inAuthors: Leil Lowndes on the Science of Romance
February 14, 2013 by Jada.Bradley
In her new book, How to Create Chemistry with Anyone, Leil Lowndes, an expert on communication techniques and author of bestselling books like How to Talk to Anyone, explains that chemistry is part of nearly every relationship.
While she breaks down the science of love and infatuation, she also gives some pointers on how good writing can help further romance. For example, she refers to the standard writing rule of ‘show don’t tell’ when it comes to using humor in online dating profiles. I spoke with her via telephone to learn more about the science of romance.
inReads: In this book, you take a personal approach, included yourself in the narrative, do you do this in all of your books?
Leil Lowndes: I try in all the books to use original studies and learn as much as I can. I apply the studies to situations experienced by myself or friends. For this book I was able to use a fascinating new cognitive science study. We know things now that we didn’t know ten years ago. In the book, I discuss how love is more of a condition than an emotion. Nature wants us to procreate, to keep the earth going, so we are programmed when we spot someone with whom we can create a person with a healthy immune system.
inReads: Nature does want us to procreate…but that doesn’t preclude people who can’t procreate from love. For example, what about older adults?
Lowndes:Older people, human beings, especially women, have an amazing ability to sense things about others. When you’ve lived 70 years rather 17 years, you can be wiser. You may have fewer romantic partners seeking you then. Hopefully, you’ve learned that love is not erotic passion. It’s very tragic that people define love as a “can’t live without you” feeling. That is programmed to pass. Sex with the same person does lose its kick and tragically many people feel when that kind of love (infatuation really) disappears, it’s over. Really when you reach that phase, the oxytocin mitigates against testosterone. This means you can fall in love more deeply.
inReads: What would you say to people who are skeptical about your scientific approach to romance?
Lowndes: It’d be great if they would read the research: Helen Fisher of Rutgers University, Arthur Aron, PhD (SUNY, Stony Brook,) and David Buss, PhD (University of Texas at Austin) concerning the cognitive and evolutionary aspects of relationships.
Women are looking for indicators that men will be able to take care of offspring while men are looking for women who they believe can bear offspring. It’s like Darwin and the survival of the fittest. Except now what is needed to be ‘the fittest’ has changed.
inReads: In the book you discuss how people should “read between the lines” when responding to online dating profiles. Can you talk more about that?
Lowndes: People are advertising themselves:” I am this, I am that.” In today’s world, you need to show interest in the woman. Write a “You, You, You” message. Writing style counts—think Cyrano de Bergerac. Words mean a lot to women.
Also, women look for character in a man’s face and for the background of the picture—where is he? Women put themselves into the setting and look at what is expressed visually in the picture. Men look more at the woman.
inReads: What do you think about the recent interest in the documentary and TV show ”Catfish?” What does it say when someone continues a relationship with a person who has duped him or her?
Lowndes: Dopamine. There is a big thrill and excitement of having been through that experience of being on TV together so there would be a bond of sorts. Just like The Bachelor—people get into the thrill of competing and being on reality TV and believe they are in love.
All of our experiences, even pre-natal ones, affect us. We can be attracted to people who are not good for us because they provoke a familiar feeling and some of us connect abuse with love.
inReads: Why do you say, “If the first kiss stinks, forget about it”?
Lowndes: That is related to MHC or major histocompatibility complex, which is detectable by smell and taste. We all have our own particular set of bacteria that live in our bodies and want to attack our immune systems. If we end up with a partner that has similar bacteria, our offspring won’t have strong immune systems. If someone’s microbes are too similar to ours, we will be turned off by their smell or saliva. That is Nature warning us to stay away.
About The Author:
Jada Bradley (jadabradley.com) is a Washington DC-based writer and educator who enjoys telling stories in formal and informal ways. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post and online. She holds Masters in Spanish Translation and is a great supporter of creative expression in the various forms it takes. She also writes about local cultural events as D.C. Cultural Events Examiner for Examiner.com. Her blog, In Other Words, can be found at inotherwordz.blogspot.com.