Why physical attraction isn’t everything when it comes to finding your perfect mate
Just how important is physical attraction? When it comes to dating, too many potentially epic love affairs end before they start simply because we don’t like how the other person looks. Let me ask you this – if you were blind, would you find him attractive? Many people confuse good looks with attraction, and those are not the same things. We may turn our heads when a handsome man swaggers by, but, all too often, once we talk to him he quickly plummets from prince to toad – hot on the outside and empty on the inside. Alternatively, a guy with crooked teeth and a bit of a paunch can have confidence and a playfulness that slide him into our heart and make him irresistible. (Is there really no physical attraction or are you just attracted to the wrong type?)
Attraction doesn’t always have to be physical
True attraction appears to be a mystery, but it can be explained by science. Sure, how he looks plays a part. But other aspects do, too; my friend almost cancelled a first date with a guy because she wasn’t keen on his phone voice; he’s now her husband. Smell can also be a factor: In what is known as the sweaty T-shirt experiment, a 1995 Swedish study found that women were sexually attracted to the smell of men who were genetically dissimilar from them, indicating that scent influences mate selection.
But if initial feelings of lust are the real thing, they need to stand the test of time. Sometimes, of course, it is the real thing – yet most of us are familiar with relationships in which there was chemistry that ended up fizzling out.
But can you really fall in love without physical attraction?
So: You like this guy; he has some of the major qualities you want in a mate. Can you make yourself fall in love?
According to research on love and marriage, we can create a deep bond with someone by cultivating skills that lead to trust and connection.
Robert Epstein, senior research psychologist at the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology in California, studied what he calls Western-society love matches, and compared them to arranged marriages. He found that the feelings of love and affection in love matches fade by as much as half in the first 18 months of a relationship, but that the love in arranged marriages can grow gradually and eventually surpass relationships in which people chose their match. (Still in search of that special someone? Give Happn a try, the only geo-location based dating app.)
Don’t confuse whether or not you consider him to be good-looking with whether or not you’ll find him to be romantically and sexually attractive. You have more say than you think in this crazy little thing called love. Don’t discard a guy just because the sparks aren’t there on the first date. Leave chemistry in the lab. Then close your eyes, pull him close, and conduct your own experiments with attraction, lust and love.