What Is Romantic Attraction? Understanding The Urge To Seek Out A Mate
At some point after puberty, most individuals become interested in seeking out a partner. It might happen earlier for some and later for others, but it is unusual to find someone who truly wants to spend their life alone. But what is a romantic attraction? Does it stem purely from a desire for procreation, thereby continuing the species? Or are there other elements at work that should also be recognized?
The Most Basic Definition of Romantic Attraction
The most stripped-down definition of romantic attraction is that it is an emotional response which most people experience at one time or another. This feeling results in the desire for them to have a romantic relationship with the person who makes them feel that way.
Sexual And Romantic Attraction
When you are attracted to someone in a romantic way, you can see them in their best light. This might happen despite their flaws. You see potential in what the two of you could be together, and you might tend to downplay any of their negative aspects. When you are interested in someone sexually, you usually are aware of it relatively quickly. You probably aren't going to become romantically interested in them, though, until you know a little more about them.
This is not to say, though, that romantic and sexual attraction has nothing to do with one another. Sexual contact is often something that people value highly in a relationship. If you cannot see yourself being with someone sexually, for instance, then you will probably not want to be romantically involved with them.
If you were more cynical, then probably the first thing you'd bring up when looking at either sexual or romantic attraction is that if it didn't take place, then human beings, like any other species, would cease to exist. Like every other life form, our biological imperative is to procreate, and that can only happen if we are attracted to one another.
It is for this reason that specific physical human characteristics are valued. Many women say that they would like to be with a taller man or seem virile or in better shape. Often men are attracted to curvaceous women with larger breasts or hips. None of this is coincidental. There is a biological urge to seek out mates who will be good providers and better suited to bring the next generation into the world. The fetishizing of particular human characteristics is not so complicated if you look at the biology behind our desires.
If you were to say, though, that the only reason people get together is that they want to procreate, then that would be a vast oversimplification. There are many other human desires in reality, and many of them can potentially be attained when you find yourself a suitable mate. The issue of companionship is also one that plays a part in your decision to seek romantic interactions.
As we mentioned earlier, most people don't want to be alone. The first step toward getting to that point and potentially starting a family of your own is through romantic attraction. You will probably not come to a time where you've decided to commit yourself to a person unless you first go through the process of dating them. There are always going to be exceptions, as in the case of arranged marriages or mail-order brides. Generally, though, the process of wooing someone and being wooed is universal. It is a dance that has gone on since the dawn of recorded history.
The Desire To Seek Out Someone With Whom You Can Connect
It ties back into the notion of wanting some solidarity with a person with whom you can be intimate.
You want someone you can talk to about your dreams for the future, and you want to see if their goals might potentially be compatible with yours. You want someone with whom you can form a united front. Ideally, you will make each other better. You will challenge each other to grow.
The Desire For Excitement
It also must be mentioned that the desire for romantic involvement with someone can rekindle feelings of excitement for you that might have been missing from your life. You may feel a lack of stimulation in your day-to-day existence that made you feel genuinely engaged.
When you find someone and become enamored with them, the beginning of a new relationship can make every day seem thrilling. If it's the first love, then that's always going to be special, but let's say that it's a situation where you're getting over a divorce or a long-term relationship. Finding someone new with whom you feel a connection can make you feel valued again. Your confidence might have taken a hit in the case that the previous relationship turned messy. With this new person, you can feel as though you are desirable. That's vital for the confidence of many individuals.
The Possible Dangers Of Romantic Attraction
When you look at all the reasons previously mentioned, you can see why romantic attraction happens all around the world every day. New romances form just as quickly as others end. However, you should also understand that as wonderful as the sensation of romantic attraction can be, there are also a few possible drawbacks that are worth mentioning.
The most significant one that can come about is when you begin to assign all of your value as a person to whether you are in a relationship or not. This can happen with some individuals who don't feel right about themselves unless they are the object of pursuit or actively trying to woo someone.
At first glance, this seems harmless enough. However, while being in a romantic relationship can be thrilling, you must also find a way to be comfortable alone. Jumping immediately into a new relationship might not be the best thing for you if you're coming away from a long-term partnership or a marriage in which you were heavily emotionally invested.
While romantic attraction is natural, if you immediately seek it every time you find yourself single, you might have some work to do on yourself. Many people argue that when you are comfortable being alone, you can make the best mate for someone. That is because you are centered, and you know who you are and what matters to you. If you don't feel whole unless you are with someone, then it's a possible warning sign that you should attend to some self-care before putting yourself back on the market.
The Better You Understand Your Romantic Attractions, The Better You Understand Yourself
When you're younger, it is possible that some of the romantic attractions that you feel might not work out in the best way. That is because some of the people you encounter might seem like they would be a suitable fit for you, but then you find that's not the case. You might be attracted to certain personalities with whom you are incongruous.
As you get to be a little bit older and more experienced in the arenas of both romance specifically and life in general, you will probably be able to identify a potential mate easier. You will have in mind all of the practical reasons for getting together that we mentioned. However, ideally, you will also still be able to experience the excitement that comes with a new romantic conquest.
What If Romantic Attraction Goes Wrong?
What if you are in a situation where you started dating someone, though, and everything was going great at first, but then you ran into problems? If you and the individual want to save what you have together, you might wish to pursue couples counseling at that time. Remember that not every relationship will go smoothly from the very beginning, and sometimes talking with a professional about your problems can get the two of you back on track.
Romantic attraction is often a heady mixture of sexual desire and intrigue about the person you have become involved with. Some people find it to be among the most scintillating experiences that they will ever have. Just remember to exercise caution even if everything about the new person in your life seems to be ideal. There is no perfect person. The sooner you can see the new individual in your life for who they are, complete with all of their flaws as well as assets, the sooner you can tell whether you might be able to have a future with them.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What does it mean to be romantically attracted to someone?
We are asked this question a lot, and it is only understandable as the lines between sexual and romantic attraction blur as the days go by. Put is romantically attracted to someone else is when those romantic feelings creep in, romantic attraction is the same for everyone regardless of the romantic orientations of both parties. This type of attraction is often confused with sexual attraction, as most sexual relationships start with two people that are romantically attracted to each other. Check here for more information on the differences between being romantically or sexually attracted to an individual.
The following are signs that you are romantically attracted to an individual:
Trying to impress: When people are romantically attracted to each other, regardless of their romantic orientation, they consciously and sometimes subconsciously go out of their way to impress the other person. It starts with the little things like getting a new cologne, making minor or major wardrobe adjustments, and dinner at classier restaurants.
Intense Gazes: Intentional and unintentional long gazes characterize most romantic relations. Usually, because you can not get enough of them, or maybe you are in your feelings, wondering how lucky you are to have met them. Either way, you can not take your eyes off them, and if the individual feels the same way about you, they probably can not take their eyes off you too.
Opening Up: If you feel a romantic attraction budding between yourself and another individual, you naturally begin to open up to them. You believe their input would be helpful, and in times of problems, their comfort would go a long way in making things feel better.
Mirroring: There is some measure of admiration wrapped up in most romantic entanglements, people we develop romantic feelings for are special human specimens to us, and in some ways, we want to be like them. It could be how they dress, how they respond to different situations, how they talk, and their sense of responsibility. The longer we are in their company, the more likely it is to copy some of their behaviors.
What causes romantic attraction?
Human beings are not just social beings but biological beings too; many of the social characteristics we express are at the microscopic level biologically motivated. Science has shown that many actions we take without much thought are actually biologically motivated to survive the strongest genes; this is why we look for certain features in people. We have come to know that these features are ideal for us, which can be expressed through the following factors.
Sexual attraction: There is a thin line between being romantically attracted or sexually attracted to an individual. And sometimes, we become romantically attracted to someone because of the initial sexual interest we had in them. This allows us to take a closer look at them, take more interest in their behavior and mannerisms, and with time romantic feelings may develop.
Similarity or Mystery: We may take a liking to someone because they remind us of ourselves or because they bring to the table something unique we are yet to see. Either way, it piques our interest; it makes us want to push further, press on, and discover more things about this individual. This leads to more time being spent together and longer, deeper, personal conversations. This curiosity or interest resulting from the person’s similarity or mystery could then evolve into romantic attraction and possibly lead us to experience sexual attraction.
Communication and Sincerity: One trait people generally appreciate, not just in relationships, is the ability to communicate your thoughts and emotions and also unwavering sincerity. When these traits are evident in an individual, it makes it very easy to develop romantic and sexual entanglements regardless of the romantic orientations of both parties. The romantic type of attraction built with communication and sincerity is very likely to be lasting, unwavering, and true.
How do you describe romantic attraction?
As with everything else, what it means is different to different people. People can best describe romantic relationships in them; their experiences and romantic feelings they have or have had would allow them better capture the essence of being romantically attracted to someone else. It is important to note that romantic attraction can be felt and experienced by people of all romantic orientations.
Romantic attraction can stem or be based on other attraction types. Some of these types of attractions include but are not limited to the following:
Physical Attraction: You do not just meet someone this minute and develop romantic or sexual feelings on the fly. It starts from somewhere, most times slowly regardless of your romantic orientation, with you appreciating them for who they are or how they look. When this happens, it can be said that you are physically attracted to the individual.
Aesthetic Attraction: Aesthetic attraction can be likened to physical attraction but is not the same. This type of attraction is common to many people regardless of their romantic orientation. People in this category often experience romantic attraction and sometimes experience sexual attraction only after being won over by the aesthetic attraction they have for the individual. One major difference this attraction type has against physical attraction is that the feeling is often like staring or admiring a nice painting or other works of art.
How do you know if you are romantically attracted to someone?
To know if you are romantically attracted to someone is to search inwards; you have to picture your journey together mentally. Have you gotten closer? Do you long for a romantic relationship? If you have answered yes to both questions, then the chances are that you have romantic feelings for the person. But if there is still some doubt, experiencing one or more of the following would make it even more likely that you currently experience romantic attraction. They are:
Romantic Contact: What the contact means is reflective of the intention; it could be a simple touch of the shoulder, walking hand in hand, or a gentle brush of your face. If you find yourself wanting to walk hand in hand, touch their shoulder or gently brush their chin, there is a high probability that you are developing or have already developed romantic feelings for the individual.
Increased Proximity: When you are romantically attracted to someone, you begin to miss their absence and long for their presence regardless of your romantic orientation. When the said individual is with you or around you, time moves much faster, with every second becoming a memory you would relive until your next meeting. If you are reading this with a smile on your face and someone on your mind, it is more than likely that you are romantically attracted to the person in your thoughts.
How do you know if someone is thinking about you sexually?
It is impossible to say for certain that someone is sexually attracted to you; going ahead to act on it could put you in a tight spot and might see you jeopardize whatever good thing you have going on with the individual. The best thing to do most times is to allow them to come out to you, or if you also have romantic feelings for them, you can initiate the conversation from experience. Sexual attraction should not be confused with someone being romantic or being generally nice to you.
What is romance to a woman?
There is no right answer, as many women and people in general experience romance differently. The Collins dictionary defines romance as ‘the actions and feelings of people in love, especially behavior that is very caring or affectionate.’ From this definition, it is obvious that romance is subjective and defined based on an individual’s perspective and experiences. What your friend would consider romantic might be commonplace to you, and what you call romantic might not be caring or affectionate to your friend. This means that there is no universal constant or meaning of what romance means; it should be defined by the partners in or soon to be in a relationship. Your time together would teach all parties to know what is considered romantic and what is not.