Sweetness, sugar, honey, cutie pie are all pet names people in love use to express their feelings for each other. Love is widely associated with food that tastes sweet, and several teams of psychologists asked whether there is something more to it than a simple metaphor. Turns out we are so used to linking love to sweets that now we are more prone to being attracted to a potential partner if we’re given something sweet to eat at a first date. That makes (can you guess it?) falling in love a piece of cake!
Words have power beyond just describing the world, and that’s clear in many ways, but who knew that all those metaphors about love tasting sweet could gain such a literal sense? To everyone’s surprise, experiments showed that potential partners were more open towards starting a relationship when they had something sweet to eat over the first date. It’s practically a win-win, you know, like to have cake and eat it too.
In fact, the sweetness-love association is not the only metaphor that gained a very literal sense. Some cognitive experiments at University of Colorado looked into other types of attraction between people who just met each other. Turns out that we tend to assess a new person in a more positive way when we’re holding a warm beverage rather than when keeping a firm grip on a cold drink. That is because the brain areas that are responsible with feelings of empathy towards an unfamiliar person are also responsive when we feel warm in the physical sense of the word. And far-fetched as it sounds, same goes for eating sweets and the tendency to start flirting with the new guy or girl sitting across the table.
Although undisputedly magic, cake is not a love potion in and of itself. A team of psychologists committed to studying the link between eating sweets and falling in love, and found that, while indeed cake can make a date more successful, there is, unfortunately, only so much sugar can do. To be precise, cake only helps with being more attracted to each other if the potential love birds have very little info about each other to begin with. Of course, knowing stuff like, say, what your date does for a living, their hobbies and stuff about their lifestyle has a much bigger impact on making you two click than eating sweets together could.
Although more specific and thus better information is more likely to make or break the start of a relationship, eating sweets at a first date is a great idea for people who otherwise don’t know much about each other. We’re thinking that starting a date with ordering desert can be a very good idea for guys and girls who met online or who were brought together by friends such as in the case of blind dates. In this type of scenario, where you and your date are in full process of considering whether you’re a good match, cake is your friend. In all fairness, even a chocolate-chip frappe will kick-start your appetite for love.
So what exactly happens with guys and girls who are having a first date over dessert? A series of social experiments on students gave us a lot of insights about how having a sweet tooth probably started some relationships over time. The subjects were undergrad students – some single, others in relationships – and were given two different kinds of snacks.
One group of students ate sweet cookies, while the others got salt and vinegar chips, which they had to eat throughout the duration of completing some questionnaires about their love lives. Those who were involved in romantic relationships gave answers related to their current relationships, while the single ones were asked to think of a hypothetical relationship when filling out the questionnaire.
The results are as fun as the practical part of the experiment. The students who were not involved in a relationship at the time of answering the questions about a potential relationship had two kinds of answers, depending on whether they ate cookies or chips. Those who ate sweets were more positive about starting a good relationship than the ones who had chips.
One explanation for this is that eating sugars made them more cheery and gave them a mood boost, unlike in the case of those who ate chips who had no source for such a hype. On the other hand, eating sweets had no impact on the students who were involved at the moment of the experiment. That means they described their love lives based on actual information about each of their partners, and no amount of sugar could influence the facts.
Another great insight that those of you looking to start a long-term relationship, or even a fling, is that sugar makes people more interested. We’re not saying that your overall charm, sexiness, and way with words won’t leave a lasting impression on your new date anyway. What we’re saying is that cake will give a much welcome incentive for your date to be more open about hooking up. Either way, dessert will be more helpful than steak or those fish and chips you were probably checking out in the menu.
To wrap up, the authors of these experiments are saying that cake and ice cream are perfect for creating the best atmosphere for you and your new date. They will make both of you see things a little brighter, and be more open about getting together. It works great at random parties, and we know of no respectable birthday party without cookies or cake. It also works if you want to draw the attention of that hot colleague from work at an office get-together.
Most than any social events though, we think starting a date with dessert works best with online dating. Just think about it, give it a minute to sink in. You’ve met this girl on a dating site, and you don’t know much about her aside from maybe the site telling you that the two of you would make a good match. You think she’s good looking but not spectacular, and perhaps she has a similar opinion. Then chatting with her works well enough, but you can’t say much about it just yet. This is exactly the type of situation where cake is the superhero that maybe you don’t absolutely need to get things going, but certainly the superhero you deserve.