Attraction refers to the strong pull between an individual and some other person or object. It can come in many different forms including sexual, romantic, physical, intellectual, or emotional. Learn more about navigating the
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Medically Reviewed By: Aaron Horn, LMFT, MA
The concept of attraction can be difficult to understand, particularly because of all the potential factors involved with it. However, because humans are social creatures and may experience attraction regularly, it can be an important area to explore. In simple terms, attraction is when one person is drawn to another. There may be a sense of longing or desire that accompanies feelings of attraction. One person might be drawn to another physically, emotionally, intellectually, sexually, or romantically. Attraction can be complex, but the articles in this section may help you sort out your own thoughts and feelings in this area. Keep reading to learn more about the different aspects of attraction and why they might be worth exploring.
The Split Attraction Model
When you think of attraction, you might picture a couple who is drawn to one another in every way imaginable— physically, emotionally, intellectually, sexually, romantically, and so forth. However, this isn’t 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 have no desire for a sexual relationship. This refers to split attraction, a term coined by the LGBTQ+ community to help individuals define their unique orientations and identities with more specificity and ease.
In recent years, we have begun to understand that attraction is a lot more complex than we originally thought. We now understand that gender identity and sexual identity are two very different things. We have expanded our view of sexual identity to include people who are heterosexual, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and more.
The celebration of Pride Month has played a large role in spreading awareness of these varying identities and promoting inclusivity. As a result, more and more people feel comfortable embracing their true selves and living authentically.
Now, let’s explore some of the factors that can influence attraction.
Some people are attracted to intelligence. Many individuals report that they find intelligence sexy, and there’s even a term for this concept: sapiosexual.
There are many justifiable reasons for intelligence as an attraction point. Some people are attracted to intelligence because they believe that it will lead to a strong relationship and a successful future family. Others may be attracted to intelligence because it is a lasting trait, and while looks may fade with time, wisdom continues to grow.
Of course, 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.
Pheromones are powerful, naturally produced airborne chemicals that can draw one person to another through the sense of smell. Every person has a unique body odor, and when their pheromones are released with their scent, other people may subconsciously become attracted to them. Because pheromones cannot be readily observed, they can be considered a hidden aspect of attraction.
Attraction is not always communicated verbally. With 55% of communication being nonverbal, it may come as no surprise that body language has the potential to say a lot more than words can. Body language can tell others how you feel about them, how confident you are, and even how successful you might be.
Sometimes, 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, lots of smiling, or by turning one’s body toward the object of desire. Typically, people who are drawn to one another want to be physically close.
On the other hand, gestures such as crossing one’s arms or avoiding eye contact could convey disinterest. However, note that body language can vary from person to person, and it can take some time to assess how someone truly feels. Often, vague body language gestures can be clarified with a few more context clues. Taken together with words, you may be able to assess how someone feels about you.
Because few people are direct enough to tell you whether they like you or not, you may need to use different signs and clues to come to a conclusion yourself. Or, if you’re feeling bold, you may consider simply asking the other person.
Types Of Attraction
While navigating the subject of attraction, it can be important to keep in mind that people can be attracted to each other for a wide variety of reasons. Attraction can be based on lust or romance, sexuality or physical preferences, intelligence or personality, and more. Just because someone isn’t attracted to a person in one area doesn’t mean they won’t be drawn to them in another. Humans are complex beings, and our feelings about others can sway and vary depending on many factors.
In general, approaching attraction with an open mind may help you work out your unanswered questions and concerns more effectively. Living as your authentic self and letting others do the same can be vital, but it may take some time to reach that point. Remember, too, that attraction can change with time, reinforcing the importance of staying open-minded.
The articles in this section may be useful if you still want to learn more about the topic of attraction and explore your own feelings about the subject.
Online Therapy For Questions And Concerns About Attraction
Attraction can be a complex and confusing subject to navigate. If you have concerns or questions that are still lingering after reading through the information provided here, you might consider connecting with a therapist through an online therapy platform like BetterHelp. With online therapy, you can discuss whatever is on your mind from your home or anywhere else you feel comfortable and 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 more happiness and personal fulfillment.
The Efficacy Of Online Therapy For Couples
Attraction can be a powerful force in a relationship, but it can also be a source of contention. In these cases, couples may benefit from online counseling. 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 strong therapeutic alliance throughout the process and saw improvements in relationship satisfaction, mental health, and all other outcome scores over time.
While feeling attracted to someone else can feel exciting, in some cases, it may also be confusing or complicated. From sexual to romantic to emotional attraction, there can be a lot of factors to consider and work through. By understanding the different types of attraction and identifying how you relate to other people, you can more deeply understand yourself. If you’re struggling with concerns related to attraction, consider reading more articles in this section or connecting with a licensed online therapist through BetterHelp.