Human’s beauty, love and the rules of attraction (Part 2/2)

In part one we talked about external and internal beauty and the relation between the two to find, if not a definition, a synthesis.

Beauty in itself is not necessarily linked with attraction, we can think that a person is beautiful in every possible way but not be attracted at all. Contrarily attraction can be present in the absence of a judgment of beauty. I think there’s a confusion between these two concepts because they are often examined together. They are off course connected because some beautiful traits can attract us. But if what I said before it’s true there must be something more. From a genetical point of view it’s best to have different genes to avoid hereditary diseases. That’s why the noble and royal families used to be plagued by them: marriages between cousins or even siblings were common to preserve the “blue blood” and the purity of the dinasties. We’re attracted by what’s exotic and different, if you live in Sweden you’d find dark hairs and skin as something new and exciting, if you live in the south of Spain or the south of Italy a full blonde with fair skin and blue eyes is not so common. Scarsity is a common tool used in marketing to make an object more desirable and it also works in attraction. The desire for different characteristics is also needed to provide the offspring with a wider genetic pool and thus increase health and the chance of survival. Let’s analyze the two types of attraction: the physical attraction and the more philosophical one, the the meeting of two minds and the relative worlds, let’s call it mental attraction.
Physical attraction is a strong force that makes us want to touch, caress, hug, cuddle a person, and much more off course 😉. This kind of attraction is determined (just to name a few) by Major histocompatibility complex (MHC) which influences body scent, sexual dimorphism, skin tone and radiance, facial features and simmetry, body mass and all the peculiar features of men and women. The list is long, they are very well documented and many scientifical researches have been conducted, with very interesting results. I’ll put a link at the end if you’d like to get more info. Here I don’t want to get too scientific about it, I just want to describe the experience and to distinguish it from the mental attraction. You were in that situation too, right? That time you saw a person for the first time and you got butterflies inside the stomach, weak legs, confusion, inability to talk properly and all the other sweet weird things. “Love” at first sight, crush, you name it, but have you realized you two haven’t talked yet? Sometimes it’s better you don’t, physical attraction can be ruined by other types of incompatibility, extreme ignorance or rudeness for example can make you flee from the one who was supposed to be the love of your life a moment before. You will continue to fancy that person but it’s only going to be about sex, you gave your regards to romance. Or a perverse psychological mechanism can kick in: you want to sleep with that person and then leave in disdain just to punish him/her for disappointing you. Sometimes our brain is so flooded with chemicals we tend to hide from our consciousness the true nature of our judgment. Pleasure from physical contact and especially from sex can be so intoxicating it blacks out our rationality and for young inexperienced people the difference between love and physical attraction can be hard to see. Good sex is not love, but love can be born under the blankets. 

Mental attraction is much more interesting for the scope of this blog. Imagine two people like two big planets, different from each other, as Venus and Mars in the Ancient Roman mythology. These two planets at a certain point in their orbits come so close they can see each other’s details. As in physics the theory of general relativity explains the force of gravity that informs the behavior of the celestial bodies and their attraction, I believe that the inner world is a big planet with its own unique morphology and an atmosphere, if we can breathe in that atmosphere we’ll do everything in our power to explore, live and prosper there. If that atmosphere is toxic to us we’ll depart and continue our journey. And going back to physics, we can imagine space as a thick but soft yoga mat, when we drop an heavy ball the surface, the mat warps creating a depression, nearby smaller balls would roll and come closer to the bigger ball. That’s what happens with sun, earth, the moon and the entire universe. Fascinating and charming people have the power to strongly attract others that will fight to be the closest one. There’s no defined rules of attraction but psychology plays a major role, our mind wants something to reach completeness or to comply with certains needs. One of the main differences I noticed is that some people seek partners on their same sociocultural level in order not to be overwhelmed or overwhelming. Others seek an higher level because they want to “climb the ladder” in the quest for values and/or money, the last category make sure they are surrounded by much worse people than they are so that they can feel the queen or the king of the circle. This is mostly connected to self esteem, character and confidence, it also takes courage to aspire to the beauty. What’s the essence of mental attraction then? My dear physics will come to help me again. At school we learned that the smallest particles of matter are the atoms (from the ancient greek impossible to cut) formed by a nucleus of neutrons and protons and the electrons that orbitate around. Further studies discovered numerous subatomic particles (quarks, bosons, leptons). The theory of strings tried to build a theoretical framework to unify the theory of general relativity and quantum physics, which are incompatible. The central concept is a vibrating point-like particle with an elastic band shape, the string. The way strings vibrate gives them their identity. And I think mental attraction is the harmonious vibration of two souls that creates a beautiful symphony. 

Now the most tricky part, love. Romantic love has to do with all we’ve talked about here: physical attraction, beauty and especially mental attraction. It is arguably the strongest force in our existence and defies the laws of physics as it is the fifth (other four are: gravitation, electromagnetism, the weak interaction, and the strong interaction) imponderable force and, as far as we know, it’s unique to us. Poets, writers, artists, philosophers spent thousands of pages about it. Surprisingly the closest I’ve been to love was with my first ever girlfriend, I was so young and everything was so new and exciting, it was an innocent and pure teenage story. Maybe it was so strong because it was innocent, love should infact be disinterested, there must be a lack of scope otherwise it becomes a selfish feeling. If love is just a way to feel euphoric we don’t love the partner, we love ourselves giving us pleasure using a person as a tool.  A pure feeling freed from passion is a distillation called platonic love that doesn’t involve making love but that is an important part of our life and of a relationship, therefore it would be too rigid to entirely remove it so I think that as far as it’s an act of love it can be admitted. And we have to be ready for the time when, for whatever reason, we won’t be doing it anymore. I’m saying that passion is a possible but not necessarily ingredient. We concede our sovereignty to someone we want to see happy,  fulfilled and safe, it needs bravery to lose your sentimental indipendence. The priorities change, before it was “me”, then it’s “us” or “you”. And people who truly love would give their life to save the one of the loved ones: it’s a loss for death, love is the ultimate disinterested sacrifice.

Bold, crazy, magnificent love that takes the air from the room and makes us completely silent. I want to feel it, I wish you do too.

 Useful links:

Physical attractiveness on Wikipedia

Major histocompatibility complex and sexual selection on Wikipedia

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