A Q&A about Do Gentlemen Really Prefer Blondes?
It’s a lazy Sunday afternoon, so I thought I’d post my answers to a few questions about Do Gentlemen Really Prefer Blondes? posed by readers.
Do Gentlemen Really Prefer Blondes? is full of research that really digs deep into people’s dating behaviors. It’s almost impossible for anyone to read this book and not be shocked by at least a few findings. While conducting your research for the book, what is one finding that shocked you?
It’s hard to choose; there’s a lot of shocking science behind sex and attraction! One of my favorite weird findings is that women, when most likely to conceive, have an unconscious bias in favor of socially and/or physically dominant men. Very masculine faces, bodies, behaviors, scents… these qualities are more attractive to women in the five-day window leading up to ovulation. Another study found that a chemical found in the sweat of high-testosterone men may hasten the release of a woman’s egg, thereby increasing the chances of pregnancy. When not fertile, many women prefer kinder, gentler, more cuddly types who are more likely to make good long-term partners. These are just a couple examples of how the “body” hijacks the brain when it comes to mating.
To what extent does biology play a part in our dating behaviors? Is it out of our control who we’re attracted to?
We’ve all met people with whom we’d love to fall in love, but something’s off or something ‘s missing — we call it lack of chemistry. Truth is, genes, hormones, and instincts influence our dating lives in ways we might not even be aware of or fully understand. I think these biological biases vary from person to person. For instance, hormonal effects may be stronger in some people than in others and weaken with age — teens and twenty-somethings are likely the most hormonally motivated. Some men may have genes that are associated with commitment problems, as some recent studies have shown. Other genes have been found to influence body odor smells that in turn influence attraction. Personality is also a factor — for example, studies have found, unsurprisingly, that extroverts generally have more lovers than introverts.
But we’re not slaves to biology. Our love lives are also influenced by culture and personal experience. Nature AND nurture.
In the book you talk about how women often choose different men for long-term relationships than for short-term, and that the emphasis is on sex appeal in short-term relationships. Does that mean we settle for less in marriage ? Could that be a reason why many marriages fail or people cheat? Can we not obtain the best of both worlds–someone who we are very much attracted to and will also make a life partner?
Speaking for myself — and just about everyone I know — yes, we want the best of all worlds in a life partner. (In fact, a study has shown that the more attractive the woman, the more she insists on “having it all.”) That is, we want to strike all three chords: physical, emotional, and mental attraction. But it’s not easy! One reason marriages fail is that there’s no harmonious balance. A year into a marriage, the wife realizes she has no physical chemistry with her brilliant husband, or the husband realizes his gorgeous wife is emotionally unavailable. Many people feel they must make tradeoffs in a long-term relationship — and perhaps that’s realistic — but you’ve got to do some soul-searching first. What do you value most at this phase of your life? Looking ahead, what are the chances you’re going to want to stay together? And if you’re the type who has commitment problems — for some, there may even be a biological basis — should you even get married in the first place?
Your book appeals to women, but men also find it interesting. What’s your advice to single guys on the prowl for Ms. Right ?
Guys should know that many women “mate copy”; that is, we unconsciously prefer guys who have already attracted attractive women. To that end, women may be more attracted to a guy if he has managed to charm other women. But it’s a delicate balance. I, for one, would be attracted to a witty, funny guy who makes other women laugh — but not if he’s a player or comes across as too slick. As I describe in the book, body language is also a crucial part of attraction. Guys, be aware of what you do with your body. Women much prefer men who make eye contact (don’t approach a woman without doing this several times, and don’t stare). Gestures such as throwing your arm around the adjacent chair or clasping a buddy’s shoulder suggest confidence and dominance. Mirroring your date’s body language suggests attraction and may make her more attracted to you in turn.
So, what would you like to say to all those blonde wannabes out there?
Why not experiment with blond hair dye or blond highlights? Brightness, rarity, youthfulness….that constitutes much of the appeal of the blonde. Or wear something bright, youthful, and rare — that also catches the eye.