Have you ever wondered what makes you attracted to someone? Attraction can often feel elusive or mysterious, but there are some simple factors that explain what makes one person “click” for you over someone else.
You know the feeling that suddenly hits you. You’re traipsing about town and notice someone who gives you a jolt.
Or, it could be your partner coming out of the shower, smelling irresistible. Or, all of a sudden, your best friend feels… sexy?
What you feel is instant attraction.
Sexual desire is important in attraction.
The reason for this is that desire for sex is so fundamental to many of us. It’s also because it’s one of the most frequent reasons people seek out sex therapists.
A related concept is attraction. What’s so exciting about attraction is that it often seems mysterious and difficult to define. You know when you experience it, but you don’t always know why you experience it.
Research says it takes less than one second from meeting a person to decide how much you like that person, and whether you’re attracted or not. It sounds like a very short time — and it is — but the important thing here is realizing that it’s about the initial feeling you experience.
How much you like someone and how attracted you are to a person may change with time.
For some people, attraction appears after years of friendship. All of a sudden, your colleague or close friend may seem incredibly attractive.
At other times, it may go the other way, and the attraction to your partner, for instance, vanishes into thin air, only to reappear — just as unexpectedly — a couple of months later with a vengeance.
Many people have a physical “type” that determines initial attraction.
When it comes to that instant attraction that you can identify with, you usually ascribe that to things you’re aware of, such as the way a person looks. It’s not unusual for you to have a ”type,” and that’s what determines that first jolt of attraction.
But there are in fact many other factors involved at the same time, which may actually affect attraction more than just looks.
A person who’s written quite a lot about attraction is sex researcher Justin Lehmiller. In his book, The Psychology of Human Sexuality, Justin has compiled research on attraction and how it works.
Lehmiller lists the following factors as some of the more essential ones for you to feel attracted to someone.
Here are 7 factors that may create an instant attraction for you.
It’s more likely that you feel attracted to someone who’s closer to you geographically — such as someone who lives in your area or a person at work.
It’s more likely that you get attracted to someone who’s more similar to you than not. Being similar does not, however, predict the longevity of the relationship or how happy you are together.
3. Physical excitement.
When you meet someone you don’t know and are physically aroused (for example, have a higher heart rate as a result of an adrenaline rush), it increases the chances you’ll feel instant attraction.
You like people who make you feel good. You like other people more when you feel good — even if it wasn’t the other person who made you feel good.
When there are fewer potential partners to choose from, you tend to view the potential ones present as more attractive.
When potential partners appear more difficult to catch, you become more attracted to them.
People of all gender identities are more attracted to people they find good looking. But the attraction you feel may depend on whether others experience that person as attractive, and the context you’re in (that is, if there are other attractive or less-attractive people in the same room).
A person’s looks tend to be more important at the beginning of a relationship, compared to later on in a romantic relationship.
7. Hormones and neurotransmitters.
Attraction is also partly determined by your sense of smell and what is referred to as pheromones. Higher levels of oxytocin and dopamine may also increase the level of attraction.
So, as you can see, there are many factors affecting whether you feel attracted to someone or not.
Learn how attraction works for you.
What do you think are important factors for you to feel attracted to someone?
For example, you share the same values and think they’re good-looking.
Has what makes you attracted to someone changed over time? If so, in what way?
How does it feel when you think about what attracts you to someone? If you need help identifying a feeling you might want to follow these steps:
- Where in your body do you experience the feeling?
- How does the feeling feel?
- What does it make you want to do?
Have you noticed anything else that tends to make you feel attracted, which isn’t listed above in the various factors? If so, what is it?
Why you feel instant attraction to some people, and not others, is affected by lots of different things. Have fun determining what your “type” is and finding the people you’re attracted to!
Leigh Norén is a sex therapist and writer with a Master of Science in Sexology. She’s been featured in Thrive Global, The Good Men Project, Elephant Journal, The Tab, Glamour, The Minds Journal, and more. For more advice on attraction and relationships, visit her website. For a happier relationship and better sex life, download her free resources.
This article was originally published at Therapy by Leigh. Reprinted with permission from the author.