I was reading a review of and then tracked down Disease avoidance: from animals to culture this week. Not, I hasten to add, the full journal. PhD I may be but I’m not up to date with current thinking in my own field let alone my specialty and merely picked my way through bits of it. Although, one might argue (and I have myself effectively argued in the past) that diversity of knowledge gathering is important. Anyway, the crux of the topic is of significance interest to social scientists as behavioural disease avoidance is something rooted in our area of cultural consideration and it’s exciting to think about evolutionary effectiveness. It got me thinking about risk. 

As the abstract to the Introduction, Proactive strategies to avoid infectious disease, states: In humans, disease avoidance is based upon cognition and especially the emotion of disgust. Human disease avoidance is not without its costs. There is a propensity to reject healthy individuals who just appear sick – stigmatization – and the system may malfunction, resulting in various forms of psychopathology. At the simplest level, when choosing our mates we take a variety of risks. As the Swedish quartet say, we ask our potential lovers: Take a chance on me.
The song has the fairly poignant lines of ‘If you’re all alone when the pretty birds have flown, honey I’m still free.’ For me this brings to mind someone fighting something her desired lover has intrinsically picked up upon. I don’t think the character is unpretty (sorry, any excuse to link to a favourite song) so much as she doesn’t differ sufficiently from him in ‘antigen-coding genes.’

Ok so perhaps my attitudes could be argued by many as being pre-emptively defensive but I really think unrequited love is unrequited for a reason. Sure we can deny our feelings and perhaps the Fanny’s of the Mansfield Park’s can get their Edmund’s but for the most part I think when we’re attracted to someone and it isn’t reciprocated then they are picking up on something we aren’t.

Significantly, I see these sensitivities to appropriate mates as being wider than just the couple involved; hence the success of many arranged marriages. But it can’t be done on paper, the contact aspect is important.

This isn’t to say the social stuff doesn’t matter. I’ve been attracted to men I didn’t wish to reproduce with (practicing the act sure but they weren’t life partner material for me) and ultimately I settled with the man I was both attracted to and who ticked my marriagibilty boxes. And yet I was happy to take a greater risk on the social elements (being with the husband meant a path towards stepmotherhood, he was still going through a divorce but I fancied the pants off him) than I was on the physical (I briefly spent some time with a British property developer in Thailand who invited me to live in his hillside house with pool but I just wasn’t that into him).

Of course women are crazy and can’t be trusted. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that when we’re ovulating we’re attracted to men oozing testosterone and aggression but later are attracted to more supportive and nurturing men. In short our bodies say screw the guy from the gym but set up home with the guy from the office. No wonder we’re so fussy when it comes to choosing a boyfriend (assuming we aren’t the type to juggle multiple partners!)

Still, love is a risk and arguably, that’s why we’re so hooked on it.

But take responsibility for yourself and be honest about what those around you are really saying:

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The guy you're just casually dating, no matter how complex you like to believe he is.
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The nice guy you have a future with (no really, this is what he's thinking!)
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The guy who is in it for life!
I'd like to dedicate this blog post to the husband:
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True fact xxx
The husband
2/9/2012 05:21:38 am

You are startlingly correct with the "cheapest date for sex".

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