Psychology of Attraction: What Draws Us To Other People

June 22, 2016

If we stop for a moment to think about those points that attracted us to those people we love we would raise a big question: What brought us to our partner? What led us to friendship or romance? What helps us sustain these relationships?

We probably can’t respond to this very well because usually our affection flourishes without us even realizing it. However, social psychology gives us data on the psychological ingredients that promote attraction.

 

woman with mask of blue flowers

Three ingredients of the attraction formula

To understand the psychological chemistry that binds us to our people, we have three key ingredients that make us feel attracted to them, see them with clear eyes and feel emotionally close to them.

Proximity: friction makes the love

Before a relationship begins, it is imperative that two people sense one another in proximity. Being close to someone and feeling that they are present in our lives makes us feel a great appreciation for that person.

At least at the beginning, physical proximity is very important because it promotes a sense of familiarity and security that makes us feel comfortable with the people around us.

This emotional response is due the fact that we perceive what is familiar as safe, accessible and desirable. In other words, over time, the mere presence of our people makes us feel at home.

couple in a bottle in the sea

Physical attraction: beginning to love someone and seeing them as more beautiful

But it is not only the physical and emotional closeness that we welcome. There is a need for the combination of other ingredients such as physical attraction to create the delicious recipe for the union of two souls.

There are many experiments that reveal that this is something much more superficial: appearance. It can be disconcerting, but the appearance of others affects us during our first moment with someone. This is because by means of appearance we tend to predict or assess how happy, sensitive and socially equipped the people are. In this sense, the more physical attraction we detect, the better psychological qualities we attribute to them (we call this the halo effect).

couple kissing in the street

This may seem unfair, but not all the assessments about this fact are. Why? The more we get to know a person, the fewer physical imperfections we point out; physical attractiveness increases for us over time.

Thus, as Shakespeare wrote in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, “Love looks not with the eyes but with the mind.”

Similarities encourage attraction

As is often noted correctly, love lasts longer when two people share many things in common and not only love each other. We tend to make friends with our acquaintances when we begin to get to know each other and feel that we share some common ground.

Thinking, feeling and being interested in a similar way unites us. However, as we all know, it is impossible to agree on everything.

couple under a tree

Of course, proximity, attractiveness and similarity are not the only ingredients that help us form a beautiful relationship. We also like the people who like us (especially if we have a negative self-image).

In order develop essential love when get together with someone, we need certain intangible ingredients, a mixture of yearnings, feelings and good energy. This is undoubtedly the secret ingredient and only recipe for a bond between two people.