What Is Romantic Attraction? Understanding The Urge To Seek Out A Mate
Updated June 10, 2021
Medically Reviewed By: Dawn Brown
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. There is solidarity in having someone waiting for you at home. After a hard day, you'll want to commiserate with someone, and if things in your life are going great, you'll want someone to share your joy with as well. 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
There is also often a prevailing urge to find someone who shares some of the same interests or beliefs that you do. It ties back into the notion of wanting some solidarity with a person with whom you can be intimate.
You want to find someone with whom you can share your deepest beliefs and also your darkest fears. 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. Also present is the urge to connect and find someone with whom you might share a future. 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.
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