At this point in your life, chances are good that you have managed to realize at least one very important truth: When it comes to the people you’re attracted to, you don’t really get much of a choice. This is true in terms of general sexual orientation, obviously (like, were it possible to choose one’s sexuality, let me tell you that I would NOT have chosen to be attracted to straight men, personally), but also in terms of the actual people to whom you might be attracted. Like, you might meet someone who, on paper, seems to be just your type–nice hair, similar interests, good oral hygiene, etc.–but, when you hang out with them, you don’t really feel a spark. Then, you could meet someone who appears to be the total opposite of what you’ve always wanted, with zero shared interests and no evidence of oral hygiene to speak of, and, yet, there’s…something there.
Sound familiar? Same. And, as it turns out, a lot of people have this issue. In fact, so many people have questions about sexual attraction that some respected research institutions were able to pull together funding for peer-reviewed studies specifically on sexual attraction. So, check out these studies on attraction that might be very surprising to you, or, possibly,explain just about every crush you’ve ever had:
Women Are Happier When Their Partner Is Less Attractive Than They AreI will be the first to say that this initial statement seems...suspect. Like something the weird guy in you biology class in seventh grade would have said to you to try to get you to date him. But, according to a study done last month at Florida State University, women (in heterosexual relationships) tend to be happier when they have a partner who's less attractive than they are. The study revealed revealed that women with attractive partners were more likely to diet and constantly try to lose weight, while women with less attractive partners didn't feel the need to do so. I am going to editorialize for a sec and say that, while this may be true, it definitely has more to do with societal expectations for men and women than, like, an objective truth. Like, it's common to see an average guy with a conventionally attractive woman, so if a girl is dating guy who's more attractive than she is, it can feel like a transgression. Your Germs Can Influence Attraction Have a new crush? It could be influenced by, uh, what's in their mouth. Seriously. The human body contains 100 trillion microbes, which is known collectively as the microbiome. And, apparently, this microbiome is important for determining human attraction. A study done with 21 couples in Amsterdam found that who have similar microbiomes (which is influenced by a person's lifestyle) tend to be attracted to one another. Image source: Getty Images
If You Make The First Move, You'll Be Less PickyThere's a common stereotype that women are pickier than men when it comes to choosing sexual partners. But, according to a speed dating study done at Northwestern University in which women were required to approach men, women appeared to have "lower standards." This, in the context of this study, means that an arbitrary social norm determines who is choosy and who is not. Since men are usually (in a strictly heteronormative sense) the ones doing the pursuing, women tend to be pickier. Image source: Getty Images
Garlic Can Make You HotterGoing on a first date? According to a study done in the Czech Republic, if you want it to go well, you should try to chow down on some garlic beforehand. Seriously. This study found that men who ate garlic-flavored cream cheese every day for a week while wearing sweat-collecting pads in their armpits smelled better to women than when they ate plain cream cheese every day for a week. This, researchers say, is because garlic contains antioxidants and can improve metabolic function, which can help improve body odor. Image source: Getty Images
Being Scared Can Make You Feel More Attracted To SomeoneIf you're going on a date soon, you might want to suggest something that gets your adrenaline going. This is because arousal (not the sexual kind; basically just the feeling of being alert) can increase your level of attraction to someone. This is because sexual arousal and regular, adrenaline-sourced arousal can feel like the same thing, so it's easy to confuse one feeling for the other. So, it's a little sneaky. But worth it, maybe? Image source: Getty Images
Love Could Be In Your Partner's EyesNot sure why you're so into your crush? It could be their eyes. Apparently, if someone has a strong "limbal ring"--a term that refers to a dark ring around the iris of the eye--this makes them more attractive to other people. According to a study done at University of California at Irvine, people tend to associate strong limbal rings with youth and vitality, which are features that tends to make someone more attractive by default. Obviously, you don't have to have strong limbal rings for someone to find you attractive, but if you've always thought that someone has nice eyes, take a closer look. It could just be their limbal rings! Image source: Getty Images
You Decide Who You're Attracted To Within MillisecondsLove at first sight is a pretty real thing, apparently. A study done at Trinity College in Dublin in which participants at a speed dating event had their brains imaged before and after the event found that attraction happened much sooner than most people expected. In the study, participants were shown photos of people they would be meeting at the event and given a few seconds to decide how attracted they were to them. After the event, the participants mostly expressed interest in the same people as before, indicating that initial attraction is usually determined within a few seconds of meeting someone. Image source: Getty Images
Your Germs Can Influence AttractionHave a new crush? It could be influenced by, uh, what's in their mouth. Seriously. The human body contains 100 trillion microbes, which is known collectively as the microbiome. And, apparently, this microbiome is important for determining human attraction. A study done with 21 couples in Amsterdam found that who have similar microbiomes (which is influenced by a person's lifestyle) tend to be attracted to one another. Image source: Getty Images
Were you surprised by any of these studies? Which ones? Let us know in the comments!