Relationships

The science behind attraction: What draws you to someone?

How many times has your best friend, the person you know the best in the whole wide world, fallen for someone you never expected? For me, I don’t have enough fingers and toes to count. And if we’re being honest here, there have been times that I’ve fallen for guys I never would have picked for myself. Attraction is a funny thing like that. There are some key factors that you can count on, but there’s also a lot of mystery involved. If you’re looking to lessen your future shock factor, you might want to know some of the key elements behind attraction. So here they are.

Physical looks

It’s no secret that looks play a huge role in attraction. After all, you have to find a person attractive to be attracted to him. That’s not to say that if you’re not George Clooney, you’re never getting laid. Of course that’s not that case. But, well, George Clooney and George Clooney-lookalikes probably get laid a lot more often than Steve Urkel and his lookalikes. You get me?

Size

Get your mind out of the gutter. I’m not talking about the size of that. That’s for another post, ladies! I’m talking about general size. And this goes both ways, male and female. Women are attracted to men bigger and taller than themselves. And men are attracted to women smaller than themselves. With men looking at women, they’re also attracted to the size of their hips, waist and bust. There’s a ratio thing going on there that will subconsciously make men swoon. And remember I said ratio. So just because you’re a member of the itty-bitty-titty committee, don’t think you’re automatically out of the size attraction.

Similarity

You know the expression opposites attract? Well, ignore it. Opposites really don’t attract. Being similar to your partner is what makes for a successful long-term relationship. And even with initial attraction, looking the same — similar in upbringing, similar in race and similar in style — makes for a stronger attraction. You’re more likely to fall for someone who looks more like you.

X-factor

And here’s the bullet point where science and statistics can take a back seat. There’s a x-factor in attraction that just can’t be quantified. For example, you can be attracted to someone’s energy or their confidence or their presence. And reading signs like this is why I know I’ll always have a job. There’s no way a machine or formula can read x-factor the way I can. And even though I’m occasionally surprised, I’m more right than wrong. Way more right!

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  • Carole

    I enjoy your show tremendously. Why don’t you have some shows dedicated to seniors? I am talking say…50 to 60 and above. I am sure you would tap into another avenue of audience that may surprise and delight your viewers. After all, there are millions of baby boomers out there in the same predicament as the young folks. As the saying goes…”there’s a lid for every pot”…..`young, old, everyone deserves to be loved!

    Sincerely, Carole

  • http://www.twitter.com/marissamariko Marissa Lee

    Hi Patti,

    I think you proposed very accurate factors that contribute to one’s ability to feel attraction toward another person!

    In addition to your listed elements, I think it is also important to consider the role that proximity plays in attraction. I learned in a previous sociology course that people tend to prefer people whom they live near or see often, since this interaction–whether direct or indirect–may increase the person’s familiarity with the other. This familiarity, in effect, increases attraction. Furthermore, proximity may also be related to similarity, since specific interests and activities may lead people to interact in specific geographic locations.

    However, I was the most intrigued by your proposal of the X-factor element. Since it cannot be defined or quantified, it cannot be studied. We can’t estimate which “type” of X-factor is the most influential in determining whether a person is attracted to another. What I would be interested in, though, is to what degree the X-factor has in determining whether there is attraction or not. When compared to the other elements that you listed, how much more or less important is the X-factor in determining attraction?

    • Adey J

      As you say the factor is ‘familiarity’ rather than proximity. Proximity just increases the likelihood of familiarity. Seeing someone on TV everyday increases familiarity, though they could live thousands of miles away – I suppose the proximity of their image could count… though theory chooses familiarity over proximity.

  • https://twitter.com/marissamariko Marissa Lee

    Hi Patti,

    I think you proposed very accurate factors that contribute to one’s ability to feel attraction toward another person!

    In addition to your listed elements, I think it is also important to consider the role that proximity plays in attraction. I learned in a previous sociology course that people tend to prefer people whom they live near or see often, since this interaction–whether direct or indirect–may increase the person’s familiarity with the other. This familiarity, in effect, increases attraction. Furthermore, proximity may also be related to similarity, since specific interests and activities may lead people to interact in specific geographic locations.

    However, I was the most intrigued by your proposal of the X-factor element. Since it cannot be defined or quantified, it cannot be studied. We can’t estimate which “type” of X-factor is the most influential in determining whether a person is attracted to another. What I would be interested in, though, is to what degree the X-factor has in determining whether there is attraction or not. In other words, when compared to the other elements that you listed, how much more or less important is the X-factor in determining attraction?

  • Tammi

    Hi Patti,

    I love your show and I watch it all the way in Wales. I agree with all your points that you’ve made about what attracts a person. I always fall for the guys who seem perfect but then 3 years down the line they leave me. I’m picky and I need ‘the package’ (and not in the rude sense). My friend’s have advised me to go just for personality and to date them a few times until I eventually grow to like them. Do you agree with this? I have always believe that you need a spark; the looks and definitely the personality and similar interests. My ex had all these qualities but he was 5 years younger, commitment scared him and so he left me and left the country.

    I am a really nice girl! I keep fit, I’m cute, I have a personality. My problem is that when I fall in love I fall hard.

    I don’t know where I’m going wrong.

    Thanks,

    Tammi

  • Paul

    Hi Patty,

    Given the title of the article, I expected something different. I had the impression I would be reading some college level research. You could have covered the controversy that oxytocin is the drug produced in the brain that makes us attracted to our own kind. You could have covered the precise measurement differential ( eleven inches ) which is considered worldwide as the perfect ratio between chest and waist for men and chest, waist and hips for women. But since this article is more for entertainment than information, I suppose it served it’s purpose.

    Thanks,

    Paul