Misattribution of Arousal

You know those action movie scenes where the leading man and woman always end up having sex after explosion-laden near-death experiences? Well, it turns out there’s a scientific explanation for it.

David McRaney, on psychologist James Graham’s study:

Over the course of his experiments, he found partners tended to feel closer, more attracted to and more in love with each other when their skills were routinely challenged. He reasoned the buzz you get when you break through a frustrating trial and succeed, what Graham called flow, was directly tied to bonding. Just spending time together is not enough, he said. The sort of activities you engage in are vital. Graham concluded you are driven to grow, to expand, to add to your abilities and knowledge. When you satisfy this motivation for self-expansion by incorporating aspects of your romantic partner or friend into your own skills, philosophies and self, it does more to strengthen your bond than any other act of love.


There is a reason playful wrestling can lead to passionate kissing, why a great friend can turn a heaving cry into a belly laugh. There is a reason why great struggle brings you closer to friends, family and lovers.

So, want to strengthen your bond with someone? Take them rock-climbing. Or bungee jumping. Anything that will challenge you or get your pulses racing.



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