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October 2017
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The Single Truth To Find True Love

It appears to be the greatest struggle of the 21st century. After merely a single glance at any television program, newspaper spread or Facebook page one can find herself drooling away about finally finding that one special someone. Over and over again, magazine covers promise the dreamy reality of a loving relationship where two souls seem to melt into one and perfectly complement each other for the rest of time. Endless amounts of doctors and researchers have spun their minds trying to figure out just what it is that makes our hearts grow fonder. However, with so many theories on how to find the one big Love, has it gotten any easier?
The answer might surprise you. We like to believe that our brains are perfectly capable of making decisions that will help us advance in life. We trust that our years and years of rational advancement have prepared us for the ultimate call. Contrary to popular belief, the forming of relationships is not a rational procedure: it’s emotional, intuitive and instinctual. Haven’t we all been through the experience where we inexplicably feel a certain attraction towards someone? Where you are immediately assured that this person is special, and merely this person’s presence would be enough to send shivers down your spine? You can thank your unconscious mind for this phenomenon. So, prepare for this: you will not find the love of your life by approaching it as a math puzzle. You will not find your perfect partner by making lists and following a tight schedule. Our instinct, that ever-apparent ‘gut-feeling’, plays a significantly larger role in this decision-making process than we think.
All of us have intuition and instincts. These powerful forces within us are stronger than our conscious awareness and know a lot more than we let on. It has a massive, unlimited storage of our past experiences, thoughts and feelings. It knows us better than we know ourselves. So, why is it that we don’t allow ourselves to make decisions based on this intuition? To put it simply, we do not trust our guts like we do our sense of reason. While our inner voice may be trying to tell us something, our big brains start working to rationalize away feelings we may not immediately understand. It is against our rational brains to be unable to pinpoint a certain feeling and place it in a box. Therefore, we tend to let go of what we do not understand, only to flee back to the safety of what we recognize.
At this point, we know that rationality will not direct us towards a fruitful, loving relationship. Now that this bubble has been busted, we can explore how exactly our mind goes about choosing our partners. Turns out, it is all about a bias that our minds have created for us. The way our minds make decisions is directly derived from biases that we have. These biases have formed over the years through our experiences and they affect what we pay attention to and how we make sense of events or circumstances. By origin, these biases have only one simple function: to promote behaviours that would have reproduction as an end result. Powerful social bonds which could lead to reproduction were essential to our survival, and any decisions that could facilitate these relationships were encouraged by our minds. Simply put, our minds are designed to have certain preferences to the ones we would be most likely to reproduce with. However primitive this may sound, our minds still work the same: we look for someone to spend our lives with, proving that choosing a life partner is a completely instinctual procedure.
So, now that we’ve come to the conclusion that our rational brains can only get in the way of finding our true love, we will end with the wise words of Carrie Bradshaw from the famous series Sex and The City: “Sometimes we need to stop analysing the past, stop planning the future, stop figuring out precisely how we feel, stop deciding exactly what we want, and just see what happens”. It is time to grab a hold of your brain, loosen the grip on your heart and let it roam free. Our minds are biologically programmed to lead us towards a great life partner. Have a little trust in your wonderful guts. You will be shocked by the results.

 

Inge Lamberts is a researcher at Erasmus University Rotterdam. Her studies focus on human behaviour, specifically in the forming of relationships.

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