Have you ever wondered what makes people fall in love?
Physical attraction is certainly a big part of the equation, but “sexy” means different things to different people. You might be a sucker for guys that are the life of the party, while your friend loves shy bookworms. Our sexual interests are unique, varied, and often a compete mystery to us.
Many of us have repetitive patterns in our relationships and we tend to be attracted to certain types. For instance, have you wondered why you always seem to fall for guys with dark complexions, or why your best friend goes for men who wear glasses? It might seem like just a coincidence, but the truth is that our sexual desires run deep, and they are often connected to experiences from our childhood.
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The love-map theory was created by the late John Money, PhD, of Johns Hopkins University, a psychologist who suggested that our desires are deeply rooted in past experiences. In his research he surmised that the love map is like a template that becomes a guiding force in our lives. For example, let’s say you were in puppy love with your childhood next-door neighbor, a cute beanpole who had dark hair. Years later, you still find yourself seeking out skinny dark-haired men. Or maybe your best friend had a freckled, red-haired teacher she had a crush on: Years later, she’s ended up with a redheaded husband!
Along with physical love maps, we also have behavioral love maps. Many of us are attracted to a “type,” whether it’s bad boys, scholars, or class clowns. Whatever your type, your relationship choices are no accident. We tend to act out the relationship patterns we saw as a child in our own homes, whether they were healthy or unhealthy.
For example, girls who had fathers that were abusive, angry, or distant often repeat this vicious cycle in their own relationships, selecting mates who are emotionally disconnected or even physically violent. Growing up in violent homes causes children to associate love with pain, and decades later, these memories can set off subconscious cues that make it hard to distinguish between a healthy relationship and an unhealthy one.
All these mental triggers get activated the minute you meet someone, as your brain collects the visual cues and relates them back to your memories. As you subconsciously tap into your love map, you might feel an instant attraction — or you could experience platonic feelings, disinterest, or any emotion between the two.
Even if you feel instant attraction, this doesn’t necessarily mean you will fall in love. In fact, most people simply consider those instant attractions to be “falling in lust”!
However, there are those couples who say they truly knew they were meant to be together from the moment they first set eyes on each other. For people who do believe in love at first sight, that instant feeling of being drawn to someone is more than just a momentary attraction. These couples describe it as a deep feeling of connection, so intimate it is as if they had known their partner forever — and perhaps were destined to meet from the day they were born.