Why are we attracted to some people and not others? Why am I sexually attracted to this woman when no one else is? Why am I NOT sexually attracted to someone that everyone else is? What are some ways to become more attractive?
These have been only some of the questions that were asked of me after my last posting on Personal and Interpersonal Relations. There was also a slew of questions regarding myths or ‘old wives’ tales about attraction. I’m going to discuss some of these questions; what has been scientifically documented, what has no validity, and why I have the opinions that I have.
“We are more attracted to others who look like us.”
I stated in my last post that people who are similar in appearance, intelligence, and moral compass tend to be more attractive to each other. This is a very common thought. There have been a lot of studies that have validated this, and we see it all the time without realizing it. You have the couple who look like Barbie and Ken, and you see a tall woman with a tall man. However, this is just a generalization and I find this to be not entirely accurate. As I had said in a previous post, sometimes you see an average Joe with the beauty queen, or you see the plain-Jane with the football star.
When we talk about across the globe, we see people from the same ethnicity and culture together. Most of the time, couples become a couple because of their cultural beliefs, many of them being that you cultivate a marriage with someone who is similar. Again, this is especially true in other countries. For example, a man from Germany marries a German woman.
However, here in Southern California, we are a melting pot of races, ethnicities, and cultures. We are exposed to so many different kinds of people that we have the pick of the lot.
As with physical attraction, it is only the beginning of what could become an intimate relationship. Being sexually attracted to someone who is similar to you doesn’t always mean similar in appearance. Similar could be in intelligence or hobbies.
I, myself, am an average looking woman. Not super skinny, my features not so symmetrical (talk about that below), with plain brown eyes and hair. With that description, you could throw a rock and find a girl who fits my description. However, I am attracted to the physical opposite of myself; tall (I’m short), light eyes, light hair, light skin, and overall what is considered to be physically attractive to other women. I dated popular, handsome, sport-star kind of guys all my life. There is a confidence level that can make the plainest looking person become the most attractive in the room. Confidence is one very attractive attribute.
“Are ‘Beer Goggles’ a real, psychological phenomenon?”
This is a fortunate and unfortunate truth, depending on if you are the one wearing the goggles or not. Lots of research shows that the more a person drinks, the level of attractiveness of someone else becomes higher. My friend has a shirt that says, “You look like I need another beer.” Although humorous, it is rather accurate.
Now, this isn’t true of everyone. You have people who are mean or violent when they drink. And you have those who get sad or depressed. But overall, the more you drink the more attractive the person next to you can be. Also, interestingly enough, the more you drink, the more you think that YOU are attractive. This is where the term ‘liquid courage’ comes from; the more you drink, the more you think others find you attractive.
We do need to be careful with these beer goggles because it doesn’t mean people who are not at all attracted to us will magically now be hitting on us. Rather, the concept of beer goggles is that it intensifies the attraction, from mild to high, or from high to “let’s go to my place.”
I like my glass of wine and I like to drink wine while looking across the table from someone I find attractive. It doesn’t necessarily ‘up’ their attractiveness but rather it can create a higher self-confidence of myself.
“Pick-up lines don’t actually work”
What was the best pick-up line that was used on you, or that you used on someone else? Here’s a list of ones that I have personally heard or used:
“Do I know you, ‘cuz you look like my next ex-wife”
“I lost my phone number; can I have yours?”
“Aside from being sexy, what else do you do for a living?”
“Do you believe in love at first sight, or should I walk by again?”
“You don’t need keys to drive me crazy”
(My personal favorite) “My buddies bet me that I couldn’t start a conversation with the hottest girl in here. Wanna have a drink with their money?”
When it comes to what women find attractive, we like a man who can make us laugh. A good sense of humor can go a long way. There is also a level of confidence that both men and women find sexually attractive. Then there are awkward, arrogant and just plain cheesy lines that are pretty much a turn-off.
Several studies have been done regarding different approaches to meeting someone new. There’s the over-the-top ‘cute’ approach which would include all of the lines listed above. Then, there’s the more innocuous approach which is a question without any seemingly overt pressure like, “I’ve never been here, what’s good on the menu?” or “Have you read any good books lately?” Finally, there’s the most direct approach which is basically saying “Hi” or “Can I buy you a drink?” Although all approaches are used, both men and women have stated that they prefer the innocuous and direct approach the most while men seemed to like the ‘cute’ approaches far more than women do.
Now, with that being said, as a woman if a man that I find to be particularly, physically attractive came up to me in a bar and said, “Is it hot in here or is it just you?” I would probably laugh and offer him a seat. If it was said by someone I did not find attractive, my response would be the total opposite.
So, what’s the end result? The direct approach without a pick-up line would work the best, but really you have to ‘know your audience’ because if the person you want to meet isn’t attracted to you initially, it’s not going to really matter what you say.
“We are more attracted to others who remind us of our parents”
With Dr. Sigmund Freud’s teachings on the Oedipus complex (and Electra complex), the concept of ‘marrying your mother’ took flight. This complex is basically a son being sexually attractive to his mother (Electra is the daughter wanting her dad). ‘Ewe’ was the first word that came out of my mouth when I was a teenager when I first was taught about this complex.
After doing a lot of research over the years, I found this concept is true for birds, fish, and in mammals, including humans. No, I’m not talking about wanting to have sex with our parents. I’m talking about positive sexual imprinting – the choosing of a sexual partner with a similar look to their parent(s). With animals, this is mother nature’s way to avoid goats mating with sheep or birds mating with other species of birds. Animals learn who to mate with by their reflections of their parents. So, if a sheep raises a goat, the goat will try to mate with a sheep instead of a goat.
Now, how or why does it happen with humans. Same reason, really. We learn what to expect from a sexual partner by our parents. It is known that people who are raised in an abusive home either become abusive or they continue to have abusive relationships. This is also parental imprinting. Men and women tend to choose sexual partners who resemble their mother or father in areas of similar ethnicity, height, weight, hair and eye color.
Research does substantiate this concept; however, it has changed drastically over the past 50 years or so. Especially here in the United States where, again, we are exposed to so many different types of people. Personally, I only once dated someone who was similar to myself (and my father). Other than that, my attraction went a whole other direction. Look at who you have had as a partner and see if there are indeed similarities to your parents.
“All the senses need to decide attraction”
We use all of our senses to find a suitable mate for any long-term relationship. Let’s say you start dating someone you are physically attracted to. After a few days you realize that you like the way they smell and taste but realize you want her to not talk; you can’t stand to hear her voice. That is a deal-breaker. Not satisfying all of our senses makes it difficult to maintain the attraction.
I agree with this, for the most part. There are some people who can ‘settle’ with someone who doesn’t quite fulfill all of the sensory desires. And that’s okay; many people have long-lasting relationships with someone who they don’t like the way their partner smells. They just invest in cologne.
“Faces that are symmetrical are the most attractive”
Most professional models have faces that are symmetrical. Take a look at models in magazines or on billboards and commercials. They are looked upon as being super attractive. A person with a face that is even and equal on both sides tells prospective sexual partners that they have good genes. Although it seems to be an unconscious thought, men and women view each other first as a sexual partner; if there is no attraction then there’s a possibility of friendship or of discommunication. So, when you meet someone with a symmetrical face, you find them to be more attractive than someone with a lopsided face: crooked nose, one eye higher than another, etc.
In some studies, men and women who were given a choice of numerous faces, people chose symmetrical faces as the most attractive; however, when asked to pick out a long-term sexual partner, it was the most average faces that were most often chosen. Why do you think that is?
A possible reason is because we are more exposed to average people and averages faces. This creates a familiarity that is more comfortable. Being in the presence or trying to talk to a super model could be daunting and can make us feel unworthy and less confident.
“What can I do to make myself more attractive?”
There is a science behind attraction. What can you do? It really depends on what you are willing to do. Get a face lift because youth is attractive or a nose job to make your face more symmetrical. What else is attractive is healthy looking skin, good teeth and accompanying smile, and those who are well-groomed. People can take care of their skin, keep themselves well-kept, and can smile more in order to add attractiveness.
You do need to consider the culture and ethnicity of yourself and those you are trying to be attractive for. What someone in one culture finds attractive, another may not. A great example is the Western world’s propensity for being thin. People who have the least body fat seem to be more attractive. This, however, is not true of all cultures. In some cultures, women with large breasts and thick thighs are deemed attractive and strong. Also, being skinny can be a sign of sickness and be deemed unhealthy. Heaviness can relate to someone who is happy and prosperous.
Not being particularly skinny myself (and average looking), I found that when I walk into a room or start a conversation, I am confident. That confidence exudes from my body language, tone and volume of my voice, and when to just listen. Self-confidence asserts power and knowledge. It also encourages a positive and engaging interaction. People are drawn to confident people; working with what I was born with, I found that confidence, a good sense of humor, and intelligence were going to be the most attractive traits I will have.
As I humbly conclude this post, I will end with a quote from James McAvoy – “I take a lot of pride in being myself. I’m comfortable with who I am.” Now that is attractive.