A Truth About Attraction

image of man and woman to illustrate the truth about attractionAttraction – what an incredible value we place on attraction, especially when it comes to relationships. When we’re single and looking for a partner, most of us are looking for that spark of attraction to let us know it’s time to sit up and take notice. At the other end of the spectrum, those of us who have been with our partners for a while may wonder if the attraction is still there. No matter what stage of relationship you are in – single, dating, or partnered, our culture places so much emphasis on attraction as a barometer of relationship success.

But here’s a truth: Attraction is fickle. Attraction is not a static state that we either feel or don’t feel. Attraction is a fluid response to a host of environmental, biological, and social factors that come together to create a sense of being drawn to something in the moment. Attraction can increase, decrease, disappear, shift, and transfer from one moment to the next, and the ego self has little control over what it finds attractive (or doesn’t).

Did you know attraction can be briefly manufactured when we are afraid? It’s actually a case of misattribution of feelings, but to keep the conversation moving, we’ll just say that fear can make us feel attracted to someone for a short time. The Study: Fear and Love on a Shaky Bridge beautifully demonstrated this phenomenon. You can read more about this famous study, but the take-away here is that when humans are faced with danger, their body activates the same processes that are activated when we are attracted to someone – quickened pulse, shortness of breath, tunnel vision, excitability. We then misread these cues as attraction, when in fact they are a response to the danger we just experience. In this way, a dangerous situation can make us “feel” attraction toward someone. Kind of wild, isn’t it?

Not convinced attraction is a fluid experience? Let’s consider women – did you know that a woman’s experience of attraction changes throughout her menstrual cycle? Yep, it’s true! Researchers have found women find different qualities attractive at certain times of the month, which means a woman can experience different levels of attraction for the same person, depending where she is in her cycle. Studies have also shown that a man’s romantic interest in a woman can vary depending where she is in her monthly cycle.

So, what’s the truth about attraction? It’s fickle. And fickle things are not the best gauge of how well our romantic endeavors are going. Whether you’re lacking attraction for someone, or you’re feeling smitten with them, embrace whatever you’re feeling in the moment and remember it’s perfectly normal for your feelings to change.

Want to take a deep dive into your relationships and learn how to make them stronger? A relationship coach can help you live better and love better through an authentic understanding of yourself.