Sexual Attraction and All Its Glory

Sexual attraction has often been described as “a mysterious force with an intense gravitational pull towards another individual.” So, what does it really entail and why is it so important to have from the offset?

In the past, sexual attraction was thought to be based most solely and notably from the primitive and reproductive aspect, i.e. - choosing an individual on their likelihood to be a good provider and supporter for the home, oneself and with the possibility of potential children in the near future. A classic and perfect example of this from Bruce J. Ellis (1992)where he explains a tale of a woman’s choice in her potential partner is not out of love or passion but rather she is sexually attracted for reproductive matters and paraphrases as such “a woman who can choose between two men, A and B. Gentleman A is a young, healthy, strong, successful, well-liked and well respected by his peers and also willing and able to protect and provide for her and potential children. Gentleman B is old, unwilling and unable to protect and provide for her and her children. If she can raise more viable children with Gentleman A than Gentleman B, then his value will be held in a much higher realm to Gentleman B.” 

Now, more and rightly so, there is substantial research and evidence on sexual attraction evolving in our ever-changing world, and as we aren’t attracted to individuals solely looking to reproduce and have children so readily, it leaves us questioning what else is there to it. Perhaps it is best to break it down into the finer qualities.

Biology is a strange thing; it is very intricate yet delicate with the same accord. As such, the most obvious foundationfor immediate sexual attraction is for sex. No longer always in the sense of reproduction, but for pleasure. Whether it be “eye candy” or getting to the hot and heavy, this is the biggest reason we find someone sexually attractive. What was once a big taboo for many, is now becoming more and more open and free in discussion and honestly why shouldn’t it - we all have needs and intimacy is one of them, it is something we crave, yet again on a primal level. Our sexual “prowess” and “conquests” so to speak may change over time as we mature and evolve into different life stages, but a pleasure, nonetheless.

Perfectly, sexual attraction can be clearly linked to one’s appearance and body language. From our stance, to our walks and the manor we do it in, it is these refined cues that capture eyes (literally) from the sleek and sharp ways we dress to the style of our hair and subtle sparkle in the eyeshadow. Naturally, justthe initial glimmer of physical attraction can and will spur on one’s decision to approach, but body language is a significant indicator of sexual attraction too. Whether it be seductive glance as you meet eyes in a sweet stare across the room or the evermore sexy half smile exchanges that follow. It has been commonly associated that there are significant differences of the sexes in physical attraction. As such men value attraction to a greater extent than women as Berry and Miller (2001) said “attractive physical features in women are considered ‘‘honest advertisements’’ of a woman’s fertility and reproductive status.”

Today.comdevoted an article to break down hints and clues that someone is interested at you. In its classic, casual tone the article discusses 18 typical gentlemanly movesthat will show you he is attracted to you and is considering you as a sexual partner. One of example of a smooth motion is “He'll stroke his tie or smooth a lapel as a “preening gesture”  which is the equivalent of the female lip lick”. The Huffington Postformulated an article to which they discussed “How to Tell Whether a Guy is Interested in You, According to a Body Language Expert”. A favourable move of most gentlemen is the showcasing of the infamous “peacocking” gesture. This is emphasis of the upper body strength and display of tall, broad shoulders, as such The Gentleman’s Journal can be quoted writing “Women tend to like men with broad shoulders, as this emphasises masculinity and strength, making them feel feminine by contrast. Again, this is probably a hangover from our Stone-Age mating rituals, and its pulling power today is as strong as ever.”

Also noted in the Today.com article is that women have far more frequency and variety in their body language movements to show ‘desire’ than men do, with women having a staggering maximum of 52 actions up their sleeve than the gentleman’s choosing of a maximum of just 10 movements. To help with this Behavioural, Media and Celebrity Psychologist and Dating Coach, Jo Hemmingsdiscusses for The Telegraphin a dating special of how to decode a few body language signs of a woman being attracted to a man.In the first explanation, Jo tells us that one of the most interesting moves a woman can make is the “pulling up of her sleeve” exposing of the forearm and what is considered the most softest part of the body, thus presenting a more gentle and tactile side to a woman’s exterior.

Along with the powerful senses of seeing and touching, there is also smell. Scents can be particularly influencing in our sexual attractiveness and sometimes we are even unaware of it. Of course, scent has long been noted to trigger memories, and as well as that advertised to attract people as they walk past you, enticing you in in the form of our daily regimes from our clothing to perfumes to even delicate aromatherapy, which is sensuality at its finest. Our natural scent is also a determining factor in our sexual attractiveness, as such research has shown that pheromones aren’t just limited to animals, but also humans too. Pheromones by definition are a chemical substance produced and released into the environment by an animal affecting the behavior or physiology of others of its species. So far, research and many articles from the likes of Psychology Todayand newspapers have presented that women are more likely to be sexually attracted to smellthat are dissimilar to those of whom may be related but found the similar scent of previous or current partners to be very alluring. This means we are naturally attracted to those of whom we aren’t biologically or genetically related to, immediately reducing our significant-other pool of potentials to choose from with good reason.

Beyond sexual attraction having a predisposition and desire for one’s appearance, body odor and sub-conscious motions - personalities can be just as stimulating in the first instance too! Taking a step back for moment and just thinking about people in general, it will often be heard that in today’s society, someone is either attractive and doesn’t have a personality to match, or someone is the opposite and has the personality but not the looks we desire. So, this is not to say because you are attractive you do not have anything more to you, but rather to say that with one’s personality it can heighten one’s physical attraction levels! We always say never to judge a book by its cover and always to dig (as oppose to scratch) beneath the surface of someone and delve beyond their appearances. 

In the simplest form, personality can be globally measured and divided into five factors – with this being aptly named the “Five-Factor Model” or informally the “Big 5”. Dividing the personality up into the ‘super-traits’to explain differences in personality and the way we behave consists of ‘Openness’, ‘Conscientiousness’, ‘Agreeableness’, ‘Neuroticism’ and ‘Extraversion’. Berry and Miller (2001) for the Journal of Research in Personality discuss “Attractiveness and the Five-Factor Model in Opposite-Sex Interactions”, they suggested their study found that “global personality traits assessed, do influence the quality of opposite-sex interactions at greater levels than acquaintance”. As such, a higher score in most of the big five was a positive predictor of attraction for women. The only negatively associated variable and a bigger “turn-off” was that of ‘Neurotisicm’ – “typically defined as a tendency towards anxiety, self-doubt, depression, shyness, and other similar negative feelings.”.

Of course, there are other personality qualities that can balance out the scales of our neuroticism! Our personality traits are said to “represent the characteristics or qualities that embody us as individuals” according to Joseph Chris, Business Consultant. At the top of the list is a good sense of humour and fast witty conversation. Just these two character traits can be very engaging, showing intelligence, deeper dimensions (psychologically) and also spurring on those charming, encapsulating smiles we enjoy receiving and looking at. Bressler and Balshine (2006)studied good sense of humour from the Darwinian perspective (also known as the Sexual Selection Theory), to which focuses on one’s humorous efforts to win over a desirable romantic partner. As such, it was found that for women is it a desirable quality in a partner, and in fact they chose the more humorous gentleman as the individual to which they have longer term potential with as humour said to represent a life filled with happiness.

Furthermore, the more experience-based characteristics such as persistence, resilience and strategical (logical) thinking, in parallel to one’s decision making abilities, are considered powerful and sought-after traits from a woman’s perspective in a partner’s longer-term potential. These qualities are also seen as a conscientious understanding for not only one’s self, but also a thoughtful look into how others’ around them are feeling too. All of the above are positive indicators of strength and authority, which are also associated with “Sexy, Sexy Power” as Andrea Mathews LPC, NCCwrote in her article about authority. Andrea described “power as the ultimate aphrodisiac” for women, as it is a constant choice in our one’s decision-making skills whether to own her own power or project it onto others. In the instance women reflect their power onto others, they are admiring themselves from afar, so in tell tail fashion we are all powerful, only women do it in a secret way that is sexually tantalizing to both men and women! 

So, there you have it, sexual attraction in a nutshell - mostly premed by our biology and nature but also by the characteristics of someone we are “actively exploring”. In retrospect, we can see that sexual attraction has evolved over time and encapsulates all those stimulating attributes (yes, we do mean in both senses). However, looks don’t always last forever but personalities can last a lifetime and often or not, in the realm of classic dating it is like a tiger catching a glimmer and then going after what he wants. With both physiological side and the psychological make up diverging they can make one collectively sexy image and motion picture!