Here you will find articles about the various kinds of attraction and how they draw people to one another. Attraction isn’t simplistic. There are thousands of nuances that we pick up on when we meet someone new. Some people don’t know what to do when they find someone attractive. Read more about how attraction works and what to do when you are attracted to a potential partner.
Medically Reviewed By: Aaron Horn, LMFT, MA
Everywhere we look, we see the impact of attraction in culture. It seems that the word of the day – or even the word of the year – is attraction. And when the word of the day is attraction, it’s easy to think of examples from music, books, movies, and art. So many stories focus on the gravitational attraction that exists between the main characters. Society’s most popular songs and word games, even if they don’t use attraction in a sentence, explain the pull towards another person that can’t be totally summed up in the meaning of the word. And while there might be a lot of attraction synonyms and different definitions for attraction, society and pop culture can’t get enough of it! In fact, attraction start in most of a culture’s art, literature, and psyche. But what is attraction, and how does it impact psychology and human interaction?
Attraction is a pull that we feel towards another person. Whether it's romantic, sexual, physical, or an emotional attraction, it's the same concept. You're magnetically drawn to another individual. Social psychology includes the study of interpersonal attraction. It studies how people are drawn to one another, whether it's people of different sexes or the same sex. You’ve probably heard many synonyms for attractions, as well, since the English language has a few of those. Attraction can happen to anyone and can present itself in many different ways.
You may have heard the word "attraction" in a different context. It doesn't always have to relate to a person. For example, a “tourist attraction” or “tourist attractions.” When someone references a tourist attraction, it's about something that draws in travelers, such as the Eiffel tower in Paris. Tourist attractions are exciting to people, and there's something about a tourist attraction that pulls people to those things. Tourist attractions are different from attraction attraction. Attraction attraction relates to the way that people are drawn to each other, but attraction, in a general sense, is about that force and sense of excitement or electricity, regardless of the context.
The Different Kinds of Attraction
Sexual attraction is a common form of attraction that occurs when people are drawn to one another. It's based on sexual desire. You may fantasize about another person touching you or having sex with them. Sexual attraction can be extremely strong and may be based on pheromones in some respects. Synonyms for attraction can be desirability or appeal. While these words are often affiliated with sex, it is not always what someone is referencing when they say that someone is desirable or appealing. If someone says that they desire you, they may mean it in a sexual way, or they might mean it in a romantic way. Consent is extremely important when it comes to intimacy and sexual attraction. If you flirt with someone and they make it clear to you that they are not interested in you for whatever reason, it's important that you stop. Sexual attraction can be one way and if they aren't comfortable with it, it is harassment, so listen if someone says, "no."
If you search a word finder or the web for attraction, this is probably the example that you’re looking for. Romantic attraction might sound similar to sexual attraction, but it's not the same thing. You want to be in a romantic partnership with someone and are committed to being with them. It is different than wanting to be someone's friend. When you're romantically attracted to someone, it doesn't automatically refer to wanting to have sex with them, though for many people, the two go together. You want to have deep conversations and share your life together, and there may be a sexual component, but not always. Those who are asexual but not aromantic, for example, may experience little to no sexual desire despite being 100% invested in a romantic connection. If someone is not romantically attracted to you and they have made that clear, you should stop communicating your attraction to the person. When romantic attraction doesn't go both ways, it can be very uncomfortable.
Physical attraction is when you feel attracted to someone aesthetically. You may think that they're beautiful, glowing, or handsome, and are drawn to their appearance. This is often paired with romantic attraction or sexual attraction, but it can be its own thing as well. For example, you might see a celebrity or someone walking down the street and think that they're physically attractive without necessarily wanting to date them. Some people need physical attraction in a romantic relationship, whereas others find it less important.
When you're emotionally attracted to another person, you feel connected to them, and you like the way they think about things. You like the way they express their feelings, and you care about their emotions. You're likely to have emotional attraction not only to your partner but with friends and family members, too. You want to be around people that you feel emotionally attracted to because you care for one another. You understand them, and they understand you. Emotional attraction is the glue that holds the vast majority of relationships together.
Attraction issues with your partner
When the word of the day – or even the word of the year – is attraction, there are tons of issues that you and your partner might be facing. After all, you don’t have to learn new words in the English language to express if you’re having attraction issues with your partner. While the definitions of attraction might vary, it’s pretty clear and universal to see when there are issues or problems with the attraction between you and your partner.
If you and your partner are attracted to each other, things tend to grow organically. There may be no issues in your relationship. But attraction doesn't make you immune to the ups and downs that can come with a romantic partnership. Maybe, you have a strong emotional bond, sexual attraction, and physical attraction toward one another, but hurdles such as frequent arguments are presenting themselves in your connection. You can talk about these struggles in your romantic partnership in couples counseling, whether they're related to attraction or something else. You can search the network of counselors at ReGain for direct support or refer to these articles for more information about attraction-related issues.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What makes you attracted to someone?
According to the English dictionary, there are two main definitions for attraction. It can either describe the action or power of drawing someone’s interest, or it can describe the interest someone feels based on an action or power. From both of these definitions of attraction, it’s clear that attraction is something that works both ways: it describes both attracting and being attracted.
From this understanding and definition of attraction, determining what makes you attracted to someone follows rather naturally. The specific things that make you attracted to someone will vary from person to person; everyone’s attraction definition has its own caveats and examples. However, you are likely to find qualities that you yourself possess attractive in another person, as well. That is to say, since attraction is a force acting mutually between you and another person, then the things that you find attractive about yourself will also look attractive in another person.
So, when the word of the day – or even the word of the year – is attraction, there are as many different definitions as there are people in the world! Everyone has a different set of attraction synonyms and specific criteria for what makes a person attractive. While a lot of the broadest and most general features that make someone physically attractive are informed by biology and evolutionary development, the level of attraction attractiveness definition and specific features that individuals find attractive will change based on a person’s own personal preferences, society, and life experiences.
What is attraction in love?
When it comes to love and matters of the heart, attraction has a big part to play. Many people describe part of falling in love as experiencing a magnet attraction to another person. When they explain attraction in a sentence that takes them out of the active role and puts them in the passive role, people often express that attraction is not exactly a choice. Instead, the word of the day describes something that happens to people. In attraction, people feel that they have a passive role and can’t necessarily choose whom they’re attracted to.
With love, on the other hand, people take an active role. Love is different from attraction – our apparent word of the day – in that it involves more of an element of choice, and it usually requires action. While people might take the words from attraction, they take the action from love. Attraction is often the spark that lights the fire which powers a person’s love for another. This love is often romantic in nature, but as the relationship grows and develops – as the fire burns brighter and hotter and longer, so to speak – intimacy develops in that loving relationship. Without the words form attraction at the onset of the relationship, this kind of romantic, intimate, and loving relationship could never start, grow, and develop.
What causes attraction between man and woman?
If you stick to a medical dictionary, attraction between a man and a woman is usually defined in terms of evolutionary biology. That means that in a medical dictionary, the most attractive feature of a man or a woman boils down to how well that person fits the description of an evolutionary superior mate.
Of course, when it comes to attraction attraction in practice, there’s more than just one main attraction. A man and a woman could be attracted to each other for reasons that are more than just biological or evolutionary. For example, maybe their attraction starts with a common interest, goal, or passion. When the word of the day is attraction, even an unabridged dictionary doesn’t have enough space to list all of the possible things that every man and woman in the world could find attractive.
What men look for in a woman physically?
If you were to check a word finder or browse the dictionary for a strict definition of an attractive woman, you wouldn’t be able to find an answer. But human attraction is a lot more than word games, and it’s too subjective to be summed up as synonyms or antonyms for attraction. In the broadest and simplest terms, men are attracted to women who bear the physical traits of a good mate, as defined by human’s biology and evolutionary history.
What do guys find sexually attractive?
It seems that when attraction is the word of the day, there’s not one single, clear answer to be found. There’s no one thing that all guys find sexually attractive, since main attraction is dictated largely by personal preference. What one man finds unattractive, another man might see as an attractive quality. However, there are some themes and patterns that appear in what guys find attractive; this is due to human’s evolutionary development.
For decades, scientists have been tracking the patterns and preferences of people around the world in order to make sense of how humans throughout different cultures apply the definition of attraction. There are several studies that explain the patterns that emerged in the hopes of explaining exactly what guys find attractive.
One study found that women who exaggerated physical qualities associated with youth and childbearing – such as wide hips, distribution of fat near the reproductive organs, hairless skin, and small facial features – were rated consistently by men as “more attractive.” Scientists posit that this is due to the fact that these features are indicative of the ability to reproduce well and for a long time. To the base brain – the instinct to survive and pass on good genes for the future of the species – such a physical feature attracts or is intended to attract the best mate.
Outside of this broad attraction definition as laid out by evolutionary development, however, there really isn’t one type or style of woman that men find attractive. That definition of attraction is super broad: any woman that has female features fits that general definition of attraction. On top of that very broad definition of attraction, each guy has his own definition of attraction. Plus, his attraction affinity will involve much more than just a woman’s physical appearance in most cases. For example, he will also look at her skills, personality, and/or accomplishments. Physical attraction is not necessarily the main attraction for guys when it comes to establishing attraction synonyms.
So, each guy’s definition of attraction is generally based on the millions of years of evolutionary development that’s brought humanity to where it is now, and is specifically based on his own personal preferences, society, and life experiences.
Is it love or just attraction?
When you’re trying to determine if a feeling is love or just attraction, the best way to determine it is by looking at the actions of the people involved. Attraction is based on what can be seen on the outside, but love is shown over a longer time through a pattern of loving behavior. Love is characterized by a willingness to sacrifice things for the other person, while attraction is more limited to what you find appealing in the other person.
What is the feeling of intense attraction for another person?
When you feel an intense attraction for another person, especially if this attraction is purely physical or sexual, it’s often referred to as lust. However, physical attraction is not the only type of attraction that you might feel towards another person. You might also be attracted to them based on intellectual, aesthetic, or emotional reasons. In these cases, your intense attraction wouldn’t necessarily fall under the definition of lust.
What is an example of attraction?
One of the best examples of attraction can be seen in the attraction acting mutually between particles. Attraction between particles of matter, especially particles of matter that are of the same substance, are usually tending to draw close to each other. As they are tending to draw together and because that force is acting mutually between particles, especially attracting ions, a huge amount of force is required to draw those particles apart. This force acting mutually between the particles is a great example for attraction between people, as well.
Just as particles of the same substance often experience attraction mutually between particles, so too do people with a lot in common experience attraction as a force acting mutually on both of them. And, just like a strong force is needed to separate the attraction that is formed mutually between particles, it takes a lot to interfere with the attraction that two people feel for each other, especially when the attraction is mutual. The way an object attracts another object with similar particles is a great example, and can serve as one of the best synonyms for attraction.
Can you fall in love with someone you are not physically attracted to?
It’s absolutely possible to fall in love with someone that you’re not physically attracted to. Attraction takes many forms, which may not always include a physical attraction. For example, you might be attracted to a person’s intellect or emotional connection. In many cases, though, people who initially reported not being physically attracted to someone found that they became more and more physically attracted to that person as they fell in love. So, just because you’re not physically attracted to a person doesn’t mean that you can’t fall in love with them, and it doesn’t mean that you won’t be physically attracted to them for the rest of your life.
How does attraction feel?
Many people describe attraction in passive terms, as something that happens to them rather than something that they instigate, initiate, or do outright. It is often described in terms of magnetic attraction, a pulling tide, or gravity: it takes its place among other natural phenomena.
If you’re attracted to someone, you probably feel excited (or maybe even a bit nervous) when they’re around or when you’re talking with them. You might find yourself daydreaming about spending time with them when you’re apart. Or, you might dream about them, talk about them frequently with your friends, and/or find excuses to spend time with them. Likewise, if someone is showing these signals to you, they might be attracted to you!
Is attraction a feeling?
When the word of the day is attraction, you can’t go long without talking about your feelings. Even without the help of new words or a word finder, it’s easy to describe attraction as a feeling. And while attraction attraction isn’t always put into new words, it’s a feeling that people have been trying to describe throughout the course of human history through art, word games, literature, and culture.
Of course, the words from the week that are usually used to describe attraction actually describe the symptoms or effects of attraction. Word games and songs describe the feeling of butterflies in the stomach, or the aching desire to be within someone’s attraction sphere. So, while attraction is most certainly a feeling that one person feels towards another person, the way that it’s described or defined is often in terms of the outward behaviors or signs of attraction that a person shows based on such a feeling.
Is attraction and liking someone the same thing?
In the broadest of terms, attraction and liking someone are quite similar. In both cases, you’ll probably want to spend more time with that person and get to know them better. However, attraction often refers to a sexual or romantic attraction, while liking someone can refer to a much broader appreciation of a person. With attraction, you’re pulled specifically to that person, usually on the basis of sexual or romantic appeal. However, liking a person has much broader implications. You might find that you like someone based on more than just a sexual or romantic spark. You can like someone even if there’s no trace of a sexual or romantic attraction!
So, while both of these terms have similar meanings in the broadest applications, there are clear nuances and subtle differences between being attracted to a person and liking them.
Can you feel it when someone is attracted to you?
When it comes to determining whether or not someone is attracted to you, you don’t have to rely on your feelings alone! There are a number of different indicators, mostly in a person’s body language, that will let you know if they’re attracted to you.
For example, eye contact is a surefire sign that someone is attracted to you: prolonged eye contact indicates attractions. Other signs that someone is attracted to you include leaning in when you’re talking together, finding appropriate reasons to touch you during a conversation, making excuses to spend time alone with you, giving you more time or attention when you’re hanging out in a group, going out of their way to impress you, or paying special attention to their grooming habits.
While just one of these subtle signs of attraction aren’t enough to guarantee that a person is attracted to you, if they’re showing several of these indicators, it’s a safe bet that they’re attracted to you.
What are the 5 types of attraction?
There are five main types of attraction. All of these involve different attraction spheres, but these spheres can overlap. That is to say, the attraction you’re feeling towards someone could fall into more than one of these categories.
- Romantic Attraction: Romantic attraction is often confused with physical or sexual attraction. However, romantic and sexual attraction aren’t the same, although they are often directed at the same person. Romantic attraction refers to when you want to be in a romantic relationship with that person, whether or not such a relationship would involve sex. The key to romantic attraction is the desire to be in a relationship with that person.
- Aesthetic Attraction: This can be best summed up as that attraction that you feel when you see someone walking down the street and you think, “Wow, they’re beautiful!” This attraction is based entirely on what you see on the surface, and whether or not you find what you see to be attractive. It’s the same appreciation that you might have for a nice piece of art, an expensive car, or a great outfit.
- Physical Attraction: This is sometimes called sexual attraction, and it’s the one that people are usually referring to when they talk about being attracted to someone. Physical attraction speaks to a desire for physical touch that is often sensual or sexual in nature. However, physical attraction is not always sexual in nature. For example, you might want a hug from a family member at the end of a difficult day, or you might want to curl up with your cat when you feel particularly in need of rest. This is a reaction to a need for physical touch, but not a reaction to sexual attraction.
- Emotional Attraction: This is the desire to be emotionally connected with someone. It is usually sparked when you share your feelings with someone and they reciprocate. This creates an intimate and emotionally attached bond. When you feel emotional attraction towards someone, you want to form this kind of emotionally attached bond with them.
- Intellectual Attraction: Intellectual attraction is quite different from the other types of attraction in that it refers to a desire to interact with people at the brain level. This means that there is no real desire for a relationship outside of connecting on an intellectual level. It doesn’t often involve physical contact, but it can relate to emotional attraction if the intellectual connection has time to grow and develop into a deeper and more intimate relationship.