Why a Terrifying First Date is Better Than a "Nice" One - Misattribution of Physiological Arousal
I'm always talking about adult playfulness. And adventures. And physical challenges. And having cool life experiences. But here's another reason to shake things up and try something new -- and perhaps a little terrifying:
Did you know: The last time you saw a super hot other person, your body did the same thing as it did the last time you gave an important speech – and the last time you were attacked by a lion?
Ryan = Lion ?
It’s true. The human sexual response is almost completely identical to the fight or flight response when it comes to what your body is doing and feeling -- increased heart rate and breathing, butterflies in the stomach, sweaty palms, vasodilation, etc. The reason your subjective experience is so vastly different when you see Ryan versus a lion (I hope) is your own appraisal of the situation.
But sometimes you’re wrong! In 1974, Dutton and Aron conducted a study in which an attractive female experimenter stood at the end of one of two bridges -- the one was stable, sturdy, and wide, and the other was narrow, wobbly, and terrifying.
The experimenter would approach men who has just crossed the bridge ask them to fill out a short questionnaire for her research. When they finished, she gave each of the men her phone number, telling them to call her if they had any further questions about the study. But, like the beautiful women on the steps of the Met, the experimenter was full of LIES!
The REAL measure in this study was how many of the men called the woman to ask her out on a date. And it turns out, men who had just crossed the scary bridge were more likely to call the woman, because they misattributed their physiological arousal to the attractiveness of the woman, rather than the scariness of their situation.
Though possible confounding factors have been identified.
This might help explain why couples who play together, stay together (several studies confirm this). You know, other than the fact that they spend quality time doing cool stuff together, vs. eating food and watching movies. This isn't just for the short-term, either.
In 2008, psychologist James Graham conducted a study to see what kinds of activities keep couples bonded. (They basically carried around a beeper that would go off several times throughout the day, and people would report what they were doing, how they were feeling toward their partner, etc.)
The results showed that couples who routinely performed difficult tasks together were more likely to have strong, positive feelings toward each other. In other words, flow is an essential part of bonding -- and you can achieve flow through fun, scary or challenging play.
Long story short, if you want to feel closer, more attracted to and more in love with your partner, don't settle into a boring routine. Mix things up. Play. Challenge yourselves. And remember that, when it comes to spending time together, quality does not equal quantity.
10/23/2015 07:10:13 am
First of all, let me just say I love your blog! It's really impacted how I try to live my life and interact in my relationships. But I do have a question about this article, which I've read multiple times and totally agree with. I'm a big proponent of going on adventures because I hate when I look back over a month and realize I've done basically nothing on my weekends except stuff I "had" to do, or binge-watching Netflix. My husband and I live in a pretty big northern city with lots of cool outdoor things just an hour or two away, which is great - when the weather is nice. What do you suggest for two people who are struggling to make ends meet financially, and when hiking or other outdoor activities really aren't an option due to weather?
10/23/2015 01:21:40 pm
Great question! Sometimes, I feel like a cheater, because I'm in California, and we pretty much always have nice weather. For someone in colder climes, I would recommend looking into co-ed indoor sports opportunities - perhaps indoor soccer, volleyball, or basketball. Or you could buy a few passes to check out a rock wall -- or even sign up for some indoor climbing classes.
Puzzles are a GREAT suggestion. And not just 2D ones, either. 3D ones and spherical designs help mix it up. Another fun thing that my lady & I do is record a “show” together with my Samson mic. We never release it to the public, but while we’re recording we have a lot of fun telling stories, etc.
5/14/2017 02:30:50 am
Surely it's a happy accident that the photo of Westminister Bridge in London shows a phalic symbol in the shadow of the railing?
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Eva is a content specialist with a passion for play, travel... and a little bit of girl power. Read more >
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