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Hormones and Internet

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Ray Lovegrove
When two hormone-driven humans meet under these conditions, watch out - anything can happen. Gazing into each others eyes, you see widely-dilated pupils; you may even give off pheromones that let the other person know that you are ready to give, and receive, love (and all those good things that go with it). Of course you may find that once that vision of perfection opens his/her mouth and tells you something about themselves ("You seriously voted for him?!"), you decide that they are just too awful to contemplate and you "turn off". Your hormones enable you to think about something else; food, drink, sport or, if youre British, the weather.

The Internet

But things dont always happen like this. Nowadays, a couple are just as likely to meet over the Internet as at a party, so what is happening to all those hormones? Well, my theory is that they arent released in quite the same way. Thats not to say that people dont fall in love over the Internet, but things just happen the other way around - you find out whether somebody is acceptable to you or not before you get to meet them and experience that rush of hormones.

It would be reckless to fall in love without taking heed of those biological signals that have evolved. After all, you do realize that people lie on the Internet, dont you? No really - its true - given a PC and a keyboard, most people lie about everything. (I know I do!) Research has shown that even on anonymous surveys that ask you how much you earn, people will regularly double or even treble their income to boost their image. So when it comes to those on-line dating files - beware!

And in matters self-descriptive, the lonely heart is at its most creative - when describing the color of eyes, looks, height - people enter the realms of poetic fiction. A police record stating height - average, appearance- average even eyes - average somehow morphs into "a tall, dark-brown eyed handsome man, single" on a self-description (Admit it, who hasnt been tempted to push the boundaries just a little? Anyway, enough about me)

We lie in this way for two reasons; one, because it makes us feel good about ourselves, and two, because we imagine that the person we find online will fall so deeply in love with us that they will overlook the slight inaccuracies when they finally get to meet us face to face - we hope that their hormones will override any rational thought. The fact that you described yourself as a twenty-three year old slim, blond, single girl with a deep interest in medieval Italian poetry, foreign travel and playing the harp would take a trailer load of hormones to overcome when in fact you are a thirty-eight year old divorced mother of seven with an interest in daytime television.

Basically, sexual attraction takes place due to physical interaction. You become aware of slight changes in your partners attitude, pheromones and even pupil size - so how can you monitor what is going on over the web? Dont kid yourself that its the photographs that they sent over. You know that every potential web partner has invested in Adobe Photoshop and has effectively removed every blemish, spot, and burst blood vessel imaginable, as well as increasing their eye size, enlarging pupils, and pulling other such tricks.

No, we fall in love on the web thanks to the unwise, but sometimes totally right idea that someone out there is right for us. Perhaps an exchange of e-mails is much more likely to find you the right partner than leaving everything to that unwieldy beast, hormone-driven sexual attraction. "By the way, I cant make it to your party on the weekend - Ive got some important work to do on the internet."

Ray Lovegrove

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