The Rules of Attraction

Looks aren’t everything: We pick partners based on an intricate calculus of who we think will make us happy.

The simple story of pleasure is that animals evolve to enjoy what’s good for them; pleasure is the carrot that drives them toward reproductively useful activities. (Pain is the stick.) It feels good to drink when thirsty and eat when hungry because animals that were inclined to feel such joys left more offspring than those that weren’t. This logic easily applies to sex. If one animal seeks out opportunities for mating and the other is indifferent, then, all else being equal, the firs...

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