The Mystery of Attraction

3 min read

Why we're attracted to one person over another is a mystery but there are some common factors that influence us.

Regardless of your courting style, physical attraction is often crucial in the start of a romantic relationship. But what determines this mysterious force that pulls two people together?

Survival of the Fittest

Evolutionary psychologists argue that physical traits and pheromones can signal good genes to pass onto offspring. Moreover, certain physical traits like waist to hip ratio on women are thought to indicate fertility.

Societal Standards of Beauty

Depending on the time period you were raised and live in, what is deemed attractive can greatly vary. In the 1990s, the skinny supermodel was the feminine ideal. Now, curvy influencers are prominent in our media.

Physical Type

We’ve all heard the question, “So what’s your type?” Many individuals claim to be consistently attracted to one look whether that’s a woman who likes her men “tall, dark, handsome” or a man who likes his women to be “blond” or “curvy.” This can stem from a variety of influences such as upbringing, similarity, societal standards, etc.


Throughout human history we’ve shown a preference for symmetry and faces are no exception. One possible explanation for this is that symmetrical faces may take less brain power to process. Regardless, we seem hardwired to associate symmetry with beauty.


How attractive we find someone isn’t always dependent on how they look. In one classic study conducted by Donald Dutton and Arthur Aron (1974), men were asked to either walk onto a high, shaky bridge or low, more stable one. At which point, a female experimenter would walk on and offer her name and phone number. The men on the high, shaky bridge were more likely to take the number and call the experimenter later and ask her on a date; they had misattributed their arousal to sexual attraction instead of fear.

These are some of the many reasons two individuals are drawn together – many of which are subject to change. After all, people and society are fluid, constantly changing their idea of what’s attractive and beautiful. And that’s okay, because looks and lust can be fleeting and it is an emotional connection that keeps two individuals together.  

In one 2010 study, researchers Cheryl Boudreaux and Princess Braxton-Davis, found that physical attractiveness ranked second to personality as a determinant to attraction and falling in love. Moreover, personality was associated most with a long term relationship, whereas physical attraction was associated with lust. Shared behavioral patterns, backgrounds, and ideologies were also important for long term success. These results mirror numerous studies that people desire partners who are similar to themselves and embody their ideals.

So, although physical attraction often opens the door to a relationship, an emotional connection allows us to step into a relationship.


Maclynn International is a boutique, multi-award winning introductions agency with offices in New York, New Jersey, California, and London. We’re world renowned for combining professional consultation and psychological principals to bring highly compatible individuals together. Get in touch today so we can look through our vast network of singles to find your perfect match, beautiful on the inside and out.


About the Author

Maya Sienkiewicz

Maya is a born and raised New Yorker and is a Matchmaker in the New York office. After graduating from Macaulay Honors College with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology, Maya enjoyed roles in the marketing, production and hospitality industries. Her long-standing interest in the dynamics of human behavior, led her to a career in matchmaking, and is highly motivated by helping others find their compatible match.

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