Hunka Hunka Burnin’ Nerves

by Julie Hanus
July-August 2009
Add to My MSN

image by Cary Wolinsky

Content Tools

Related Content

Are Sex Studies Bad for Sex?

Sex science has demystified sexual intercourse, but it also promotes an overly medicalized view of s...

If Physical Theories Were Girlfriends

Always good for an erudite chuckle, McSweeney’s recently published a list of “Physical Theories as W...

Climate Change Denial and the Galileo Fallacy

Most individuals have enough sense to know when they reach the limits of their knowledge. The media ...

The Gaia Theory Gets Some Respect

Gaia theory is no longer looked down upon by many scientists—in fact, it has slowly become downright...

Ah, love: that yearning, burning, transcendently punch-drunk state of being. And it all begins with . . . attachment anxiety? For decades, researchers have probed the origin of love, tediously mining questionnaires and surveys for clues as to how sparks fly (and which ones stay lit). Now they’re making game-changing discoveries, reports Science News (Feb. 14, 2009), thanks to a distinctly modern opportunity to do field research: speed dating.

“Speed-dating investigations . . . illuminate a considerable gap between what people say they’re looking for in a romantic partner and traits of the people they actually want to go out with,” behavioral sciences editor Bruce Bower writes. Stereotypical points of allure, like physical attractiveness and financial stability, are less important than people tend to estimate when filling out surveys after the fact. Instead, relationships seem to blossom out of nervousness. Specifically, the anxiety of yearning for deep, emotionally attached love—the sort of connection that takes years to form—and not being sure if the fantasy is reciprocated.

In one study, psychologists at Northwestern University conducted speed-dating events with 160 college-age participants, who then reported on their love lives over the next month. More than any other factor, apprehension regarding a partner’s feelings prompted continued interest in the relationship. Daters who felt undesired jumped ship (no hope), but so did daters who felt too desired (no uncertainty). “It is almost as if a central component of passionate love is [having] the fantasy that one will ultimately possess an attachment bond with the desired partner,” one of the researchers told Science News. But not being sure it’s in the bag.

Post a comment below.


Pay Now & Save $5!
First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Want to gain a fresh perspective? Read stories that matter? Feel optimistic about the future? It's all here! Utne Reader offers provocative writing from diverse perspectives, insightful analysis of art and media, down-to-earth news and in-depth coverage of eye-opening issues that affect your life.

Save Even More Money By Paying NOW!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You save an additional $5 and get 4 issues of Utne Reader for only $31.00 (USA only).

Or Bill Me Later and pay just $36 for 4 issues of Utne Reader!