Guide To Romantic Attraction

Women's Dating

The Ultimate Guide to Romantic Attraction (Types, Tips & Misconceptions)

Karen Belz

Written by: Karen Belz

Karen Belz

Over the last 10 years, Karen Belz has written for dating and lifestyle sites such as Zoosk, Bolde, and Elite Singles. She started her career as a professional writer by helping launch HelloGiggles in 2011. Karen graduated from Millersville University of Pennsylvania, majoring in Broadcasting with a minor in Print Media Studies. She is now happily married and believes that healthy communication is the key to all successful relationships. You can follow her on Threads @karenbelz.

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Edited by: Lillian Castro

Lillian Castro

Lillian Guevara-Castro brings more than 30 years of journalism experience to ensure DatingAdvice articles have been edited for overall clarity, accuracy, and reader engagement. She has worked at The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, The Gwinnett Daily News, and The Gainesville Sun covering lifestyle topics.

Reviewed by: Amber Brooks

Amber Brooks

Amber Brooks is a dating and relationship expert who has penned over 1,800 lifestyle articles in the last decade, and she still never tires of interviewing dating professionals and featuring actionable advice for singles. She has been quoted by the Washington Times, Cosmopolitan, The New York Post, and AskMen.

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There’s a pretty strong possibility that once in your life, you laid eyes on somebody you just met and felt a little nervous. It could be their laugh, their physical appearance, or maybe they just feel like a kindred spirit. These signs of romantic attraction can impact you even if you’re not necessarily looking to partner up with anyone. 

Romantic attraction doesn’t always happen suddenly — sometimes it can build over time. It doesn’t have to be physical or sexual.

When you see somebody and imagine what it would be like to build a life together, that’s a sign of romantic attraction. Your mind is signaling to you that a potential partner is worth getting to know on a deeper level. 

Types | Signs of Attraction | Misconceptions | Tips

3 Types of Attraction

Three major types of attraction influence romantic relationships. This isn’t a one-size-fits-all checklist, and not all couples have all three — sometimes, one factor stands out more than the rest.

But recognizing the different types of attraction can help you navigate your feelings and create healthy connections.

  1. Physical 

Physical attraction is commonly the first thing that sparks a romance. It’s easy to look at somebody and decide if you find them attractive. The characteristics of physical attraction will vary from person to person, and societal norms can influence individual perceptions as well. 

Physical attraction

Physical attraction can grow with time, so it shouldn’t necessarily be a dealbreaker if you like a person but don’t find them physically attractive in the early stages.

According to Match’s 2023 Singles In America poll, a whopping 43% of respondents reported falling in love with an individual they didn’t find attractive at first glance.

What makes physical desirability grow? Spending time together, forming bonds, and becoming familiar with the person’s inner beauty.

  1. Emotional 

Emotional attraction is a big factor for people looking to settle down with a partner. Emotional attraction comes from getting to know a person’s heart and mind.

Emotional attraction

If they have a similar personality to you or can relate to your life experience, you may notice your feelings become stronger for each other. 

Emotional bonds often take time to fully develop. If you’ve been up all night texting a crush and sharing stories about your childhood, you’re on the right path.

Consistent communication is a good way to build emotional intimacy. The more you learn about another person, the more invested you become. 

“While you may be sexually attracted to your partner’s physical appearance, developing deeper emotional attraction will make these feelings much stronger,” explains the Gottman Institute. “For example, you might find it pretty sexy that your partner can carry out an intellectual conversation or talk about a novel or current news story that you’ve both read. This kind of attraction goes much deeper than the physical.”

  1. Mental 

Mental attraction focuses on intellectual characteristics, opinions, and accomplishments. When you’re mentally attracted to somebody, you admire their thoughts and perspective on the world.

Mental attraction

You can have a mental attraction to a friend even though your relationship is platonic. But perhaps something about their way of thinking is appealing to you.

Mental attraction can form when you share hobbies, skills, or work ethics. For example, perhaps you’re both lawyers who share similar passions at work, or perhaps you both consider yourselves members of the same fandom.

Your compatibility may not extend to the physical level, but when you’re texting about your similar interests, it’s a clear meeting of the minds.

3 Signs of Attraction

While you might be well-versed in how it feels to be attracted to someone, it can often be tough to read the signs of when someone is attracted to you. Here’s what you need to look out for to figure out if another person is into you.

  1. Body Language 

Body language can be very telling. If you’re sitting next to a person and they’re angling away from you, that can often be intentional. Without words, they’re letting you know that they’re not open to flirty exchanges and have set boundaries.

Body Language 

It’s important to pay attention to the physical distance between you and your potential match – because if they’re taking a step back for every step forward you take, you’re crossing a line.

Positive body language can reveal intentions and biases in all relationships, not just romantic ones. When you’re making eye contact on a job interview, you’re showing you’re engaged. Good posture also helps — by not slouching, you’re letting someone know that you’re taking this exchange seriously. 

Even if you’re nervous, you can still make a good impression. The phrase “fake it till you make it” definitely applies here. “Remember that you don’t have to actually be confident to change your behavior. Although it might feel strange at first, acting confidently will eventually feel more natural and boost your self-esteem,” notes VeryWellMind.

  1. Words of Affirmation 

Words of affirmation have become well-known as one of the five love languages, and it’s also a good sign of flirtatious affection. The words a person chooses can let you know if they want to pursue a romance or friendship. While platonic friends can share kind words about you, a potential partner who is attracted to you will make a point to showcase why you’re special. 

Instead of simply saying “Thank you,” a person might say, “I am lucky to know you” or “I cannot thank you enough.” Here are other telling phrases:

  • “I love talking to you.”
  • “You inspire me.” 
  • “You make my life better.” 

Such uplifting phrases can be a way for a special person to let you know you’re a significant part of their life. Words can hold a lot of power. It’s nice to give everyone you care about a few kind words on occasion.

Loving words aren’t said as often as they should be, and you never know how they might change someone’s day for the better.

  1. Text Emojis 

Texting an emoji can sometimes replace words or body language as a sign of affection. The quick images can communicate feelings we may be nervous to put into words. A winky face or smiley emoji can help push a relationship forward. Pay attention to the emojis a potential partner texts you. 

Text emojis

Texting a potential partner can get tricky because you’re unable to decipher someone’s body language and tone.

Experts have analyzed the best emojis to send to turn a conversation flirty, and it’s worth investigating the nuances and innuendos if you’re wondering how to interpret a message from a crush.

So, which emojis are the flirtiest? The blushing smiley face and the tongue-out wink are both popular in the dating scene. And if you suggest a plan or ask a question that strikes their fancy, the heart-eyes emoji in response is an excellent indicator that they’re into you.

Emojis can also communicate sexual desire and help test the waters for a physical connection. If you get a series of eggplant or peach emojis, that means the sender wants to get to know you on a more intimate level.

Common Misconceptions

When it comes to finding love, everyone has an opinion. And some bits of well-meaning advice don’t line up with the reality of the dating experience. Here are some common misconceptions about romantic relationships and attraction.

Opposites Attract

While two people may have their differences in a relationship, it’s been scientifically proven that opposites do not attract.

“Our findings demonstrate that birds of a feather are indeed more likely to flock together,” concluded author and doctoral candidate Tanya Horwitz, who’s affiliated with the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience and the Institute for Behavioral Genetics. 

Similarities Attract

The study found that attraction was strongest between people who shared similar values and life structures. The study found the common upbringings and similar sexual experiences are also big in bringing people together. 

It may seem romantic to date a person who is completely different from yourself, but it’s not a great long-term plan. If you’re at opposing ends of the spectrum on multiple levels, the relationship will likely deteriorate over time. Your differences will cause more arguments than affection.

Love At First Sight

Love at first sight is a phenomenon that many people say they have experienced to some degree, but what does the data say? Those feelings are more an indicator of infatuation than love. Sure, a random stranger may strike your fancy, but it doesn’t mean that wedding vows are on the way. 

“Distinguishing love at first sight from actual love takes some reflection and time to think and piece apart if it’s going to be a lasting relationship or a fleeting attraction,” said psychologist Susan Albers, PsyD, to Cleveland Clinic.

Infatuation vs love

It’s best not to dwell on a person who briefly entered and exited your life — even if romantic feelings initially came on strong. Remember that while those feelings of attraction were overwhelming to you, it’s possible the object of your affection didn’t reciprocate those feelings.

Tips for Sustaining Attraction Over Time

Attraction is a key part of every healthy relationship, but it can fade as the years go on. That’s why it’s paramount to spend time with your significant other and rebuild the foundation of your relationship.

1. Make Sure to Regularly Go On Dates 

Whether you’re just starting out or have been married for a decade, it’s important to take your partner on fun dates and build new memories.

Try to show them you’re invested in the time spent together — put away your phone, choose a venue that doesn’t have too many distractions, and do something out of your comfort zone.

Go on dates

Perhaps go on dinner dates or double dates where you try a brand new dish or order a fun dessert to split. Or you can explore local exhibits in town — even if you’re not into crafting yourself, a local craft fair would be a great place to see local art and build conversations.

It’s also a good idea to plan romantic getaways to new places. These vacations will help your bond grow. 

2. Learn Their Love Language 

It’s hard to overstate the power of love languages to reinforce healthy relationships. Your partner may give gifts to show love, and they might therefore appreciate a gift coming from you. 

Sometimes, we go into relationships with the best of intentions, but the way we express love may not translate. That’s why relationship experts recommend understanding love languages, so you know how your partner shows and receives love. 

Make sure you express love for your significant other throughout the year, not just on holidays. Little surprises, even simply getting them a treat from the grocery store, can make a big impact.

3. Give Each Other Space 

Relationships become dependent when two people spend too much time together. Each individual needs to have space to decompress and enjoy their own hobbies. If you’re constantly doing everything together, you may start to feel suffocated. 

Give space

A happy person makes a happy partner, so don’t forget to carve out time for self-care. The more you get out and explore your interests, the more you have to talk about to keep the relationship fresh. 

4. Listen To What They’re Saying 

When you’ve been with someone for years, you might feel as if you can finish their sentences. But sometimes they can surprise you. Give your partner space to talk about their feelings without interrupting. 

If an argument or misunderstanding grows between you, the best thing to do is listen to your partner and brainstorm solutions. When you’re in a long-term relationship, you’re working as a team. Both of you need to grow stronger together. 

Emotional Bonds Create Strong Relationships

While physical attraction gets attention I’m the early stages, emotional attraction is what helps you build the most fulfilling relationship with a partner. When you’re seeking a partner, be attracted to their heart first and foremost. 

By having deep conversations on your dates, you may come to realize that your attraction level wasn’t what you thought it was. Yes, physical attraction is important, but it isn’t permanent. Your attraction can grow the more you get to know somebody — and it can also fade if your mental and emotional bond isn’t strong enough.