gay pheromones - The Laws of Attraction and the Modern Dating Scene
 

The Laws of Attraction and the Modern Dating Scene

A useful, although reductive, theory on attraction comes from evolutionary psychology. It holds that we are drawn to others on the basis of our assessment of their reproductive fitness. We weigh up physical qualities (symmetry, health, youth, strength in men, child-bearing indicators in women), material possessions (wealth), social skills (status, charity, humour, confidence) and cultural factors (fashion, weight, skin tone, hair styles, body decoration). We have roughly standardized perceptions of 'attractive' individuals, though it can vary over history and in different parts of the world.





Although it's now clear that pheromones exist, the way our body processes them has yet to be well determined. Animals have a vomeronasal organ (VNO), which perceives the substance and then leads them to mate. Some anatomists don't think humans have a VNO; others think they've found pits inside our nostrils that might be VNOs, but may not work.

When you're looking for the man or woman of your dreams, unsuspecting pheromones in your body scent are most likely playing a large and very clever role in mate attraction. According to an article in "Psychology Today," how our body odors are perceived as pleasant and sexy to another person is a highly selective process. We usually smell best to a person whose genetically based immunity to disease differs most from our own. This could benefit you in the long run, making for stronger, healthier children.

Several studies have shown promising results. Dr. Winifred Cutler, a biologist and behavioral endocrinologist, found pheromones present in underarm secretions. She also found that women who had regular sex with men had more regular menstrual cycles. Pheromones which had been identified in the under arms of men contributed significantly to this outcome.

A pheromone is any chemical or mixture of chemicals produced by a living organism that transmits a message to other members of the same species. The term "pheromone" is usually used for sexual attractants. There are some other pheromones - they act as signals for alarm and defense, territory and trail-marking, and social regulation and recognition. Pheromones are now being used in insect control, for example as bait to attract males to field traps or, in very high concentrations, to disorient insects and prevent mating.

Some men produce more natural pheromones than others, which is why you can see some men who are not handsome, but have no problems in attracting and seducing the most beautiful women.

Androstenol, which appears in fresh sweat, is disintegrated by bacteria in about 15 to 20 minutes. This pheromone, which reported by women to be sweet-smelling, is also called the "pillow-talk pheromone", because women are exposed to it immediately after love making during the cuddling phase.

Another notable study was conducted by Martha Mclintock in the 1970's when she observed that the menstrual cycles of groups of women who lived together tended to become synchronized. Further study revealed the startling fact that it was exposure to pheromones from other women which caused the changes in cycle.

Researchers believe that the vomeronasal organs are instrumental in picking up these specialized signals. The vomeronasal organs or VNO's are tiny cigar-shaped organs found in the nostrils which appear to communicate directly with the parts of the brain that control reproduction and parenting behavior.

Test subjects were exposed to sweat samples collected from other women. Their menstrual cycles slowed down or sped up depending on the time of month when the samples had been collected. The implications of this discovery for treatment of infertility or even contraception are obviously extremely exciting and it has been suggested that pheromones could also be used to alter mood and alleviate depression and stress.

Various factors can be at play during the initial attraction. Sometimes it begins as physical impulse - pheromones doing their work - and sometimes it starts as an emotional connection first. Usually it involves an implicit assessment of the other's suitability as a potential mate (genetic donor) and/or a long-term partner (protector of self and of future offspring). This entails a complex interplay of observation (often matching them up to our ideal, or even setting them up as an ideal), reaction (via chemicals and body language) and interaction.

Using a brain imaging technique, Swedish researchers have shown that homosexual and heterosexual men respond differently to two odors that may be involved in sexual arousal, and that the gay men respond in the same way as women. The new research may open the way to studying human pheromones, as well as the biological basis of sexual preference.

An excellent book that deals with attraction from an evolutionary perspective is 'The Mating Mind: How Sexual Choice Shaped the Evolution of Human Nature' by Geoffrey Miller. His hypothesis is that a lot of how we conduct our lives e.g. high status jobs, creative work, being charitable or popular for example, sends signals to attract potential partners.

On the other hand a multi-billion dollar worldwide perfume industry is ample proof of the importance that most of us place on odors and perhaps the lengths to which we go to mask what we consider to be undesirable smells. But do humans have naturally occurring pheromones which impact on the lives of others in the species?

After long dismissing the search for a human pheromone as folly, scientists have begun to take a second look at how human body odor influences sexual attraction. The magic scent is not only a romantic elixir but the aromatic effluence of our immune system. The only trouble is we don't give it half a chance.

That's all very well but do these same mechanisms of attraction and behavior modification apply to the most complex of mammals – man himself? This has long been debated. Sense of smell is perhaps one of human beings least used senses and given the world we live in we perhaps need to rely on it less for survival than other primitive mammals.

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Pheromones are chemicals that send signals to other members of the same species. These signals could serve many purposes such as marking out territory (As dogs and cats do) or to mark a food trail (How ants all seem to converge on the same food source) or to send alarm signals warning other members of the species of impending danger.

An available person is likely to send out the right signals when they are self-contented. It is a clich??, but a relevant one - when we can accept and love ourselves, we are in a good position to be accepted and loved by another. Inner confidence makes itself visible to potential partners. It is more convincing than 'fake' confidence (though sometimes in imagining ourselves confident, we can become it). This is why many happily committed individuals can be so appealing to others.

The Swiss researchers found that women taking oral contraceptives (which block conception by tricking the body into thinking it's pregnant) reported reversed preferences, liking more the smells that reminded them of home and kin. Since the Pill reverses natural preferences, a woman may feel attracted to men she wouldn't normally notice if she were not on birth control--men who have similar MHC profiles.



Dr. Cutler's original studies in the '70s showed that women who have regular sex with men have more regular menstrual cycles than women who have sporadic sex. Regular sex delayed the decline of estrogen and made women more fertile. This led the research team to look for what the man was providing in the equation. By 1986 they realized it was pheromones.

Androstenone pheromone is not the same as androstenol. Androstenol is produced by fresh male sweat, and is relatively attractive to women. The other pheromone, androstenone is produced by male sweat, when that sweat becomes less fresh - after exposure to oxygen. Androstenone is highly unpleasant to women, except during ovulation, when female response to this pheromone changes to "neutral". Therefore, the sweaty macho-man is likely to be unattractive to most women.

Androstenone and androstenol are both testosterone-linked pheromones. Some people say that androstenone is stronger "macho" pheromone that signals a dominant and aggressive personality, while androstenol signals friendliness.

The alluring chemical scent that young women give off to attract men seems to provide the same effect for post-menopausal women. When the scientists added the scent, a pheromone, to perfume used by older women, their romantic lives seemed to improve, the researchers wrote in New Scientist magazine. The study was also published in the Journal of Sex Behavior. Study leader Joan Friebely and her colleagues applied the test to 44 post-menopausal women. Those who used the treated perfume found their partners to be more affectionate than those who used the normal perfume.

Generally speaking, we select partners that are roughly similar to our own level of 'reproductive attractiveness' (measured in the wide sense). This means that it is not only the most 'attractive' individuals who manage to form partnerships - there is someone for everyone.

According to some surveys, about 50% of adult humans can't detect androstenone, unless the concentration is extremely high. Those who can detect androstenone say that its smell is not very pleasant. Androstenone is the main pheromone that men unknowingly secrete that attract women. Both men and women secrete pheromones when they sweat. However, since our body naturally only secretes small amounts of pheromones, they are effective for only a brief amount of time. The good news is that scientists have succeeded in identifying and synthesizing both androstenone and androstenol in the laboratory.

If you've never heard of pheromones it is time to learn about the part they play in your sex life. The concept of a human pheromone, or sexual scent of attraction, has been debated and researched for years.

Ideas about compatibility include 'opposites attract' and 'like-minded attract'. There seems to be clinical support for both positions. On the one hand we may be drawn to individuals who have characteristics we lack. They may reflect our shadow side - the elements that reside within us but which we refuse to acknowledge. They may also balance or complement our personalities. Some examples of differences include highly-driven v. relaxed, artistic v. scientific, sporty v. sedate and introverted v. extroverted. On the other hand, like-minded individuals may connect well because it widens the field of interaction, for example sports lovers can play and watch games together, and extroverts can socialize happily. What seems important in either of these positions is that the underlying core values are congruent. Ethical and social ideals tend to be matched in solid partnerships.

But do pheromones work in the world of mammals as well? Studies done on hamsters and rats certainly seem to suggest they do. These studies also suggested that pheromones do not act directly on the normal olfactory senses. They do involve smells but they seem to act through a very specific channel.

Pheromones in humans are believed to be produced by the apocrine glands. These glands become functional after reaching puberty, which could explain why most people develop an attraction for others at that time. Pheromones could also be the reason why a person can sense "chemistry", or feel an instant attraction or dislike when first meeting someone.

There are more and more forums for finding love including internet, speed-dating, lonely-hearts columns and match-making services. There have been many success stories linked with these platforms and they are drawing a wide audience. They are effective in part because they exclude individuals who are not looking for romance. The drawbacks can be that we don't have time to see the individual in roles other than as a 'potential date'. Also, increasingly relationships begin in the virtual sphere (online, SMS texts) which can remove some of the depth of a real relationship including the pain of being rejected. For clients in therapy who are considering more traditional meeting grounds, we explore options such as taking up hobbies, playing sports, joining clubs or organizing friendly dinner parties (perhaps asking friends to bring a single friend). These activities are rewarding in their own right, and carry the bonus of forming friendships and partnerships.

However, the most widely known purpose and the one which has always attracted the most attention is the use of pheromones as a means of sexual attraction. Pheromones as a sexual attractant were identified as far back as 1956 when scientists extracted a compound from certain glands on the abdomen of the silkworm moth. This pheromone which they named bombykol was found to have an amazing effect on male silkworm moths. When exposed to it they immediately went into a frenzied "flutter dance".

Pheromones are also likely to be the scientific basis of the romantic concept of "chemistry" between individuals – that feeling of an instant attraction and connection with certain people. There is also evidence that we seek out mates whose immune systems complement ours. In other words we are instinctively attracted to people whose immune systems are most different from our own. This ensures the production of the strongest and healthiest offspring. Our instinctive actions are based on the pheromonal signals we pick up.


 
 
     
 
 





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