Nationally renowned body language expert Tonya Reiman turns her attention to romance—explaining how to read the signals of your date, your mate, or that cutie across the bar—and never get rejected again!
Attraction : It’s biological. It’s physical. It’s chemical. It’s mental. But it doesn’t end there. It’s also: Detectable. Manageable. Maneuverable.
In The Body Language of Dating, Tonya Reiman tackles the question of whether human attraction and seduction have changed over millions of years, drawing lines of flirting symmetry that span millennia, cultures, species, and continents. By looking at the evolutionary purpose of every part of the male and the female body, The Body Language of Dating chronicles the evolution of each major human bodily feature—why it is considered attractive or unattractive, good for longevity or detrimental to the gene pool, indicative of sexual success or failure.
Reiman crumples the timeline that separates us from our ancient ancestors to ask, “What has never changed? What attracts opposite sexes to one another, why does it work, and how has it contributed to the longevity of our species?” The Body Language of Dating provides the tools needed for success in today’s dating scenarios, offering practical tactics for seduction, conversation, connection, and enduring romance.
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One of the premier body language experts in the country, Tonya Reiman is a Fox News Channel contributor and has appeared on Good Morning America, Today, Inside Edition, and Extra, among other television programs. She has contributed to dozens of publications, including The New York Times, Cosmopolitan, USA TODAY, Glamour, Time, and The Wall Street Journal. The author of The Power of Body Language, she lives with her family on Long Island, New York.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
The Chiseling of Man
HOW EVOLUTION HAS CARVED THE FAMILIAR FORM OF THE HUMAN MALE
Long ago, the returning sun rose over the horizon to give definition to the grassy plains of a sweeping savannah, to four-legged creatures grazing, chasing, and being chased, to winged beings swooping across the sky in search of insects that swarmed around . . . a vastly different, strangely unique creature.
Like a bird, he stood on two legs. Like an ape’s, his musculature was defined and formidable. Like the most cunning of predators, he swept his surroundings with his gaze, his defenses and reflexes sharp. Like the most vulnerable of prey, he stood unprotected upon the harsh, unforgiving plains of what would one day be known as Africa.
But unlike anything else that had ever stamped itself upon that sunrise, he stood taller than most of the savannah’s four-legged creatures. Two of his feet were not feet at all; in fact, they had long, independent digits. His fur was concentrated, creating a wild and unruly silhouette on his head, above a body that was utterly hairless, and naked. His shoulders were wide, his legs were long, his appendages and extremities unlike any yet supported by this vast bio-network.
As strange as early man must have seemed, a unique characteristic still lay hidden beneath that tuft of unkempt, yet useful, hair on his head. His brain would serve as his largest and most effective weapon, his ally in modernization, and his sexiest of organs. Because his environment would demand more and more of his brain, man’s face and stature would change in order to survive.
The changes that have occurred in man’s face and body over millions of years make that early man recognizable to us, but far from familiar.
Evolution is a term that’s loaded with controversy for some, with answers for others, and with a taboo-type intrigue for the rest. To understand the concept of evolving characteristics, you must first consider the many variations of the human form. There are tall statures and short ones; flat ears and those that seem to fear the head; blue eyes and brown ones; red hair and blond; big noses, broad shoulders, full lips, and skinny hips. Every human face and every body is unique.
Evolution is not something that happened autonomously, or without reason. It wasn’t some kind of magical transformation, in which bodies morphed in cut time while the rest of creation stood and watched in awe. Instead, evolution occurred over millions of years as humans effectively eliminated, through mating choices, the bum traits that could have resulted in the extermination of our species.
Clearing Up an Evolutionary Ambiguity
Humans and apes are genetically comparable because they share ancestral similarities.
Your sixteenth cousin, Jethro, isn’t the only ape you have little in common with. In a relative sense, even though the genetic similarities between humans and great apes are more stunning than many of us would care to admit (wouldn’t any of us pick our noses or throw feces at our enemies if it were socially permissible?), humans are still vastly different, more complicated, more intelligent, and more spiritual than the animals that may or may not put cousin Jethro’s sophistication to shame.
Evolution can be viewed through any number of lenses. It can be perceived as something that occurred to assure our species’ survival, as a by-product of sexy mating choices, or as the result of random genetic drift. The facet of the theory on which your beliefs rest can only be determined by you; but no matter your position, the evidence that points toward evolution is difficult, if not impossible, to deny.
Today’s men, on average, are 30 percent stronger than their female counterparts. Males generally carry about 12.5 percent body fat, while females (often reluctantly) hold on to percentages right around 25. The typical male’s body boasts 56 pounds of muscle, while the female’s sports a healthy, but less significant, 30 pounds. A healthy male can lift twice his own body weight, thanks to lungs, a heart, bones, and muscles that outweigh a female’s. On average, he’s 7 percent taller and 10 percent weightier than a female.
Many of the human male’s gifts, aside from the obvious, are evident within the womb, and particularly right after birth. Maternity staff members often note higher hemoglobin counts, longer body measurements, heavier birth weights, higher resting metabolisms, and more lively movements from the little tykes. Likewise, human male children show a propensity for horseplay, have a seemingly insatiable curiosity, and have a better visual acuteness for snails and puppy dog tails than their sugar-and-spice-and-everything-nice counterparts. It seems that, even from the womb, the human male is being prepared for the tough jobs that his ancestors had assigned him.
Millions of years ago, females, due mostly in part to their childbearing roles, were needed back at the home caves to raise children, to gather berries and other nonviolent foods, and to keep the bedrocks warm. They were simply too indispensable in the raising of future generations to put into the field, for hunting and fighting.
Men could inseminate their women and then move on to provide for the tribe. Men were drawn to the harsh savannahs in search of food and conquests; they were subjected to harsh weather, injury, and stress. The male bodies that were best built to survive these environmental traumas lived to procreate and pass their survival features along to their offspring. This ideal demonstrates Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection. Darwin maintained, as much of the scientific community does today, that features have survived because they offered some benefit to their bearers. Many of the human male’s features that we recognize today are in place because they allowed those human males not only to live through a tough day in the field, but to come home and make more babies who would carry on robust survival features.
That’s why distinctly male features have survived—because they worked, and they still do.
Let’s begin with the feature that not only allowed human males to stand erect and to run from predators that could have easily wiped out mankind, but also now keeps establishments that specialize in everything from wide widths to size fourteens to odor-absorbing insoles in business.
Biological evidence points to the male foot taking a walk on the wild side. If I could name the most neglected portion of the male form, it might be the foot. Why? Because the foot does not contain any major organs, it isn’t part of any thought-provoking or sexually stimulating tasks (apart from the foot fetish), and it’s generally considered to be unpleasant and merely deserving of being tucked away in a sock with an Odor-Eater and the promise of eventual ventilation.
Big Toes, Big Evolutionary Trade-offs
When you consider the size of humans’ feet in comparison to their tall statures and significant weights, any engineer might believe that they would topple over at a mere friendly slap on the back. A clown with long, bulging shoes looks to be in better balance, proportionately, than the standard-footed human—until, of course, you consider the function of the big toe.
When humans’ predecessors moved from branches to earth, toes that could balance and propel were much more useful than toes that could efficiently peel fruit. Opposable big toes posed serious balance issues for terrestrial walkers, and those with these outward appendages rarely made it out of the starting gate. Early humans needed mobility and speed in order to survive the harsh environments of their nonarboreal (non-tree-dwelling) existence. That’s why today’s human is able to use nicely aligned big toes to push off every time he or she takes a step—because natural selection effectively weeded out those terrestrial-only bipeds who had no such ability.
Body Watch: The forward-pointing big toe tells us a bit about man’s evolution; and now the direction in which his feet point will tell you of his mind’s desire. Because he doesn’t consciously control the direction in which his feet aim, they’re terrific indicators of his subconscious intentions. If his feet are pointing toward you, he’s interested.
A man’s arch is generally higher than a woman’s. This is likely due to early man’s need for a spring-loaded step while bounding away from danger and pouncing onto prey and enemies.
Humans are unique in that they walk on their entire foot. Most other mammals use only the toes or balls of their feet (picture a dog’s foot). For this reason, the arch was necessary for comfortable walking . . . which inevitably led to longer and more productive walking.
Of course, we can’t forget the struggling podiatrist’s dream: stinky feet. Because men have larger feet, they also have more sweat glands in those feet. And when those manly boats are in their slips, or shoes, for too long, a bounty of smells, including cabbage, cheese, fish, and sulfur, are summoned. Products of metabolic functions of sweat-loving bacteria, these smells are far from pleasant, but your boyfriend’s bouquet is, in fact, the effect of an ancient and useful tracking device.
Consider this: Would you be able to tell, blindfolded, whether it’s your brother or your boyfriend who’s taken off his Nikes?
That’s because each human’s chemistry harbors a different concoction of odor-causing bacteria. Though foot smell can be identified in general, it does vary from person to person. For this reason, early males were able to track each other by terrestrial scent. If a soggy-footed man was lost, injured, or being held hostage, his tribal cohorts could sniff out his track and rescue him in a grand display of comradeship (which may actually have had more to do with preserving a tribe member for his hunting or fighting ability). The rescued man then lived to spread his genetic material, which included a propensity for sweaty feet.
However, this nifty scent-tracking ability raises a question: Wouldn’t the putrid scent of a man’s tracks also draw in predators sporting big noses and empty stomachs? The famed twentieth-century anthropologist Louis Leakey alluded to the fact that human odor was foul enough to make early man repugnant to predators. This was due in large part to man’s high-protein diet. If Leakey’s theory is correct, and a prehistoric dog was tracking a barefooted man, the dog would know that the creature he was following was a carnivore (because of that putrid, protein-rich stench), a big one, and of an unknown species. Because most animals are xenophobic, or fearful of the unknown, the dog may have backed off in favor of a more familiar smell. As men developed hunting and defense skills they would have fought off many of the predators that tracked them, teaching those predators that the scent of this once-unknown carnivore meant danger. Therefore, the men with the sweatiest of feet were less likely to be pursued by predators that understood how quickly they could be demoted to prey.
Get a Grip, Big Foot
Just as hands have fingerprints, feet also have patterns that vary from person to person. Thick skin, the type found only on the soles of the feet and the palms of the hands, grows no hair (this characteristic is notable in all primates) but has one extraordinary purpose: grip. The ridges on the bottom of the foot did for early humans what a good set of radials can do for your car. Whether man was in pursuit, being pursued, climbing a tree, or bracing during copulation (good reason for today’s man to remove his socks during sex), grip was essential for his survival and his procreation.
So let’s pay the male foot a bit of respect. It may never enjoy a pedicure. It may never freshen a room. It may be less than alluring in its aesthetics, its feel, and its hygiene, but for goodness’ sake, let’s give credit where credit is due. Without this complicated machine, one that has deemed itself worthy of an independent discipline, podiatric medicine, the entire human masculine machine may have never progressed far enough to walk into the club, the date, or your life.
A long leg up on the competition. Humans are the only bipeds on earth that gain locomotion solely on their “hind” legs, by walking and running. Other primates will walk or run on their hind legs for a short time, and other mammals and birds will hop on their hind legs for their whole lives, but not one could run across the finish line of the New York City Marathon fully erect.
With humans’ upright stances had come not only a need to quickly learn to outsmart predators and prey (humans were now down from the trees and enormously vulnerable), but a need to run like hell. Anyone who’s watched the Summer Olympics knows that there’s no room for stubbiness in the leg department. In fact, most Olympic athletes have legs that range from average to long—usually equating to at least half of their total height.
As early humans spent time outsmarting and outrunning danger, natural selection favored those with longer legs. If you’ve run the high school mile next to McStretch, you can follow natural selection’s virtual thought process. For every two of your running steps, McStretch took one. He could gallop along at a leisurely pace while you had to disengage and dispose of your lower intestine just to make it before Mr. Jim Nasium blew the whistle.
Without a doubt, early humans with longer legs were much better at outrunning danger and overtaking prey. When you consider that men spent much of their time doing just this, you’ve got a plausible explanation for why men’s legs have evolved to be longer and more lean-muscled than women’s.
Well-muscled legs are common characteristics of modern humans. They were also necessities for ancient humans. When we made the move to bodily erection, “hind” legs took on twice the workloads they once had. They now had to support twice the weight and aid in twice the balance. The musculature that evolved takes credit for the straight, forward-moving, and smooth operation of today’s human legs.
Men’s legs are often longer than women’s (in relation to height) because boys mature more slowly than girls, which gives their legs more time to grow. This slow growth left boys of millennia past more vulnerable during puberty, but after the gawkiness lifted they were gifted with some advantageous mechanisms on which to escape danger and to run down prey. Stumpy-limbed men were likely left behind to be mauled, consumed, and rendered irreproducible while their taller, leggier companions brought home the goods.
Generally, the male’s calf muscle will sit higher on his leg and appear more protrusive thanks to his extra muscle mass and his longer legs.
Body Watch: Often, a man’s indecision is made obvious by a leg position known as the asymmetrical stance. If one leg is pointed in your direction, as if he’s prepared to take a step toward you, but his body weight is resting on the back leg, he wants to come closer, but is hesitant.
The next time you’re at the gym and Mr. Athletic saunters in, take notice of the length and the musculature of his legs. If at first glance he seems to have flawless bodily proportions, you’ll probably notice, with more scrutiny, that his legs make up at least half of his height. This design contributed to his ancestors’ speed in the wilds of the sava...
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