Romantic attraction is infused with mystery. Who can fully explain why two people look across a room, feel their hearts flutter, and are drawn together? We don’t know exactly how this process occurs, but modern research has demonstrated common aspects among most men and women that significantly affect attraction, including these:
1. Kissing activates biochemistry.
Researchers tell us that the act of kissing releases a massive amount of oxytocin, the brain chemical “love potion” that helps couples bond. Researchers have recognized that this biochemistry stimulates feelings of well-being and bonding with your partner. There’s no doubt that locking lips locks in attraction for each other.
2. Attraction wanes with space.
How long should wait to contact someone to arrange a follow-up date? There may not be a hard-and-fast rule, but here’s a reliable guideline: Social scientists have determined that women will wait up to seven days to hear back from a date before giving up. Men are a little more patient, willing to wait an average of eleven days to hear back from a date.
3. Your eyes reveal attraction.
Scientists say that staring into another person’s eyes is a powerful precursor to love. In one study, strangers of the opposite sex spent ninety minutes talking and then staring into each other’s eyes without saying a word. Many felt a deep attraction for each other, and some of the study subjects went on to marry a few months later.
4. Breaking up can fuel attraction.
When your boyfriend or girlfriend breaks up with you, it often leads to “frustration attraction,” which causes even stronger attraction for the one who initiated the breakup. If you’re suffering the effects of a painful breakup, you might have to make a determined decision to move on—because your brain might tell you to hold on.
5. Past attraction influences the present.
Attraction is often triggered by an unconscious association with relationships long past, because we never fully recover from first love. Credit your senses for this phenomenon—like when someone wears the same fragrance as your old girlfriend or boyfriend; or when you hear that classic song you danced to at the school dance; or when a person’s voice intonation reminds you of your big ninth-grade crush.
6. Treating people as attractive makes them more so.
Each of us has considerable influence over how others view themselves and behave accordingly. Numerous studies have shown how we treat members of the opposite sex—through verbal and nonverbal cues—contributes to their level of confidence, the effort they put into their appearance, their willingness to share emotions, and many other factors. In short, people behave in a way consistent with how they are treated.
7. Photos can be as attractive as love-at-first-sight.
Although “love at first sight” usually doesn’t lead to a long-lasting relationship, initial attraction does stimulate the brain in powerful ways. In experiments using MRI brain scans, photographs, and speed-dating, researchers found that participants were quite accurate at knowing who they would like to date based on photographs alone. Sixty-three percent of the time when they met that person face-to-face, their interest level matched the interest they’d felt earlier when viewing a photo.
8. Savers are more attractive than spenders.
For both genders, being frugal reassures a potential partner that they are responsible, sensible, and self-controlled. According to a study titled “A Penny Saved Is a Partner Earned” by Drs. Jenny Olson and Scott Rick, being thrifty also indicates that the individual will have restraint when it comes to excessive eating and drinking, along with relational strengths such as resisting temptation and remaining faithful. The authors emphasize that being a saver does not mean being a cheapskate, which is generally unattractive.