Pourquoi les hommes préfèrent les blondes
(buy French version)
Do Gentlemen Really Prefer Blondes?
Bodies, Brains and Behavior -- The Science Behind Sex, Love, and Attraction
Glamour meets Scientific American in this sexy, science-inspired book that answers questions about what's really going on when we fall in love...or lust.
One fall evening, as the air turned bitterly cold and the threat of lonely holidays loomed, my friend Rita went speed-dating. Rita is beautiful and vivacious, and she was up to the challenge of meeting more men in an hour than most women meet in a year. At first she considered one of the special-interest sessions: "Theater Lovers," "Fitness and Health Lovers," or the one called "Doggie Style," which turned out to be for canine owners. "I'm going to find my husband," she said when I raised a skeptical eyebrow. She settled on a session for thirtysomethings, and went by herself because her friends refused to go with her. The next day Rita was in an expansive, exuberant mood. She lay on her back with her hand behind her head, giggling and gazing at the ceiling. She'd met twenty men, she said, in a sort of fevered rush. Three minutes was all she 'd had to form an impression of each "date" before the bell rang and she moved on to the next. One guy outshined the others. They had a fabulous connection. "Your future husband?" I asked, impressed.
Rita says she's looking for a man who's loyal, responsible, educated, spiritual, and ambitious and who wants to be a father. That's the rational Rita speaking. But in the heat of the moment she forgets her intentions. Rita rolled her eyes at the earnest duds who dressed up to speed-date. Instead, her marvelous man, the only one to whom she said yes, turned out to be a sweet-talking brute who was currently living on his friend's couch. For three minutes he gazed at her with burning eyes and asked questions like "Sweetheart, why don't you model?" Maybe he wasn't marriage material, but she was smitten.
After Rita's experience, it didn't shock me to learn that in every study on speed-dating, men and women's self-reported mate preferences are unrelated to the characteristics of the people they actually pick. We often rely on instinct or urge more than reason. In fact, half of all female speed- daters say they know whether they're going to say yes to a guy within the first three seconds of meeting him. Men are also startlingly efficient, placing high value on women's looks. By the time the bell rings, all the participants have made up their minds.
So, what happens in those three seconds or three minutes? What part of Rita--or you--decides what's sexy? Not the rational brain. When it comes to attraction, consciousness slips down a gear. The instincts go into overdrive. The senses take over. Unconsciously, you're taking in the timbre of your date's voice, the sturdiness of his shoulders, the thickness of his brow and jaw, the good humor in his gaze. Looks right, sounds right, smells right, acts right. You might feel a slow, burning blush. You find yourself leaning in his direction. It's like your body's doing the deciding--eyes, ears, nose, hormones, or something deep in the back of your brain.
All the time--but especially in your love life--you're making decisions beyond your conscious awareness, and people respond to you in ways and for reasons unconscious to them. There are days when you end yourself acting a little more flirtatious than usual. This morning, on a whim, you might have decided to wear a sexier outfit than usual. Your skin is softer your features more symmetrical. Men seem to be drawn to you. You find yourself opening up like a flower when talking to cocky, domineering guys, even though they're not normally your type. What's going on? (See page 118.)
It turns out that there are many deep and subtle influences that draw you to certain people, and they to you. Or not! Take body odor as an example. Why is it that you love the smell of some men's sweat but not others? A man's natural odor is a make-it-or-break it factor for many women. In fact, its surprising sway inspired me to write this book. I once dated a guy whose smell I hated, even though he showered, and it was a major reason why I couldn't take the relationship further. Later on, I met a man whose smell I love--and I married him (for that and his other amazing qualities). When I found out there's a biological basis to my olfactory pickiness, I was intrigued. (See page 30.)
There's real science behind a lot of odd, under-the-radar things that happen in your love life, such as why you climax more often with some lovers than with others, why sex makes you feel sated, and why cuddling with a guy makes you a little more attached and trusting, even when you don't want to be. There are reasons why men think you're into them when you're not; why people seem more attractive when you're excited or when you gaze into their eyes; why going on the Pill could change your taste in men; why your sex drive may pick up in autumn; and why you get so crazy when you fall in love.
Of course, men also are egged on by urges and instincts. There are reasons why they have a different reaction to pornography than women do, why they get muddleheaded at the sight of beautiful babes, and why they get so amorous after you spend time away from them. You might also wonder why so many guys are enchanted by voluptuous breasts, hourglass figures, and long legs. And what's the big deal with blond hair?
Do Gentlemen Really Prefer Blondes? explores the hidden side of love, sex, and attraction. The questions in this book--nearly one hundred--were driven by my somewhat insatiable curiosity about science, sex appeal, and the subconscious. What goes on that no one talks about because we hardly know it happens? For answers I searched hundreds of peer-reviewed studies in diverse disciplines: biology, evolutionary psychology, anthropology, neuroscience, endocrinology, and others. I was fascinated.
As a writer with a science background, yet a nonspecialist, I cast the net far and wide, finding topics ranging from body language to bisexuality, hormones to pheromones, and "sexy genes" to "mate value" models. Drawing on these studies, with insights from interviews with many of the researchers, this book showcases all the research that caught my eye about attraction and its aftermath, love and sex (not necessarily in that order). Some of the findings featured here are mainstream, while others are recent and more controversial. Although no one study solves the mysteries of love and attraction, each is something of a clue. Together, they provide a " big-picture" perspective. (Scientists don't believe that our love lives can be reduced to science, but that we can use it to understand ourselves better.)
One theme in this romp through the research is that everyone has an unconscious preference for certain traits, and much of what we desire is rooted in deep evolutionary biases. We evolved this way. Studying ancestral conditions and the mating behaviors of other animals, evolutionary biologists have an interesting take: whether or not you actually want kids, you have "parental investment" instincts that impact your sex life. It all boils down to the basic biological truth that in one year's time, a woman could sleep with a googol of men but only have one full-term pregnancy, whereas a man could sleep with a googol of women and have googols of babies. Men have evolved to prefer fertile women, so they focus on cues of youth and beauty, especially in short-term relationships. For women, it's more complicated. Because we have more at stake in the event of a pregnancy, we're choosier about our sex partners. Over the ages we developed biases for guys with signs of good genes (masculinity and social or physical dominance) and signs that they would be good dads (nurturers and providers), although we often make trade-offs depending upon our circumstances. While it's a given that culture and personal experience affect the decisions we make in our love (and sex) lives, the hidden forces of urges and instincts influence us unexpectedly.
There are so many questions. Why do big-mouthed, broad-shouldered guys attract my friend Rita, and what about her attracts them? How do men get into your pants, or your heart, and you into theirs? And why, when you're with the right person, are love and sex so mind-blowing? In writing this book I was delighted to learn that so many researchers in so many fields are exploring topics relevant to our love lives-from how we look to how we smell, and from why we make love to how we stay in love. (This is a browser's book, so flip to with rough the questions and let your interests guide you.) These discoveries provide helpful insights into human nature. Better yet, they're a lot of fun. As the Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman put it, "Science is a lot like sex. Sometimes something useful comes of it, but that's not the only reason we're doing it."
The Washington Post
Playfully written scientific anecdotes.
Publishers Weekly (starred review)
A compact and witty compendium of all the latest science...
It becomes obvious that we are aware of only a small part of what drives our choices when it comes to choosing whom to marry or with whom we have a sexual relationship...A tremendous amount of potentially useful information in a well-written, entertaining, and easy-to-understand format.
Witty, captivating, scientifically sound and great fun. Every curious man and woman will love this book.
Louann Brizendine, M.D., New York Times Bestselling author of The Female Brain
Reading just one page of this charmer is as impossible as eating one potato chip.
Seattle Post Intelligencer