Are you familiar with the feeling of having butterflies in your stomach? What about having your heart race and your face turn red for no logical reason? These sensations are directly associated with having crushes, which I’m sure for many of us is not a foreign feeling. But as you know, liking someone is only a fraction of the battle. The true test is getting your crush to like you back, which, for the majority of us, is seemingly impossible.
However, the seemingly impossible becomes less impossible when you take into account the various factors that influence attraction, i.e. the science behind it. So just how does attraction work and what are the factors that make it up?
The Animal Inside
The physical aspects of attraction are driven by a part of our brain that we share with animals: the limbic brain. The limbic brain is involved in the regulation of various emotional responses as well as fulfilling survival needs such as reproduction. One of the major reasons for whether or not you're attracted to someone is that you are driven by the instinctive search for a mate to reproduce with. The physical characteristics viewed as attractive by many are subconsciously viewed as such because these features may make a person appear healthier (and so a strong candidate to reproduce with).
As a result, men tend to be attracted to women who show indications of youth and good health. Some of those indicative features are bright and big eyes, clear skin, full lips, symmetrical features, how you walk, and a narrow waist in comparison to the hips.
Women, on the other hand, tend to be attracted to men with physical characteristics that indicate good health and a likely ability to provide and protect. Some of those indicative features are broad shoulders with narrower hips, athleticism, a strong jawline, and a deep voice.
These physical features are often associated with good looks and play a crucial role in most crushes, generally during the early stages of a relationship. While physical attraction may initially draw you to your crush, as you get to know them better it gradually loses its importance. In the end, emotional connection always wins out and lasts longer, begging the question: which factors take a part in emotional attraction?
Personality Matters More Than You Think
The first factor of emotional attraction is personality. In a 2007 study conducted at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, participants were asked to rate photos of strangers on attractiveness. The second time around, the participants were asked to evaluate the same photos but this time with personality descriptions included. It was observed that the photos with positive personality descriptions were rated significantly higher for attractiveness compared to when no personality descriptions were included, indicating that positive personalities increase one’s attractiveness.
The positive personality descriptions created included personality traits that were considered “warm.” From this, Warm traits are ones that make a person seem more approachable, empathetic, and caring. One such personality trait is kindness.
Opposites DON'T Attract
A surprising factor of emotional attraction is similarity. Contrary to the popular belief that opposites attract, people are actually more attracted to people who are similar to them. Being similar refers to having similar attitudes, values, and traits. Much research has been conducted on this subject and has found that there are several reasons as to why similarity increases the probability of mutual attraction. One interesting reason is that we assume that people with similar attitudes to us will view us positively.
To Get Closer, You Gotta BE Closer
Proximity is another surprising factor of emotional attraction. According to decades of research and findings, people tend to be attracted to people that they are closer to (in distance) and spend more time with.
“Proximity, as we can easily prove, leads to affection” (Festinger et al, 1950).
Some might even say that proximity is the most important factor of attraction. As you spend more time with someone, the way you view them and the feelings you feel for them become amplified. This means that if you had a positive initial interaction with someone, the probability of you being attracted to each other will increase over time.
So What Now?
Now that you understand what factors play into attraction, how can you apply them to finally land that perfect date with your crush?
It might not be what you want to hear, but the first thing you can do is to take good care of your body. What does this mean? Taking good care of your body involves exercising regularly, eating good food, and giving your body adequate rest; essentially, maintaining good self-care. Although some of the attractive features mentioned are not controllable, such as having bright and big eyes or having a deep voice, a handful, such as obtaining clear skin and having wide shoulders in comparison to the hips, is attainable through proper self-care and exercise. Even if the changes you see are not drastic, over time, they will become noticeable and can improve your chances of your crush being attracted to you.
Next, you can try to appeal to your crush through your personality. You should aim to act more warmly around your crush, i.e. trying to be more kind and caring towards them (this should not be too hard as acting warmly is a side effect of having a crush anyway). Extreme changes are nowhere near necessary; just like taking care of your body, small changes will be noticeable and sufficient.
Something that you can also do to increase the probability of your crush liking you is to give them hot drinks from time to time. A study about a person’s warmness (similar to the 2007 study conducted at the State University of New York at Stony Brook) was conducted in 2008 by Yale University psychologists. The participants of the study were asked to do various tasks twice, once with a hot drink in their hands, once with a cold drink.
In one task, the participants were given a small gift card. They were then asked whether they would keep it for themselves or whether they would give it to a friend. The participants holding a hot drink in their hands were more likely to say that they would give it away, as opposed to the participants holding cold drinks saying that they would rather keep it. This indicated that people are more generous when they are holding hot drinks.
In the other task, the participants were asked to assess the personality traits of a person based on an information package they were given. It was found that more warm personality traits were attributed to the given descriptions if the participants were holding hot drinks than if they were holding cold drinks. This indicated that people are more likely to view others more warmly if they are holding a hot drink.
This means that if you give your crush a hot drink every so often when you are with them, they will likely view you more warmly and attribute warm characteristics to you.
Finally, you should spend as much time with your crush as you can. This application is related to the factor of proximity, as the more time you spend with them, the more likely they are to develop an attraction to you. Now this doesn’t mean that you should constantly hang around them or follow them around as it may be viewed as creepy or annoying. This just means that you should try to spend quality time with them when you are together. Try to show them your fun side or get to know them better. Spend reasonable amounts of time with them; you should still allocate lots of time to spend with your friend group. You could also try out a hobby that they enjoy and see if you like it, as if you do, it would become a similarity that you share (tying back to the factor of similarity).
The information presented in this article regarding attraction is about as far as science will take you concerning Ludus love. Emotions are finicky and unpredictable; we may never be able to completely understand how they work. However, by properly applying the information given, you’ll no doubt be able to improve your chances with your crush, and even if they don’t end up liking you back, at least you’ll know you tried your best, scientifically.