Sometimes, it can be hard to define emotional attraction. You know how when you meet someone and you’re like, “Yep! They’re my soulmate.” And then they just keep being their awesome self and you just keep falling in love with them more and more? Yeah, perhaps, that’s the closest most people can come to explaining what emotional love feels like.
Unlike physical attraction, it’s not defined by that feeling of butterflies in your stomach and your heart beating out of your chest when you see them, hear their voice, or think about them. Instead, it’s a more grounding and stabilizing experience. When you’re emotionally drawn to another person, their company brings you peace and joy. And these calming feelings are what makes you want to gravitate toward them over and over again. While finding someone physically attractive may trigger a crush, it is the emotional connection between two people that makes them fall in love with each other, and it’s what keeps some couples together for decades.
Even though this emotional connection serves as the bedrock of a successful relationship, it is not limited to romantic partners alone. You can be emotionally attracted to friends, parents, siblings, and just about anyone you cross paths with. Intriguing? Let’s dive deeper into the concept to understand what it feels like to be emotionally attracted to someone, in consultation with counselor Ridhi Golechha (Masters in Psychology), who specializes in counseling for loveless marriages, breakups, and other relationship issues.
What Is Emotional Attraction?
An intense attraction on an emotional level is characterized by a feeling of a deep connection and understanding, which is rare. Most people mistake physical attraction for love. While infatuation triggered by another person’s physicality may be enough to initiate a romance, romantic relationships need a strong emotional connection and intimacy to thrive and survive in the long haul.
Commenting on what is emotional attraction, Ridhi says, “It is a deep feeling of connection to a person’s intellect or state of being or personality. It has got nothing to do with how you feel about a person’s physical features or appearance. So when you find someone emotionally attractive, it’s not going to feel like the heady rush or butterflies in the stomach associated with a crush. It’s the feeling of having a deeper and more intimate connection with someone.”
Think about the famous Hollywood couple Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn. Their love story should be one for the silver screens. Hawn and Russell shared a deep emotional connection with one another long before they got together romantically and have been going strong for 37 years! Another example of a solely emotional bond from the world of showbiz would be between Kate Winslet and Leonardo De Caprio. Even though the two have never been romantically involved, they have been vocal about their deep love and admiration for one another, and how they felt emotionally drawn and in-sync right from the time when they first met on the sets of the iconic film, Titanic.
Now that we have established the emotional attraction meaning, let’s address a few other important questions for greater clarity on the concept.
What is the difference between emotional and physical attraction?
The most basic difference between physical and emotional attraction is that while one is purely tactile and sensual in nature, the other runs much deeper. Here are the key differences between the two:
|Emotional Attraction||Physical Attraction|
|You need to know the person on some level to be able to feel emotionally drawn to them||You can feel it for a stranger on the subway, a celeb on the screen, or a potential romantic interest|
|Helps sustain a deeper, long-term relationship||Is the trigger for infatuation|
|You can feel emotionally drawn to a person without finding them physically attractive||You can be physically attracted to a person without sharing any emotional intimacy with them|
|A relationship can survive, and in fact stay strong, if there is emotional but no physical attraction||A relationship built solely on the premise of being drawn to someone’s physical appearance cannot last unless the two people connect on an emotional level as well|
Does emotional attraction always lead to romantic attraction?
Since we’re talking in the context of romantic relationships, it may seem like when someone is emotionally attracted to you, it invariably leads to a romantic connection. However, that’s not necessarily the case.
Explaining emotional attraction vs romantic attraction difference and why one may not always lead to the other, Ridhi says, “Yes, being emotionally drawn to someone can lead to romantic attraction but it can also not because this kind of emotional bond isn’t just reserved for romantic partners or interests. You can also feel emotionally drawn to a friend, your parents, a teacher, a mentor, or a therapist. It can happen with anyone you feel a deep emotional connection of feeling with. So, whether or not it progresses to romantic/sexual attraction also depends largely on the nature of your relationship with the person you’re emotionally attracted to.”
That said, if two people are single, available, looking to partner up, and feel emotionally drawn to one another, their connection can veer into romantic territory. And that can be the beginning of a beautiful and lasting relationship.
Related Reading: 15 Signs You Are In A Mature Relationship
Why Is Emotional Attraction Important?
By now, it must be clear to you that feeling drawn to another person on an emotional level is essential for building a deeper, more lasting relationship with them. This is not to discount the role of physical, sexual, and romantic attraction in a relationship. They each play a role in keeping a connection fresh and exciting. But when it comes to weighing physical/sexual attraction vs emotional connection, the scale dips slightly in the favor of the latter. Here’s why:
- When you’re emotionally bonded to another person, it becomes easier to trust them
- There is more empathy in the relationship
- You can be truly vulnerable with each other because you know and trust that the other person will never judge/attack you for being your true self
- You enjoy spending quality time with one another, which, in turn, strengthens your bond
- A deeper connection facilitated by emotional desirability paves way for healthy, open, and honest communication
All of these are key tenets of a healthy relationship where things flow effortlessly and you and your partner truly share a meaningful connection that enhances your life.
Related Reading: 11 Things To Describe True Feelings Of Love
10 Things That Count As Emotional Attraction And Tips To Recognize It
A feeling of being emotionally attracted to another person can manifest in different ways. You may meet someone and instantly connect with them. Or you may develop a deep appreciation for a person over time. Irrespective of how it manifests, the signs of chemistry and a deep love and admiration will be palpable. Just to be sure that you don’t miss the signs that are staring you in the face, let’s take you through 10 tips to recognize what emotional attraction feels like.
1. You are not necessarily physically attracted to them
Ridhi says, “You might not necessarily be physically attracted to them but the emotional connection you share runs much deeper.” Sometimes the intensity of the emotional draw you feel toward a person can drown out a lot of senses and outweigh everything else. So, at first glance, you might feel emotionally attracted to someone but you might not feel the physical/sexual tension just yet. And that is totally normal.
How to recognize: If you long to spend time with them and enjoy being with them more than anything but don’t experience a heady rush or the feeling of butterflies in the stomach, it’s a sign that you have emotional but no physical attraction for this person.
Related Reading: 17 Signs Of Sexual Tension You Cannot Ignore — And What To Do
2. You feel giddy when you are with them
When you begin asking yourself what is emotional attraction, ask yourself, is there someone you get giddy thinking about? There is a clear physical attraction vs emotional connection difference. When you are emotionally attracted to someone, you feel giddy thinking about them. But if the connection is purely physical, you will feel nervous thinking about them.
How to recognize: If you have someone in mind, close your eyes and think about them right now. Notice how you feel. Do you experience a rush of joy that leaves you feeling light-hearted or do you feel nervous and jittery thinking? If it is the former, then you are emotionally attracted to them. If it is the latter, then you might be physically attracted to them.
3. You find yourself opening up to them
It’s not easy for most people to open up and just talk about themselves. But when someone strikes a chord with you emotionally, you will find yourself opening up to them. Ridhi explains why vulnerability in a relationship is one of the most telling examples of emotional attraction, “You’re able to open up to them and share your deepest feelings. You feel like you share a soul-to-soul connection with this person, even if you’re only still getting to know them. And this sense of familiarity makes it easy for you to lay your heart bare to them.”
Take, for example, Brooklyn 99 star Andy Samberg and harpist Joanna Newsom. Joanna Newson is usually reserved and shut off, but in the presence of Andy Samberg, her whole demeanor changes. Her trust in Andy Samberg allows her to open up with people in his presence.
How to recognize: You share intimate details about your personal life or talk about difficult experiences with them with unmatched ease. Ridhi says, “You are able to talk to them about a past experience that may have been traumatic or difficult for you.” You don’t hesitate in sharing with them the things you may not have even told people in your inner circle, like a BFF or a sibling you’re close to.
4. Talking about them all the time
The ease and comfort with which this person fits into your life – shared values, goals, hopes, and dreams. It’s like you’ve found a piece you didn’t even know you were missing. Naturally, this person can suddenly feel like an important and integral part of your life. And what’s important to us plays on our minds a lot. So, don’t be surprised if you can’t stop thinking about that person constantly.
How to recognize: Has this ever happened to you? You are out for lunch with your friends, catching up with each other. And you can’t stop talking about a certain person. To the point where your friends point out how much you are talking about them. Well, it’s one of the clearest emotional attraction signs.
5. You can talk with them for hours on end
If you want to know what emotional attraction feels like, then the simplest answer is, you can talk to them for hours on end. Ridhi explains, “You can talk to them without the fear of being judged, mocked, or ridiculed. You’re secure in the knowledge that this person isn’t going to misunderstand you, no matter what you say. That goes a long way in making two people feel emotionally attached to one another.”
Long conversations allow you to get to know a person better and can only happen when you are genuinely vibing with a person. Besides, long conversations with someone can be a very effective emotional attraction trigger. So, if you’re trying to build emotional attraction with a man/woman, spending more time with them can definitely help.
How to recognize: Late-night conversations with this person have become a norm and you never run out of things to say to each other. There are no awkward pauses, or conversations interjected with endless, “so, what else is new?”, before one of you gets the hint and suggests hanging up.
Related Reading: Romantic Texting: The 11 Tips To Swear By (With Examples)
6. You can imagine a future with them
Ridhi says, “You want to have a future connection with them. You want to know their ideas, want to understand what they think about a particular situation. You enjoy listening to their perspective on things, and this mutual sharing of perspectives also helps fortify and build emotional attraction between two people.”
Consider the example of power couple Michelle Obama and Barack Obama. Michelle Obama said that she figured out that love is consistency, vulnerability and it is presence. So, if you can imagine a future with your current partner, you’re likely bonded by intense emotional magnetism.
How to recognize: Try to picture the future. The next week, the next year, the next 10 years. Does this person feature prominently in your vision for the future? If you can’t think about going a long period without them in your life, you know you’re deeply emotionally bonded to them.
7. You don’t necessarily want a romantic relationship with them
As we said before, emotional and romantic attraction can exist independently of each other. While an emotional bond can lead to a romantic relationship and vice versa, it doesn’t always have to be the case. A lot of people who are emotionally attracted to each other don’t always feel the need to get into traditional romantic relationships. If you find yourself content with the connection you have with this person and don’t want to change your relationship dynamic, then you might be emotionally attracted to them.
How to recognize: A key romantic attraction vs emotional connection difference is that you may love a person deeply yet not fall in love with them. If you love hanging out with this person, consider them your sounding board for life, are there for them whenever they need you, but don’t feel the need to add romantic, sexual layers to your relationship, it can be a purely emotional bond.
8. It is a very new type of attraction for you
Media and literature usually depict only one type of attraction: physical attraction. This warps our understanding of what emotional attraction feels like. This is why when you experience intense emotional attraction, it is a new feeling for you. Actors John Krasinski and Emily Blunt exemplify this. When John Krasinski met Emily Blunt, he knew he was going to fall in love with her. But he did admit that he was very nervous when he asked her out on their first date. They got married within a year of meeting each other!
How to recognize: You feel an inexplicable connection with this person right from the early stages of getting to know them but it doesn’t feel like anything you’ve experienced before. Their presence makes you feel calm and self-assured instead of nervous, jittery, or self-conscious.
9. You are very comfortable and content in their presence
When someone is emotionally attracted to you or you’re to them, there is no need or room for frills. You are just content in each other’s company. “They fit into your comfort zone. You don’t feel jitters or anxiety or nervousness before meeting them. It’s a very calming experience, compared to the infatuation-driven jitters you may feel in other connections. You’re not worried about what you’re going to do, how you look when meeting them. You’re comfortable in your own skin and that is a big positive sign of being emotionally drawn to someone,” says Ridhi.
Take, for example, Big Bang Theory star Jim Parsons and director Todd Spiewak. When asked in an interview what their marriage was like, Jim Parsons commented that they have “a regular life, a boring love”. He considers the daily things they do together – making coffee in the morning, going to work, washing clothes, and taking the dogs out on a walk – as gestures of love. For this happy couple, this is what emotional attraction feels like.
How to recognize: You can sit comfortably in silence with each other, with neither of you feeling awkward about it. You can channel your authentic self in front of this person, knowing full well that you will be accepted as you are – sans judgment.
Related Reading: 9 Signs You Are Comfortable In A Relationship But Not In Love
10. You think about them often
Intense emotional attraction makes you think about that person all the time. And not in an obsessive way. But you draw joy from reliving the moments spent with them and go over previous conversations in your mind. In many ways, this person has your undivided attention even when they’re not with you.
Again, we must reiterate that if you spend all your time thinking about someone, to the extent that it interferes with your day-to-day life, it’s a sign of being obsessed with someone. And emotional love is not obsessive. But if your mind effortlessly wanders toward thoughts of them during the leisurely moments of your day and those thoughts enthuse you with energy, you’re exhibiting one of the classic emotional attraction signs.
How to recognize: You might catch yourself smiling from time to time, wondering if you are falling in love with them. You might zone out while thinking about them.
- Emotional attraction is a deep feeling of connection to a person’s intellect or state of being or personality
- This form of attraction is independent of physical/romantic attraction, but may develop into it
- Emotional love feels calming, secure, and easy. When you strike a chord with someone on an emotional level, you don’t have to hide parts of yourself from them
- The ease with which you can talk to someone, trust, comfort, contentment are some of the common indicators you’re emotionally bonded to them
There you have them – the 10 signs of you being emotionally attracted to someone. With this knowledge, you can evaluate your feelings for someone. And then it’s up to you whether you want to take it to the next level, or not.
This article has been updated in March 2023.
Everyone’s definition of love is different. Love can be a combination of three different attractions: emotional attraction, physical attraction, and romantic attraction. Couples will also have their unique understanding of how love works.
While emotional attraction may not be equivalent to the feeling of love, it’s certainly a key component of it. But it doesn’t always have to be romantic. People can be emotionally attracted and attached to friends, parents, siblings, mentors, and other key figures in their life.
It stems from a deep, meaningful connection to a person. This connection is important to understanding a person and knowing them inside out, which leads to a strong emotional bond. And while physical attraction might fade with time, emotional attraction usually grows with time.
It can or cannot. The nature of a relationship based on a strong emotional connect between two people solely depends on who they’re, how they’re connected to one another, and what they’re seeking at that moment in their life. If two people are single, available, looking to partner up, and feel emotionally drawn to one another, their connection can veer into romantic territory.