The Science Of What Attracts Men To Women
Attraction is anything but an exact science. Still, scientists and researchers have spent decades trying to determine what features of attraction are universal. Are there hard rules of attraction that all people follow? Is attraction entirely subjective? If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, what's happening in the brain of the person beholding the beauty?
This article will discuss two components of attraction: biological and social. The biology of love and attraction concerns things that are primarily innate and difficult to change, like how men with high testosterone prefer women with highly feminized faces. The social factors include changeable things, like prosocial behaviors and desirable personality traits.
The Biology Basics
It is important to note that sex and gender are separate, distinct concepts. When discussing biology in this context, only sex is considered. Gender is a psychological concept, not a biological one. Some men are biologically female, and some women are biologically male. For the purposes of this article, "man" is used in place of "biologically male," and "woman" is used in place of "biologically female."
When discussing the biological factors of attraction, it is important to remember that humans are members of the animal kingdom. Attraction, and romantic love as a whole, are mating behaviors that are not driven consciously. In other words, love and attraction aren't always logical or rational.
At the biological level, love is literally chemistry. Understanding the roots of how attraction works means understanding hormones. Hormones are chemical messengers in our bodies that produce the feelings associated with attraction. Understanding those chemicals is the closest researchers have come to unearthing the secret "formula" of attraction.
A team of scientists led by Dr. Helen Fisher, an anthropologist known for studying love, broke romantic love into three distinct categories: lust, attraction, and attachment. Attraction is the main topic of this article, but an understanding of lust and attachment can help clear up confusion between the various terms.
Lust is characterized by a strong desire for sexual gratification and a focus on physical attractiveness. While lust usually comes before attraction, it isn't required for attraction to take place. Two hormones play a crucial role: testosterone and estrogen, both sex hormones. Testosterone is commonly associated with men and estrogen with women, but both play a role in each sex. Testosterone increases the libido of both men and women.
Attraction is marked by intense euphoria and a desire to be close to the person you are attracted to. Attraction occurs early in romantic love and can be either short or prolonged. During attraction, the brain's reward system is engaged, releasing a large amount of the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine is a "feel good" chemical released when we do pleasurable things.
In Dr. Fisher's model, attraction is less primal and more complex than lust. The activation of the brain's reward pathways facilitates bonding in new relationships and is responsible for the intense feeling of infatuation that comes with newfound attraction.
The final component of love is attachment, characterized by comfort, security, and deep emotional connection. This stage is marked by the hormone oxytocin, which is released during physical touch and intimate moments. Attachment requires a significant bond, and attraction usually mediates the connection between two people in romantic relationships.
Attachment can be present without lust or attraction (that's called friendship, by the way), and it is entirely possible to feel lust and attraction without ever becoming deeply attached.
Lust Vs. Attraction
Generally, when people talk about being "attractive," they combine the lust and attraction components of Dr. Fisher's model. Attracting another person usually requires both a physical component (lust) and a deeper emotional component (attraction).
Physical attractiveness matters, but researchers still disagree on how much. One study asked men how attractive they found the photo of different women's faces to be and found that facial symmetry was an important factor of attractiveness. However, another study reached the opposite conclusion; facial symmetry did not predict how attractive a person appeared.
Physical attraction is difficult to define due to massive variations in what individuals find attractive. Scientists have found some clues, though. A sociological theory known as the matching hypothesis asserts that most people form a committed relationship with someone equally attractive, but both men and women are likely to pursue those they consider more attractive.
The situation is complicated further by the interplay between physical features and personality. In Dr. Fisher's model, personality accounts for a significant portion of attraction. Even if someone is incredibly physically attractive to you, it is likely that your feelings will fade if they turn out to be ugly "on the inside." Of course, another sociological principle, the halo effect, tells us that a person is likelier to ignore the negative personality traits of a physically attractive person (there are no straightforward answers in the science of attraction).
The Social Components Of Attraction
The halo effect might make us overlook a poor personality in favor of physical attraction (at least within limits), but the opposite is also true. A person with a good character is likely to appear more physically attractive. In fact, research has consistently upheld the importance of desirable personality traits.
Like with physical features, men are not universally attracted to one "type" of personality. However, there are some common themes that scientists have identified. Here are a few common personality traits that men tend to find attractive:
Response To Humor
When interacting with a potential romantic partner, men tend to emphasize the importance of how their humor is received by the other person. This is a surefire way to appear more attractive to a man: laugh at his jokes. It's important not to be disingenuous, though, don't laugh if you don't find a joke funny, but if his humor resonates with you, show it!
Several studies have upheld the importance of honesty in attraction. One study found that men strongly preferred an honest, truthful person. The halo effect shows up here, too; the men who participated in the study rated honest women as more healthy, feminine, and attractive. On the other hand, the dishonest woman was rated as less fit and in poorer health overall.
Another study found that kindness significantly increased how attractive a person appeared. Study participants, all men, were shown pictures of women along with fabricated personality information. If the study participants were told that the woman in the photo was kind and nurturing, ratings of physical attractiveness increased considerably.
Similarity And Familiarity
Similarity and familiarity aren't personality traits, but they are an important part of building attraction. Researchers have repeatedly demonstrated that opposites don't typically attract. Most people find romantic partners who are similar to themselves and have a lot of common ground.
You don't need to make sure you have everything in common with a man, but you do need some things in common. Similarity goes beyond hobbies and interests too. Similar factors might be socioeconomic status, ethnicity, religion, or age. The important takeaway is that you should feel some similarity with the man you are trying to attract. He is less likely to be interested if he doesn't feel any similarity with you.
Familiarity, on the other hand, is more straightforward. Sociologists have long studied a principle known as the mere exposure effect. Research has repeatedly upheld that simply spending time with someone and becoming familiar with them raises how much they are attracted to you. It's important not to be overbearing, of course, but the main takeaway is that merely being near someone is enough to boost your attractiveness.
Becoming More Attractive
Attraction is an enormously complex concept, and this article has barely scratched the surface of how attraction works on an individual level. Attraction is highly individualized and unique to each person. While physical appearance plays a role, it is far from the only factor that makes someone attractive.
How attractive a man finds you depends on your physical appearance, personality, proximity, and his assessment of his own attractiveness. There are dozens or hundreds of variables to consider, making attraction impossible to reduce to a simple formula.
If you take one piece of information from this article, let it be this: what's "attractive" isn't real. There is no universal definition. You will be attractive to some people and unattractive to others. What matters is how you feel about yourself. At the end of the day, confidence is the most attractive trait you can have.
How Can Online Therapy Help?
If you're struggling with feeling attractive, a self-esteem boost might help. Online therapy connects you with a licensed therapist who can help you develop strategies for boosting self-esteem, increasing confidence, and recognizing your most attractive features. Online therapists use the same evidence-based techniques as in-office therapists, like cognitive behavioral therapy. Online therapy removes barriers to accessing a therapist, like physically traveling to their office, without sacrificing treatment integrity. Techniques administered online are just as effective as if they were administered in person.
Science has long struggled to understand human attraction. We've gained a solid foundation of some components, such as which hormones produce feelings of love and attraction, but we are a long way from a general attractiveness formula. Attraction is highly individualized and unique to each person. While there are common themes, no two people will find exactly the same things attractive. Improving attractiveness focuses on self-acceptance, building self-esteem, and improving confidence.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What makes someone attractive?
Sexuality is, of course, one of the many things that influence romantic attraction in terms of who will be attracted to who. Heterosexual women, for example, will be attracted to men romantically. Women who are not heterosexual women, on the other hand, might not be attracted to men at all, or they could be attracted to men and women as well as people of other genders. On the same note, some men prefer women, other men prefer men, and some men have no preference between women, men, or non-binary people. Outside of sexuality, many different things also play into romantic attraction. Personality, how one carries themselves, and facial attractiveness or being physically attractive in general, for example, are all things that people often find attractive.
What makes a woman attractive?
Both men and women tend to worry about whether or not they're physically attractive. Whether you're attracted to men, women, or both, worrying about if others will feel physical attraction toward you can be daunting, especially in a society that's so appearance-oriented.
At the end of the day, what makes a guy attractive, or girl attractive, isn't often from appearance alone. Physical attraction may be enough to make you sexually attracted to someone, the romantic attraction will usually take more. After all, even if you're one of those attractive older women out there, you want to make sure that you're compatible with a potential partner.
Additionally, what makes a woman sexually attractive will vary from person to person when it comes to physical attraction. Some heterosexual women prefer men who have certain facial features that they see as physically attractive (take facial hair, for example), where other women tend to prefer men without facial hair.
One of the essential things is to make sure that you're true to yourself. Some women prefer to shave, where other women prefer not to shave. Some women prefer long hair, where other women prefer short hair. The right people will come into your life when you're your best and most authentic self.
What are signs that you are attractive?
Confidence and emotional intelligence are two universal traits that make an attractive woman or man. Some men prefer women with certain physical features, just as some women prefer men with certain physical features, but the trouble there is that there's no universal rule for what a person will find attractive. Some people may be attracted to intelligence, personality, charisma, and many more. Though many people enjoy facial attractiveness, the attractive facial features differ depending on a number of factors, including the cultural standards a person grew up around and more. That said, a good personality will always be hard to resist.
What features are most attractive?
Plenty of research has been conducted on physical attraction. Still, physical attraction remains something that differs from person to person among women and men and people of other genders. The same is true for romantic attraction. There are certain attributes in terms of physical attraction, such as a person's smile, that many people find attractive. Posture and open body language are often seen as attractive, too. This is likely because having open body language makes you seem more approachable. Of course, if you want to be attractive to other people and if you want other people to talk to you, you want to make sure that you are approachable, so this makes sense. Simply being friendly and showing an interest in other people is a good rule of thumb to go by for both men and women who want to be seen as attractive people.
What makes a man sexually attracted to you?
While physical attraction and sexual attraction are two different things, physical attraction often makes someone feel sexually attracted to women and men alike. Being confident is one of the ways how to sexually attract men. If a man likes the way you look or the way you carry yourself, that may be what sparks his sexual attraction for you.
What attracts a man to a woman at first sight?
What someone sees as an attractive woman will vary from person to person. That is one thing that it's always important to state when we talk about attraction because attraction varies from person to person. One of the most important things to remember both for women and men is that you have to be yourself. No matter how much physical attraction there is, what's inside is what's going to matter in the long run. It's about your chemistry. That said, there are a couple of things that you can do to make it more likely that you’ll give a good first impression. Carry yourself confidently, be friendly, and ask questions in an attempt to get to know other people. This will show that you care about what other people have to say, which is very attractive nearly universally.
Why males are attracted to females?
Who has more attraction male or female?
What do men find hot?
At what age are boys attracted to girls?
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