The Psychology Behind Attraction

by Maryann Pisano on February 12, 2012


The information presented in this website and the comments from Dr. Hughes are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or psychological disorder. The information presented is not a substitute for medical, psychological or psychiatric treatment. You are advised to seek professional medical and psychological help as necessary.

Rocky and Adrian

What are men attracted to as far as personality and physical attributes?  Why?

Great question– and although there are individual preferences in relationships, I truly believe that attraction can be broken down into Initial Attraction and then Ongoing Attraction.  For Initial Attraction, there is usually a physically component.  People tend to like the physical appeal of others for various reasons.  Maybe one person likes someone with a certain color hair or clothing style.  Maybe someone else avoids certain people simply because they look like someone else who they don’t like!

Big and Carrie

Since people have different tastes and different ways they view appearance, this explains why one person can find a woman lovely and fresh faced while another may not even notice that woman and, once noticed, may not be impressed.  So my advice to any woman who is trying to attract a man: dress and primp yourself in a way that represents who you are.  If you are not the type to squeeze into a fuscia mini skirt– don’t do it.  For every guy that loves little skirts, there is another that finds them ridiculous.  However, you put yourself together, be mindful of the message it sends out and make it sends the message you want.  Once there is an Initial Attraction, people tend to interact with each other which can lead to an Ongoing Attraction.  The meeting is very important.

Nick Andopolis and Lindsay Weir

Perhaps you have been attracted to someone in the past, but after sitting with them for a few minutes, you notice that they aren’t as attractive as you thought and, if the interaction goes very poorly, you may even find them distasteful to look at.  Beauty can be completely negated by interpersonal contact.  By the same token, someone that you may not have found attractive can start looking very attractive if you enjoy being with them.  So how should someone behave in order to foster Ongoing Attraction?

Danny and Sandy

Certainly different people like different personalities, but there is one way to make yourself more attractive: be comfortable with yourself.  This is easier said than done.  You may have been told to “be confident” before; that’s not what I recommend.  I recommend being comfortable in your own skin.  If you can do this, not only will you be less stressed, you will automatically help the other person feel comfortable with themselves.  When someone feels comfortable, they feel good, and they will relate this feeling to being with you.

Kostos and Lena

To give an example:  if you are all dressed up in stilettos and a halter that (soft of) fits, you will probably be wobbly on your feet and self-consciously tugging at your shirt all night.  Your squirming will be felt by the other person and he will find himself not wanting to be around you, regardless of how hot you look.  Contrast that with someone who is sitting comfortably in a reliable shirt who isn’t concerned about walking a few feet across the room.  The girl will have more energy and focus on the other person in addition to giving  off a relaxed aura.  She will keep the ongoing attraction.  People don’t remember what they talk about with other people.  They remember how they felt being with them.

Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe

Dr. Carsi Hughes received her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Northwestern University Medical School. She is a licensed clinical psychologist who specializes in adult psychopathology, clinical neuropsychology, and psychoanalytic psychotherapy. Academic appointments include Associate Clinical Professor of Psychology and Post Baccalaureate Pre-Medical Studies at Dominican University.

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