Q: What motivates people to seek out love?
A: Our primary motivation as human beings is to expand the self and to increase our abilities and our effectiveness. One of the ways we accomplish this is through our relationships with other people. We have learned in our research that it is important to feel that you have the ability to be an effective person, especially in our relationships.
Q: How does this theory of self-expansion explain the process of falling in love?
A: Usually, we fall in love with a person that we find attractive and appropriate for us, but also someone who demonstrates that they are attracted to us. This creates a situation where a great opportunity is open to us for self-expansion. The fact that they are attracted to us offers a significant opportunity — when we perceive this, we feel a surge of exhilaration!
Q: Does it always work this way?
A: No, an interesting exception to this occurs if we feel badly about ourselves. The process gets thrown off if we can't believe that another persons finds us attractive — like the Groucho Marx joke where we don't want to belong to a club that would have us for a member. We tend to miss out on opportunities for falling in love if we don't feel good about ourselves.
Q: What conditions are best for meeting someone and falling in love?
A: When you meet someone under conditions that are highly arousing — a political demonstration, turbulence on a plane, a stimulating performance — a time when the body is stirred up and excited, we tend to experience attraction at a heightened level. This effect is well documented but the explanations for it are very controversial. I tend to believe that we come to associate the arousal of...