After having just played witness to a person wearing the world’s most beautiful face, fallen victim to stomach-churningly awkward playground-style flirting and been reminded of what connection really feels like, this week’s theme is going to take me on a journey through one of my favourite topics by reading one of my favourite books.
I used to call it the X factor; that thing you can’t quite put your finger on.
It feels like an energy force that draws you in like a magnet, some sort of magic that swirls around your stomach, tugs at your heart and takes over your mind.
And it’s not just their big arms, broad chest or the way their perfectly chiselled cheekbones stretch down to reach their dimples. It’s not just their big dreamy chocolate coloured eyes, or the way they flare their nostrils when they laugh.
You seem to catch them looking at you every time you look around. One glance and you can’t wipe the smile off your face. One touch and you’re trembling with nerves and excitement. No matter what they do, you just can’t seem to pull yourself together.
But the question on everybody’s lips, or at least mine and Helen Fisher’s – is Why Him? Why Her?
I first discovered Lust, Love and Romance Guru, Helen Fisher on Ted Talks eleven years ago.
She reeled me in with her fascinating anecdotes and amorous poems, but it was her scientific approach to understanding something I’d only ever felt before and never really intellectualised, that got me hooked.
She talks about dating, mating and marriage patterns throughout history and across the world.
She takes you back to when, on the grasslands of Africa, our primal instincts drove us to reproduce and how our Hunter-Gatherer society — and the subsequent demise thereof — carved out our courting tactics for centuries to come.
She talks about nature and nurture, about man versus woman and about the chemical drives inside our brains that compel us to take action.
She says there are three different types of attraction and we can feel one or more of them, for one or more people at the same time.
She talks about how society forces us to suppress some of those feelings and talks through how, because of this, we work our way, often covertly, through everything from dating to divorce.
It seems that when it comes to our language of lust and love, our bodies do the talking. And it all starts with flirting – our in-built strategy for seduction.
According to Eibl Eibesfeldt, one of the world’s most famous ethologists, these are universal flirting tactics amongst women from places as different as the jungles of Amazonia, to the salons of Paris and the highlands of New Guinea.
If you want to know if a woman likes you or not, look out for raised eyebrows, head tilts and hair flicks. Look to see if she’s widening her gaze and fluttering her eyelashes, maybe she’ll cover her face a little and giggle or she might look away coyly when your eyes finally meet.
It’s a series of gestures, a collection of primal courting tactics that the human species has evolved over thousands of years and something that can also be seen in female animals; a possum cocks her head and tilts it shyly at her suitor and the female Albatross tosses her head and snaps her bill.
Men flirt too.
Any man looking to command attention of a partner will take a position of dominance; he’ll puff up his chest and broaden his stance, thrusting his upper body.
It’s called the “standing tall” pose and can be seen in all over the animal kingdom.
Codfish bulge their heads and thrust out their pelvic fins, snakes and frogs and toads inflate their bodies. Cats bristle, pigeons swell and lobsters raise themselves onto the tips of their walking legs and extend their open claws. Gorillas pound their chests.
We use bodily cues to draw attention to ourselves and in turn gain the attention of someone we admire.
Because it’s better to be looked over than overlooked.Mae WEST