Column: I’m gonna love you just a little more, baby

I used to work with this guy my age. He was cool. Everyone liked him. Whenever we talked one-on-one, he had a normal-sounding guy voice. But when a woman entered the conversation, his voice fell about nine octaves. It was like jumping from Fred Savage to Barry White. (Something only Madonna has ever literally done.)
It was obvious he lowered his voice to attract women. Somewhere along the line – maybe when he was 16 – he must have been in the backseat of a car with a girl, getting nowhere, when something got caught in his throat (Keystone Ice?), his voice sounded like Kathleen Turner’s for one shining moment and the panties started flying.
You don’t abandon a tactic that life-changing. You make it part of your everyday existence. I attended many a happy hour at which I saw him talking to women with a voice so low I swore the bar’s walls would crash in from a deluge of lonely blue whales. There was also some fear he might hit the Brown Note.

Turns out my buddy was a genius, a visionary, a true man of science. According to an article by Greg Soltis on, “People with voices deemed sexy and attractive tend to have greater body symmetry upon close inspection, suggesting that what we hear in a person can greatly affect what we see in them.”

According to the article:

“The sound of a person’s voice reveals a considerable amount of biological information,” said Susan Hughes, an evolutionary psychologist from Albright College in Reading, Pa. “It can reflect the mate value of a person.”

Hughes, whose new study is detailed in the June 2008 edition of the Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, cautions that an attractive voice does not necessarily indicate that this person has an attractive face. A symmetric body is genetically sound, scientists say, and in evolutionary terms, in the wild, it can be an important factor when selecting a mate.

According to Caveman Theory, which I will fully explore in another column, and have touched upon here, we select mates based upon factors that were important thousands of years ago, but are less relevant now. This ancient system of “mate value” often leads to dating insanity. Caveman attraction factors naturally include such things as bodily symmetry, which would allow a hunter to balance in a tree for hours while waiting for a delicious boar to walk by.

(Above: I could write 472 columns about this photo. It has a caveman. It has a robot. It has everything. Official Star Wars Blog/Flickr.)

Thanks to Hughes’s research, we now know why women like a man with a sexy voice. Because thousands of years ago he could be counted on to bring home the bacon. We also know why men like women with a sexy voice. Because thousands of years ago she could be counted on to balance those sticks with water jugs at both ends.

(Above: Looking sexy, ladies. peiqianlong/Flickr.)

All of which brings us – really? – to the telephone. The telephone is the most important sexual technology known to man. (I say this with full knowledge of what a 1991 Buick LeSabre can do to even the soundest woman’s judgment.) The telephone is the means by which two people learn about each other, build trust in each other and plan the dates that lead to sex. Alexander Graham Bell did far more good for couples than his arch rival Alexander Graham Vibrator.

I’ve heard it said – though I can’t seem to find the quote – that it takes a person at least seven hours to earn the average woman’s trust before she will begin — not necessarily have sex, but begin — a physical relationship. This is the Seven Hour Rule. Many of these seven hours happen over the telephone. Sometimes all seven hours happen over the phone. You know those calls – where everything the other person says is interesting and funny and you fall asleep together on the phone and you wake up and you still keep talking and you spend 15 minutes cutesy-poo arguing – a la this scene from “Friends” – over who should hang up first.
Now we know why the telephone brings people together. It’s not just the content of the conversation – although that is very important. You never want to hear, for instance, “I keep getting drunk and waking up in other people’s cars.” What is also important, according to Hughes’s research, is the sound of the other person’s voice and what it tells you about his or her body.
It’s the first time you get to see the other person naked.