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10 Interesting Facts About Love You Probably Don’t Know, According to Science

10 Interesting Facts About Love You Probably Don’t Know, According to Science

When you think about love, you probably picture couples holding hands or driving off into the sunset together. You might picture yourself falling in love with the one special person of your dreams. You might even have a list of things your perfect mate should embody. The thing is, there are many biological factors that go into “falling in love.” Love is overly romanticized in today’s culture, so you probably don’t know these scientific facts about love.

Falling in love is exciting. Colors seem brighter. Obstacles seem to vanish. The whole world is a more beautiful place because of our newfound lover. Although this may seem true at the moment, some of those strong feelings are occurring due to chemicals released in the brain. Although the science behind love isn’t extremely romantic, it is quite fascinating to realize the complexity of our bodies.

1. Both males and females must have adequate testosterone for sexual attraction.

Yes, even women have small amounts of testosterone. Testosterone creates desire as well as aggressive behavior, which may push you to pursue the person who is creating this desire.

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2. We can sense and are attracted to a person with a different immune system.

If this isn’t bizarre, I don’t know what is. This finding came about during a study conducted by Claude Wedekind of the University of Switzerland. He had women test subjects smell unwashed T-shirts of men. Women consistently preferred the smell of the man’s shirt whose immune system was different than their own. Apparently the same findings were discovered in rodents.

3. Falling in love is as addicting as cocaine or nicotine.

Dopamine, a chemical that is released during the initial attraction stage of the relationship is also activated when using cocaine and nicotine. It gives you that rush of pleasure and happiness that makes those drugs so addicting. It also enhances the release of testosterone, which as stated above is essential for attraction. I suppose falling in love would be the safer drug of choice if you had to choose between the three.

4. Love can literally make you crazy.

Something you may or may not know about love is that it can lead to serious infatuation. The same levels of serotonin that bring about the infatuation are found in those with obsessive-compulsive disorder, which is an anxiety disorder. This is probably why you cannot seem to think of anyone else when you have fallen in love.

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5. Love needs to be “blind” for survival.

It does not seem to matter what others say to a new lover—he or she is always perfect in our eyes. This blindness is critical for us to move forward in our relationship and is usually required to move onto the “attachment stage” as scientists call it so that they can stay in love long enough to have and raise children; in other words, to populate the earth.

6. Your nerve cells work better during the first year of love.

A protein in our bodies called Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) that is important for the functions of certain sympathetic and sensory nerve cells seems to thrive during the first year of being in love. Basically our senses are heightened and our fight or flight response system is more active during young love.

7. Romantic love and the love between a mother and child share a similar chemical connection.

The hormone oxytocin is released during child birth and when a child nurses as well as during orgasm. Oxytocin is thought to help long-term bonding.

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8. When you take away one of the key “bonding” hormones, the attachment will disappear.

A study was done on prairie voles, a rodent that forms a long-term mating pair, where the hormone vasopressin was suppressed. These pore voles lost their interest in their mate immediately and did not even protect one another from new mates.

9. We are attracted to those who look and/or smell similar to one of our parents.

As creepy as this sounds, a partner who looks similar to one of our parents is found to be comforting. If you are a female and your father wore certain cologne, it is a familiar and comforting scent. This makes sense, but let’s not bring Freud into this.

10. We also tend to fall in love with someone who looks like ourselves.

Talk about narcissistic, right? Aside from facial features, hair color and eye color, we also tend to be attracted to those with the same lung volumes, ear lobe lengths and metabolic rates.

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Although we might not want to think about these things when we are falling head over heels, it might be necessary to remind ourselves to not completely lose our heads in the chemical love spell we are surely under.
Also see: The Science of Happiness 

Sources: BBC: The Science of Love, Wiki: Biological Basis of Love, BBC: Sensual Signals

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Amanda DeWitt

Writer. Photographer. Instagrammer. Future Educator.

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Last Updated on January 15, 2019

What Are Interpersonal Skills? Master Them for Better Relationships

What Are Interpersonal Skills? Master Them for Better Relationships

When I wrote my book Extraordinary PR, Ordinary Budget: A Strategy Guide, I was surprised at the various layers of review and editing necessary to get the book to publication. Before I ever submitted the manuscript, I enlisted a former colleague to read and copy edit my work. Then, I submitted my work to an editor at the publisher’s house, and once she approved it, she sent it to her colleagues and then her company’s editorial board.

Upon editorial board approval of my book, my editor sent my work to reviewers in my field, then a developmental editor, then a designer and layout team and, finally, another copy editor. There were a host of personalities with whom I needed to interact along the way.

It turns out that getting a publishing contract was just the beginning – a lot happens between developing a concept, writing the book, finding an agent and publisher, and getting the book on bookshelves or on Audible or Kindle. Through every milestone of the publishing process, my ability to interact with others was crucial. This underscored for me that no matter what or how much a person accomplishes, you never do it alone – everyone needs assistance from others.

While I conceived of the book and wrote the manuscript, there is no way my book could have hit booksellers’ shelves without the dozens of people who were involved in the publishing process. Further, interpersonal skills can propel or stonewall success.

Even as someone who has written hundreds of essays, press releases, pitch notes and other correspondence, writing itself is not a solitary endeavor. Sure, I may write in solitude, but the moment I am finished writing, there are always clients, colleagues, partners, peers and others who review my content.

What is more, even as a published author and contributor for this platform, I try to never submit final copy (content) that has not been copy edited. I send everything to my copy editor, whom I pay out of my own pocket, for her review, edits and approval. Once she has reviewed my work, caught unbeknownst-to-me errors, I am much more confident putting my work out in the world.

How Interpersonal Skills Affect Relationships

It is clearer to me now more than ever before that interpersonal skills are needed in every profession and every trade.

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People don’t elect leaders because the leaders are smart. Individuals are motivated to vote when they have a hero and when they feel they have something to lose. If they seriously dislike the other candidate, they are much more likely vote according to a 2000 Ohio State University study:

“A disliked candidate is seen as a threat, and that will be motivation to go to the polls. But a threat alone isn’t enough – people need to have a hero to vote for, too, in order to inspire them to turn out on Election Day.”

In a work setting, interpersonal skills impact every facet of your development and success. Trainers must collaborate with a design team or the company hiring them to facilitate the training. During the training itself, the facilitators must connect with the audience and establish a rapport that supports vulnerability and openness. If the trainers interact poorly with the trainees, they are unlikely to be invited back. If they are invited back, they may be unlikely to inspire cooperation or growth in their trainees.

Solopreneurs interactions with clients and subcontractors, and those interactions will, in part, support or adversely impact their business. If you enjoy a career as an acclaimed surgeon or respected lawyer, your interactions with patients, clients, health insurance agencies and a team of other practitioners – many of whom are shielded from public view – will improve or decimate your practice.

As a hiring manager, one of the things I consider when interviewing candidates is their interpersonal skills. I assess the interpersonal skills they display in their content and face-to-face presentation. I ask probing questions to learn how they interact with others, manage conflict and contribute to a team atmosphere.

When candidates say things like, “I prefer to work alone” or “I can hit the ground running without assistance,” I bristle. When candidates appear to know everything and everyone, I wonder if they will be receptive to learning or open to feedback. Could these statements be indications that these individuals lack interpersonal skills?

It stands to reason, then, that interpersonal skills are among the most valuable and the bedrock of all talents and skills.

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What are Interpersonal Skills?

Interpersonal skills range from emotional intelligence, empathy, oral and written communication to leadership to collaboration and teamwork.

In sum, interpersonal skills are skills that enable you to interact well with others. They include teachability and receptiveness to feedback, active or mindful listening, self-confidence and conflict resolution.

From a communications standpoint, interpersonal skills are about understanding how colleagues prefer to communicate and then using the appropriate mediums to meet respective needs. It is about understanding how to communicate in a way to get the most out of different people.

For instance, in my career as a public relations practitioner, part of what I am constantly evaluating is which colleagues, clients and members of the media prefer email, text or phone calls. I am assessing how much frill to use with each person depending on what has worked in the past and depending on what I know about the person with whom I am interacting.

Making these decisions and being disciplined enough to follow each person’s known preferences helps me better connect with the various individuals in my orbit. Is this tiring at times? Yes. Is it necessary? Absolutely.

How to Improve Interpersonal Skills

There are tons of resources to teach interpersonal skills. I love books such as Leadership Presence by Belle Linda Halpern and Kathy Lubar, and The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman.

There are also a host of books and articles on emotional intelligence, which is the ability to manage one’s emotions and perceive and adapt to others’ emotions. Emotional intelligence is likewise a critical component of positive interpersonal relations. You can learn more about it in this article: What Is Emotional Intelligence and Why It Is Important

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Active and mindful listening also support improved interpersonal skills. I recommend you take a look at this piece: Active Listening – A Skill That Everyone Should Master

I have further found that humility helps a ton with interpersonal skills. It takes humility to admit you have more to learn and that you can learn from the people around you. In fact, everyone with whom you interact has a lesson to teach you. And employers are increasingly looking for team members who are lifelong learners, meaning they believe there is always room for growth and professional and personal development.

Forbes contributor Kevin H. Johnson noted in a July 2018 article,

“That’s why, when anyone asks what the next ‘hot’ skill will be, I say it’s the same skill that will serve people today, tomorrow, and far into the future—the ability to learn.”

Don’t overlook introspection.

While interpersonal skills may seem simple enough, introspection is critical to learning where and in what ways you need to grow.

Through introspection and observation, I have learned that my interpersonal skills suffer when I am sleep deprived, because then I am short-tempered and irritable. I’ve observed this connection over a significant period in my life. Unsurprisingly, it is also true of others. Fellow LifeHack contributor, health coach and personal trainer Jamie Logie noted:

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When you are chronically sleep deprived, it really does a number on you. A lack of sleep can keep your body in a constant state of stress and over time this can get pretty ugly. Elevated stress hormones can be involved in creating a bunch of pretty nasty conditions including anxiety, headaches and dizziness, weight gain, depression, stroke, hypertension, digestive disorders, immune system dysfunction, irritability.

Additionally, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development reported,

“Sleep deprivation can noticeably affect people’s performance, including their ability to think clearly, react quickly, and form memories. Sleep deprivation also affects mood, leading to irritability; problems with relationships, especially for children and teenagers; and depression. Sleep deprivation can also increase anxiety.”

The point is, even as you are identifying ways to improve interpersonal skills, think about what is getting in the way. While sleep deprivation is a trigger for me, your stumbling block may be different.

The Bottom Line

You cannot fix what you do not know is broken. Even as you work to understand and apply interpersonal skills, spend some time in mindful meditation to get clear on what is holding you back from developing solid relationships.

Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

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