Attraction and Relationships

People form attitudes towards other people. These attitudes are evaluations or interpersonal attractions. Humans are social being and have an innate need to affiliate to cope through life. The degree of this need varies.

Affective states influence attraction. A person can directly arouse effects or emotions in another person. A person can also indirectly arouse effects or emotions in another person, by simply being thought of. This type of indirect associated effect is used in advertising. Proximity can create attraction. For instance, two colleagues who are in each other’s proximity, in a repeated exposure, every day, could easily fall in love. This positive effect is called mere exposure effect.

Physical attraction can create strong effects, although assumptions, which are based on physical appearance of people just met, are usually false. Evaluations are based on physical attraction, behaviors, diet preferences, names, weight, physique and similar superficial aspects. Height, especially for men, is associated to success.

Similar values, attitudes, beliefs and interests determine attraction. Opposites rarely attract. Dissimilarities have a big impact on attraction but the more the similarities are, the bigger the attraction is.

The similarity-dissimilarity effect is an adaptive reaction to possible danger. The effect-centered model of attraction shows how attraction is caused by associated and direct sources of effect. People like other people who like them first and positively evaluate them. People dislike other people who dislike them first and negatively evaluate them.

In conclusion, emotions affect attraction. Sharing laughs lead to attraction. Composite faces are considered more attractive than the individual faces. Even first name of people can evoke stereotypes and either positive or negative first impressions. Opposites tend not to attract. Even pets and their owners tend to resemble each other and look alike. When conversing or working with someone who is different, it is best to focus on the similarities and the agreements. When there is a disagreement, it is best to stay open-minded versus dogmatic, so the other person does not feel attacked. To make other people like an individual, it is suggested to use proximity, to create positive effect, to appear well presented and to look beyond the appearance of others.

What distinguishes close relationships is interdependence, which is the sharing of activities, thoughts and emotions. Some scientists say that emotional bonding is what allowed the success of human evolution. History and DNA is making humans hard-wired for emotional closeness. The first close relation is with the primary caregiver and it forms a specific attachment style, which affects self-esteem and interpersonal trust. The different attachment styles are: secure, fearful-avoidant, preoccupied, and dismissing. Children learn expectations from and interactions with others from their first family relations. Sibling rivalry can last forever, if not addressed.

The first friendships are based on common interests and other sources of positive effect, which cause attraction. Later on, with maturity, close friendships are formed. Close friendships involve reciprocal social support, long interaction and self-disclosure.

Loneliness happens when someone has less satisfactory relation than desired. Loneliness triggers depression and anxiety. Dispositional loneliness comes from an insecure attachment style with the primary caregiver, combined to DNA and not enough socialization with peers early on. The appropriate intervention for dispositional loneliness sis cognitive therapy combined to social skills training. Situational loneliness is caused by the environment, such as a move, or unrelated social rejection.

What defines romance is physical intimacy. Romantic attraction is caused by physical proximity, similarities and appearance. Romance includes sexual attraction, wanting total acceptance and positive fantasies. Reproduction is facilitated by male and female attraction and offspring bonding.

Passionate love is a big and sudden emotion about another person. Companionate love is similar to a friendship with mutual respect, caring and liking. Commitment is a cognitive decision to love and to a relationship.

Premarital sex became the norm after the sexual revolution in the 60s. It is important to sexually discriminate to avoid abortions and/or unwanted pregnancies and STDs. Although 50% married couples get divorced in the US, they never believe their marriages would fail.

Successful marriages are characterized by constructive conflicts and disagreements, versus destructively. In constructive conflicts, partners try to understand each other’s perspective, without threats or without hits to self-esteem. During constructive conflicts, partners’ compromise, increase benefits and decrease costs of marriage. Finally, in constructive conflicts, partners are agreeable and maximize positive effect.

When dissatisfaction is high, partners may end the relationship. Divorce is characterized by pain, negative emotions and negative financial consequences or effects. The biggest victims of divorce are the kids. Divorced individuals tend to remarry (Baron, Byrne, & Branscombe, 2005).

In conclusion, love can be blind for the reason above. For both, females and males, personality, character, fidelity and intelligence matter in selecting a mate. Male look for female attraction and females look for men with resources. More and more people successfully resort to internet dating to heighten their chances to find a mate. Unrequited love can happen when the same loving feelings are not reciprocated. There are still debates on whether gay marriages should be allowed an on whether gay couples should adopt. More tips for spouses involve cooperation, giving up the need to be right, open communication, forgiveness, celebration, listening to the heart, encouragement, responsibility, and continuous learning. It is important to distinguish between love and arousal, to be informed about a partner, and to agree on, or at least understand, the meaning of love and companionship.

Baron, R. A., Byrne, D. R., & Branscombe, N. R. (2005) Social Psychology. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

Thank you.

Elena Pezzini, M.S., C.P.C.

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