It’s not a stretch to suppose that you, like most Americans, want to be attractive. After all, Americans are expected to spend over 62 billion dollars on cosmetics in 2016. Yet, these investments aren’t because you (or anyone else) are strange.
In his ted talk, Denis Dutton, explains that we are evolutionarily predisposed to prefer beauty. And if evolution weren’t enough, we are increasingly bombarded with messages about our bodies that encourage us to strive for unrealistic ideals.
So, where does this leave you? Proud of the 12 pounds you’ve lost since the New Year? Bashful about the jeans you just picked up from Amazon? Smiling across the bar? Whatever your story, you have some influence over your attractiveness to others, but not total influence.
The more you understand about attractiveness, the more you might be able to influence those around you and, more importantly, release some of the unrealistic expectations you have about yourself.
What follows are 5 important rules of attraction that I often share with my clients – and now I’m passing on to you!
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1. Physical Attraction
Let’s start with the obvious – people are attracted to physical beauty. Often, these physical attributes are exaggerations of femininity and masculinity. For example, women often find men who are tall and have broad shoulders, symmetrical faces, and fairly V-shaped torsos (alluding to both presence of muscle and muscle tone) attractive. Men commonly find women with large breasts, big lips, proportionally wider hips than waist attractive. (There is a lot more for science to learn about attraction for lgbt people!) However, some of these characteristics are altered by media images or even among different cultures.
The importance of physical attraction over other types of attraction depends, to some extent, on the person making the judgement. People who highly monitor their actions, place more emphasis on other’s physical attraction than those who don’t highly monitor their actions. In long term relationships, there may also be gender differences whereby men place a greater importance on physical attractiveness than women do. Evolutionary psychologists believe that this can be explained by different levels of parental investment. Because the investment for men to be a parent is smaller, they can maximize their reproduction and, therefore, are attracted to women who appear more fertile (i.e., look young and healthy). Women, on the other hand, have made evolutionarily larger parent investments. Therefore, may place less emphasis on physical attraction in long-term relationships and, instead, focus on the likelihood of a mate’s support (i.e., resources, generosity, status, etc.).
more: Why Men Fall In Love
Smell, or more accurately, pheromones play a role in attractiveness too. Pheromones are chemicals that bear a specific scent and communicate below our conscious level. They indicate to others that we are sexually attractive, even if the person can’t see us and we haven’t spoken. In one experiment, women smelling sweaty men’s t-shirts were able to identify which of the men’s faces were more symmetrical (a commonly reported feature of attractiveness). Perfume companies have, for years, attempted to mimic the impact of pheromones with their scents. But, since they are far from mastering it, don’t count on manipulating your pheromones to be more attractive.
3. Personality Traits
If you’re hot (or not), don’t be fooled – personal characteristics play a huge part in how attractive someone is! In fact, a large reason that physical attractiveness is important for overall attraction is because we perceive physically attractive people to be more positive, pleasant, warm, friendly and social. Although these perceptions are rooted in stereotypes, they often become self-fulfilling when people act differently around physically attractive people. These actions, then, bring out the best in physically attractive people and confirm the perceiver’s original expectation.
With that said, kindness and honesty matter. Researchers found that people rated pictures of faces more attractive, when they were accompanied by positive descriptions like kind and honest. They called this the “halo effect.”
Intellectual aspects of personality matter to overall attractiveness too. We have generally short attention spans, so we find people who are interesting more attractive. Have you ever been on a date with someone that you thought was physically gorgeous, but boring? Did you have a second or third date? Most people lose attraction to these kinds of people quickly. Something to consider is to share the unique parts of yourself. Share something that others might not expect – it will make you more interesting and, ultimately, more attractive. Similarly, we are all more interested and attracted when people seem emotionally available. This doesn’t mean that you have to share everything you’re feeling, but don’t afraid to acknowledge and share emotions. Finally, be engaged! When people worry that others won’t like them, they tend to withdrawal. Fight this urge! Stay engaged. Focus on the moment, and let thoughts roll off, bringing your attention back to the conversation and other person.
4. Positive Interactions
Ever find yourself attracted to your co-workers? There is a reason for that – interaction leads to liking (most of time). Generally, humans need others to navigate the world. As we interact with others and the interaction is rewarding, either personally or because it helps us meet a need, we tend to view the other person favorably. Interactions also help us to feel connected, which leads to more liking; and, the more interactions that we have with others, the more similar we feel to them. If you’re thinking, but negative interactions suck, you’re right. Frequent interactions that aren’t pleasant or don’t meet your needs aren’t reinforcing and decrease attraction. So, interact with your crush, and do it regularly, but make the interactions rewarding.
5. Similarity Matters
The adage is true – similarities attract. Not only are we more attracted to similar others because we interact with them more, but also because the interactions are typically more positive. Similar others validate our beliefs more often and it feels good to be validated. We are also more likely to assume that similar others like us, and being liked is a strong reason to like a person back. Although you aren’t likely to authentically change who you are to be more similar to someone else, consider if your words, actions, and body language demonstrate your attraction.
Although science has helped explain to whom and why we might be attracted (and might be attracted to us), attraction is still a personal preference. Be healthy, kind, available, engaged, authentic, and around, and you’ve already built the foundation.
Want to find out if the man you want really likes you? Click here to take our quick (and shockingly accurate) “Does He Like You?” Quiz right now and find out if he likes you…
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These Are The 5 Areas Of Attraction
- Physical attraction
- Smells and pheromones
- The attraction of different personality traits
- Positive interactions with each other
- Similarity and compatibility with each other
Dr. Tyler Fortman is a Licensed Psychologist in the state of Illinois. He helps individuals and couples reach important life goals. To learn more about him, visit Couples Counseling Chicago.