Familiar with Murphy’s Law? It goes like this: the one day you forget your umbrella, it pours with rain. Or in a freak flood, all your favourite heels are ruined, but somehow your grubby flip flops manage to stay dry. Yep, it’s frustrating. But that’s Murphy’s Law for you.
Apparently, Murphy’s Law was created at a US air force base in the 1940s. Legend has it that when working on planes, the engineers repeated the chant, ‘Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong,’ as a way of facing the worst-case scenario head-on. Years later – despite the fact that we test men, not planes – the dating game can feel alarmingly similar.
We women spot roadblocks in other people’s relationships a mile away. But when it’s down to our own dating judgement, most of us automatically put on single-girl goggles. You know, the ones that tell you your date’s so cute, it’s ok that he forgot his wallet. For the third time. Richard Robinson, the author of Why the Toast Always Lands Butter Side Down (Constable and Robinson), explains everything.
BLIND SPOT: Your brain’s AWOL when you fall for a guy
‘In the first flush of love, our serotonin levels dip, causing… irrational obsession,’ says Robinson. ‘Obsessive compulsive disorder sufferers also have rock-bottom levels of serotonin and some of these symptoms, such as mood swings and impaired judgement, plague you when you’re love-struck,’ he says. ‘Your brain trusts emotion first and rational thinking second.’ So, that’s why common sense goes out the window.
Law-breaker: It’s time to cut yourself off. Ask: Have I been here before? Enjoy the chase (but don’t send him more than two text messages without an answer).
BLIND SPOT: You don’t want ‘nice’ men
If there’s a love rat around, you’ll find him. ‘Kate Moss was attracted to Pete [Doherty] because of the "handicap principle",’ Robinson says. Subconsciously, Kate loved that Pete’s oblivious to his own flaws, and now she’s moved from one bad-boy rocker to another, The Kills’ guitarist Jamie Hince. ‘Dating dangerous men gives a similar buzz to skydiving. Your brain is flushed with feel-good chemicals; it’s addictive,’ he says.
Law-breaker: Surely this is reversible? ‘[Try to] fight it… but your brain will still want [you] to pounce on the nearest unsuitable man,’ he says. The silver lining? Armed with this awareness of the "handicap principle", you can aim for men with other flaws, such as over-spending on their girlfriend.
BLIND SPOT: You obsess over a (pretty average) one-night stand
‘When you orgasm, the "trust drug", oxytocin, floods your brain, hence the temporary infatuation,’ Robinson says. ‘Sense only returns once the floodgates have closed [after several days].’
Law-breaker: Going back for seconds will make things worse. ‘The floodgates will open again,’ Robinson says. ‘Resist [the urge to call], then immediately delete his number.’
BLIND SPOT: Your crush just isn’t interested
‘It’s probably down to smell,’ says Robinson. ‘We sniff out whether someone’s immune system [varies] enough from our own to have healthy offspring. If your smell [is too similar], he won’t want you.’ But why are you hot for him? ‘You’re probably subconsciously seeking your dad’s smell.’
Law-breaker: Don’t waste time convincing him. Trust that there is someone who’ll go nuts over your aroma.