Love is like a box of chocolates; there are a LOT of ingredients. Surely we’re not blowing your minds when we tell you that more is at play in the game of love than just physical attraction or a shared passion for “Game of Thrones” and pizza rolls. According to one psychologist, there are 11 distinct factors that can leave you smitten. Despite what we said earlier, nothing about chocolate appears on the list.
Ayala Malach Pines, a faculty member at the School of Management at Ben Gurion University in Israel, is a clinical psychologist who studies couples. Pines authored around 60 research papers in her career, and a handful of relationship books, one of which is “Falling in Love: Why We Choose the Lovers We Choose.” In this book, Pines breaks love down into 11 factors. So, why do we gravitate toward those certain charming weirdos we can’t help but love? Here’s what’ll do it, according to Pines:
1. Similarity in attitudes, background, personality traits. Whoever said opposites attract? (That would be Paula Abdul, but we digress.)
2. Geographic proximity. Ever heard the phrase “near and dear to my heart?” Special emphasis on the “near” part.
3. Desirable characteristics of personality and appearance. Tall, dark, and handsome. Oh, generous too.
4. Reciprocal affection. Does your crush like you back? Stalkers aren’t lovers, people.
5. Satisfying needs. Missing satisfaction? Mick Jagger can tell you about that one.
6. Physical and emotional arousal. These are the steamy waters beyond the Friend Zone.
7. Social influences, norms, and the approval of people in our circle. To quote the Spice Girls, “If you wanna be my lover, you gotta get with my friends.”
8. Specific cues in the beloved’s voice, eyes, posture, way of moving. Are you tickled by the weird way your boyfriend dances to Journey at karaoke? Oh yeah, you’ve been bitten by the lovebug.
9. Readiness for a romantic relationship. One-night stands need not apply.
10. Opportunities to be alone together. For obvious reasons.
11. Mystery, in the situation or the person. A little enigma only makes things more interesting.
Feeling single and salty? Don’t worry; we’re here for you. You can use the above points to track down a love interest, too. Because geographic proximity is a huge factor, for instance, hang out regularly in places where a potential date might also want to chill. And just keep going there. As psychologist Peter M. Vishton, Ph.D. explains in the video below, repeated exposure increases our liking for basically everything, whether that be music, exotic foods, or certain people. It’s a start.
If you’re not sure whether or not you can check off each item on that list, just hop in an MRI. Good ol’ science is here to save the day again. A 2015 study provided the “first empirical evidence of love-related alterations in brain functional architecture,” meaning you could actually tell if someone is in love based on what their brain scan looks like. Romantic, isn’t it?