There are three factors that influence
attraction. The first one - proximity
is when people tend to like people who
are closer to them (more proximal, greater proximity) rather than
people who are farther away from them. If people are closer geographically,
then they are more likely to run into one another. It is difficult
to make friends with people that you see infrequently or not at
all. This may explain why long distant relationships are difficult.
Another factor in attraction is
physical attractiveness. People who are physically attractive
enjoy several benefits, as they are better thought of (e.g., kinder,
gentler, more able) than unattractive people. Thus, there is often
a halo effect with physical attractiveness, such that people who
are above average in attractiveness are thought to be above average
in other aspects as well.
Physical attractiveness can be
a disadvantage too, however. For example, people who are physically
attractive may think that others are doing things for them, praising
them, etc. merely because they are attractive. That is, they may
come to doubt anything positive anyone else says to them, because
they attribute that to their attractiveness, rather than to their
The third factor in attraction
is similarity. People tend to like others who are similar to themselves.
If the goal of attraction is partnership, and part of partnership
is sharing your life with someone else, then clearly it is best
to choose a partner that has similar interests. It's much easier
to share your life with someone who is similar to you than with
someone who is not similar to you, because the person who is similar
to you will tend to have the same likes and dislikes as you do.
They will want to do the same activities as you do. Conversely,
if someone does not share the same attitudes as you do, you are
probably not going to want to hang out with them.
One way to get someone to like
you is to like them. This action is supported by the reciprocity
norm, which states that whatever is
done to you should be done in return. The reciprocity norm is
very powerful. When someone does something good for us, we often
feel indebted to that person, so we will often reciprocate the
Liking is often one stage on the
way to loving someone. That is, life partners typically like each
other before they love each other.
There is a distinction drawn in
types of love - passionate love and companionate love. Passionate
love is the initial attraction between two people, which leads
to feelings of lust when the attraction is mutual and to feelings
of despair when the attraction is not. Companionate love follows
passionate love, and it is less intense but more intimate, as
the individuals feel comfortable sharing their personal thoughts,
hopes, dreams, etc.