Dating With Your Brain: 5 Tips From A Neurophysiologistby Scott Alden on September 01, 2011
Ever wonder how the workings of the brain affect your love life? Yeah, me too. I decided to ask Dr. Jason Shephard, Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at M.I.T., to shed some light on the matter. Dr. Shephard was able to provide us with a few dating tips based on his research and his experience dating as scientist. (Plus, he’s on HowAboutWe!)
His views do not necessarily reflect those of the Institute.
1. Know that you don’t know what you’re doing
“Many of our most important decisions are made in our brains unconsciously. We are constantly bombarded with sensory input from the world and our conscious experience only captures a small percentage of this information,” said Shepherd. “So much of our ‘chemistry’ and attraction to others occurs without us really knowing. We often can’t tell why we are drawn to certain people and sometime that’s just because our brain has worked out something we are not directly aware of.”
In other words, in spite of your attempts to control it, some of the decisions around choosing a partner will be decided for you. By your brain.
2. For the guys: Appeal to a woman’s brain
“There are key differences in the way sexes choose partners, obviously, and this is because the female and male brains are just wired differently…although this isn’t always black and white but rather a continuum. In general men are mostly visual, whereas women are ‘cerebral’ for a better way of putting it. They require more than just visual stimulation to be attracted to someone.”
Funny and smart will get you pretty far with the ladies. It’s science!
3. Love is the result of “feedback loops”
“Everything in the brain has feedback loops, so if you do something that activates the reward system (i.e you went on a good date) that is noted by the brain and cellular/molecular changes occur in the reward system that reinforces that good experience. These feedback loops usually work well and ‘love’ is the end result of positive reinforcement of these reward circuits.
As an aside, I’m personally a romantic, and even though I’m fascinated by the biological basis of human behavior, I don’t think trying to understand love at a molecular/cellular level takes ANYTHING away from the emotion or the way I view love.”
So, just because you understand what’s happening in your brain that’s causing you to fall in love, doesn’t mean you’re not falling in love.
Related: Why Sex Really Does Change Everything
4. Know what your dealbreakers are
“I don’t think it’s a requirement for me to date another scientist, but what is key is someone who curious about the world. And someone who thinks evolution is real. I once went on a date where I was lampooned for believing in evolution, even though I had clearly stated on my profile that I was a biologist.”
You shouldn’t have too many dealbreakers, but being able to identify the things you simply can’t tolerate will help you.
5. You’ve got to respect them
“I’m no expert on relationships but respect is key. The chemistry needs to be there of course but if you don’t respect your partner for their intellect, drive, etc. then it’s not going to work. I think this is really important for people who are ambitious and set high goals for themselves.”
If sparks don’t fly, you probably won’t make it past the second date. But, at the end of the day, it’s respect that matters.
Intrigued? Ask Jason out here!