We’ve all been attracted to someone despite not knowing them that well. We experience one of the many types of attraction…or many of them at once. Yes, that can happen, as we’ll soon find out. It could be a coworker, a friend from high school, or someone you met briefly at a party. You feel drawn to them as if some unexplainable external energy is pulling you two together.
According to a study, physical appearance is the main factor in determining the level of attraction in a possible romantic relationship. It includes hairstyle, dressing sense, and implied financial status as well.
To find out about the different types of attraction in psychology, we reached out to Nandita Rambhia, who specializes in compatibility issues, parenting issues, and extreme marital affair counseling. She says, “There are many types of attraction other than what just meets the eye. It could even be based on a person’s preference, values, and personality.”
The Different Types Of Attraction And How To Recognize Them
All these different types of attraction in relationships can be defined and expressed in many ways. They often overlap, merge, or stand distinct from one another. They can occur simultaneously, or evolve from one type to the other, or stay firmly in one category. Whether they are types of attraction between males and females or between two people of the same gender, let’s find out the five most common types of attraction in relationships:
1. Sexual attraction
Nandita says, “Sexual attraction is exactly what it sounds like. You look at someone and feel sexually aroused when they are around. You feel an intense desire to be with them physically. If there are mutual signs of attraction that can’t be ignored between two people, then they can take it forward and fulfill their sexual needs and desires.”
Sexual tension is often electric and fuelled with flirtation. Generally, sexual intimacy needs to take place to resolve this tension between two (or more) people.
Here are some facts about sexual attraction:
- It isn’t just restricted to the people you know in real life. You could be sexually attracted to a movie star or even a fictional character
- It goes beyond the types of attraction between males and females, which means it doesn’t have to be cisheteronormative
- You can be sexually attracted to someone without forming any deep connection with them
- A straight person can feel sexually aroused by someone of the same gender and have an intimate relationship with them
- You can be sexually attracted to multiple people at the same time as well
Here’s how you can identify that you harbor sexual tension for someone:
- You flirt with them
- Your palms get sweaty
- You can’t stop looking at them and admiring them
- You fantasize about having sex with them
- Other people can clearly notice the sexual tension between you two
- You get physically turned on and aroused
- Your voice changes when they’re around
Related Reading: What Makes A Man Sexually Attractive – 11 Things Science Vouches For
2. Romantic attraction
Nandita says, “This is one of the types of attraction in relationships that runs a lot little deeper than sexual attraction. You yearn for a connection that isn’t fulfilled by sexual activities. Romantic attraction can also be present without the interference of sexual aspects. It could be completely platonic in many cases.”
Here are some signs of magnetic romantic attraction between two people:
- It entails wanting to be with someone because you enjoy their company
- You are curious about them and want to get to know them on a deeper level
- You want to give and receive affection
- It could be exclusive or non-exclusive
- It can be long-term or short-term
- It needs emotional attraction to sustain itself
By continuing this romantic attraction, you can build a deep intimate bond with someone by asking bonding questions for couples and by spending quality time together. Out of all the different types of attraction, romantic attraction can be identified by looking at the closeness between two people.
Some of the key things to notice when two people are romantically attracted to each other are:
- Do they text each other constantly?
- Do they influence each other positively?
- When one person feels low, it affects the other person’s mood as well
- When their romantic partner isn’t with them, they are constantly thinking about them
- When there’s romantic attraction, they will want to know how their partner’s day was and want to cheer them up when they are feeling low
- They want to know each other’s opinions and thoughts
- They help each other grow intellectually, emotionally, personally, and even financially
3. Physical attraction
Humans are made to be touched. Not necessarily in a sexual way, but in a way that’s warm. This is what makes physical attraction different from sexual attraction. You want to be in physical proximity with someone you are attracted to but it’s not sexual in nature. Physical attraction is one of the key differences between love and attraction.
You just want to be physically close to them. The world-renowned sculptor, Michelangelo, once said, “To touch is to give life.” If you feel physically attracted to someone, you want to touch their arm, hold their hand, or just be near them.
A study titled Human Touch and Loneliness states that being touched by someone reduces the feeling of loneliness. Touch and physical displays of warmth or caring are important for human social bonding and psychological well-being.
There are a few reasons that we need human contact more than ever in this digital era:
- Decrease in violence: According to research done by James W. Prescott, people who experience less touch as kids are more prone to becoming violent when they grow up
- Cultivates trust between individuals: Touch helps in creating bonding between two people as it releases oxytocin, famously known as ‘the love hormone’
- Stronger team dynamics: Handshakes are known to build trust and make people feel like they are family
- Leads to non-sexual intimacy: Just the touch of a hand can make two people fall in love
- Overall well-being: Touching someone and being touched are modes of human functioning and interaction. It leads to the general overall well-being of individuals
Here are the indicators you have a physical attraction for someone:
- Their smell is mesmerizing
- Your body language signs are a giveaway when you are attracted to someone
- You can’t stop thinking about them long after they’re gone
- You forget your stress, worries, and other problems when you are around them
- There’s non-stop eye contact, or you will look somewhere else when they catch you staring at them
- You want to keep talking to them
Related Reading: Reciprocity In Relationships: Meaning And Ways To Build It
4. Emotional attraction
Nandita says, “Emotional attraction is one of the types of attraction in psychology when you want to receive and give your support, acceptance, loyalty, and trust to someone. It’s deeper than the rest of the types of attraction. You accept someone for who they are without any complaints. You don’t want to change them or pretend to be someone else around them. Emotional attraction will have all the signs of unconditional love in a relationship. The attraction could also turn into a sexual attraction or it might stay platonic.”
Humans are social animals who crave nothing more than to be understood. Emotional attraction is exactly that. You want to be emotionally understood by someone. You want to share your insecurities and vulnerabilities with them without being afraid of judgments and personal remarks.
Nandita says, “You can identify signs of emotional attraction when you share your fears, hopes, dreams, and future plans with someone. They genuinely listen to you and you listen to them. There’s a feeling of being heard and seen.”
You can be emotionally attracted to someone’s humor, intelligence, or their altruistic behavior. You can even be attracted to how they make you feel about yourself. It’s not important for sexual attraction to be present. Sometimes, it’s not even romantic or physical either. For instance, two friends can be emotionally connected with one another.
You can identify things that count as emotional attraction by analyzing these signs:
- You feel like they get you. They understand you in and out
- You have lengthy late-night conversations with them
- There is a sense of trust which makes you feel comfortable around them
- You can be vulnerable with them without being afraid
- There are no judgmental or overly critical remarks
- You don’t mind putting their feelings before yours
- There’s no external force to keep the attraction going
- Silence doesn’t scare or bore you
5. Aesthetic attraction
Aesthetic attraction is when you are attracted to someone’s physical features. You are at a library browsing books and you spot someone good-looking. You find their eyes enchanting or you could be attracted to the way they are speaking to the librarian. Or they could have a beautiful smile. This is the first thing we see in people. How they look, what they are wearing, and how they speak. It’s what people famously call love at first sight.
This attraction based on their mannerisms, idiosyncrasies, and quirks will determine if the attraction will develop into other kinds of attraction down the lane. It could be disconnected from all the other types of attraction or it could lead to the other four.
You can identify aesthetic attraction through the following signs:
- Your heart beats when you see them. Your heart is racing as if you’ve just run for 5 minutes straight
- You can’t stop looking at anyone else besides them
- You can be attracted to their facial hair, their arms, legs, and even their biceps or shoulders
- You can identify emotional attraction when you share platonic intimacy, secrets, and insecurities with someone
- Physical touch, not necessarily sexual touch, is one of the most important displays of attraction that keeps us warm and happy
- Two more types of attraction are romantic and aesthetic in nature
- A person can experience more than one type of attraction at the same time toward the same person
Each type of attraction is important in human relationships. You need aesthetic attraction to get closer to someone. You need emotional attraction to connect with them. You need romantic attraction to fall in love. All in all, most humans long for all these types of attractions to lead happy and fulfilling life.