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Discovery Channel’s Science of Sex Appeal Details the Biological Challenges to Long-Term Relationships

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My mission in watching Discovery Channel's Science of Sex Appeal was to understand the scientific take on what's up with the sexual and emotional cheating I see in my therapy practice. People say they want a forever relationship — so what is happening?

Briefly, the science says we are predisposed chemically away from long-term monogamy and pair bonding, but we can choose to use the tremendous power of our gigantic human brains to maintain our relationships. Okay… then how do we choose our partners and how do we stay happily together long-term?

The feature began by explaining that the sexual attraction game consists of three parts: choosing a partner, keeping a partner, and building a nest together to raise children. From the start of the show, the rapid-fire polysyllabic banter of Science of Sex Appeal was difficult to follow.  But I was determined to get my questions answered and apply the information in my professional practice.

One research study illustrated that women tend to choose partners based on status or resources as a priority. Groups of women, selected at random, were shown photos of similarly dressed men of relatively equal attractiveness. Following a baseline numerical rating of attractiveness, later groups were shown the same pictures, but with an indication of social and economic status — five- or six-figure incomes. The attractiveness ratings rose or fell significantly in direct correlation to perceived income level.

And the science of partner selection continues with human odor as a factor. Couples can discern the special smell of their partner. Every man has a unique smell — 'eau de man.' Research has demonstrated that odor affects us at a subconscious level. We can't control it. No two people smell the same or have the same ‘HMC’, as it is called. There is an optimum match for HMC.

Women are generally repelled by men’s scent (except when they are within a day or two of ovulation); but men, when exposed to vaginal secretions, are consistently attracted. In experiments where men inhale imperceptible low doses of artificial copulants, the attractiveness rating of women shown in pictures is higher. Copulants impair men’s ability to discriminate whether a woman is attractive. The scent of copulants prevents them from thinking clearly.  (Odor also helps us steer clear of relatives and has performed the evolutionary role of "incest avoidance.")

With chemistry-inspired flirting, lust, and love all continuously active below our level of consciousness, can we maintain attraction to one partner? Attraction has many stages, beginning with a single biochemical jolt resulting in a change reaction. Anecdotal reports indicate the ‘first kiss’ is highly memorable in the attraction that builds (or fails to build). The abundant testosterone in saliva increases the sex drive.

Even more sex appeal chemistry influences occur through the dopamine triggered in our brains. Dopamine is the brain’s pleasure chemical that produces a high that can be addictive, energy producing, and exhilarating. Biochemistry shows the link between dopamine and testosterone with exhilaration and lust. But dopamine is not uniquely linked to sex appeal. The thrill of sports, bungee jumping for instance, can produce a dopamine rush.  What about love?

Researchers set out to find the ‘brain in love’ through MRI scans of people viewing photos of a significant other and strangers. And they did. Brain activity rose and fell according to the attachment. But science confirms that it is having sex (not being in love) that makes us want more sex. We can be in love, and never have sex. Professionally, I understand that loving a spouse (partner) does not (necessarily) include sexual attraction or the desire to engage in sex.

According to Science of Sex Appeal, chemistry brings us together and drives us apart. We are biologically programmed to mate for life and most religions and cultures urge us to do so. Still, there are two primary paths of choice — stay together or have an unrestricted strategy and remain noncommittal. Newer research shows that women also seek sexual variety similarly to how we have stereotyped men as wanting to play the field.

Many of our unconscious preferences and behaviors are conditioned by our chemistry. Studies report that women find slightly feminized pictures of the same man more attractive when they are not ovulating. Married women are biologically driven to promiscuous behavior as reported by an experiment based on digital movies of the female participants dancing during a "girls’ night out." The women with long term partners and on their fertility cycles were the most provocative. This was concluded from movement and appearance analyzed through pixels and an estimated percentage of skin showing. These committed women sent out more sexual signals than the available ones. In contrast, other research pinpoints the role of the chemical oxcytocin in monogamy for women.

The science on sexual attraction claims that evolution prepares us to stay together just long enough to raise children. One study across 58 societies demonstrated a dual reproductive system going from pair bonding to straying at about the four-year mark in a relationship. The study conclusion: we are fundamentally built to stray. Does this mean that our exhilarating experience of early love is destined to be undermined by our inherent biology? Will we always fail at long-term love?

Science claims that the chemistry of passion, lust, and love bind us together for a limited period of time. Haven't most of us figured that out at a personal level? My observation is we already know we need to build for the future before the reality storm hits. Yet many of us neglect our marriages and relationships anyway. Over focus on careers or children, and overindulging in our selfish habits through individual use of time frequently lead to rampant neglect of our partners. Science help us?

The science here reminds me of the Three Little Pigs story. Early love and lust are like building a grass hut on a romantic island. Eventually, the wolf-like hurricanes of time and routine daily living blow it to smithereens. And even if we upgrade to sticks, we still gotta invest in mortar and bricks. What are the bricks and mortar of satisfying long-term pair bonding? How do we build a cooperative and monogamous alliance that lasts a lifetime?

Science of Sex Appeal suggests that our spirituality, life memories, and our children can become the building bricks for lifetime commitment. (I add that friendly roommate-like compatibility and economic convenience or necessity are common factors that prevent break-ups, while not necessarily firming up commitment.) But those commitments can remain shaky or shallow alliances without the intense love mortar. In this documentary, it is proposed that if you want to love longer than 10 years, you must build a mental chemistry of love.

There is scientific proof that we can remain in love with sustained intense romantic love that is stronger, deeper, and more complex than the explosion of early love. Studies of the MRI activity of a male subject in an intense, 24-year marital relationship showed that the ventral tegmental area of his brain still lights up. This brain region is active in early love. How do we utilize our brains to keep that region blazing with light?

Often, one partner may describe feelings of loving the other without being "in love." These conflicting emotions often signal doubts of whether their marriage or union should continue. How can they handle that? Of course, they may just stumble along without taking action, but they can also choose to break up the relationship or go to a counselor to build solutions.

Science teaches (as do therapists) that any novelty increases the dopamine level in our brains. We can constantly refuel with that wonderful pleasure chemical by bringing new challenges and experiences into our relationships. While this would seem to be a no-brainer, in my work, I see that many relationships suffer from neglect by failing to make that effort. People walk away from relationships or settle instead.

We are not at the mercy of our hormone clusters ebbing and flowing. The chemistry of sexual attraction may be beyond our control; however, the way we act in response is totally our choice. We have huge brains giving us the ability and opportunity to make deliberate decisions with our lives. Science informs that we can use our conscious minds to sustain our relationships. When we decide to do that, we can make everything else fall into place for us and value our families of creation.

The Science of Sex Appeal concluded with the optimistic promise that sexual attraction and chemistry do not dictate our actions or partner choices. Our brains give us the option to choose how to live our lives.

Consider how carefully crafted food marketing triggers our desire to eat. We can pass on eating. We have the ability to edit our food choices to create healthy bodies and, if needed, consult a nutritionist. And despite the science of the chemical triggers of sex appeal, we are capable of choices, which honor and create healthy emotional relationships. Exit the role of physical science and enter self-help, relationship coaching, and professional counseling. We can put our brains to work building our understanding and skills to achieve satisfying marriages and other types of long-term pair bonds.

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About Dr. Coach Love

  • Cindy


    Interesting article. I had some objections throughout. This one, I’ll mention.

    Women are generally repelled by men’s scent (except when they are within a day or two of ovulation)…

    I find this surprising. It’s not my experience in talking to women about such things. It’s certainly not my own experience.

    In the end though, I’ll agree with this conclusion:

    And despite the science of the chemical triggers of sex appeal, we are capable of choices, which honor and create healthy emotional relationships.

  • Hi, Cindy,

    Thanks for bringing your thoughts to this one.

    As with scientific research, results are not unanimous, just statistically significant findings. If any of us was actually one of the research subjects, our experiences may have fallen on the minority side of the results—not the statistically significant ones that are reported as the conclusions. The research does not speak to our experience—just that of many others who, if not aware, can now be alerted to what is happening with them and change course if desired.

    Truth told, results of research on women often do not represent me personally either—like you are reporting here. So I focus on the bottom line here as you do.

    Anyone else want to add your thoughts to this discussion? Please chime in.

  • Cindy

    Hi Coach,

    I am familiar with scientific research and research methodology, having been a psychology major. I also am a skeptic and familiar with research flaws.

    I have a tendency to do a review of the literature myself if no one has done a recent one and to look at the actual study for flaws myself, before I tentatively accept any conclusions.

    But, yes. I understand that I may be in the minority. It is simply that I find the chances of meeting so many women throughout my 48 years, who actually like the smell of men, to be unlikely by chance. Of course there is always the remote possibility that I could be biased. 🙂

  • Cindy

    Okay, where are the random women? 🙂 We need a question answered here.

  • Hi, again Cindy,

    Always good to have skeptics like you around and for everyone to take research tentatively. Research desgns can be flawed. My review and opinion were focused on the Discovery Channel’s report of the study.

    The random women only had to like the smell of men for less than 72 hours per month (while ovulating) and were likely unaware. Otherwise the research suggests—consistently with what you annecdotally report—women think men stink. I say that with deepest apologies to my darling husband and all you wonderful guys out there.

    But as I think we agreed, what I conclude as the importance of the study is the lesson to be aware and use your chemistry and brain to work for your relationship—not against it.

  • Cindy


    No! wait! lol You got me wrong. Allow me to restate.

    Most of the women I have met (any actually discussed this with) like the smell of men. I find it unlikely that, by chance, I personally would happen upon so many women who are supposed to be in the minority.

    However, since I like the way men smell, perhaps these women were more inclined to be more open to me about breaking what might be a “cultural norm” or maybe I am simply biased. Maybe I only remember the opinion that agrees with mine.

    So what I am saying is, the test results can be skewed for a reason no more complex than a desire to fit a perceived norm. Or I can be wrong.

  • Hey, there, Cindy!
    Just stopping by to give you a thumbs up for a thoughtfully presented article. I will be definitely keeping in mind your advice — especially, being in a committed 4 year 3 months relationship (almost a year and half of them married).
    I also favorite-placed your blog. I’ll be sure to stop by.
    As for the tie breaker, well, I can tell you I like the…scent of my husband. It’s not quite smell, just a subtle tang of masculinity mixed with his favorite aftershave. He doesn’t wear perfume.
    And I can tell you that one of the men I emphatically did NOT date (not for his lack of wanting) smelled. But you see, it wasn’t from lack of hygiene. It was just too…animalistic, I guess. He smelled (and occasionally, was) on the verge of an erection. Regardless of my ovulatory cycle there, he was never an attractive candidate.

  • OOPS! I am a twit, Dr. Love — and Cindy.
    I just thought you guys were the same person. MEA CULPA!!!!!!
    But I still thought the article well-presented and smart. And I still appreciate CINDY referring me to it.
    SOWWY. 🙂

  • Hi, ASiCat & Cindy,

    Glad you both weighed in on this. Your man smells good to you, so does mine. Your comments are all interesting and very awareness oriented. Wonder if lots of women reflect on their man’s scent—except if he has a hygiene issue?

    No problem about the mix up_ _it happens. I am humbly pleased you place-favored my blog. And thanks to you,too, Cindy.

    Later, Dr. Coach Love (DCL)

  • Thank you, Coach!

    And as for your musings, I think maybe we all do…in that kind of unconscious manner. The only reason I actually became so acutely aware of it is precisely BECAUSE of that non-ex-boyfriend. Until J, I never noticed the scent other than perfume or a hygiene issue, but after, it almost became a litmus test.

    Incidentally, I am writing another article — well, so far collecting research for it — and I was wondering if I could pick your brain. Certainly, I am going to list you as an expert opinion.

  • HeY, ASiCat,
    My brain may be ripe and may be pickable. Contact me through my personal website to discuss possibilities if you like.

    Dr. Coach Love

  • Doc Coach, if you want people to contact you through your site, you need to amend the URL you have in that little box just above where you type in your comments. The first seven characters are missing and I can’t keep fixing it for you for ever…

    Christopher Rose
    Blogcritics Comments Editor

  • Hello Christopher Rose,
    My computer has crashed so I am coming from elsewhere. I’m not a techie and am in a learning mode with most of this. Can you be more specific in your directions? Does entering the url above satisfy what you are talking about? I thought commenters could already go directly to me through my personal site. Please explain. Thanks for your help.
    Dr. Coach Love

  • Doc Coach, what Christopher means is that you need to put a fully qualified URL into the URL field in the comments box. In other words, do not start with www. You need to put the complete URL (http, etc) in order for the link to work.

  • zingzing

    what the research suggests, ladies, is that you lie. or some of you do. a majority, perhaps? you lie to your men and you lie to each other. that may sound harsh, but it’s a good kind of lie. one that keeps someone from getting hurt. (like your stank-ass man.) and maybe it saves you a little face as well.

    or maybe it suggests that the research is asking the wrong question. maybe your man does smell awful. but you just like it anyway. i mean, i doubt you’d be too enthusiastic about another woman sniffing you man’s armpit, right? probably because it stinks. but it’s your stink. or his stink… that you’ve co-opted.

  • Cindy


    What in the world are you talking about?

    I am not talking about people who never bathe. I am not talking about the guy on dirty jobs (or whatever that show is). I am talking about normal and mild scent.

    How can an animal not be attracted to a partner animal’s scent? That seems highly unlikely. Even neurotic and imposed (by advertising is my guess).

    If women (or men) do not like the normal scent of eachother–my question is “what the hell happened to them to make them like that?”

  • zingzing

    that’s the point, cindy. that a woman likes HER man’s scent, even if he’s been working outside all day. but another woman probably would not, unless she was attracted to the same guy.

    our brains connect love/lust and odor. if i had been working outside all day, (and as long as the only odor sticking to me was my own sweat), my girlfriend would probably give me a good hug and a sniff and an etc, etc, etc. you, on the other hand, would probably declare me foul and demand that i take a shower before i get that stink all over the furniture.

    to further make the point, i used to smoke this stuff called butterfly tobacco. it was cheap and smelled like pipe tobacco. my girlfriend loves the smell. in fact, the girlfriend before that loved the smell of it as well. both said that it was a “comforting” smell, and that it just reminded them of me. my former girlfriend’s sister, on the other hand, said it smelled like “baby shit.” and my brother said that when i visited him, his living room stank of it for days.

  • Cindy


    lol sorry i didn’t understand your post.

    that is my experience too. i have always found the man i am in love with to be the most extraordinary creature in every sense. in beauty and scent and etc.

    and this is despite age or physical stature. or objective ideas of beauty, which i personally find quite meaningless.

    and it is not a result of infatuation, as i have been with my husband over the course of 30 years (with 10 years off in the middle, so actually 20)…and he is still as extraordinary as ever.

    and i fully concur with your gfs’ and understand why the smell of your tobacco would be comforting to her…er…them

  • the GreyWolf

    I had a big problem with the show. It should have been called “The Science of What Caucasians Find Attractive”. The “random” sampling of people was anything but. Where were the Asians, Hispanics and Blacks? Isn’t one of the foundations of a good experiment to have as broad a sampling as possible? Is the point that only Euro/Anglo/Nordic-type features are the only attractive ones? Very poor show.

  • Aithinne

    This show was very interesting, but I was depressed by the time I finished watching it. It’s not like it’s anything new, anyway. Men want beautiful perfect women. OMG! I had NO IDEA. So what if you’re not pretty? What do you do then? The show didn’t comment on THAT dilemma. Are we plain girls just doomed from the start? THAT’s what I want to know so I can judge if it’s worth it to put the energy into a pointless exercise. Maybe I should get some of that copulence perfume and wear it when I go out? The show said men lose their ability to judge attractiveness when they smell it….

    And I had issues on their findings with women. I, like other women here, think that men smell great all or most of the time. Well, at least the man you’re with smells great all the time. Also, am I the only chick who doesn’t care about a man’s money? The extent to my caring about a man’s money is whether he can take care of himself and pay his bills like a responsible adult. I don’t know where they got those stupid women on the program at the car show, but seriously? All men say women care about is money. Am I the only one who doesn’t really? How about we give the girls a little credit here.

    Overall, I found the program interesting from a science point of view, but I don’t think I’ll watch it again because it just paints a really sad picture of humanity. Beautiful girl gets guy, rich guy gets girl. Ugh, shoot me now.

  • Hi, Aithinne,

    Thank you for your different perspective on the Science of Sex Appeal. I can see how the glamour and hope of finding a partner as portrayed in the show can be depressing. But sex appeal is only about initial selection and not long term partnership. But here’s what I believe:
    1. Being beautiful also carries a lot of misfortune and burdens.
    2. Attractiveness carries the cumbersome burden of getting too much attention, often for the wrong reasons—just like having too much money. (Fortunately, I have neither problem. Average works for me.)
    3. For decades, I have observed firsthand in my profession that most men, who profess that their wives are attractive, really are not with a particularly gorgeous or attractive woman. I have seen countless successful couples, who to the outside observer, are mismatched at a physical attractiveness level. Whether the attraction and love are based mostly on her scent, personality, or simply how she lovingly accepts him for who he is, I’m not sure. But I believe it’s probably a combination of all of that and relationships skills.
    4. There is probably a “perfect” person for each of us hidden somewhere around the globe. It is also likely that we will never find that “perfect” person.
    5. And anyway, the person we can love and live with long-term is the one whose flaws we see and can accept. Perhaps this is truly the “perfect” partnership of imperfect people because we can create a balance in the relationship when we allow our flaws to hang out and he can accept them in return— unless of course, we are perfect and have no flaws to trade.
    6. The Internet is “beauty blind” and provides the opportunity to show our internal stuff honestly in advance of the impact of our appearance and beauty that is only skin deep.

    I realize that your situation is probably complicated. Gently, I would suggest that there is a man out there who will accept your level of attractiveness or “plainness” and appreciate the internal qualities that are you.

    Just some thoughts—Do you judge yourself harshly? How do you judge the men you see and meet? Are you maybe either too hard on them or very unselective? Keep working on it and let it happen!

    Dr. Coach Love

  • Aithinne,

    I am with you! Now I think I should watch this show.

    Here is a question: How does one arrive at what is human nature if one only looks at examples that have suffered damage?

    Another one: If the norms in a society are sick, of what benefit is it to a person try to conform to them?

    We are inundated with advertising from the minute we can form ideas. Advertising meant to coerce us into buying things by making us feel inadequate. Through this process, corporations define what our cultural norms are.

    What would someone expect to happen if young forming human minds are submitted to a constant barrage of input that tells us we should look like some idealized image, that if we buy some product, we can approach this ideal.

    Fight Lookism.

    “Beauty must be defined as what we are, or else the concept itself is our enemy.”

    From racism to sexism to ageism to class-oppression to lookism to homophobia…it all needs to go. Anarchism is a philosophy that subverts these ideas, I hope you check it out. Deconstruct your beauty norms. There are men who do this as well. Don’t give in to cultural imperatives. We should all question beliefs that are unconsciously imposed on us.

    To go along with this is to support a system that encourages women and men to hate themselves. People need to ask themselves if they want to go along with this. Do we want to let corporations decide how we view ourselves? Do we want our beautiful daughters feeling they need breast implants and liposuction? Our lovely sons feeling that they aren’t okay if the lose their hair, if they’re short?

    If we don’t stand against this, we are inadvertently acting in support of it.

  • Aithinne

    Thanks for your comments. I honestly don’t know how I feel on the subject. I have so many emotions about it that some days I feel down and wish I could be different, and other days I like myself just fine and am angry that my outer shell is so unacceptable to everyone else, and angry that the shell has to be so important to the men of the world in the first place. And then I get angry that I get so emotional because I’m normally a very even-tempered person. This subject is just one of the few subjects that hits a very unsavory chord. The reality is, and the show pointed it out clearly, men want an attractive woman. Men approach women they are attracted to, then find out if they like their personality. But if you don’t have the perfect shell, they’ll never find out if you have a good personality or not. If you’re not pretty, you don’t get a chance. So their behavior seems to say, be beautiful or go home.

    I don’t think I judge myself too harshly, I tend to like the way I am. I have my bad days, but on a whole, I’m okay with myself. It seems like everyone else judges too harshly though, especially men. I don’t think I judge men harshly either. I have 4 requirements: no jerks, no overly/obnoxiously arrogant men, someone that can carry an intelligent conversation, and chemistry. Granted, chemistry is unfortunately kind of ambiguous. I’m not that particular about looks on a guy, as long as basic hygiene is followed. I had a thing for this guy in college who probably didn’t have the best body by stupid social standards (he was kind of skinny), but dang, he had the best eyes and the most mischevious smile in the world and he was a lot of fun to talk to.

    I try to keep that important balance between being too picky and not picky enough. I don’t really know what to think about men. I don’t understand them. Why can’t all women be acceptable? Grr. I don’t even know what to think anymore. I guess if no man is going to want me in his life, then that’s the way it’s going to be.

  • Cindy

    The reality is, and the show pointed it out clearly, men want an attractive woman.

    Like I said. Go find a nice anarchist fellow. One who has principles. 🙂

  • Sexy

    I am confused as to why pop science see’s this as a remarkable insight, we are animals who relate to our environment and others through our senses, so of course we like the smells and tastes of people who are trying to attract us. These experiments are not trying say that we have no choices, or that people are ugly or pretty, just that they may be perceived as such by those they are trying to attract. I’m sure most people understand this birds and the bees concept. Its all about survival, so love who you are and people will love you to. I don’t just think its all about sex and reproduction, but about safety, as we have many relationships that are not romantic. If you are scared you will seek out familiar faces and smells to comfort you, and seek unusual sensations when feeling safe. Rich men attract greedy women and beautiful girls attract shallow men, not a bad thing just shows the more you express who you are, and become happy with this, the more likely you are to find a ‘perfect’ match, rather than attracting lots of people superficially.

  • Sexy

    Finished reading the rest of the comments on this page, I don’t see where you all get this idea that there is such a thing as an ‘ugly’ or ‘pretty’ person, its all about how we perceive. Re-look at the experiment, ‘ugly’ is used to demonstrate how we repel people and ‘pretty’ is used to show how we attract it does not mean that one face is literally better designed than another, just that our perceptions of people are designed to lead us to each other.

  • jblog

    does anyone know if this show is still on?

  • Shorty

    So. Is it possible to have long lasting love with one man? To be continuously attracted to the same person? If we work hard, take care of our bodies and make an effort to spice things up, can we still feel the fire in 35 years?

  • jon

    Women are generally repelled by men’s scent (except when they are within a day or two of ovulation)…

    Makes sense since I haven’t bathed in a week.

  • Arun

    I saw some of this program, where it compared people’s faces to the ‘symmetrical’ versions of themselves. People chose the symmetrical version as more attractive, and the program said its our genetics that go for that trait.

    And I was like, bullshit. In every one of the face pairings, the original face had a goofy/jaded tinge to it. The symmetrical version basically straightened out the smile to look happy.

    That’s why people chose it.

    No wonder the divorce rate is hitting 60%; people go in following these sorts of programs/magazine ‘Guess what they think!’ stuff/latest science trend, and end up finding out that reality is a bit different.

    People conform to standards of attraction, based on the individual or social level. It’s why men’s tastes can vary from the child-like Asian girl to the plus-size model to the female athlete, and the same thing for women. It’s why standards of attraction differ from city to city, country to country, continent to continent. It’s why people in India are trying to bleach their skin to be come more white, and folks over here in the West try to get their tan on.

    You want to become attractive and have a good life-long relationship? Get some confidence and be who you are. Want to become part of the divorce statistic, and more than like part of the domestic violence one? Follow what the sheep do.

  • Hi, Arun,

    Thanks for sharing all your thinking on this subject.

    While the science is interesting, it can only explain a part of how humans behave—the nature (science) vs nurture (culture, fam, experiences, CHOICE, etc.)

    I believe there is more than 1 somebody for everybody—-but that geography can be an obstacle. If we have the view that we do not have to please anyone but ourselves—that can work to an extent—-provided we do not seek an intimate partnership. If we decide to become our best attractive selves, that genuinness along with an interdependency model,will attract someone—if the goegraphy allows.

  • Colleen

    Yes! Nature vs nurture… animal instincts vs social pressures. It’s what we’re all about.

    Here are some thoughts in response to other comments I’ve read:

    On Monogamy: Our hormones may tell us to seek a variety of partners to create a diverse next generation, but social and religious pressures have traditionally valued monogamy. However, recent decades have seen diminished religious values (in general) and shifting social ideals that value the happiness of the individual rather than the collective (or marriage). Now that social pressures are no longer sufficient to keep us in a non-ideal marriage, monogamy seems like a pipe-dream. I think that knowing why we have trouble with monogamy makes us better equipped to decide how to handle our relationships. Marriage is, and always has been, a constant, re-occurring decision to stay with one person, whether for social reasons, child-rearing, companionship or love.

    On Beautiful Women: Men don’t find “beautiful” women attractive. Society applies the label of “beautiful” to the women that men instinctively choose (and may I suggest on a side note that current beauty trends lean more towards what women find attractive – boyish figure, no body fat, small breasts.. rather than the curvy Marylin Monroe or the pudgy classical statues – most likely because women spend more money on beauty than men do). Men instinctively want to fertilize something, so they go for big boobs and skinny waist. Their battle is with the social expectation that they stick around and support the mother and child, which leads them to want the same things women do in a long term companion: compatability with a sprinkling of social acceptance.

    On Men Smelling Bad: I think the study is probably right. Women don’t generally like how men smell. BUT, I’m sure we have a Pavlovian reaction to our own man which overpowers our initial aversion. If you find your man sexy, secure, comforting, etc, I think that’s what he smells like all the time, kinda the way a weird smell might remind you of your childhood home or Christmas or something. It has nothing to do with the smell anymore, but with the associated feeling. Oh, and if he really pisses you off and you break up with him, I bet he’ll smell disgusting again.

    On Women Wanting Men With Money: The show explains how women go for what they think will best support them in the next few years. They used financial status as an indicator for security. I don’t think this means that all women go for men with money despite other factors, but the sense of financial wealth, which is linked to social standing, suggests something about the future. It would have been a lot harder to write on the pictures “dependable, can repair problems in the house, has a secure job, your friends will like him, etc etc”

  • Hi, Thanks for your well considered opinion. Adds a lot to this discussion.

  • Jayjay

    I was going to watch this, but now I’m not going to… I found this sad and depressing. Maybe I’ll watch it in the future when I’m emotionally stronger.

    Your article was interesting though, thanks.

  • Hi, Jayjay,

    I appreciate your comments—the science can be sad and depressing, we do not control it. But—the good news is we can alter our ‘early nurture’ impact and take charge, that is, no parent or society bashing. Become your best self, tweak with trusted external feedback, actively seek partnership (if desired),then apply a reasonable level of tolerance and compromise. This approach is more than a “seek and you shall find” formula and can be successful. Think you may try it?

  • yash

    Statistical is not much helpful…..i knew many things bout sex appeal bfore watching dis show….nd i know …..why is dis thing like this….

  • sojourner

    Dr. Coach,
    I find myself in that situation you described, feeling like I love my fiance but that I am not in love. I don’t feel rushes of dopamine. I don’t feel joy and passion in kissing. Yet I have an intense love, attachment and admiration of my partner. He is the best, most brilliant person I have ever met. It is clear to me that he will make the best father and husband that I can imagine. Yet my lack of chemistry is causing so much anxiety for me, and making me feel like something is wrong, even though no one has ever treated me as well as he does. I have been causing him so much pain with all of my indecision and unwillingness to move forward. I am searching for answers and I am heartened by your comments that we need not be slave to our chemistry, that we can consciously choose a partner. I have been feeling like a captive, like I want to be with him but something in my body won’t let me. And of course I don’t want to be in such opposition with my body. I don’t know if I can sustain it. And yet it would be devastating to both of us if I left.

  • Bleo

    I like how people argue that this kind of research reduces us human to mere animals.

    But what they don’t realise is that smell, symmetry of face and body and other aspect of attraction influences at a subconscious and primitive level. Still remember people always say” first impression counts”?

    It is still very true today. We met someone for the first time, his smell, his symmetry body and face definitely set the positive mood for attraction. And definitely soften the impact should he say something bad later.

    Compare with a man that smell like rubbish and look like a loser, whatever good stuff or things he talk about would not have that same level of positive-ness that he previous guy enjoy.

    In conclusion, these result may seem like that they have reduced us to animals but we cannot ignore that the research definitely do have some truths to it. What we can do is to use these fact to help ourself when it comes to the pursuit of our happiness. Also, let not forget the ladies, these research definitely will teach them to recognise all the different technique guys use to bed them. As such, they would be less likely fall prey to deceit.

    Read more at my blog! Thescienceofattraction.com

  • drcoachlove

    Hi, thanks for your thoughtful comments.
    Even though “looks can be deceiving” and “you can’t judge a book by its cover”, we do just that–and “covers” DO sell the book and the person