There’s nothing more nerve-wracking than dressing up to go out and looking at yourself in the mirror…
You know your body better than anyone, and you know all the ways in which it falls short.
But you make yourself go out, and you put on a smile, and you hope for the best, even though you know nothing’s going to happen. Love is for those beautiful young things with time on their hands and energy and no job to get back to in the morning.
So instead of looking around to see who’s noticing you, instead of flipping your hair and preening and batting your eyelashes, you do what YOU do best:
You focus on making other people feel good.
You ask people questions, you laugh at their jokes, you see who needs help. You make people smile, and you consider the evening a success.
That’s one of the wonderful things about us women. We are SO good at caring for others. What we’re not so good at is caring for ourselves.
We can see the beauty in others before we can see it in the mirror.
That makes me so frustrated!
I get frustrated because none of this reflects what we actually know, thanks to science, about what really makes two people click and want to spend the rest of their lives together.
And if you knew what love REALLY required, you’d stop worrying so much about how you look, and you’d start relaxing and just being yourself.
Look For The Click
A common question I get is:
I don’t feel attractive. How is anyone going to want me?”
Okay, so you know when you meet someone and it feels like you’ve known them forever?
This person feels so familiar to you. It’s almost like you’ve met them before, but that’s impossible.
It’s so exciting to feel that click, because you just know this person is going to be important in your life. You don’t know how, but you just know!
That’s the feeling you get when you meet your future spouse.
You recognize him.
Yes, he’s cute in his own way, but his looks aren’t the point.
The point is that you feel completely comfortable with him. Your minds work the same way. You can finish each other’s sentences.
And that kind of magic is far more valuable than attractiveness.
The Part of the Brain Running the Show
These days, I ONLY look for that click.
I look for signs that someone is “my people.”
But it was only recently that I discovered the science behind the click.
The orbitofrontal cortex in the brain—the OFC for short—is the control room of human emotions.
It evaluates everything you see, hear and taste, and assigns an emotional value to it.
Is the view appealing? Do you like the taste? Do you hate that sound? Does that smell disgust you?
Those judgments all happen in the OFC, and they happen in microseconds.
You don’t know why you like this thing, but you just like it. That’s the OFC talking.
Some things are universally appealing, others are universally disgusting, but where it really gets interesting is the way your OFC decides how to handle something new.
It draws on your memory banks, particularly your earliest most formative experiences, and looks for similarities.
So if you meet a person who wears a scent you remember your mother wearing, you’ll feel a feeling of warmth towards them—if your memories of your mother are positive, that is!
It’s way more complex than that, but here’s the big takeaway:
When you meet someone new, your past memories and experiences unconsciously and automatically shape how you feel about them.
So how does that affect how we love?
Memory and Attraction
Let’s say you walk into a room and there’s this guy you’ve been waiting to meet.
He looks at you, and you think he’s evaluating how you look. You think he’s looking at your body and your face and what you’re wearing and weighing up how attractive you are.
But in fact his OFC is reaching back into his memory banks for any memory that bears a resemblance to this woman standing in front of him.
Maybe you open your mouth to say hello, and he hears your accent, and it reminds him of a friend he had in college.
Maybe you’re wearing leggings and a hoodie, and it reminds him of his first crush in high school on a girl who played sports.
Maybe you’re wearing dark red lipstick, and his ex—the one who destroyed his life—always wore that shade of lipstick.
You can’t control those associations. You don’t even know about those associations!
And he may not be conscious of them, either.
All he knows is that he either immediately likes you or he doesn’t.
(Or maybe there’s not much in his emotional memory banks that relates to you, and he just feels neutral.)
Don’t your looks matter to him?
Of course, because most men have positive feelings about attractive women.
But to trigger a truly deep emotional connection, his OFC needs to connect you with something much deeper than positive feelings about attractiveness…
Like his earliest childhood memories.
Why We Marry One Person (And Not Another)
It takes a powerful force to push two people together into a lifelong commitment, and strong emotions provide that push.
Without a big thumbs-up from the OFC, it’s unlikely that a relationship will go the distance.
The first time I learned about the role memory played in determining who we fell in love with and married was when I studied Imago Therapy.
Imago Therapy is the brainchild of amazing couples therapists Harville Hendrix and Helen LaKelly Hunt.
It’s built on the idea that we are powerfully and irresistibly attracted to people who remind us on a psychological level of our primary caregivers (usually your mom and dad).
When we meet someone who has characteristics we remember from childhood—even if they’re bad characteristics, like a sharp tongue or an addiction to alcohol—we tend to feel incredibly drawn towards them.
The way they treat us feels familiar. It feels like the kind of love we’re used to.
That familiarity creates an instant emotional bond, one we don’t get with just anyone.
You may never know that your personality resembles his mother’s in some key ways, and he may never consciously realize it, either, but his OFC knows. His OFC has access to those old memories, and it’s telling him that you are a very important person.
He’s drawn to you. When he’s with you, he feels like he’s home. He wants to keep you close and never let you get away.
You Can’t Predict the Click
There’s still much more to learn about how our memories create love maps that determine who we find attractive, but for now I just want you to sit back and relax.
You don’t have to measure up to impossible standards of beauty.
All you have to do is trust the process, relax, and be yourself.
When you meet the right man for you, you’ll click.
That click will happen because there will be things about you that resonate with him on a subconscious level. Those things might be incredibly subtle, like the way you laugh or the way you hold yourself.
He’ll feel a rush of positive emotion, because something about you feels familiar. It feels good. It feels like he can let down his guard around you. It feels like you’re already close.
And that instant emotional connection just might grow into so much more.
Being attractive attracts guys who want you for your body, but attracting a man who wants a life with you requires an emotional connection!