Attraction refers to sexual, romantic, physical, intellectual, or emotional desire toward another person. Although it is often referred to in sexual settings, attraction can encompass various unique experiences. The following articles discuss topics like passion, love, pheromones, friendships, and the reasons humans desire other humans. These articles may offer insight into why you choose the people you choose in your life and how to have more genuine connections.
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Medically reviewed by Melissa Guarnaccia, LCSW
The concept of attraction can be challenging to understand because it involves various emotions and behaviors. However, because humans are social creatures and may experience attraction regularly, exploring attraction in more depth can be valuable.
On a base level, attraction means one human’s longing for another. There may be a sense of longing or desire that accompanies attraction. One person might be drawn to another physically, emotionally, intellectually, sexually, or romantically. Attraction can be complex, but many people experience it, and you’re not alone in the unique ways you experience your desire for others.
The Split Attraction Model
When you think of attraction, you might picture a couple who are drawn to one another physically, emotionally, intellectually, sexually, and romantically at the same time. However, this form of attraction might not be the case for everyone.
Some people may be sexually attracted to another person without experiencing romantic feelings for them. Likewise, others may be romantically attracted to someone but do not desire a sexual relationship. This theory refers to split attraction, a term coined by the LGBTQ+ community to help individuals define their unique attraction-related identities.
The definition of attraction has changed throughout the years. More insights have shown that gender and sexual identity are different. People can identify in many ways, including as heterosexual, lesbian, gay, bisexual, asexual, and aromantic, among others.
The celebration of Pride Month has played a significant role in spreading awareness of these varying identities and promoting inclusivity. As a result, more people may be comfortable living as their authentic selves authentically. Attraction is just one ingredient of identity that may play a part.
Factors That May Influence Attraction
Below are a few factors that could influence whether one is attracted to another person.
Some people are attracted to intelligence and find this trait sexy or alluring. Some people may be attracted to intelligence because they believe it will lead to a strong relationship and a successful future. Others may be attracted to intelligence because it is a lasting trait, and while looks may fade with time, wisdom continues to grow.
However, intelligence can be subjective. Some people like those who are book smart, and others like those who are street smart. Further, a person might be attracted to someone’s intelligence in a particular subject and may not necessarily be attracted to the rest of what they know.
When identifying as someone attracted to intelligence, it may be helpful not to use terms like “sapiosexuality,” which differs from an LGBTQ+ identity. LGBTQ+ people experience oppression and unique systemic challenges that people attracted to intelligence do not, so their experiences differ.
In addition, not everyone who identifies as “sapiosexual” may have the same idea of what “intelligence” is, meaning “sapiosexuality” is not the same in all types of people. Finding intelligence sexy is normal, and you’re not alone if you do. However, it doesn’t mean other people don’t find other forms of intelligence sexy, too, such as creativity or spatial awareness. Each person is different, so understanding attraction through a diverse lens can be helpful and reduce the chances of ableism.
Pheromones are powerful, naturally produced airborne chemicals. These chemicals have been found in animals but have yet to be physically studied or observed in humans. Although scientists believe humans may have pheromones and that these chemicals may play a part in attraction, their exact impact is still being studied. This aspect of attraction is considered a theory until direct physical evidence is gathered on pheromones.
Attraction is not necessarily verbally communicated in every situation. 55% of communication is non-verbal, so body language may communicate much about what someone feels or thinks.
You may be able to read someone else’s body language to determine whether they’re attracted to you. Attraction may be communicated through prolonged eye contact, smiling, or body positioning. People who are physically attracted to each other often want to be physically close.
Gestures like crossing one’s arms or avoiding eye contact could convey disinterest. However, body language can vary from person to person, and it can take time to assess how someone truly feels. Vague body language gestures can often be clarified with a few more context clues. Used together with one’s words, you may be able to assess how someone feels about you. However, if you want 100% certainty, the most effective way to know if someone likes you is to ask them directly.
Types Of Attraction
While navigating the subject of attraction, note that people can be attracted to each other for various reasons. Attraction can be based on lust, romance, sexuality, physical preferences, intelligence, and personality, among other traits. In addition, people can experience different forms of attraction for the same person. For example, one might be attracted to a person’s intelligence and smile but not their body. Humans are complex, and desire can also fluctuate.
Approaching attraction with an open mind may help you solve unanswered questions and concerns more effectively. Living authentically and letting others do the same can be vital, but reaching that point may take some time. Be open-minded, and consider seeking support if you’re unsure about your identity and how it affects attraction.
Attraction can be a complex and confusing subject to navigate. If you have concerns or questions that are still lingering after reading about attraction, you might benefit from speaking to a mental health professional.
If discussing attraction is difficult, you might also consider an online therapy platform like BetterHelp. With online therapy, you can discuss whatever is on your mind from home or anywhere you have an internet connection. The guidance of a therapist can help you answer questions about your identity, discover what you need in a relationship, and lead you toward relationship fulfillment.
Attraction can be a powerful force in a relationship but also a source of contention. In these cases, couples may benefit from online counseling through a platform like ReGain. In one study, researchers assessed the efficacy of a videoconferencing intervention and found that it was a viable alternative to face-to-face interventions. Couples experienced a robust therapeutic alliance throughout the process and saw improvements in relationship satisfaction, mental health, and other outcome scores over time.
While attraction to someone else can be exciting, it may also be confusing or complicated. From sexual to romantic to emotional attraction, there can be several factors to consider and work through. By understanding the different types of attraction and identifying how you relate to other people, you may start to understand yourself in more depth. If you’re struggling with concerns related to attraction, consider reading more articles about attraction or connecting with a licensed therapist for support.