Aside

Some psychologists believe that our attraction to our partners is tied to early experiences and crushes from our childhood.

 

Psychologist John Money coined the term “love map” to describe one’s blueprint for the perfect mate, both sexually and otherwise. It is the unconscious outline in your mind of what love should look like. Your love map is mostly the result of early childhood preferences and experiences. Much of it was imprinted before you knew what to make of it — a delicious smell, a beautiful hair color, a great sense of humor. It is a map of what is significant to you sensually, based on what resonated with you as a child.

Your love map is pretty fluid until about age seven and then solidifies in its most fundamental form. However, love maps can be redrawn throughout your developmental years as a result of big events or relationships in your life. Your first love might set a pattern of attraction, either because it went so well or so wrong. Or your parents’ divorce and your dad’s subsequent emotional departure might cause you to seek out unavailable men.

Understanding your love map can help you have better relationships. When you and your partner fit together like two pieces of a puzzle, it’s for a variety of reasons — both good and bad. The upside of being with someone who fits the outline of our love map is that we get to experience that frenzied, euphoric lust that sparks between two people who have a unique chemistry. The downside is that we may be drawn to someone who resurrects conflicts, big or small, from our childhood. It’s why we’re able to fall madly in love, only to find ourselves in a relationship tangle that seems impossible to manage.

Since our love maps are outlined before we even reach adulthood, they are generally based on watching the model of our parents’ relationship or from childhood crushes and societal structures. If you grew up with parents who exhibited a healthy and loving relationship, you will likely draw certain positive subconscious (and conscious) conclusions about what a relationship should look like. You will also gain very personal ideas about how men and women should treat each other, including how sexual attraction should manifest in a relationship.

Of course, few people have a perfectly idyllic childhood, but this doesn’t mean that your love map is doomed from thestart. Even if your parents didn’t have an amicable marriage, you might have gained valuable insights and a clear idea of what you want and need from a partner. Perhaps your love map might lead you to choose partners who challenge you or partners who make you look deeply at yourself and become the best you can be.

To make sure that you are following a healthy love map, it’s important to first examine what qualities attract you to someone and why. Identify the major factors that have influenced your love map, learn what you need and expect in a relationship, and commit yourself to finding a relationship that meets your expectations and needs in a healthy way. Like the old saying goes, those who don’t understand history are doomed to repeat it… especially when it is your history!

 

Source: Dr. Laura Berman

What Is Your Map to Perfect Love?

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Attraction results from the unique information gathered by all our senses.

Did you ever wonder what attracts you to one sort of person over another? What causes that feeling of alluring familiarity with someone you have just met…someone to whom you are inexorably drawn? Why can someone have everything you think you want, yet leave you feeling flat? Dr. John Money, a world famous sexologist from Johns Hopkins University, invented a concept known as “love maps” that helps explain why we feel that certain pull toward someone without knowing why.

But just what is a love map made of? It’s a product of early childhood experiences delivered to us via the five senses, then activated later on by those very same senses. For instance, you walk into a crowded room and someone catches your eye. Or you feel the pangs of attraction when someone is wearing familiar cologne. If the senses are like paint to a canvas, a love map would be the complete landscape. The legend to your love map looks like this:

Sight: Studies show we tend to be attracted to people who look like our parents and even ourselves.

Smell: Pheromones, the smells that fly below the conscious radar, alert us to compatible mates and make us feel lustful, without quite knowing why.

Sound: The words of parents, teachers, and peers we admired (and certainly those we had crushes on) in early school days shape our emotional needs and self-image.

Taste: Food is a powerful metaphor for sex. Our real appetite and our sexual appetite are related in more ways than one. Freudian oral fixations abound.

Touch: We develop a craving for intimacy that is based in part on how we were touched and cuddled as children by our parents.

A love map may be what triggers the right hormones and neurotransmitters for romance. In fact, different circuits in the brain are lit up during lust and love. The picture of a brain in love is far more complex than that of a brain in lust. You don’t just want sex; you want the person because he affects you in a way that is hauntingly familiar.

Love maps may alert us to who’s the best fit, romantically speaking, but it doesn’t mean finding your soul mate makes love easy. Relationships take work! The chemicals at play in the early days of lust and attraction fade over time for every couple, no matter how much their maps coincide. However, you can recapture that feeling of euphoria by injecting some novelty back into your relationship.

Whether it’s a trip to an exotic location, bungee jumping, or ballroom dancing, the idea is to engage in new experiences together. Force yourself to leave behind that sense of predictability about what comes next. Thrill-seeking restores the thrill!

It works inside the bedroom too. Pretending you don’t know each other leaves room for surprise. Pushing yourself to change up a tired sexual routine restores the electricity of each other’s touch.

Love is often described as an experience that sets the body and the mind ablaze: The neurons are firing “we’re interested!” and the hormones are saying “we want to mate!”

The strongest electricity occurs when all five of the senses are activated, and that ushers in the sixth sense of sex: attraction. That’s when your love map really lights up!

 

Source: Dr. Laura Berman

The Chemical Symphony of Attraction