with, MHC is probably the most influential aspect of a partner that you didn't know you were judging. MHC controls your ability to fight off infection, and if you breed with someone whose MHC is similar to your own, the pregnancy is less likely to take. Finding someone whose MHC is different means a more diverse immune system for the child.
In other words, evolution supports getting strange with strangers.
In fact, according to a report in Psychology Today, the scent of MHC might be the second-most-important factor in determining how attractive a woman finds a potential mate. While you might not realize you're secretly judging someone you just met on how well your child would be able to fight off a cold, that's what's happening. Your body tries to instinctively make sure that each potential partner has the sexual compatibility seal of approval. Now how does it do that?
MHC is present in both pheromones and saliva, meaning that to really detect whether a partner is suitable, one must be in close proximity (to smell the MHC), and there must be an exchange in saliva (to taste the MHC). Now, what usually happens when these two events are placed together? That's right, ladies and gentlemen -- the kiss is in fact a goddamn taste test. We've adapted the behavior to make sure we find someone with whom our chemicals match up.
"Wow! We both taste like shame."
So all that stuff about loving someone's soul? You could go out and find someone who shares your interests, reads the same manga, orders the same pizza, gets along with your parents and even gets the "subtle intelligent humor" that you (and only you) understand. All it would take is the taste of that person's saliva for that interest to go from "I want to make love to you right now! I don't care if the kids I'm babysitting are watching" to "I like you, but more like a brother."