After years of observations and study, probing and questioning designed to discover the science of attraction for human beings, we know one thing for certain.
We still don’t know or understand everything there is to know about how attraction works in people.
We have learned some basic biology to explain the phenomenon.
We have also discovered psychological factors that contribute to human attraction. But a lot of information about the forces of attraction between the sexes still remains a marvelous mystery.
To understand the powerful biological forces at work in the science of attraction, I only have to remember the dogs and cats I have known that were not spayed or neutered.
When the female came “in season” and was ready to mate she released pheromones that attracted every unaltered male in the neighborhood to come visit her.
Perfectly obedient pets were suddenly running away, jumping fences or digging their way into someone else’s yard. Fights erupted among competitive males.
After mating occurred, they all returned to their normal docile behavior and in due time a litter of puppies or kittens were born.
Attraction is a powerful natural force.
The Science of Attraction
What makes men attractive to women? What attracts women to men? The science of attraction is giving up some of its laws but we still have a lot to learn. What we do know is that there are some clearly defined scientific rules of conscious attraction.
There are even more that are working on us at a subconscious level. Both these conscious and unconscious forces motivate men and women to get together for reasons of evolution, brought to us in a haze of infatuation.
These moves are first set in motion when we are still in the womb.
The Attraction of Symmetry
When conception occurs, the baby begins to develop through splitting of the original cell.
During development if all ensuing cell splits go well the result is a baby whose right and left facial sides are symmetrical – mirror images of each other.
But nature is not perfect. Environmental pressures and genetic mutations may alter that developing symmetry. That means that some faces develop with more symmetry than others.
Attraction to Facial Symmetry
Why is good facial symmetry important? Biologically, it signals to the opposite sex that you have the genetic “chops” to survive development, that you’re healthy and that you are a good choice for a fertile mate.
Your facial symmetry advertises scientifically to a potential mate that the offspring you produce have a better chance of also being symmetrical and healthy.
Your mind is only subconsciously aware of these signals yet your body definitely reacts to them. Psychologist Randy Thornhill of the University of New Mexico studies evolutionary biology.
Through over 15 years of research Thornhill developed a symmetry ratio he uses for measuring the degree of symmetry found in a human face.
His findings are revealing:
• Men and woman both rate symmetrical opposite sex members as more healthy and attractive.
• More symmetrical men attract and enjoy more sexual partners.
• The symmetrical differences in faces may be quite small and not necessarily consciously noticed, but a person’s physiology perceives and reacts to them.
• Women are attracted to more symmetrical men, but because other factors impact their choice of sex partners, are more particular. Used to being competed over, women have to be courted.
Attraction to Body Shape
There is a strong biological reason men are attracted to hourglass-like figures in women. The women that are the most desirable and attractive to men have waists that are significantly smaller in width than their hips.
Psychologist Devendra Singh (University of Texas) has developed statistics on men’s and women’s waist-to-hip (WTH) ratios through years of studying comparative measurements.
The science of attraction for men leads them to the ideal woman; one with a WTH of 0.7 percent.
More broadly (and realistically), women with a WTH range of 0.67 to 1.18 are attractive to men. (Most Playboy models have a WTH of 0.7 or less.)
Women are also attracted to men by their masculine WTH, finding guys in the range of 0.8 to 1.0 attractive.
But women are actually even more attracted to broad shoulders on a man.
Why does the waist-to-hip ratio even matter?
Evolutionary biology says it does. Sex hormones determine where fat is deposited in your body. If your body produces the proper amount hormones for your sex, your ratio will be in the “desirable” range.
This sends out the ages-old biological signal that you are healthy enough to produce offspring.
Modern studies back this up. Research indicates people with a healthy WTH ratio (regardless of their weight) are less susceptible to cancers, cardiopulmonary disorders, diabetes and other diseases while women in particular benefit by having less trouble conceiving children.
Attraction to Facial Structure
The structure of your face also sends signals about your fertility to the opposite sex.
For women, this occurs because estrogen caps lower face and chin bone growth to create a small chin and shorter face with a small brow line allowing for showcasing the eyes.
For men, testosterone allows them to develop a strong jaw and prominent brow.
Men and women with these hormone-created features advertise their reproductive health subconsciously.
Do you need further proof that facial symmetry is important? Just take a look at the money spent on plastic surgery every year to help us perfect our faces.
Humans find symmetrical faces more attractive.
Attraction to Smell
It may surprise you to know that we are also attracted to members of the opposite sex through our personal scents.
Your surprise would be completely understandable, as the detection of smells occurs outside our conscious minds.
Studies on the attraction of smell tell us that:
• Symmetrical men smell better to women.
• At certain times of the month women look and smell more attractive to men.
• Women prefer a man’s scent if his genes are neither identical nor completely different from hers, but similar to them.
• These subconscious scent perceptions may be due to pheromones.
The Role of Pheromones in Attraction
You probably already know that pheromones act as sexual attractants in the animal kingdom. Scientists, however, disagree about their role in human attraction though perfume companies certainly spend a lot of time as well as money studying and investing in them.
The reason for the disagreement is found in our biology: humans still produce pheromones but our special pheromone signal pathway to the brain no longer functions. It became obsolete generations ago.
Once old world primates and humans developed the ability to see in color, we began to use visual clues more than olfactory ones to determine when a potential mate was receptive to our advances.
The gene responsible for our pheromone signal pathway eventually underwent a mutation so that olfactory signals eventually no longer reached our brains.
Yet CAT scan studies by other scientists suggest that the sexual reception area of women’s and gay men’s brains are definitely affected by human pheromones and in similar ways.
If pheromones are actually influencing us they must be received somehow through our regular olfactory paths.
The science of attraction is clear about one encompassing fact: physical beauty is signaling both men and women about the healthy and fertility of members of the opposite sex.
Physical evolutionary attraction is designed to facilitate mating and procreation.
The Psychology Behind Attraction And Relationships
Now we know the science of attraction plays a hand in our initial physical reaction to a member of the opposite sex. What, then, are the psychological attractions that affect us?
What else attracts us powerfully enough to make us want to engage and form relationships with someone?
It takes more than an attractive appearance and aroma to build a long-term relationship.
Behavior Plays a Key Role in Attraction
Have you ever heard the old adage that “like begets like“? J. Philippe Rushton, a psychologist at the University of Western Ontario, has study results that support the truth of it.
His research indicates that in successful relationship formations, the role played by you and your partner sharing a similar genetic makeup (according to a set of inherited personality traits) is 34 percent.
That means that if you and your spouse are genetically similar, you are more likely to have a satisfying marriage. Research suggests that child abuse rates in such marriages are lower also.
Studies by psychologist Eva Klohnen (University of Iowa) find that we are also drawn to a mate with similar values and attitudes to ours. This, in fact, is a key factor in relationships that survive the long haul.
We allow others to see our attitudes and learn what the values of others are through behaviors. The behaviors and characteristics we see in someone combine with our innate physical attraction to draw us in.
Becoming much better acquainted with that person and on a more intimate level leads to a relationship.
Sexual Attraction and Love
The basis of all our relationships is what we perceive as attractiveness. There are many rules of attraction-what draws a woman to a man and vice versa, but no one yet understands their priority order.
One that psychologists have discovered is close to the top of the list for both men and women happens to be one of the hardest characteristics to determine about someone in advance.
Men and women both greatly value fidelity.
In order to develop a long-term relationship, including a strong marriage, we are looking for mates who will be devoted to us, sexually faithful and good parents to our offspring.
Most people, especially women, think desiring sex is inevitably linked to some we can love. Men also see romance and sex as linked. Researchers tell us, though, that our brains definitely distinguish between these two.
Arthur Aron, a psychologist and researcher with State University of New York — Stony Brook, reports that testing indicates the areas of our brains activated during thoughts of love only overlap slightly the brain areas activated with sexual arousal.
Romantic love and sex apparently involve different systems in the brain.
He also reports that of the two stimuli, love is definitely the more powerful emotion. His research is supported that the research of others.
Brain scans of newlyweds reveal more brain activity in centers related to love than sex. Anthropologist Helen Fisher (Rutgers University) summarizes the findings by stating that romantic love is definitely a more powerful force in us than our sex drive.
What Attracts Women to Men
Women are physically attracted to men but more often are drawn to a man because of his confidence, his personality and manners, a sense of humor and his overall masculinity.
Attractiveness must lead to real attraction in order to form a basis for women seeking you as a romantic partner.
Attraction is an essential part of understanding you and learning what makes you “you”.
If we go back to subconscious motivations again we know that when seeking developing a long relationship with someone, men are more interested in a partner’s age, vitality and physical attractiveness (indicators of a good mother for his children).
Women, on the other hand, are wired to value your confidence, ambition, status and wealth as indicators you will be a good provider for them and their future children.
But for both men and women, the most attractive tract you can display is your availability.
Attraction to Availability
Dating is about checking you out for your physical availability. When considering you as a long term romantic partner, attraction is about your emotional availability.
A woman wants to know if you will open up to her emotionally.
To show your availability to a woman in whom you are interested you must connect with and talk to her. Just showing up is not enough. You have to show her you are emotionally present as well.
Attraction happens during the first 30 seconds of meeting someone.
Fisher says we actually only need one second to realize if someone is physically attractive to us or not. Nalini Ambady (Tufts University) goes further. Her research indicates that you have a little longer to make a first impression: six seconds, to be precise.
If you are a shy person you may unconsciously be sending non-verbal signals through closed body language that you are not available or approachable.
Avoid standing there with your arms crossed, your hands in your pockets or holding your cell phone in front of your torso.
Put the phone up, let your arms be loose and look at people. Since women are subconsciously attracted to signals of wealth and status, be well groomed and wear clean, nice clothes when meeting someone. Talk but also listen.
Be open and above all be truthful. Don’t try to be someone you are not. Simply be the best “you” possible in order to make a good first impression.
Finally, relax. Men tend to believe they may always be in control of the meeting. In the end, though, it isn’t all in our control.
Sparking a relationship takes two. The woman has to also be in a receptive mood. If not, nothing you can do will change her mind.