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The Urge to Merge

There is no doubt that one of the most fascinating subjects in all of science and sociology is human mating. Whether we realize it or not, we are all slaves to the biochemical odors, facial shapes and voice pitches of others. These factors are crucial in determining to whom we are attracted and with whom we will ultimately end up mating. Sex appeal is paramount in the lives of humans and we are all basically just puppies in heat.

The most interesting thing is that the laws of attraction and the habits of mating have not changed much over time. The reproductive urges of our ancestors have been passed down the evolutionary ladder to us.

On the Prowl

The old saying “old habits die hard” could not be more appropriate to the topic of mating rituals. When it comes to that specific aspect of human sexuality, women have always looked for the best genes to pass down to their offspring, and men have always tried to give the appearance of being the best catch.

In fact throughout history, men have been able to subconsciously sense when a woman is fertile and recent studies have shown that women notice a change in their boyfriend’s and husband’s behaviors when they are fertile. Among the many ritualistic things men do include calling more, attempting to spend more time in their company and making offerings of gifts, food or other enticing treats. In a nutshell, men are far more attentive to women during their ovulation. So how do men know when women are ovulating? The answer isn’t quite clear, though there seem to be some strong clues pointing to the fact that women may behave differently and smell differently at that time. The moves of men on the prowl, picking up on these behavioral differences, are often marked by dominant gestures. For example, a man in a bar may leave absolutely no doubt that he is interested in the woman across the way by repeatedly glancing at her. In recent studies by the University of Maryland, 12-15 glances was the average in a period of half an hour. Attention like this is key and the man who pays attention is going to have significantly better results. Women are innately keen at observing a man’s body language, gauging his interest level and determining whether his overall genetic makeup will make him a suitable mate.

There’s also another highly important factor involved for women picking a new mate — his voice.

The Sound of Love

Sometimes, a “hello” is all it takes. Not because of the meaning or sentiment of the word, but because of the tone with which it is said.

From the moment a man speaks his first words to a woman, she is already consciously or subconsciously determining his appeal based on the sound. A recent study of tribes in Tanzania suggests that the deeper the male voice, the more attracted the females are. Men in these tribes with a high level of testosterone have the advantage – this hormone is what gave them their deep voices during puberty.  One particular tribe, the Hadza, are hunter-gatherers who never practice any forms of birth control. The fact that they don’t practice birth control helped bring a high degree of accuracy to the study. The pitch of all the men in the tribe was recorded.  The findings indicated that the men with the deepest voices fathered the most children. The man with the deepest voice had 10 children. The tribal member with the highest pitch voice had only one.

The factors that affect mating rituals not only apply to humans, but to animals as well. In many instances, the similarities are uncanny.

Animal Antics

Ever wonder what makes female Adelie penguins attracted to their male counterparts of the same species? In one way in particular, it’s almost the exact same as the courtship ritual of humans.

Adelie penguins live in nests that they create from stone. When a male is attracted to a female and wants to get her attention, he carefully picks out a special stone and brings it to her. This gift helps to solidify their bond and bring them closer together, not unlike diamonds, tanzanite, and wedding bands. Another species that has a similar ritualistic behavior as humans is the Mandarin duck. If you think construction workers have mastered the art of whistling at females, you should get a load of the sounds of these horny birds. When males of the species find a female that they desire, they not only whistle, but also shake their tails and preen as well. If the female is enticed by the male, she will call back to him indicating she is ready to couple up.

Whether animal or human, no matter how well a mating ritual works, there needs to be something deeper in order for a relationship to have legs.

Kiss of Success

Mating rituals are great – for the purposes of mating. They are key in bringing us together to procreate and carry on the long legacy of the human species. But they do little to determine the long-term health of a relationship. Many researchers, based on quantifiable data, suggest that the real way to determine if a relationship will last is by the kiss.

Studies indicate that nearly 70 percent of women, upon receiving a bad first kiss from a man, would dump him immediately. Bad news for bad kissers, but it’s not all about the art of the lip-lock itself. It has to do with the fact that during a kiss, all senses are fully engaged and there is an opportunity to determine the level of sensuality and connection. Beyond the initial kiss, “sexperts” suggest that couples kiss and cuddle frequently, even up to 10 times per day.

That may sound like an overload of affection to some, but many of the most successful, long-term couples swear by it. If you can maintain such high levels of intimacy, it’s a sure sign that laws of attraction are fully functioning and there will be success in the long run. And when things are running smoothly, “hello” never sounded so good.