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Dating With Science: Girls Literally Make You Stupider

Dating With Science: Girls Literally Make You Stupider

You, the reader, are probably a guy, and you are probably interested in dating girls, who are probably girls. At the risk of generalization, this feature will deal with ways that guys can attract and hold onto girls, using facts that come from scientists.

Science Fact: Talking to a girl, or thinking about talking to a girl, makes you worse at basic cognition.

Explanation: "Wait a minute!" you're probably saying. "No they girlsn't!" You are thinking this way because it's already happening. It's not just imagining talking to girls that makes you dumber; imagining the very concept of girls does it, too.

This is the same phenomenon as when you try to talk to a girl, only to realize that at some point your brain forgot how to work. Instead of leaning over and making some kind of suave James Bond remark, you bumble over and say "Uhhhh" as your brain decides this is a good time to enter Standby Mode. This leaves you to make witty followup remarks like "Errr" and "Y... Ummm," before lurching away in shame. Later, hiding in a broom closet, you think of all the things you should have said. They would have been awesome, and the girl would have swooned over your wit and handsomeness, but instead you are sulking in a closet and commiserating with a mop.

Well, you are not alone. All women turn almost all men into jabbering fools who can only vaguely remember what a sentence is.

The Science: Back in 2009, some scientists found that guys performed worse on basic cognitive tests after interacting with a woman, and even worse than that if they were actually attracted to the woman.

A recent followup took this experiment further—guys got worse at cognitive tests after exchanging IMs with a screen name that was allegedly a woman. In a second test, their performance declined even if they were only told that maybe a woman would IM them. Which she never even did. This isn't about potential dates, or hot women, or even women who exist at all; the very idea that there is such a thing as women is sufficient to make us dumber.

For their part, women suffered no comparable Brain Failure in any of these experiments, regardless of who was IMing them.

So What Should I Do About It?
Well, stress of any variety tends to turn you into a stuttering alien who can't manage a simple conversation, so the answer to Date Idiocy should lie in simple stress reduction. The problem is that proven stress relief involves things like meditation and self-massage, and if you interrupt your pickup attempt to say "I must pause to meditate" or "Hold on a minute while I massage myself," your approach is unlikely to work.

Our answer: curiosity.

See, the scientists from the above studies figured that guys get stupid because any contact with girls makes them go "Woah, wait: girls?? I'm supposed to procreate with those! OH GOD, THE SPECIES NEEDS ME!" which renders them so nervous and goofy that the species is almost certainly doomed. But other science indicates that you can repress your "oh no it's girls" response by really wanting to learn stuff about them. A 2006 study found that regardless of how terrible people are at social interaction, they always do better when they're genuinely curious about the other person.

Obviously, you should have some level of curiosity about whoever you're trying to date already, beyond "I am curious, will you take off your pants, please." And it's probably also obvious that we don't want you to go all Sherlock Holmes and spend the conversation trying to deduce the girl's blood type. But we are suggesting that concentrating on stuff you want to learn about her will override the part of your brain that's so prone to being an embarrassment. That part of your brain will always be there, going "Hurry up and produce offspring, why are you just standing around??" every time you see a girl, but genuine interest and curiosity can shut it up just a little bit.

What's the dumbest thing you've ever said to a girl?

Tags: dating, life, dating with science

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