Decoding Love: Forget Romance, Embrace Science

couple bed reading newspaper

Andrew Trees's new book takes a research-driven look at love.

We've all been told that love is blind, that it is illogical, that it is divine, and above all else, that it isn't exactly rocket science.

But if Dr. Andrew Trees is to be believed, what we've been told up until now might actually be dead wrong. In his new book, Decoding Love: Why It Takes Twelve Frogs to Find a Prince and Other Revelations from the Science of Attraction, he draws on the latest studies in economics, brain science, game theory, evolutionary psychology and other academic and scientific fields to explain why love is about a lot more than romance.

For example, he examines psychological studies in decision making to explain why people in arranged marriages usually have a higher self-reported rate of satisfaction (apparently, a potential lifetime of marital misery in a society that shuns divorce "is a powerful incentive for making the best of things"), why fewer choices of mates are better than too many (too many invariably lead to an "unending chase for a better product"), and why people are more likely to be happy with their choices when they're told their choices are final (what choice do they have?).

He also delves into the evolutionary reasons behind the tendency for men to prefer women who have wider hips and smaller waists (higher fertility and better offspring), women who are younger (higher fertility and better offspring) and women who are pretty (higher fertility and better offspring).

And peppered throughout all of this is a lot of stuff about large testicles, polygamous marriages, and primates that can have sex up to forty five times a day.

But where, you might ask, is the practical advice in all of this? What good are these so-called scientific revelations to people who aren't wearing lab coats, but looking for love? And, perhaps most importantly, why does it take twelve frogs (not eleven, not thirteen) to find a prince?