Beauty & The Beholder

It’s said that beauty is only skin deep, but then why is it that some people have the unusual power to get under our skin? It’s happened to all of us — we meet someone and instantly fall deeply and madly (sometimes even stupidly) in love, only to wake up one day and realize the person we fell in love with isn’t all we imagined. Turns out love really is blind.
Text by Carla Torres | June 4, 2018 | Lifestyle

Attraction is a force more powerful than we can control (or understand, for that matter) unless you’re a biologist. Dr. Cummings is a biologist and one of the few aesthetic medicine surgeons in The Midwest practicing stem cell research and regenerative medicine. His approach to beauty comes first and foremost from an evolutionary standpoint. “Most of the research that has been done on what makes a person attractive has resulted in very basic patterns of why humans find other humans attractive,” he says. “The most basic pattern is symmetry.”
In fact, numerous studies have been performed where adults rate photos of faces based on their level of attractiveness. These same photos are shown to babies who happen to stare the longest at the images the adults rated highest in attractiveness. “There’s something about humans that’s inevitably and inexplicably attracted to beauty and it has to do with genetic material,” asserts Dr. Cummings. “We’re not even aware of what’s going on, and the theory behind it is that someone’s genes that have no defect or flaws and are symmetrical will reproduce an individual of the same caliber.”
It’s difficult to believe that we’re thinking about reproduction when we’re simply going for a night out on the town looking for some fun, but Sex & Sensuality Coach Rebekah Beneteau understands why that’s exactly the case. “The science of attraction is a hard one to nail down, but we’re innately attracted to people who we’re going to have the best gene mix with,” she says. This phenomenon explains why many women marry, have kids, and then divorce and remarry. “The second marriage is better because they’ve found someone that they have a heartfelt connection with instead of that instant physical jolt of attraction.”
It’s true that sex appeal has a way of getting under our skin, and more so in a city like Miami that’s booming with eye candy. ranked us #6 in the “Top 10 Cities With Beautiful Women,” but even this is subjective, as beauty inescapably lies in the eye of the beholder. And something that stands out to the eye (besides symmetry) is confidence. “A woman who’s willing to inhabit her sexuality is going to attract a man,” explains Beneteau. “We’re mammals and what happens in the mammal kingdom is that the male has absolutely zero interest in sex until the female goes into heat.” Because we’re evolved into intelligent beings and have bigger brains, we choose when, where and with whom we engage in sexual relations with, but males naturally have a physiological response when a woman is in heat. This usually happens during ovulation and menstruation, but according to Beneteau, a woman can be sending out vibrations of being in heat by simply being connected to her own sexuality. “When I want a waiter to bring me more water in a restaurant, I picture myself making out with him,” she says. “He doesn’t even know why he’s coming over; he just feels the vibrations like a magnet. I encourage women to try this whenever they want something from any man and see what happens!”
In addition to vibrations, we must also take brain chemicals into account, as David Bennett points out. Bennett is a consultant and public speaker who has written 5 books on relationships, dating and social success. “When someone falls in love, the same areas of the brain that light up when you earn a lot of money are very active, but critical judgment centers are very inactive,” he says. “What we’re talking about here is not long-term love but rather that initial, crazy-in-love feeling.” So the brain is literally deactivating neural networks that make us critical of others and activating areas that make us positive instead. So in the beginning phase, or honeymoon phase of a relationship, not only are you looking at this person through rose-colored glasses, but areas of your brain that make you feel positive about this person are activated and your confirmation bias is stopping you from thinking anything negative about your beloved. During this period of bliss, testosterone levels in men drop and rise in women. “This is kind of nature’s way of evening out the sex hormones to make couples get along better,” explains Bennett. Nature will take its course for about the span of 2 years, which is how long it takes for testosterone levels to go back to normal. As far as the chemical receptors in your brain, that needs to be given a little longer — up to 4 years — before they get leveled.
So, it’s not so much that you’re finding someone less beautiful over the course of time, but rather seeing him or her in a more realistic way…or for the first time for that matter. “You see, we don’t really see with our eyes,” says Bennett. “Our eyes reflect light and send the information to our brain, which then perceives things.”
In the end, it seems, beauty really is in the eye (or in this case, the mind) of the beholder. Love, however, is a whole other monster. “Attraction is superficial and wears off eventually,” says Bennett. “We just have to recognize and be realistic that the initial feelings aren’t going to last forever.” True love, however, conquers, sees and accepts all.