How The Psychology Of Attraction Affects Who We Date
The psychology of attraction can impact who we date. Whether we realize it or not, there may be a specific set of traits that attract us to certain people. This psychology may apply to many of the relationships in our lives, but here, we will focus on how it affects our choice of romantic partners.
There may be a variety of explanations that go into what and whom we find attractive. These motives can come from childhood, from previous relationships, or they can be innate. Although there may not always be a rhyme or reason why we feel the way we do, our decisions regarding who we pursue romantically can have a significant impact on our lives.
What Is The Psychology Of Attraction?
The psychology of attraction may answer 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 may have implications on our relationship choices. Many people may not understand why they go for the type of person they do. This is a topic that has been frequently depicted in TV shows and movies. For example, you may be familiar with the female lead that likes the "bad boys" and ignores the sweet, loving neighbor guy.
When we don't understand what drives us to be attracted to others, though, we may risk sliding down a slippery slope. That is, allowing negative behaviors to be repeated frequently because "they are what they are" might just guarantee a poor-quality life. For this reason, it may be beneficial to get in touch with the innermost workings of ourselves. This understanding can empower you to make the right decisions and find a compatible partner.
When choosing a life partner, it may be crucial to keep a clear head. You may want to ensure you’re not allowing previous negative experiences to impact your choices. It could be equally important that we focus on the positive things that drive us to be attracted to someone. This may allow you to get a balanced sense of who to date and why to date them.
Roots In Childhood
Childhood experiences and interactions could also influence attraction. Some people may find themselves attracted to people who remind them of their parents in some way. Perhaps this is because our parents may be the people who make us feel safest as children. In many cases, they are also the ones who ensure our basic needs are met and that we’re generally content. When we are searching for a partner, we may want someone who will take care of us mentally and emotionally.
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 you were exposed to unhealthy relationship values as a child, for example. As a result, you could spend years in bad relationships or end up with someone who mistreats you.
Another psychological phenomenon can be found by exploring not only attraction, but attachment. People who have core wounds from their childhoods may be drawn to others with wounds of their own to heal. Here is a common scenario:
Example: The Narcissist And The Co-Dependent
Narcissistic Personality Disorder, also known as pathological narcissism or NPD, is a personality disorder that may develop during childhood. For various reasons, a child developing NPD will become more self-centered, show a lack of empathy, and manipulate others.
As they grow, 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. These individuals may have had a troubled childhood as well. Instead of rejecting love the way someone with narcissistic tendencies does, co-dependents seek acceptance and love to their detriment. They might people,-please, try to control others, play the victim, stay when they should go, and seek approval outside of themselves, just like someone with NPD.
When the two personalities are in a relationship with one another, the results can be disastrous. The person with NPD is often the villain, while the codependent may play the victim in a toxic game. Because they feed off each other, this dance may continue until someone is hurt or finds the strength to walk away and get help.
How Our Exes Affect The Psychology Of Attraction
Previous relationship experiences (whether positive or negative) may also have a significant impact on what we look for in a new partner. For example, if you have supportive, loving, and loyal exes, you may be attracted to these things. Once you have had a taste of what a good relationship feels like, you might chase that in future endeavors.
On the other hand, you may find yourself attracted to partners who mistreat you because this has been your experience in the past. This could be because you don’t feel you deserve to be happy, or you may think you can change your new partner for the better. You may even feel as if you don't know how to function in a positive relationship because you've never known one.
If this sounds like a familiar pattern, consider that your exes are in the past for a reason. It could be helpful to remember that everyone deserves to be loved and treated well, despite past experiences. That includes you.
If you do find yourself struggling, it may help to 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 clarity at times. If you give yourself this chance to get your priorities and goals in order, you may be able to bank on a better future.
Opposites Don't Attract
Science shows the popular adage is false— opposites don't attract. Researchers have determined that people who are in relationships with similar people reported higher satisfaction rates. People were also shown to feel more attracted to those who have similar personalities and beliefs. Thus, it could be important to share similarities and common interests with the person you spend most of your time with. Kindred spirits may make us feel included and at peace.
Conversely, people who had opposing beliefs and personalities experience less relationship satisfaction and higher divorce rates. Some traits and interests may inevitably be different, but overall, liking at least some of the same things could be instrumental to a happy relationship.
When To Get Help
If you are having trouble understanding why you are attracted to certain people, therapy can help. As much as we may like to fix things ourselves, some patterns of behavior can be difficult to break, especially if these patterns are ingrained or have existed since childhood.
It can be difficult to admit that you need help when it comes to finding love. This may be why so many people shy away from therapy in person. Online therapy, on the other hand, may put you at ease when discussing matters of the heart. You could find an online setting to be a more neutral environment where these discussions seem more natural. This type of therapy also offers the added convenience of flexibility. There’s no need be to worry about commutes or waiting rooms. You can log in from anywhere with an internet connection at any time of the day.
Extensive research in the field of mental health supports the use of online therapy to treat a variety of mental health challenges and conditions. A comprehensive meta-analysis of studies encompassing nearly 10,000 different cases showed no significant difference in outcomes between people who sought therapy online versus those who attended sessions in person.
The people we surround ourselves with can play an instrumental role in our satisfaction and happiness in life. Their influence could be particularly impactful within romantic relationships. If you feel you are negatively impacted by who you are attracted to, help is available. The counselors at Regain can help you analyze and evaluate any attraction issues you may have so you can make more informed decisions about who you date. Reach out today to get started on your path to healthier relationships.
Frequently Asked Questions
What causes attraction psychology?
Many factors influence to whom we are attracted. Some of these factors include physical attractiveness, proximity, similarity, and reciprocity.
Romantic attraction is primarily determined by physical attractiveness. In the early stages of dating, people are more likely to be attracted to partners whom they find to be physically attractive than partners they do not. The level of attraction that someone places on themselves play a part too. The matching hypothesis proposes that people tend to pick partners about equal in level of attractiveness to themselves.
In addition to physical attraction, people are more likely to go out with other geographically close people. One of the ways social psychology explains this is through the mere exposure effect. The mere exposure effect refers to people’s tendency to like novel stimuli more if they encounter them repeatedly.
People also tend to seek out partners who are similar to themselves. Some of the characteristics they consider are age, race, religion, social class, personality, education, intelligence, sense of humor, interest areas, hobbies, and attitude.
Finally, we are more likely to like another person if they reciprocate our liking them. People don’t like to feel foolish, so they are more likely to be attracted to someone who they know reciprocates their liking rather than continuously seeking out the same person who does not show an interest.
What are the types of attraction?
There are many different types of attraction, and these types of attraction are studied within the fields of developmental psychology, social psychology, and evolutionary psychology. While most people immediately think of sexual attraction, other forms of attraction occur in different ways and different relationships for various reasons. Psychological science has looked at how each type of attraction serves a different purpose.
The most commonly thought of form of attraction is sexual attraction. This is about looking at someone and feeling something toward them in a sexual way. Romantic attraction is different than sexual attraction, although you may feel both for the same person. Romantic attraction is where you want to be in a relationship with the person, but sex is not required.
Physical attraction differs from sexual attraction because it is not sexual in nature. Rather, it is the desire to be around others or be physically cared for and treated with love and affection. While physical attraction can occur between romantic partners, it can also extend to friends, parents, children, and siblings as they are people that you touch in non-sexual and non-romantic ways but who you still care deeply about.
Emotional attraction is when you want to be emotionally present with another person. You may experience this attraction towards your romantic partner, family, friends, or all three.
Aesthetic attraction is what happens when you walk down the street and see someone who looks good. Think of celebrities who you see, and think are cute. This type of attraction is not the same as a physical, romantic, or sexual attraction because you may feel no desire to be touched by them; you simply notice how they look and are attracted to their looks.
When it comes to attraction, this is something that the psychological science field looks at quite often as it influences many aspects of our lives.
What attracts a man to a woman at first sight?
When it comes to what attracts a man to a woman, it is hard to pin down exactly what they might be looking at first sight. Whenever we are in a new situation or meeting a new person, many unconscious processes assess the situation. Some of these processes assess to ensure your safety. In contrast, others are picking up on nonverbal cues and levels of attractiveness that could influence how interested a person is in pursuing a conversation with another individual. When it comes to initial encounters, people are strongly influenced by the physical attractiveness of their partners. A study conducted by a social psychologist looked at initial reactions between partners. What factors were more likely than others to lead to partners liking their dates was the other person’s physical attractiveness. Studies done by social psychologists have gone on to find that the more attractive a person is perceived as being, the more sociable, altruistic, and intelligent they seem compared to those who are considered less attractive. Overall, physically attractive people tend to have more sexual or romantic partners to choose from; however, in terms of what makes a relationship last, many other factors come into play beyond physical attraction. When it comes to personality and social psychology findings, it does seem that while initially, physical attractiveness plays an important part, a person’s personality does influence the relationship, especially in terms of its longevity.
What men look for in a woman physically?
Men who are attracted to women look for when searching for a mate are unique. However, many studies have been conducted that look at the physical characteristics of a person physically attracted. One study conducted by a social psychologist looked at the characteristics that both men and women find attractive and found that both prefer facial features with youthful characteristics, such as large, round, and widely spaced eyes, a small nose, and a child, prominent cheekbones, and a large forehead. People with these characteristics are seen as being physically attractive people.
Another social psychologist study found that other determinants of perceived attractiveness include face symmetry, healthy skin, good teeth, a smiling expression, and good grooming. These physically attractive people are more likely to have more romantic and sexual partners to choose from than their peers, who are considered less attractive.
While studies have found that men and women are attracted to similar physical features, men believe women's physical attractiveness is most important. In contrast, women are relatively more interested in the social status of a potential partner. When given a choice, men tend to initially like physically attractive people, whereas when women are given a choice, they are willing to forego physical attraction for social status.
The studies published in social psychology journals give insight into how people think about or experience love; however, relationships and physical attraction are much more complex than simply reading a study and implementing what their findings suggest. For example, personality and social psychology are related because a person’s personality influences who they are romantically involved with.
What feature do guys find most attractive?
Generally, men tend to be attracted to women who have a youthful appearance and have a symmetrical faces. In addition to these features, studies conducted by a social psychologist have found the ideal proportion for a female body is to have a waste-to-hip ratio of 7:10. The thought is that women with this ratio have hips that are great for childbirth. Another study published in a psychological bulletin found that men can stare at a woman with red lips for seven seconds. While these studies help start the conversation around what people find attractive about other people, many complex factors explain why a person likes another person. When you ask most people why they like another person, it is usually not a one-word answer.
Can a man fall in love with a woman at first sight?
Falling in love is influenced by a person’s psychological state of mind. Some people fall in love at first sight because they believe love exists and are ready to fall in love. At the same time, other people might have more difficulty opening up to the idea of falling in love for any number of reasons. A study published in a psychological bulletin found that men, who are open to falling in love, tend to fall in love at first sight more than women. This is due to physical attractiveness because the more the man looks at the woman for the first time, the more likely he is to be interested in her. Based on this study, attractive people are more likely to have successful first dates. However, the study found that this is not true for most women because women tend to fall in love while in a relationship. While a man’s looks might influence whether a woman is likely to pursue a second date or ultimately a relationship with a person, they are unlikely to fall in love based purely on their appearance. It’s important to keep in mind when finding a partner that there is much more complexity to the process than is simply reading a social psychology bulletin and following the study’s findings to a tee.
What makes a man sexually attractive?
What makes a man sexually attractive is different for each person. Some people might be sexually attracted to a man who goes to the gym and is muscular. For others, they might be sexually attracted to a man who smiles a lot and is happy but hasn’t stepped foot in a gym since high school. Attractive people have a wide variety of characteristics that are determined attractive or not based on who is looking at them. While there are studies out there that discuss what characteristics people find to be more attractive than others, the reality is that sexual attraction is dependent on each person’s own experience and level of importance they place on certain physical characteristics as they often matter more than whatever you come across in a social psychology bulletin.
What is the psychology of attraction?
How do psychologists measure attraction?
Can you sense attraction?
What are the 3 factors that influence the psychology of attraction?
What makes someone sexually attracted to someone?
What are the 7 types of attraction?
How do you tell if someone is attracted to you?
How do you know if someone is sexually attracted to you?
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