Dynamics of Attraction: What Makes Us Attractive to Others

You walk into a party, and wham—there is someone who you would like to get to know better!

Couple in romantic mood — Concept for Dynamics of Attraction

Innumerable studies have discovered what ignites the spark between two people. While there are no hard and fast rules to the game of attraction, some common clues are apparent vis à vis what sends your pulses racing. The commonest parameter is physical attractiveness. This is what attracts, arouses interest, and creates pleasure. Physical attractiveness is “measured” in terms of average, symmetry, youthfulness, skin tone and vigour. This is universal to all cultures. After this, individual preferences come into play.

Also, people are drawn to others with like attitudes and values. These characteristics are quite visible and they play a major role in initial attraction. It is, however, physical attributes that represent the first glance and also facilitate you to decide whether you want to initiate interaction. Let’s go deeper and find out the specifics of physical attractiveness

“So be wise and keep on
Reading the signs of my body.”
— Shakira, Hips Don’t Lie

Dynamics of Attraction: What Makes Us Attractive to Others


You may notice a person’s eyes before anything else and get mesmerized. Not for nothing are eyes called the windows of the soul. They can be bright like a thousand light bulbs, sparkling like champagne, mysterious like the night, or sad like a beloved’s “parting” song. They can draw you into their depths, or wish you away.

The universal preference is for eyes that are large, not bulbous. The color depends on individual preference — icy blue eyes may be a turn-on for women, while dark, smouldering eyes may work likewise for men. The longer the eyelashes, the better it is for women who have them. However, women too are known to swoon over men with long eyelashes.

When a person is attracted to you, the pupils dilate, the eyes become watery. This is a sure sign of interest in you, and you know you can go ahead and approach her/him.


The shape of a woman’s pout can indicate that she is ready for some good sexual experience, a study has found. Science suggests that the size and shape of one’s lips plays a key role in determining whether they are sexually attractive. Generally, the fuller the lips, the better it is. Lips that are too thin are considered unattractive, but lips that are too full are also unappealing. Men look for a combination of fullness, redness, softness, and warmth.

While the sexy pout is definitely inviting, pursed lips are a big turn-off. They indicate that the woman is not interested. The kinds of lips that women look for in men are those that suggest virility, with a hint of generosity, warmth, and ruggedness. Medium-sized lips are also preferred with sensuality written over them.

Attractive lips alone do not an attractive face make; what is important is the totality of appearance as far as attraction is concerned.

Lips become fleshier and darker at the sight of someone attractive. There are touch and pressure receptors in the lips which fire messages to the brain, and so you know whether the kiss is the kiss you are looking for. A woman may unconsciously lick her lips to attract attention. A man may softly place a finger on his lips for the same reason.

If a man shifts his focus from your eyes to your lips and mouth, and looks at them long enough before returning to your eyes, once again, you can be assured that he is interested in you and, in all probability, wants to kiss you.


Generally, a short nose, in proportion to the rest of the face, is considered a good feature. It has, of course, a major role to play than mere appearance.

Eskimos, to cull one cultural example, rub their noses in greeting each other. It’s actually a form of “sniffing” — to get a sense of the other person’s smell! Result: your olfactory senses are aroused, or repelled by the smell of the other person. In other words, your nose plays a great part in telling you who smells good to you.

It is a known fact that the heady smell of someone can kindle swift passion. Conversely, if a person you find attractive does not smell good, you may find his/her attractiveness diminishing in your eyes and interest extinguished. It is essential that you like the smell of the person you are attracted to, otherwise your desire may be short-lived. Remember, the raw sex appeal of natural smell only lasts as long as it is fresh; beyond that it loses its charm. Perfumes and oils have, therefore, been used since ancient times to create “the smell divine.”

Hair and skin

Shining, thick hair that is soft to touch is a sign of attractive hair. This is universal, although colour, length, style and other preferences may vary from one culture to another, or individual preferences, or in tune with the times. In addition, a smooth skin that gives appearance of youth and vitality is also preferred.

If you find someone attractive, you may unconsciously flick your hair off your face, or twist a strand of hair. These are nervous gestures to displace your interest. You may also, of course, perform these gestures to attract attention.

Neck and chest

If, as a woman, you are attracted to someone, you will find yourself touching parts of your neck. If you are openly flirting, say at a party, you will arch your neck more. This is similar to the way a man trying to appear attractive will stand straight and thrust his chest. This behavior is part of a primitive urge and our inherent sexuality.

Body language

When someone is attracted to you, his/her complete body will speak. S/he will lean forward in your direction, tilt his/her head, sit on the edge of the chair, point his/her toes towards you, groom, touch his/her face and be aware of himself/herself, and of you.

The takeaway

The language of attraction is not complicated. In fact, it is one of the most natural things in the world.

In general, a small nose, big eyes and voluptuous lips are sexually attractive for men and women. And, after this, there are combinations and permutations to suit a whole gamut of individual preferences.

This is an updated version of the article that was originally published in the July 2007 issue of Complete Wellbeing magazine.

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Abha Iyengar
 Abha Iyengar is an internationally published author, poet, editor and British Council certified creative writing facilitator. Her story, The High Stool, was nominated for the Story South Million Writers Award. She won the Lavanya Sankaran fellowship in 2009-2010. She was a finalist in the FlashMob 2013 Flash Fiction contest. Her published works are Yearnings, Shrayan, Flash Bites, Many Fish to Fry and The Gourd Seller and Other Stories.


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