Attraction Through The Ages

By on January 6, 2013

Nowadays, most people have heard the common phrase ‘love at first sight’. Not ‘love at first words’ or ‘love at first sound’! This is because in Western cultures today, eye contact is  unquestionably the greatest indicator of attraction.

Experiments have shown that if a man finds someone attractive they will look at them without breaking eye contact for an average of 8.2 seconds, compared to 4.5 seconds if they don’t. Women are much more complex creatures and generally prefer to make eye contact subtly, they tend to hold it for only a few seconds before looking away, then glancing back within a minute.

However showing attraction wasn’t always about the eyes, and our ancestors across the world had some curious ways of showing their fancy to the object of their affection. We certainly live in a much simpler time…

Welsh Spooning

Traditional courting in rural Wales didn’t involve serenading  with love songs or poetry. Instead they would carve, from scratch, a spoon which they would present to the father of their affection. The more beautiful and intricate the spoon the better, and the more likely the father would be to consent to the relationship.

While this unusual form of courting is no longer practiced nowadays, it has become successful source of tourism, as people holidaying to Wales flock to get their hands on a love spoon souvenir.

Austrian Apples

If you have Austrian ancestry you might find it interesting to learn how they traditionally initiated attraction. At balls, young women would place an apple slice under their armpit and keep it there while they danced throughout the evening. At the close of the night, if there was someone who the girl was attracted to she would offer him the apple slice. If he ate it, this meant he was attracted to her too, but if he rejected the apple slice it meant that he rejected was also rejecting her.

Perhaps not the most hygienic start to a relationship, maybe this is why the tradition is no longer practiced today.

Native American Crane Dance And Candles

In Native American cultures the women traditionally would get dressed up in brightly coloured costumes and dance the Crane Dance in a celebration that would last up to 3 days. Men would watch the women, and if there was one who took their fancy they would approach them in their sleep holding a lit candle. If the women was woken by a man she was attracted to, she would blow the candle out and they would prepare to marry. If she was not interested, she would show this by leaving his candle lit.

It is incredible to think how much the rules of attraction have changed over the last few centuries, and what they will be in years to come. Has modern society destroyed these traditions, or has it just made our own dating rituals that will be looked back on in the future in the same way we regard the past?

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Steph McLean has a keen interest in social psychology, and is a regular blogger on the topic. You can trust her to understand the importance of vision when it comes to understanding and interpreting human interaction. In her offline life she writes for Lenstore, an online contact lens retailer.

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