The Chemistry of Love: Theoretical Approaches to Partner Selection Based on theories of Harvell Hendrex Linda L. Zimmerman, M.A., LCPC Professor of Psychology and Student Development
Men look for: enhancement of the species classic beauty good bone structure clear skin, shiny hair bright eyes, red lips rosy cheeks Biological Theory
Biological Theory Women look for: • pronounced “alpha” qualities • ability to dominate other males • ability to bring home more than their share of the kill.
Social Psychology Theory • “Exchange” theory of mate selection: • We select mates who are more or less our equals • We look for youth, beauty, social rank, charm, intelligence, compassion.
Persona Theory • Each of us has a mask, a persona we show other people. • Based on the potential of the suitor to enhance our self-image. • You feel more attractive, desirable when with this person. • You feel better about yourself to be seen with this person.
The people we are attracted to seem to resemble each other quite closely. We seem to be searching for a very definite set of positive and negative traits. • Physical • Personality
Partner Selection Three Theories: 1. biological 2. social psychology 3. persona All have some validity, but is there more to how we select partners?
How is the brain involved in forming relationships? Neuroscientist Paul McLean suggests a model that divides the brain into three concentric layers: 1. Cerebral Cortex - “new” brain 2. Limbic System - “old” brain 3.Brain Stem - “old” brain
1. Cerebral Cortex “New” Brain • most highly developed in humans • in contact with daily surroundings • conscious, alert, logical, makes decisions • thinks, observes, plans, anticipates, responds • organizes information, creates ideas
2. Limbic System - “Old” BrainLocated around the top of the brain stem Generates vivid emotions: • fear • aggression • caring • emotional pain • pleasure
3. Brain Stem - “Old Reptilian” Brain Most primitive layer, oversees: • reproduction • self-preservation • vital functions - circulation of blood, breathing, sleeping, contraction of muscles • physical action
Old Brain LogicRegarding others, the old brain wants to know if they are someone to: • nurture • be nurtured by • have sex with • run away from • submit to • attack
What the Old Brain Remembers • It has no sense of linear time. • It is trapped in an infantile perspective • It expects us to be taken care of as we were as babies
When current events trigger the old brain, we can suddenly feel angry, sad, abandoned, afraid.
What Happens? 1. Before birth we are safe and warm in our mother’s womb. 2. Birth (rudely) forces us out of our idyllic existence. 3. After birth for a short time we are unified with ourselves and perfectly connected to the world.
Socialization Occurs • indoctrination with societies laws, beliefs, and values • messages transmitted about who we are and how we should behave • limits on the individual • socialization becomes a form of psychic injury
Socialization Occurs socialization becomes a form of psychic injury
Body Taboos, Sensuality, Sexuality We are taught: • not to touch our genitals. • to cover certain parts of our bodies. • to feel embarrassment and guilt when norms are breached. • to disown parts of our sensuality.
The False SelfSexually Repressive, Distant Mother Thechild may: • become a “tough guy” who tells himself he can make it on his own. • exaggerate problems in the hope someone will come to her rescue • hoard love and material objects, but will never have enough
Child’s Stages in Reaction to Parental Repression 1. Hides forbidden behavior from parents 2. Thinks angry thoughts but does not speak them aloud 3. Explores his body in the privacy of his room
Child’s Stages in Reaction to Parental Repression 4. teases younger siblings when parents are away 5. eventually decides some thoughts and feelings must be eliminated
Child’s Stages in Reaction to Parental Repression 6. gets a jolt of anxiety whenever he/she comes close to the forbidden thoughts or behaviors 7. constructs an imaginary parent in his head to police his/her thoughts and actions (superego)
Negative Emotions Some parents: • try to tease children out of being angry or upset. • ignore angry feelings. • punish child for his/her anger.
Negative Emotions The child reacts by: • repressing his/her anger. • internalizing the anger. • trying to disown that part of the self.
The Disowned Self • “lost self” - the parts repressed in response to demands of society or parents
The Disowned Self 2. “false self” - the facade erected to fill the void created by repression and lack of adequate nurturing
The Disowned Self 3. “disowned self” - negative parts of the false self that met with disapproval and were therefore denied
Fusers Grew up with parents who were not or could not be close, warm, or nurturing were cold, detached. Two Distinct Types Develop
Fusers • Unconsciously fear abandonment • Always want to “do things together.” • Appear to be insecure • Hold on too tight • Appear needy • Generally select an “isolator” as a partner
Two Distinct Types Develop Isolators Grew up with parents who • could not or would not let them explore or venture out • Were engulfing, confining.
Isolators • Unconsciously push others away, “need space” • Feels dread when things become too intimate • Fears being pinned down, stuck • Generally select a fuser as a partner
Fusers and Isolators These two types tend to grow up and marry each other, thus beginning an infuriating game of push and pull that leaves neither partner satisfied. Harville Hendrix, Ph.D.,Getting the Love you Want, 1998.
Fuser or Isolator Which one describes you better? i.e. what is your unconscious need?
Contains: intact parts of your original self. certain aspects of your false self. Your Personality We fervently believe that finding the perfect mate will make us whole again.
What are we really looking for?* • someone to make up for the psychological and emotional damage we experienced in our childhood • someone to heal our invisible childhood scars *according to Harville Hendrix