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Four Factors of Initial Attraction

Sex & Relationships

Four Factors of Initial Attraction

Ever wonder what makes you attracted to someone and keeps you attracted to them? There are many factors that one might list off like common friend groups and the ability to have fun with them. Those are important factors, but what initially attracts someone?

There are four factors to initial attraction:

  • Proximity
    • If you are in close proximity to another person, you are more likely to be attracted to them, and keep that attraction for some basic reasons. You don’t have to travel far, so less time is needed to see them and there isn’t too much effort that goes into hanging out with them. Another is that long distance relationships usually have more challenges and tend to be more strained, so if someone is within twenty minutes of you versus in another state, there can be more quality time with that person and you can actually build a strong relationship.
  • Reciprocity
    • This reason is quite basic. If you like them, and they like you, that is attractive. Knowing that your feelings are reciprocated enables you to feel confident in pursuing your interest in them, or them pursuing their interest in you.
  • Similarity
    • This reason is one that makes complete sense for long-term relationships. If you have similar interests, you are more likely to survive long-term, whether the similarity is in values, beliefs, views, or hobbies. Having some basic similarities like a similar value system can ensure that you two can work through tougher issues. With similarity though, it’s also good to have some qualities that are different so that you can balance each other out long-term.
  • Physical Attractiveness
    • As shallow as a reason this may seem, being physically attracted to a person is important. There are instances where getting to know someone makes them more physically attractive. But given we are talking about initial things that attract us to someone, finding them attractive is important.

One psychological term that comes to mind when talking about how people get into relationships is The Matching Principle, which is the tendency for people to be in relationships with others of similar attractiveness. Another aspect that can be attractive to some is The Hard to Get Effect, where there is a preference for people who are highly selective in their social choices over those who are more easily available. There are many ways for two people to end up together, but the four factors above are ones that seem to be highly determinant. Along with those, there are two other ways in which, after initial attraction occurs, a relationship can be established.

In psychology, there is Level Match and Pattern Match. These are two ways to make decisions on people we want to be in relationships with.

  • Level Match
    • This is when the partner you choose matches the exact number you want in them for certain characteristics. For example, if on a scale of one to ten, your dream match has an eight on responsibility and you end up finding a person with that match, you have found a level match in that individual.
  • Pattern Match
    • This is when the partner you choose relatively matches important characteristics you’re looking for in relation to other characteristics, irrespective of specific amounts. For example, you are looking for someone who has a level nine out of ten in honesty, and a level seven out of ten in humor. The person you meet has a level seven in honesty and a level five in humor. That is a pattern match.

Why are these two types of matching important in relationships? Because depending on the type of match you focus on, it can impact the success of your relationship. Couples who are focused more on pattern matching tend to be happier and survive as couples, whereas those couples who highly focus on level match tend to be more dissatisfied and end up parting ways down the road more often.

When it comes to attraction and the reasons we choose partners, flexibility should be kept in mind. There are those who have their checklists of what they want in partners, but even if you find someone who doesn’t have everything checked off, that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be given a chance. Taking a leap of faith can sometimes be the best thing you could have ever done.


Savannah has been writing since she was fifteen years old when she started a book series, which became popular online. She attended SCAD, studying Creative and Dramatic writing until she transferred to John Jay College of Criminal Justice to study Forensic Psychology. She now has a magazine called Millennial Mrs. and Mom that she writes while she finishes pursuing her education.

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