A small macaque separated from its mother feels ill and has sleep disorders; a baby screams and shouts as soon as her mother wanders away; a lover despairs when his beloved is absent. Are these behaviours very different from one another? On the basis of ethology studies, the author explains the biological roots that guide our affective and sexual relationships. Debunking a popular set of commonplaces regarding the contrast between "falling in love" and "being in love", and between passion and devotion, the author describes the phases and the crucial points of being a couple. How do we choose a partner? Why are men attracted to young, beautiful women, whereas women are attracted to men who seem able to offer security to them and their offspring? The criteria underlying these choices are not determined solely by taste and interest; they relate to a clever strategy adopted by our species in order to achieve reproductive success. The volume also addresses different ways of expressing love and reacting to the end of an affective bond, including selected pathologies: obsession, jealousy, inability to love.
Grazia Attili teaches Social Psychology at "La Sapienza" University of Rome.