In my research, I’ve found six factors that determine who you fall in love with and why.
Not only do our mothers and fathers pass on their genes that carry the potential of future health issues as well as the mixing of chromosomes that determines our sex, but the environment in the womb can also change the balance of key hormones that determine our temperament.
Helen Fisher found that specific chemical ratios and interactions manifest in four broad personality types. (4) Some males are exposed to more estrogen in the womb, while some females are exposed to more testosterone. Such exposure affects the ratio and degree to which one expresses personality traits related to these chemicals, at least initially.
As it turns out, certain chemicals create personalities that are attracted to each other while other chemicals are attracted to complementary personality traits. This can change over time due to our experiences in…
The culture we grow up in provides us feedback about what we should find attractive and how we should behave to be attractive to someone else. For example: At the end of the 20th century, the US threatened to hold evidence of Fidel Castro’s daughter, who was conceived in an extramarital affair, as a bargaining tool.
But “in South America, we expect our leaders to have mistresses. If one of our leaders did not have a mistress, the populace would want to know what was wrong with him.” (5) Even within cultures, there are subgroups who have different traditions as to what is acceptable and expected in romantic relationships. This is the heart of demographics.
Even in our post-modern era, the chant “log on to sex” (6) characterizes our millennium’s style of flirting. Webcams and cell towers replace the messy “wet-ware” of body fluids, saliva, sweat, and body odor.
The culture includes everything we have come to recognize as good or bad as a society. These shape and define what is socially attractive.
3. Social Effects
At the age of 5, we begin to cultivate social/emotional attraction and bonding. You discover which kids in Kindergarten like to play with LEGOS and which kids like to eat their boogers. Depending on where your peers and you perceive your standing in the social hierarchy, you may be subjected to bullying, peer pressure or hazing throughout your life. These experiences affect what you find attractive.
Maybe you were bullied in elementary school and ended up dating a more controlling woman by the college. Or perhaps you went the other route and sought out submissive women so you could feel like you finally had some power. Our socio-economic status and perceived value relative to others affect our sense of self and create social cues of what to engage in or stay away from in terms of our intimate relationships.
The most crucial factor in determining why we fall in love and why is family.
The interactions of life’s earliest years lay down a set of emotional lessons based on the attunement and upsets in the contacts between the infant and caretaker. (7)
Our family interactions, values, and even the religion of your parents affect the values and expectations of how your intimate relationships should be when you get involved with someone else in adulthood. I’ve studied a ton on attachment theory and have recognized the major ways our childhood attachment with our mothers and fathers imprint beliefs about what we deserve in a relationship.
If our parents inconsistently met our needs, we end up manifesting these insecurities in our adulthood relationships. For example, Anxious people tend to be attracted to Avoidants because the Anxious feels valued when they overinvest their emotions into the relationship. Meanwhile, Avoidants feel happy when they underinvest their emotions into the relationship. Despite the initial counterbalance, the relationship turns into being the most toxic relationship of them all.