What Makes Men Fall in Love
It's a baffling question: Is there some specific moment or event that makes a guy suddenly decide "Yes, I think I love her"? Well, the answer isn't clear-cut, but there are some general principles. "Men have certain innate needs that must be met before they truly feel connected to you," says Paul Dobransky, M.D., author of The Secret Psychology of How We Fall in Love. "When a guy realizes, consciously or not, that you're ideal on all these levels, that's when he'll commit."
Boiled down, guys have four primal relationship desires that are sometimes sated by the tiniest of moves by you. Here, experts explain with examples so you can put these insights to use when your guy is at the brink.
- The Desire to Protect
Believe it or not, the so-called stoic sex is hardwired to nurture. Sheltering you from harm makes him feel studly, which makes him feel good. "Not that you should act helpless, but letting him see your vulnerable side will bring him closer because it unlocks his instincts to take care of you," says David Givens, Ph.D., author of Love Signals. So give him chances to take charge, and thank him after he does. When a guy associates you with feeling like Superman, of course he'll want to couple up. These little things can draw out his hero side.
Give him a job. Ask him to fix or build you something. Performing concrete tasks is a way of bonding that enhances his sense of success.
Ask his opinion. Whether it's about your 401(k) options or the best travel sites, it telegraphs that you value his brain as much as you do his brawn.
Wear soft materials. Delicate textures like rayon, silk, and fur trigger an intense response in men. These fabrics accentuate your softer, feminine nature, which heightens his amorous instincts.
Don his clothes. It shows that you've chosen him over other guys — sexy.
- The Desire for Freedom
Even emotionally healthy men want assurance that their identities will stay put after they've become half a happy couple. "By making it clear that you don't expect your guy to change, he'll feel like you truly understand him but don't threaten his sense of self," says Dan Neuharth, Ph.D., author of Secrets You Keep from Yourself. "That leaves him feeling on sturdy enough ground to commit." The following moves let him know you're no ball and chain.
Blow him off. Men hate the idea of being tied down socially, so turn down occasional plans. He'll not only feel easier — and open up more — around you, but he'll also start to wonder what you're doing and pursue you more.
Share your own fears. Guys often hold back because they think most chicks are baby-hungry ring-hunters. So if you feel nervous about committing, let him know. He'll be reassured that you're navigating new waters too, not trying to trap him.
Reinvent yourself. Little changes in your appearance now and then — say, hair up in a ponytail one day, down the next, etc. — remind him that you've got zillions of facets to your personality too. Read: no rut risks.
Respect his privacy. A physical space that's totally his is a huge symbol of independence to a man. Signal that you respect that by, say, staying out of desk drawers and not peeking at his caller ID when his phone rings.
- The Desire to Shine
Maybe he's cocky, but he's still insecure. Trust us, guys need to know that they're respected and appreciated. "When being around you increases a guy's esteem, both internally and in the eyes of others, he'll naturally want to be attached to you," says Dr. Dobransky. Here, things that show your high value and nudge him toward love.
Make him happier. Laugh when one of you loses balance in the bedroom. Go to stupid movies. Drag him out when he's crabby. If you can keep things light, even during stressful times, you'll become indispensable.
Be a social butterfly. Guys are good at left-brain stuff, like sales and sports, but can get awkward when it comes to social graces. Take the lead and charm the people you meet and he'll be extra grateful to have you. But he may take credit for making those new friends ... whatever.
Play mind games. Activities that require mental prowess — like Scrabble, puzzles, and chess — can prod his passion. It sounds nuts, but proof of your problem-solving abilities subconsciously shows him you're a desirable choice for carrying on his genes.
Act like the grand prize. Seeing you through other people's eyes reminds him how special you are. Invite him to an event where you'll excel (whether it's karaoke or a fun run), or have him stand between you and another man you think is getting too close at a bar.
- The Desire for Comfort
"Falling in love is a process of developing attachment, which happens when oxytocin floods the brain," says Alan Hirsch, M.D., neurological director of the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation. You can unleash those love hormones by making him feel like you two just "fit." When he's so comfortable with you that he stops thinking about your relationship and simply enjoys it, he'll find himself nudged into love territory. Take these tips.
Let him see you primp. Grooming in front of him enhances intimacy because it's something other guys don't get to witness. Just keep it goddesslike (applying lipstick or powder), not gross (bleaching your moustache).
Cook together. Being around food spikes oxytocin levels in males. The more often you prep dinner à deux, the more he'll associate you with the good feelings he gets from eating it.
Stock your pad. When buying groceries you don't have a preference on, get a brand he uses. He'll subconsciously feel at home at your place. Sleep with him. Catnap near him or let yourself doze off in his arms so he sees you in your most trusting, completely relaxed state.
What Yanks Him Back from the Brink
Some factors can derail a guy who's about to fall.
- They Get a New Opportunity
A promotion often means spending more hours at work or taking a schedule-chewing class. Instead of balancing that with their love lives, guys tend to prioritize their careers and believe that a solid relationship will endure the delay. So if something big is brewing, he may hold himself back.
- You Never Fight
Sure, guys hate arguing, but it's worse if you don't react negatively at all when he's screwed up. A guy will worry that (a) you're going to lash out later, (b) you're a doormat, or (c) you're not into him enough to care. Any of these will make him rethink your budding relationship.
- Pure Panic
Many men worry that if they commit, they'll have to give something up — friends, dart night, something. So when a guy realizes he's fallen for you, he may freak out and pull away for a while. If you can weather his big-baby behavior without reacting in a way that confirms those fears, he should snap out of it.
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