The Human Animal: The Biology of Love

Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt are Western cultures most famed and doted celebrity couple.

Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt are Western cultures most famed and doted celebrity couple.

So how do we meet and gain a lover? What acts do we perform?

Morris now returns to the stages humans undergo in achieving sex and love. The first stage was parading, the eyeing up stage. The next stage is the pick up.  Meeting people by accident is often cultivated in Western culture, such as performing everyday activities, like walking the dog. The individuals involved aren’t actively or consciously seeking a mate, that would be too obvious, instead they are engaged in a common pursuit, which just happens to bring them together. Again unconsciously we are seeking a mate day to day. For example, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt met through co-starring in the Hollywood film, ‘Mr and Mrs Smith’ together. If either had had a different career or dissimilar tastes they would not have become the duo they are famed for being today.

Masia tribesmen participate in jumping competitions to impress the females within the tribe. The higher the jump, the higher his credibility and masculinity.

Masia tribesmen participate in jumping competitions to impress the females within the tribe. The higher the jump, the higher his credibility and masculinity.

The Messai communities of East Africa have more formal meetings, which allows them to parade, eye up, display and pick up all at the same time.  The young Messai men jump up and down to demonstrate their strength and vigor in some sort of vertical dance. The much younger girls of the village who are already deeply involved in the process of seeking a mate watch the males with discern.  Males show their interest in a particular female by flicking their hair in their direction.

All around the world people are making connection with others, thus we reach the next stage: the chat up. This is the information exchange stage where we can learn about the persons’ interests and background, thus informing our decision of whether they would be suitable as a long term breeding partner. How individuals perform this information exchange varies across cultures. Morris gives a few examples. In some modern parts of China, the young men and women have a traditional technique for overcoming the greatest problem of the chat up: shyness.  Instead of chatting, they keep apart and sing their conversation from one group to another.  They sing of their bravery or interests, which can be amusing. Again this may seem strange to foreign cultures, but to those involved it’s a perfectly logical way of getting to know a mate.

In Western cultures, dating and meeting people is far more casual, happening in bars and restaurants mainly.

In Western cultures, dating and meeting people is far more casual, happening in bars and restaurants mainly.

In Western cultures, across bars and pubs the chat up technique such as the clothing is a lot more informal and casual. Talking becomes the key activity. We witness a male approach and begin conversation with two females in a bar in Los Angeles. Other then going by the persons looks, talking and conversation allows those involved to find out key information and discover what the individuals have to offer if it were to go any further. After having received sufficient warmth the male is invited to sit with the females and is ‘rewarded’ with the first bodily contact, as the one of the females gentle strokes his arm in a friendly manner. However, the male’s problem now is that he must eliminate one of the females so he can end up in a twosome. Unfortunately, he fails as both females leave.

This piece evidences how communication is key in meeting a mate and how certain signals can give the impression of it going further. Sometimes the feelings are not reciprocated. In fact meeting a mate is difficult and many have false starts. However, once the person has found a partner we see a new stage developing and the human animal reverts back to the childish behavior performed during infancy. Couples tease, cuddle, play games, giggle, call each other silly names and even talk in high-pitched voices.  This human behavior between couples is usually referred to as ‘falling in love’.  But what is love?

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