Though it’s called chemistry, there is no one science that can predict physical attraction. You might be thinking, “pheromones!” but if I remember anything from high school science (I don’t), it’s that you need more than a catalyst to light that steamy Bunsen. Yet, despite my skepticism, researchers have continued to study physical attraction. And while the results have often been interesting, they're also often … unhelpful.
For example: first, they tell us people like women who wear minimal makeup. Then they tell us — psych! “Men prefer women who wear more make up." What are we to do with this endless onslaught of easily refutable “facts”? Why can't we just wear makeup if we want to wear makeup instead of taking into account inconclusive studies? (Well, we can, and probably should.) The logical thing to do would be to ignore these studies. We could refuse to let scientists impact our psyche or cause us to torpedo our love lives based on narrowly focused research.
But then what would we talk about at parties when the conversation lulls? Baseball? True Detective Season 2? Nah. Because when you’re in the mood to scoff, frustrating "scientific" dating advice is a good place to start. So let’s examine some of the lessons from science's least-helpful studies, shall we?
DANCE LIKE NOBODY’S WATCHING, EXCEPT Maybe DON’T MOVE YOUR LEFT LEG SO MUCH
As if most wedding dates weren’t insecure enough on the dance floor, now there is a scientific study to mess with their heads. Researchers at Northumbria University found that women prefer a man who leads with his right foot, not left, and moves his head around in large, varied movements. You’re arms? Women don’t care what you do with those. You might as well be invisible if you are moving your arms. Why are you still moving your arms? You’re blowing it!
Why that's not helpful: The dance floor is a pretty simple place, really. Whether you use your right or left foot, people just don’t want you to step on their toes.
WHETHER YOU'RE MALE OR FEMALE, ATTRACTING MEN IS AS SIMPLE AS A BIG CHEST AND BLONDE HAIR
The media is constantly bombarding us with images of unachievable standards of beauty, but, luckily for us, UK lingerie company Bluebella spent actual money to research what the perfect man and woman would look like. They surveyed men and women on their ideal physical traits, then Frankenstein’d those preferences together to form the "perfect" man and woman. The results? Freaky.
Why that's not helpful: In reality, the most perfect, attractive person in the room is always the one holding a kitten. Therefore, ipso facto, kitten proximity determines perfection.
CARRY AROUND A GUITAR CASE INSTEAD OF A GYM BAG
This study, published in Psychology of Music, indicates that women are more likely to give their number to men who carry around a guitar case than men who don't, because duh. The study goes on to find that women were only a third as likely to give their number to a man carrying a gym bag. Apparently, this proves that, while women like muscles (see the survey above), they don’t like evidence that a guy has worked for them. Women prefer magic muscles. (That’s why they love Magic Mike, obvs.) The conclusion is simple: burn your gym clothes after every workout so there's no evidence, and practice those chords.
Why that's not helpful: Actually, I agree with this one. I prefer men who come by their muscles magically and play the guitar. Is that so much to ask, gentlemen?
MAKE SURE YOUR BREATH IS FRESH. BUT, ALSO, EAT A LOT OF GARLIC ... GOOD LUCK!
Garlic is very good for you. There’s no question. But a study by Czech biologists also found that is also makes your body odor more attractive. In the study, lucky participants were asked to smell “sweat pads” from garlic eaters and non-garlic eaters. They found the scent of garlic eaters to be overwhelmingly (some would say shockingly) more attractive. So there you have it: I think we can safely take our newfound knowledge and henceforth order extra garlic on every date!
Why that's not helpful: Um, what about your breath?
SMILE ... BUt Only In The Correct Way
Some may describe the worst date as one in which it’s impossible to make the other person smile or laugh. Others might describe a bad date as going out with someone with low self confidence. But according to this study out of the University of British Columbia, those are actually the best dates, silly!
The study found that men were least attractive to women when they were happy, because that makes sense. While happy women were found to be much more attractive, they were found to be least attractive when they seemed confident. Basically, male smiles are gross and female smiles are great, as long as that female doesn’t have substantial reason to be happy.
Why that's not helpful: Not smiling at all and smiling for no reason are both very creepy behaviors usually reserved for serial killers.
CONTRACEPTION MAY LEAD WOMEN TO CHOOSE THE WRONG PARTNER
A study from the University of Liverpool finds that women are unconsciously attracted to men who have an immune system that differs from their own, ensuring the best immune system for potential offspring. Unfortunately, it also finds that birth control pills disrupt this process. Don’t want to have kids? Well, fine, but this study also finds that once women go off the pill, they may no longer find the guy they picked while on the pill attractive. Great.
Why that's not helpful: It’s hard enough to find someone you can stand to sit through dinner with more than once — let alone someone who leads with their right foot on the dance floor, has luxurious lion hair, carries a guitar, magically sprouts muscles, and eats garlic without suffering bad breath. We're screwed.