The 4 Core Elements Of Romantic Attraction, According To Psychology

Have you ever wondered why you are more attracted to some people than others? These people seem to have this magical thing that tends to draw us towards them. Could there possibly be any science behind this?

Well first, let’s have a look at what attraction is. Attraction is defined as having positive feelings towards somebody. It can have a lot of forms like love, liking, admiration, respect, friendship, lust, etc. This attraction is what makes us want to be with that person, or around that person.

Psychology And Attraction

The branch of science which deals with attraction is called social psychology. It aims to examine interpersonal connections among people. It uses evidence from psychological theories to try and establish concepts, which can define why we feel for some people, the way we feel. There can be various aspects that can make a person attractive like looks, physique, material wealth, skills, attitude, personality, etc.

However, some people seem to be attractive, regardless of these factors. They just seem to draw people towards them. This is why, in this article, we have tried to explain what causes that irresistible urge towards a specific person, using theories from psychology. Although attraction can take many forms, we are referring to romantic or intimate attraction here.

Related: The Psychology Behind Sexual Attraction: How We Become Attracted

4 Main Elements Of Attraction

Theories on attraction in psychology tend to encompass the four main factors, which are also known as the 4 elements of attraction. They are proximity, similarity, physical attractiveness, and reciprocity.

1. Proximity

In layman’s terms, proximity is simply how close a person is to you. This element of attraction states that you are more likely to be attracted to a person who is in close proximity to you.

A 1951 study verified this with experiments, which proved that the closer you are to a person, the more attracted you are going to be towards that person. It also indicates that the closer you are to someone, the chances of you two interacting will rise, thus resulting in mutual likeness for one another. For proximity to work, two people should be directly communicating with one another, face to face.

Proximity here can be broken down into physical proximity and social proximity. Physical proximity means when the person is living in the same city or town as you. Social proximity means that the person is in the same school, college, or club as you are. Studies on couples found out that people who live in close proximity to one another are also more likely to become friends.

2. Similarity

The term here suggests exactly what comes into our minds. We are more likely to be attracted to a person when they are similar to us or have similar traits. The term “Opposites attract” here gets contradicted as studies have found that people are more likely to get attracted to similar people.

This similarity can be in terms of appearance, values, political and religious beliefs, age, educational and professional background among other demographic aspects. We tend to make a positive evaluation of people who are similar to us, in their attitude, personality, and taste.

When we find people who are similar to us and have the same ideas and beliefs, we reinforce our values and ideas and tend to accept them more ‘openly.’ It validates our own beliefs, ideas, attitude, tastes, etc. and they become more attractive to us. Another study found that we tend to choose partners who look like us or are physically similar. Thus, this element suggests that introverts will get attracted towards other introverts, a liberal will date another liberal, and so on.


3. Physical Attraction

This element of attraction is also self-explanatory. We all are aware that looks play an important role in attraction. Our physical features tend to be more attractive to opposite sexes. This theory finds its origin in the primitive age when men with broad chests and shoulders were perceived to be strong and could hunt and protect the family. Women were preferred with big hips which signified maternity and the ability to conceive, according to studies.

However, in modern times, physical attraction has a lot to do with the way we groom ourselves. These qualities are a sign of proper health, personal hygiene, and fitness. No one would like to date or get involved romantically with a person who does not know how to take care of himself/herself and does not maintain proper hygiene sense. Thus, although our physical features might not be under our control, there is a lot we can do to change our appearance and become more attractive in person.

People who do not have the perfect physique can work on themselves in looking good through their clothes. Clothes can bring out our good features and hide the bad ones. Well-fitted clothes along with accessories can also send a message about your personal taste and resources. However, superficial relationships usually focus on physical and financial prowess. Usually, short-term relationships focus more on physical attraction, while longer ones rely on intimacy, trust, and support.

Related: 13 Science-Backed Reasons For Physical And Sexual Attraction

4. Reciprocity

The fourth element comes down to the mutual exchange of attraction. We are more likely to be attracted to those people who are attracted to us. We tend to choose those people who can make us feel appreciated and rewarded. Thus, in reciprocation, we feel like we need to give them something back. A study on speed dating indeed found out that we feel inclined towards those people who feel the same way about us.

For example, we might start liking a stranger when we get to hear that person also feels the same way about us. Thus, reciprocity serves as a fuel for attraction. This mutual exchange of attraction is beneficial for both parties and continues as long as the benefits last. However, it may be noted here that reciprocity is common in relationships that are safe and balanced. No one should be forced into liking someone if the other party’s intentions are not genuine or tend to objectify.

How To Develop Romantic Attraction

Every human being is different and brings different things to a relationship, however in order to develop a romantic attraction with someone you like, you need to work on yourself, and build your personality in such a way that they won’t be able to stay away from you. This doesn’t mean you have to be perfect, but it does mean that you should work on yourself to get the romantic life you have always wanted.

If you want to be with the person you like, then you try to focus on your strengths, especially those that you feel make you more attractive. Think about what you can bring to the relationship, and then work on them to get better. Additionally, work on the other personality traits that will help you have the relationship you have always wanted.

Most importantly, accept yourself and be confident about who you are, because your confidence can speak volumes about you, and also make you 10x more attractive! It will be just a matter of time before you find the one you were always looking for.

Key Takeaway

These four elements are proven by theories on psychology and further studies have reinforced these ideas. These elements tend to work because of another theory in psychology called the reward theory. It states that we tend to like those situations which require minimal effort on our part and at the same time can produce great results.

Related: Interpersonal Attraction: The 7 Languages Of Attraction

All these 4 elements require hardly any effort and can lead to the formation of new relationships. Now, the next time you want to attract someone, you know what to do.

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