What Are Different Types Of Attraction?

Updated December 01, 2021
Medically Reviewed By: Merlena James Leger, LPC

When we talk about attraction, many people immediately jump to the conclusion of sexual attraction. It's the one we hear the most about, after all, and so we assume that it's the only one that's out there, but that's not the case at all.

There are a number different types of attraction. Attraction occurs in different ways and in different relationships for different social, psychological, and biological reasons and each one of them is important to who we each are as individuals. Each of these types of attraction leads us to different people and helps us to become the person we are.

Here, we’ll explore romantic attraction, aesthetic attraction, physical attraction, emotional attraction, intellectual attraction, and more. We’ll also address how you can find help sorting your feelings of attraction, and end the article by looking at some frequently asked questions.

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Different Types Of Attraction

Sexual attraction is only one of the many different types out there. When you’re attracted to someone sexually, you may or may not be attracted to them in other ways and you can be attracted to people when no sexual attraction is present.

Alongside sexual attraction is romantic attraction, physical attraction, emotional attraction and aesthetic attraction. Each is entirely different, and though you may feel each of them for one person, you may feel them each for someone different.

They're also not entirely up to you.

Something in your body or your mind (or both) tells you how you feel about someone and though that feeling or type of attraction may change as you get to know them better, there's always going to be some level of intrinsic feeling in your mind.

Sexual Attraction

This is the one that we hear about the most, and it's the one that most people think of as soon as they hear the word 'attraction.' It's about looking at someone and feeling something toward them in a sexual way.

We think this about our sexual partner and hopefully the one that we choose to spend our lives with as well. But you may also feel sexual attraction to other people around you. It is a desire toward sexual touching and activity with another person. The level of strength of those feelings and their occurrence, however, could vary from person to person. It can also grow or fade over time and change in different circumstances.

Asexuals are people who don’t experience sexual attraction, though many experience romantic attraction, which we’ll talk about next. If you don’t experience sexual attraction – or even romantic attraction – it doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong with you. However, it does mean that you may need to navigate relationships more carefully than others, as most people do experience attraction in these ways and they often expect it in return.

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Romantic Attraction

Romantic Attraction is entirely separate from sexual attraction though you may feel them for the same person.

This type of attraction is where you want to be in a relationship with the person. You may want to be with them without necessarily wanting the sexual aspect of the relationship. This isn't the same as friendship, however, and the feelings will be stronger than the attraction you would feel toward a friend (we'll get to that later).

In this type of attraction, you want to be romantically involved with the individual, but sex is not required. Now that we’ve talked about sexual and romantic attraction, it may be easier to understand how they are different.

Think of celebrities that you may have a “crush” on. You may be sexually attracted to them – you may watch films or television appearances that they make, or purchase magazines with their images. But, you probably don’t think about dating them, getting married, having kids, etc., because you probably aren’t romantically attracted to them.

As was the case with sexual attraction, some people don’t experience romantic attraction. These people are called “Aromantic.” While they will still have social needs that can be satisfied through platonic relationships, they may not feel the need to date, get married, etc.

Just like we said in the case of asexuals, people who don’t get romantically attracted to another person aren’t broken or deficient, but they may have trouble navigating relationships with people who do experience these feelings.

Physical Attraction

Also called sensual attraction, this is a desire to be around others, to be physically cared for and treated with love and affection. It can occur with romantic relationships, but it doesn't have to. Think about all of the people that you touch in non-sexual and non-romantic ways – friends, parents, children, siblings.

When we are children, we have a level of physical attraction to our parents who hug and cuddle us. As we grow older, we may develop these types of relationships with our friends. These are attractions and desires for physical contact but those types of contact that are non-sexual.

You may feel a desire for your friend to hug you when you've had a bad day, for example, this is an example of physical attraction.

Asexual and even aromantic people can experience this form of attraction. However, because they don’t experience it along with other attraction behaviors that we may expect of them – because we may experience these things ourselves – this can be confusing.

The important thing is to communicate with the other person – no matter who they are and what your relationship to them is to establish consent before touching them in ways that could be misconstrued, and to ask them about their feelings before jumping to conclusions.

Emotional Attraction

To feel an emotional attraction is to want to be emotionally present with another person. When you want to share with them the things that you are feeling you feel an emotional attraction. You may have this with friends, family or romantic partners - or you may have some level of it with all three.

Having healthy emotional attachments and feeling as though you can share your feelings with others is extremely important and it makes for a healthier lifestyle. You should have several people that you feel you can share your emotions and feelings with.

Aesthetic Attraction

Finally, this type of attraction is what happens when you see someone walking down the street and think that they look good.

Many of us look at celebrities this way and think that they are cute, hot, gorgeous, etc. This type of attraction is not the same as physical attraction or sexual attraction because you may feel no desire to touch or be touched by the person that you find aesthetically pleasing. You simply notice the way that they look much in the way you might notice when someone has a nice car or when there is a sculpture in front of a building.

It doesn't mean that there can't be a physical or sexual attraction at the same time, but there is not necessarily.

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Overall, each of the different types of attraction is important in our lives. They occur with different people, and they tend to ebb and flow throughout our lives. The type of person we have a sexual attraction to at 19 or 20 may not be the same type of person that we do at 40 or 50. The person we have an aesthetic attraction to definitely won't be. But that's part of how we grow and develop.

Intellectual Attraction

You may have heard the term “Intellectual attraction” before as well. This kind of attraction isn’t quite in the same ballpark as the other kinds of attraction that we’ve talked about, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t worth discussing.

Intellectual attraction refers to the desire to interact with people on a more cerebral level. You may want to spend time with them because of the topics that you discuss, or because someone makes you think about things in new and challenging ways.

Some people find that they need to feel intellectually attracted to someone in order to feel emotionally attracted or even romantically attracted to them, but that isn’t the case for everybody. Different people in different relationships can fill different roles and needs in our lives.

Because of its strictly non-physical nature, many people consider intellectual attraction to be an aspect of emotional attraction.

Getting Help

If you have trouble forming attachments or don't feel any of these types of attraction to anyone, you may want to seek out professional help. As mentioned above, not feeling some forms of attraction for others isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though it may mean that you have to navigate relationships in a different way – and that may require some guidance.

Sexual attraction is not present in everyone but having an emotional attraction or physical attraction is something that helps us to grow in healthy and positive ways. It means having someone that can be there for you to support your feelings and to comfort you, which are two extremely important parts of your life.

BetterHelp is one place that you can find out more about different types of attraction and how they are occurring in your life. With this online service, you get to connect with professionals from all over the country to find out more about what you're going through and about yourself.

You'll be able to talk with someone anywhere you want, and from anywhere you want, which makes it convenient. No more going downtown to the psychiatrist's office, you can instead just log on to your computer from your favorite room in the house and your most comfortable spot and just like that you're ready to go and ready to get help.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. What are the different types of attraction?

There are different types of attraction, although only sexual attraction is frequently spoken of. Other types of attraction include physical attraction, which is based on desirable physical features. The emotional attraction type is usually on the basis of how connected you are with the other person's soul- the intellect and mind. Sexual attraction, on the other hand, occurs when you have sexual feelings for someone. Aesthetic attraction is for the physical attributes and not because you want any sexual relations. Finally, romantic attraction is somewhat like sexual attraction, but the twist is that it is usually based on the want for a romantic relationship.

  1. What are the stages of attraction?

The stages of attraction have been described, to begin with, physical attraction, intellectual attraction to obsession, confirmation, and then love or commitment.

The physical attraction occurs after the first or initial meeting. You may begin to notice certain features and impressions are made. As conversations continue, there might be an attraction to the intellect. After these stages, obsession would set in, which involves the desire to spend more time with your love interest. Confirmation can now occur, especially if the attraction is mutual, which will blossom into a love relationship.

  1. What are the different types of asexuality?

Asexuality is a major topic of discussion in the broad asexual spectrum identities. Asexuals do not feel sexually attracted to anyone.

Although there are certain types, some asexuals may be repulsed by sexual attractions, so they do not want any sexual activity.

Some might be neutral while another group may actually have sexual attractions but are not open about having sex. Most asexual humans can tell if someone is “attractive,” but they normally don't get attracted to anyone. In other words, they hardly have crushes, and they are bored with movie sex scenes.

However, the whole point of this article is that not all kinds of attraction are the same. While they won’t experience sexual attraction, asexuals may experience romantic attraction, sensual attraction, physical attraction,  and aesthetic attraction.

  1. What is attraction for a girl?

Attraction for a girl might be for the physical traits or emotional appeal. The physical could be the voice, hair, smile, muscle build, dentition, eye color, etc.

A girl can find someone emotionally appealing if such a person can connect with her soul on a really sweet level. It can also be influenced by biological factors such as pheromones, and socially attractive traits such as status, occupation, and wealth.

  1. What are the 5 factors of attraction?

The factors of attraction that are obvious across the board include physical attractiveness, proximity, familiarity, similarity, and reciprocity.

Many a time, we are attracted to people that we consider to be physically attractive. Proximity, being in the same geographical location, favors attraction as well. Proximity and familiarity go hand-in-hand. On the other hand, similarity allows people of the same religion, social class, race, academic level, etc., to breed attraction. Reciprocity aids attraction because we come to like people who like us in return.

  1. How does a man act when he's falling in love?

When a man is falling in love, he cannot hide it. You will see it in the way he wants to spend time with you, and when he does, he makes you comfortable.

He wants you to feel safe, so he holds you too. He loves to talk with you and makes eye contact with you. He smiles at your jokes and makes you feel like the most important person in the world.

On most occasions, men could have problems focusing on any other thing besides you. Also, the man may tend to be blinded to your flaws. When a man is falling with you, he may start to touch more often than ever. For instance, he may start to touch your shoulders, your hands, and other parts of your body to comfort you.

  1. What are the 7 stages of love?

The seven stages of love, as described by the Sufi traditions, are attraction, attachment, love, trust, worship, madness, and death.

The attraction is the first stage where both parties find each other interesting. The next is attachment, where intending partners want to spend more time together. The love stage is the point where individuals are madly into each other. It is followed by trust, and lovers begin to trust each other more than anyone else.

The stage of worship is that stage where you may feel that there is no fault in your partner. It is followed by madness, which is characterized by obsession by the partner. Death here means that both parties now see themselves as incomplete without the other person.

  1. What are the 5 stages of dating?

The stages of dating are 5 in number viz attraction, reality, commitment, intimacy, and then, engagement. Many dating relationships experience some or all of these stages.

Attraction is that the initial stage filled with fantasy because your new partner is seemingly flawless. Then, reality creeps in, and you begin to see that your partner is just human, after all. When the reality phase has settled in, you may choose to commit and lock the door against other possible human interferences. It shows that you have created the human sides of your partner and the flaws too.

The stage of intimacy allows you to bond with your partner and invest in making your relationship work. And in the final stage of engagement, partners are willing to spend the rest of their lives together. With these stages, you can decide if you both are made for each other.

  1. Can you be straight asexual?

It is somewhat dicey to use the term 'straight asexual' because 'straight' means you are attracted to the opposite sex. 'Asexual,' on the other hand, means you do not have sexual feelings for anyone.

However, it is possible to tell that someone is attractive without being sexually attracted to them. Straight is a slang used to imply heterosexual. It typically implies attraction to the opposite gender. However, if the attraction is sexual, then you cannot be both straight (heterosexual) and asexual at the same time.

Within the asexual community the term “Gray Asexual,” “Grace,” or "Gray-Aces" is used to describe people who experience sexual attraction on rare occasions (or under specific circumstances). Gray-aces may choose to act on this attraction or not. It's important to note that all sexualities are valid, and whether gray-aces choose to act on their attraction or not does not diminish the validity of their sexuality. 

  1. What men look for in a woman physically?

Men have different preferences for the woman of their dreams. However, men desire a woman with an appealing body shape typical of an ideal woman. That is, the hourglass shape with a low waist-to-hip ratio, good fragrance on them, nice hair, and a warm smile with a beautiful set of teeth.

On an average scale, men like women with nice looking body parts. For instance, men get attracted to a woman’s breast, butt, eyes, lips, ears, skin, legs, and hair. A common thing that guys are very interested in is general facial symmetry. This implies that the woman must have balanced facial features like full lips, broad face, small nose, high cheekbones, smooth skin, wide-set eyes, and small chin.

  1. What makes you sexually attracted to someone?

What makes one sexually attracted to someone varies from person to person. It could be as basic as the voice. Soft-spoken voice or husky voice may make someone securely appealing to the other person. Certain facial traits like the shape of the face, nose, angle of the eyes, and size of lips may be appealing to some. In the same vein, some smells either of the body or fragrances may turn individuals on. The body shape can also make someone be sexually attractive.

  1. How do guys express their love?

Men express their love in several unique ways. Expression of their love may vary from person to person based on their love languages or that of their partners. They could employ words of affirmation, quality time, physical touch, acts of service, plenty of gifts and loads of surprises. Talking about saying the words 'I love you,' research has shown that men wait for about three months to say the three magic words.

On most occasions, men express their love during lovemaking because they feel a stronger bond of love during and after sex. That’s not just men being crazed for sex – sex releases an explosion of feel-good chemicals in the brain that hand around for quite a while afterword.

A man who shows his love or expresses his love to you makes you feel safe. Usually, that man will not give you any reason to doubt if he’s in love with you or not. Most men love showing their love and affection by showering their partners with loads of gifts and constantly showing them care.

  1. How quickly do men fall in love?

Many men fall in love in a pretty dramatic way. It is quite fast for the first stage of falling in love. Men can begin to fall in love some seconds after meeting a lady they perceive to be really attractive. Most of the time, men typically fall in love faster than women. After about three months, men are typically able to say those three magical love words. Most men tend to express their love much faster than a woman. So, if a man is really in love with you, he would not deny it.

Once he falls in love with you quickly, he would start touching your body more often. For instance, he may find excuses to touch your forearm, shoulder, hand, and other parts of your body. Most men take these steps because they just want to show you a sign of comfort. Ultimately, a man that is in love with you will protect you, make you feel secure in him, and shower you with so much warmth.

  1. How do you know you're falling in love?

When you are falling in love, it will be evident in your body language and emotions. Although it feels different for different people, there are some common signs. In your emotions, you discover that you think about them more, and you want to communicate with them by all means. Everything feels so new and really thrilling. Above all, you start to think about the future, and your plan is drawn with your partner in it.

In the early stages of falling in love, you might have serious problems getting your mind off them. Primarily, this is because the brain releases phenylethylamine, which is also known as the love drug when you really can't get someone off your mind. When you're falling in love with someone, you may want to share all you have with them. In essence, you want to experience life with them and have sweet memories.

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