Being attracted to another person is a strange thing.
There are so many different reasons why you might be attracted to someone, and indeed, just as many reasons why you might not be. Have you ever found yourself being really drawn to a person who, on the surface, you would never normally go for?
Do you always end up dating guys or girls who are ridiculously similar to one another, or do you end up dating a whole range of people and can’t figure out what it is they all must have in common to make them attractive to you?
The truth is, because there are so many different reasons why you might find another person attractive, most people will end up finding that they get involved with a whole variety of different kinds of people both in terms of looks and personality. Therefore, it is rare for someone to have such a precise ‘type’ that they would never stray from that.
However, attraction theory suggests that there are certain factors that we consider important when looking for a mate, and an individual with all these qualities is someone we are far more likely to be attracted to than someone who doesn’t have them.
We are often naturally drawn to people who are like us. In terms of friendships, this may be for selfish reasons. We don’t want to surround ourselves with those who are obviously more attractive and accomplished than ourselves for fear of standing out as the “unattractive” or “unsuccessful” one.
Similarly, we don’t want to surround ourselves with those we consider far less attractive and unsuccessful than ourselves for fear of also being considered as “unattractive” and “unsuccessful” as we ourselves deem them to be!
Four factors of attraction theory
So, what are the things that influence us to decide whether we will find someone desirable or not? There are actually four factors which are routinely studied and considered scientifically proven when using attraction theory.
These are physical attractiveness, proximity, similarity, and reciprocity. Let’s take a look at each of them in greater detail.
#1 Physical attractiveness. Physical attractiveness is the most obvious factor that determines whether we are attracted to someone or not. When asked, this is always one of the top answers that people give when considering whether they would find another individual attractive.
However, physical attractiveness is determined by a number of factors, and these can vary from person to person – which is why not everyone finds the same people attractive.
Interestingly, we often do the same thing with friendships when deciding whether we find someone physically attractive or not. While we are all naturally attracted to those perfectly beautiful people who are undeniably good-looking, we are also likely to find people on a similar level of attractiveness to ourselves more desirable.
Many, many studies have been done to try to group together what we find attractive in one another. Often, signs of health are an indication of attractiveness – clear skin, lean, strong bodies, good teeth, bright eyes, shiny hair, and so on.
#2 Proximity. Proximity is certainly not the first thing that perhaps springs to mind when thinking about how to determine whether you are attracted to someone. But according to the rules of attraction theory, this actually plays a rather significant part.
This is to do with the regularity with which we see someone. The more we see someone, the more likely we are to be attracted to them! This is probably why so many relationships start from people being friends with one another. The more time we spend in another person’s company, the more we get to know and trust someone, the more we find out about them, and the more we like them.
“Now hang on a minute,” you might be saying. “What if I don’t like them, and the more I find out about them, the more I think that particular person is an idiot?” In this case, the attraction theory still stands. Because if you discover things you don’t like about a person, you are far less likely to keep spending time with them… and so you see them less and less.
However, a person you do like, you’ll spend more time with. And therefore, it’ll increase your likelihood of being attracted to them. Proximity, of course, works on a very obvious level too. You might well see someone in a gas station and think they are cute, but if you never see them again then you aren’t likely to develop a long-lasting attraction to them. The cute guy or girl that works in your local shop however, well, they are a different story!
#3 Similarity. Similarity is very important when it comes to finding people attractive. There are many different ways that you can be similar to a person. First, *which we have already mentioned* there is similarity in terms of physical attractiveness, but there is also similarity in terms of our attitudes.
This could affect everything from politics and how we view the world, to what we think of having pets and children, or our religious beliefs.
Someone who we have lots in common with in terms of our hobbies and interests is also someone we are more likely to find attractive. They reinforce our own beliefs and will be someone whose opinion we respect.
While differences are to be celebrated, of course, if you love spending your weekends going for country walks with your dog and then having drinks with friends, and the other person thinks the countryside is boring, is allergic to dogs, and is a teetotaler, it’s going to be tough to find things that you like to do together!
Your experiences and view of the world will also be completely different which could lead to arguments and feelings of frustration towards one another too.
#4 Reciprocity. We are more likely to find people attractive who are attracted to us! If someone likes us, then they are likely to treat us kindly, be nice to us, say nice things to and about us. They’ll also want to spend time with us, have fun with us, make an effort to please and impress us, and so on.
Feeling admired and being the center of someone’s attention is deeply flattering, and because we want more of it, we are likely to encourage this sort of behavior… therefore, reciprocating it.