Italian women find Indian men attractive

The secret of everlasting love

by Bas Kast
With the right tricks, love can be kept young for a long time

1st station: igniting passion

The carriage ride, he knows, won't be long. Maybe an hour. Besides, the beautiful woman next to him is married. It won't be easy to turn her head in such a short time, even for him. But then the lady hunter senses his chance: Dark clouds gather in the sky, and lightning soon follows lightning. "It hits a hundred paces in front of us. The horses rear up and my poor companion winces convulsively. She throws herself against my chest and clasps me tightly with her arms."

It all depends on the right timingWithout hesitation, he took the opportunity: "She complied and just asked how I could defy lightning with such wickedness. I replied that lightning was in league with me."

Giacomo Casanova (1725-1798) had conquered his companion in no time. What was it that made the Italian bon vivant and adventurer so irresistible? Granted, he looked interesting. He was intelligent, could chat charmingly, and he was bursting with erotic passion. But Casanova's key advantage was his sense of timing.

In alliance with adrenaline

Today science knows who Casanova had as an ally: the molecule adrenaline (from the Latin ad = to, renes = kidneys). This stress hormone stirs up feelings. It doesn't just prepare us for an upcoming fight or flight. "Love grows with the adrenaline," as the American relationship researcher Elaine Hatfield put it. Psychologist Arthur Aron from the University of New York in Stony Brook provided the first indication of this with the now legendary "bridge attempt": An attractive employee went to Capilano Canyon, a large nature reserve near Vancouver, Canada. There she conducted an insignificant survey of the male park visitors.

Two bridges - two reactionsFor some interviews she stood on a three meter high wooden bridge, for others on the "Capilano Canyon Suspension Bridge", the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in the world at 137 meters, which leads over a rushing river at a height of 70 meters. After the survey, the woman gave the men her phone number while on the bridge - in case they wanted to find out more about the project. As expected, some of the men took up the offer. The researchers were amazed to find that the men from the suspension bridge picked up the phone four times more often than those from the wooden bridge.

Where does the queasy feeling in the stomach come from?

The scientists explain the why as follows: A high, wobbly bridge means "attention, danger!" To our brains. It reacts and sends a warning signal to the adrenal glands, which release the adrenaline stored in small bubbles into the circulation. This increases blood pressure, the heart beats faster, and body forces are mobilized. The brain registers the alarm state and tries to make sense of the unconscious excitation. One of two causes comes into play: the bridge or the woman. Confused in this way, it can easily be misinterpreted and the brain decides on the wrong cause - the woman. Trembling knees and a queasy stomach, and that's because of a woman? Then, the brain tells itself, it must be very fascinating to me.

2nd station: Recognize attractiveness

"Beauty", Aristotle already knew, "is better than any letter of recommendation." Science can now unreservedly agree with the Greek philosopher. Beauty is attractive. A study by psychologist Alan Feingold from Yale University in New Haven found: We perceive beautiful people not only to be socially competent, but also to be smarter, more confident, sociable, balanced and passionate. But why actually? Shouldn't it be the inner values ​​that matter most?

Researchers have only deciphered the power of beauty in recent years - above all two British psychologists named David Perrett and his student Ian Penton-Voak from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. (At www.perceptionlab.com, interested parties can take part in various tests to assess the attractiveness of women and men.)

What the ideal partner looks like

The scientists placed test subjects in front of a computer screen on which faces of the opposite sex appeared. The test subjects were then asked to digitally change the faces so that they liked them better. As is so often the case, the men acted rather simply. They always corrected the female portrait in the same way: the jaws as narrow as possible, the eyes large, the lips full. "That may not seem surprising," says Perrett. "But the exciting thing is that it is precisely these facial features that are influenced by the female sex hormones, the estrogens."

What do estrogens doThese hormones are produced in healthy ovaries. Estrogens are therefore a sign of fertility, and this is obviously written on the woman's face: Estrogens inhibit bone growth, so the jaw stays small. The bulge above the eyebrows also grows less than on men, making the eyes appear larger. In addition, the hormones lead to fat deposits in the lips, they become fuller. "Beauty isn't just a superficial luxury," says Perrett. "It's a biological signal." It means: I am fertile.

And the women? When choosing a partner, a hormone also helps them: testosterone. The male sex hormone is mainly produced in the testicles. Testosterone is responsible for the formation of protein tissue. The more testosterone, the more muscles. In addition, the hormone promotes physical performance and the striving for dominance. Like estrogen in a woman, testosterone is written on the man’s face: the alpha animal hormone stimulates bone growth, helps to have an angular jaw and a pronounced chin.

3rd station: lose your mind

However, mutual attractiveness is not enough for two people to stay together. "Anyone who is in love is also a little crazy," says psychiatrist Donatella Marazziti from the University of Pisa. This is the only way that two people who barely know each other can get along with each other. A lover is in a state that can be compared to compulsive behavior - like a person who wash their hands 43 times a day. In the case of being in love, according to Marazziti, it is not certain actions that take on a compulsive character, but rather the thoughts. Everyone circled only around the adored person. To check her assumption, the researcher examined 20 students who had fallen in love over the past six months but had not yet entered into a relationship. At least four hours a day, the test subjects stated, they only thought of the object of their desire.

Lovers act like neurotics

It was not just her state of mind that had taken on obsessional neurotic traits. A blood test revealed that a certain substance in her body, serotonin, had also dropped to an extremely low level. The same finding is seen in obsessive-compulsive patients. Biochemical parallels can therefore be demonstrated between a neurosis and the state of being in love. Marazziti also found that new lovers become more alike - at least biochemically. Normally, significantly more testosterone circulates in the blood of men than in women. But when people are inflamed with love, their testosterone levels drop, but hers rise. "Men are becoming more feminine in a way, women are becoming more masculine," says Marazziti. "It seems as if nature wants to level the differences between the sexes."

Dopamine gets people in love high

The New York anthropologist Helen Fisher discovered that lovers are also manic. She used an MRI scanner to examine the brain activity of men and women while they were looking at a picture of their loved one. The finding: the lovers looked as if they had just sniffed cocaine. Their brains were flooded with the molecule dopamine. The greater their passion, determined by means of a questionnaire, the more activity there was in the so-called nucleus caudatus, a core of the basal ganglia in which dopamine is processed. The basal ganglia are located in the center of the brain and are part of what is known as the reward system. Whenever we do something that is in the service of evolution, when we eat, drink, or have sex, the brain releases dopamine. The messenger substance activates the reward areas and we feel good.

"Dopamine is a real pleasure molecule," says Isabella Heuser, director of the Psychiatry Clinic at the Berlin Charité. Above all, it increases desire. "No wonder," says Helen Fisher, "that lovers can talk all night long, write extravagant poems or frank e-mails, cross continents and oceans, just to hug for a weekend."

4th station: have sex

However, nothing increases dopamine levels like sex. The Dutchman Gert Holstege from the University of Groningen was recently able to demonstrate experimentally what brain researchers had always suspected.

He placed eleven men in a positron emission tomograph (PET) and tracked the excitement in their heads while the subjects let their partners satisfy themselves by hand. Holstege had asked the couple to practice the process extensively at home beforehand. Because during the measurement, the men had to overcome two difficulties: They were not allowed to move and should reach their climax within a given time frame of 50 seconds.

"Love works like a drug"

The result was revealing: During the orgasm, the so-called ventral tegmentum, in particular, lit up - the most important component of the reward system, "the main dopamine artery", as Fisher puts it. Drugs like alcohol and cocaine also release dopamine en masse in the reward system. We want to experience the high that we owe to these areas of the brain again and again. "Love works like a drug," says Fisher.

With the help of dopamine, nature ensures that two people bond together and produce offspring. That we temporarily lose our minds in the process is the price, though not a disagreeable one. "Love," remarked the French writer Marcel Aymé (1902 to 1967), "is the most pleasant state of partial insanity."

5th station: bind yourself tightly

But every stormy passion subsides at some point and sanity returns. This became apparent when the Italian psychiatrist Donatella Marazziti asked some of the previously lovesick again for a visit one to one and a half years after the first examination. All of them had now bonded with their crush. But with that, her serotonin level was back to normal.

The tunnel vision disappears, the attention is directed back to the demands of everyday life. At that point some love is in jeopardy. In some couples it even dies completely. Because suddenly a "mistake" of the partner is noticed, which appeared charming in the light of passion. If you fail to accept this, the relationship is soon threatened with bankruptcy - and earlier than people generally believe, Helen Fisher has established.

The darn third year

The anthropologist immersed herself in the United Nations demographic yearbooks and studied the divorce statistics of 62 countries: the majority of divorced marriages broke up between the second and fourth year. "The darn seventh year," the researcher concluded, "was actually the fourth." Helen Fisher interprets the phenomenon as a consequence of our development history: After four years, the children are out of the woods. The mission of nature has been fulfilled, the couples rethink the partnership and break away from each other. But there are also fabrics that bind together over the long term. Biologists have particularly researched two of these biochemical binders: oxytocin and vasopressin. They are also mainly released during sex.

The prairie vole shows us how

At first they were examined more closely as "molecules of monogamy" not in humans, but in the prairie vole. The fluffy creatures from the grasslands of North America are proof of how little it sometimes takes for a lifelong bond. Once a vole has decided on a partner, it never leaves the partner's side. If one of them dies, the other remains alone until death.

This loyalty is triggered by a state of intoxication that lasts about 24 hours: females and males indulge in passion and mate two dozen times. The female's brain produces a high dose of oxytocin, while that of the male is showered with vasopressin. After this "brainwashing" the animals are adjusted to absolute monogamy.

6th station: becoming permanently happy

The US psychologist Arthur Aron believes he has discovered another recipe for a long love. The excitement and adrenaline that kindled the initial passion are also the best means of keeping love alive in the long term. To test his guess, Aron tied pairs of hands and feet and sent them together on an obstacle course in a gym. The couples should take a pillow with them that they could only clamp between their heads or bodies. Before and after this exercise, the researcher determined how satisfied the couples were with their relationship. The result: After the bonds were released, the partners felt closer to each other than they did a short time before the experiment. "Common challenges", Aron's conclusion, no matter how simple they may seem to us, "weld a couple together."

Looking for the adrenaline

Another experiment showed that something like this can also have long-term effects. Aron divided couples who had been married for an average of more than 14 years into two groups. For one and a half hour each week he prescribed an exciting activity: climbing a mountain, skiing, going to a concert or dancing. The other group had to be content with activities that they found pleasant but not particularly exciting, such as visiting friends or cooking together. Ten weeks later, the researcher asked the couples about their marital happiness. The first group was clearly more satisfied with their partnership than before. The other had hardly changed anything. So love, says Arthur Aron, does not necessarily have to give way to habit. It is true that it strikes people like a fever, but its just as rapid disappearance can be prevented. The researcher believes that love is when you keep looking for adrenaline - together.

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