Three Ways The Psychology Of Attraction Affects Who We Date

By: Mary Elizabeth Dean

Updated March 16, 2021

Medically Reviewed By: Lauren Guilbeault

The psychology of attraction has much to do with who we date. Whether we realize it or not, there are a specific set of things that attract us to certain people. This applies to many relationships in our lives, but here, we will focus on how to affect who we date.


There are a variety of explanations that go into what and who we find attractive. These motives come from childhood, previous relationships, and some of them we are just born with. Although there may not always be a rhyme or reason why we feel the way we do, it affects us.

If your life is being negatively impacted by who you are attracted to, you can get help. You deserve to be a part of loving and caring relationships that make you feel fulfilled and happy. It isn't always an easy road getting to the finish line, but it is always well worth it.

What Is The Psychology Of Attraction?

The psychology of attraction answers all the "whys" to who we are attracted to. It is the science of why we want who we want. Although it is not the most widely understood or discussed topic, it has a lot to say about the relationships we keep. Most people don't understand why they go for the type of person they do. This has been depicted in TV shows and movies frequently - the girl that likes the "bad boys" and ignores the sweet, loving neighbor guy who wears comfy sweaters.

When we don't understand what drives us to be attracted to others, we risk sliding down a slippery slope. Simply allowing negative behaviors to be repeated frequently because "they are what they are" guarantees a poor life quality. We must do everything we can to be in touch with the innermost workings of ourselves. Not only will this protect us from acting impulsively based on our feelings. It will also empower you to make the right decisions and hopefully lead you to the perfect person.

The person that we are attracted to spend our lives with should be chosen carefully. We want to make sure we are not allowing any previous negative experiences to impact our choices now. It is equally important that we focus on the positive things that drive us to be attracted to someone. This will allow you to get a balanced sense of who to date and why to date them. This will result in higher chances that you are happy in life, which's always the goal.

Roots In Childhood

Much of what many people are attracted to is based on childhood experiences and interactions. Because we are shaped so much as children, it is understandable that it would greatly impact who we choose to spend our time with.


Many people find themselves attracted to people that remind them in some way of their parents. This is because, as a child, our parents are the people who make us feel safe. They are also often the ones who are making sure we are happy and that we have everything we need. When we are searching for a partner, we want someone that will take care of us mentally. What better person to do so than someone who reminds you of the best caretakers of all?

On the other hand, if our parents or someone close to us model bad relationships, it could throw this instinct off. You may find yourself attracted to someone with abusive tendencies because the relationship values you grew up seeing were not healthy. Often when this is the case, people spend many years going through bad partner after bad partner until they are fed up. Some people never reach this point and spend their lives with a person that doesn't take care of them correctly.

If you are part of the group that goes after what is not good for you, you can overcome this. It may seem like you don't have much control over who you are attracted to, but you can form healthier habits in looking for a relationship. There is no reason to continue making ties with people who hurt or don't care for you. Take a stand for your self-worth and put your foot down to those who are not treating you right.

There may also come a time when you need some guidance. A licensed counselor or therapist can help you work through the things in your past that is putting you in this situation. The situations that you are in do not have to perpetuate forever. If you step up and take control of your life, you might be surprised what you learn about yourself and the people around you.

How Our Exes Affect The Psychology Of Attraction

So much of what we look for in a new partner is based on previous interactions. This can be affected by positive or negative behaviors.

For example, if you have supportive, loving, and loyal exes, you will be attracted to these things. We are all chasing happiness, and loving, happy relationships give us that. Once you have had a taste of what a good relationship feels like, you will chase that in future endeavors.

In contrast, if you have negative experiences with an ex, you might gravitate toward people who share the same flaws. This could be because you feel you will be able to help the person improve. You might also feel as if you don't know how to be in a positive relationship because you've never known one.

Never let your negative past keep you from reaching out for a positive future. No matter how much you've been through, there is always tomorrow. You can wake up one morning and decide to change and bring about a better life for yourself. Don't believe the lies that you are not worthy or able to be in a good relationship. Your exes are in the past for a reason. Now, it is your responsibility to do what you can to protect yourself and your future.

If you do find yourself struggling, it may help take a break from relationships for a while. You can use this time to get to know yourself and decide what you want out of your next partnership. Being alone can grant the most clarity at times. If you give yourself this chance to get your priorities and goals in order, you can guarantee a better future. You should feel obliged to doing anything you can to get to a better place. Don't waste your life on losers that don't understand your worth.

Opposites Don't Attract

Science shows the popular adage is false - opposites don't attract. In fact, it's the opposite.


This study determined that people who were engaged in relationships with similar people showed higher satisfaction rates. People are also shown to feel more attracted to those who have similar personalities and beliefs. It is important to have similarities and common interests with the person you spend most of your time with. Kindred spirits make us feel included and at peace.

People who had opposing beliefs and personalities were shown to have lower satisfaction and higher divorce rates. It just doesn't make sense that anyone would want to spend much time with someone who is their polar opposite. Some things will inevitably be different, but overall, liking at least some of the same things is instrumental to a happy relationship.

Another psychological phenomenon can be found by exploring not only attraction but attachment. People who have core wounds created during childhood seem to be drawn to others with things to heal. Here is a common scenario:

The Psychology And Attraction: The Narcissist And The Co-Dependent

Narcissistic Personality Disorder, also known as narcissism or NPD, is a personality disorder created during childhood. For various reasons, a child developing into a narcissist will become more self-centered, show a lack of empathy, and manipulate others.

As he or she grows, lying, blaming, and the need to be seen as the best becomes an essential part of existence.

Because a person with NPD has no sense of real self, they need constant validation from others. This must be achieved at all costs. People are viewed as objects, and real attachment can't take place.

On the other end of the spectrum is the Co-dependent. He or she had a troubled childhood as well. Instead of rejecting love the way the narcissist does, co-dependents seek acceptance and love to their detriment. They people, please, try to control others, play the victim, stay when they should go, and seek approval outside of themselves, just like the narcissist.

The narc is the villain, while they play the victim in a toxic game. Because they feed off each other, the dance continues until someone is hurt or finds the strength to walk away and get help.

As you can see, opposites attract on the magnetic field, but not in the dating arena. This fact doesn't mean the result is always healthy. In fact, what results is usually an unhealthy romantic attraction that is similar to addiction called a trauma bond. Although it isn't commonly understood, this psychological phenomenon explains why so many men and women stay in abusive relationships.

When To Get Help

If you are having trouble understanding why you are attracted to certain people, therapy can help. As much as we would like to 'do it on our own,' patterns can be very difficult to break. This is especially true if these patterns are ingrained and have existed since childhood.

The counselors and therapists at ReGain are professionally accredited and prepared to help. Their platform also has the benefit of being one hundred percent online. This offers the convenience of getting the help you need on your time where you are most comfortable. There will be no need to worry about commutes or waiting rooms. You can log in from anywhere with an internet connection at any time of the day.


The psychology of attraction has much to do with who we date. Even though this fact isn't something that many are aware of, it is important to stay educated about it, nevertheless. If you feel you are negatively impacted by who you are attracted to, help is available.


No matter how far gone you feel you are, help is always available - the people we surround ourselves with play an instrumental role in our satisfaction and happiness in life. If you need to reach out to evaluate and solve any attraction issues, you should do it sooner rather than later. There is no need to delay a happier and healthier life for yourself. Reach out and get the advice you need today!

Previous Article

5 Signs A Woman Is Attracted To You

Next Article

What To Do When Your Partner Has No Interest In Sex At All
For Additional Help & Support With Your Concerns
Speak with a Licensed Therapist Today
This website is owned and operated by BetterHelp, who receives all fees associated with the platform.
The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.