Five Common Types Of Attraction And What They Mean

Updated April 11, 2024by Regain Editorial Team

When most people think about the word attraction, they likely think about physical attraction—i.e., we find someone pleasing to look at and may be motivated to know them better as a result. However, there are many different types of attraction, each significant in different ways. 

For humans, attraction can lead to deep connections with others, which is vital to our health and well-being. It’s often the origin of our relationships and can determine whom we surround ourselves with. 

Within each relationship comes a different dynamic where a particular type of attraction is prominent. Understanding these various forms of attraction can help you navigate relationships throughout your life. In this post, we’ll examine some of the different types of attraction and what they mean.

Getty / Maskot
Attraction isn’t always easy to identify

Five common types of attraction

While feelings of attraction are often more nuanced than fit into a specific category, five types of attraction seem to be more common than others:

Romantic attraction

This is one of the most common forms of attraction. Romantic attraction refers, in this case, to the desire to be in a romantic relationship with another individual. It can often be confused with sexual attraction, but it is different. Instead of only being about physical intimacy, romantic attraction includes a primary interest in who the other person is on the inside. This specific type of attraction encompasses the desire to have a deep and emotional relationship with that other individual, which extends beyond just the physical aspects. 

Emotional attraction

Humans have a need for companionship with people they can feel comfortable with. This is where emotional attraction comes into play. When we feel emotionally attracted to someone, we want to know them better and share with them personal things about ourselves. When you can be open about what's on your mind with other people and share information about your life, hopes, dreams, desires, and more, it contributes to feelings of wellness and mental stability and perhaps deepens the emotional attraction even more. 

Sensual attraction

This is also known as physical attraction and involves the five senses. When we want to touch someone and/or enjoy how they look, smell, and feel, it’s a form of sensual attraction. This type of attraction often accompanies other forms. Sensual attraction is not the same as sexual attraction, even though it can involve physical contact as its primary form of expression. Sexual attraction includes sensual attraction, but sensual attraction doesn’t necessarily have to be sexual in nature. 

Some people feel sensually attracted to another in a completely platonic way, in the sense that they enjoy hugging, holding hands, and “snuggling,” such as with close family, friends, etc. Science tells us that we enjoy these interactions on a chemical level and, like emotional connection, need them to maintain well-being.


Sexual attraction

This is one of the most common forms of attraction and can be easily confused with romantic/emotional interest. Sexual attraction is when a person wants to be sexual or partake in sexual activities with another individual. This attraction type can exist alone or coexist with romantic attraction. This may be a common form of attraction and the easiest to pinpoint when figuring out your feelings toward another person. Still, there are far more factors involved in feeling drawn to somebody in addition to this essential and instinctual type of attraction. The impulse and wish to be intimate with someone are where sexual attraction comes into play. Still, it can exist as a form all on its own or even be combined with other forms of attraction, such as those present in certain relationships. You do not have to have emotional feelings or any other kind of attraction to be sexually attracted to someone.

Aesthetic attraction

Aesthetic attraction is when someone finds pleasure in another individual's structure or physique, as with their favorite artwork or music album. This attraction type often accompanies sexual attraction and can be easily confused as such. It is important to clearly state that it is possible to be attracted to an individual without wanting anything romantic or sexual. Aesthetic attraction also provides benefits such as providing inspiration and boosting our mood. Aesthetic attraction can influence why people will choose where to live or whom to pair with as a life partner.  The things we are esthetically attracted to often make us unique and can stimulate positive feelings of joy and comfort when we are exposed to them.

Attraction isn’t always easy to identify

Attraction can be complicated

The nature of attraction can be unpredictable, and often, we don’t have control over our attraction to others. To complicate matters further, we don’t have control over others’ attraction toward us. Because of this, miscommunication and difficulties may arise between people. Life happens, and feelings change, especially those involved in our relationships with other people. 

For example, consider the friends that you may have had in high school and how you have changed over the years since you left. Are you in touch and closely bonded with them like you were before? Some people may be able to maintain these relationships. Still, many folks go in separate directions with their own goals to pursue-- be it job-related, family-related, etc. You have probably also made new friends you’re close to since those times. It's normal for the different types of attraction you feel for people to change. 

Experiencing all forms of attraction can be difficult, but it’s also one of the most critical parts of the human experience. Without attraction, we may not develop or keep the bonds we form with others, and we may not experience the joy and pleasure that often accompanies it.  

Explore attraction in online therapy

The nature of attraction is such that it can cause complications between individuals and in relationships. It can also elicit strong feelings that may be difficult to process and cope with. If you have trouble forming relationships, difficulty processing attraction, or your feelings of attraction hinder your daily life in other ways, consider seeking support from a professional for guidance. This professional input can help you understand what you may need to form healthy relationships with others and feel comfortable with the people around you. 

Counseling has many benefits for mental health and well-being, but some people don’t reach out for help. Some people feel they don’t have time to attend appointments during the busy work week. Many assume they can’t afford therapy or it won’t work for them. 

With the increasing popularity of online therapy, more people have access to help than ever before. Platforms like Regain help connect people with mental health professionals with experience helping people in matters of dating, intimacy, relationships, and individual growth. You can meet an online therapist according to your schedule anywhere with a reliable internet connection via text, phone, online messaging, and video chat. 

Online therapy is often more affordable than traditional therapy without insurance, and a growing body of research indicates it’s as effective. For example, three meta-analyses from 2018, 2019, and 2020 examined patient satisfaction and adherence to treatment for cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), solution-focused brief therapy, and cognitive processing therapy for various mental health issues. The findings reported that patients were as satisfied with treatment online as in person and were, in some cases, more likely to stick with a treatment plan. 


A deeper understanding of your feelings can establish better relationships and overall mental well-being. A professional counselor at Regain can help you put your feelings of attraction into perspective and cultivate a more well-balanced daily life.  

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