Understanding the mystery behind sexual attraction.
Sexual attraction

It's human to have sexual interests. But have you ever wondered why we are sexually attracted to certain people?

Well, it turns out several biological and psychological components influence our sexual desire and levels of attraction.

Read on as we explore these feelings a little deeper to discover more about sexual attraction.

In this article:

Note: Read the whole article or scroll down to the KEY TAKEAWAYS section at the end of this article for a short summary.

FAQs:

  • Sexual attraction may be influenced by several biological factors, such as hormones or physical characteristics, as well as psychological factors, such as shared interests or a sense of humor. Other factors can also affect these feelings, such as location (living in the same city) and scarcity (seeing or talking less to a person). There are even times when sexual orientation influences our attraction to another person.
  • Sexual attraction and compatibility play an important role in relationships. Not only does it help boost levels of intimacy and desire, but it provides you with the necessary connection that influences how you feel and act around your partner.
  • Sexual attraction is a complicated human experience that can arise for many reasons. What may drive one to feel sexually attracted to someone may not necessarily be the case for everyone. “That being said, for the majority of humans, there is both a biological and psychological component that determines sexual attraction.
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What is Sexual Attraction?

Having a strong sexual attraction to someone else can develop either immediately or over time.

Sexual attraction is a natural human behavior that refers to the level of attraction an individual feels, causing them to desire sexual contact with another person.

According to research on puberty and adolescent sexuality, cognitive markers of sexual arousal and desire emerge during early puberty. Roughly 25% of young adults report "thinking a lot about sex" by 11-12 years for both boys and girls.

Of course, sexual attraction is not isolated to romantic relationships. We may feel sexually attracted to someone we see walking down the street or a celebrity we follow on Instagram. However, the difference is that sexual attraction may not lead to sexual interest in that person – just a fleeting thought or feeling.

Having a strong sexual attraction to someone else can develop either immediately or over time. It can evolve into a long-term romantic relationship or lead to casual sex in a "friends with benefits" way.

Several other forms of attraction frequently play a role in influencing sexual attraction:

  • Romantic attraction – this is a form of attraction that causes us to desire romantic contact or interaction with another person
  • Physical attraction – physical or aesthetic attraction occurs when someone appreciates the look or beauty of another person
  • Intellectual attraction – this type of attraction refers to the desire to engage with another person on an intellectual level (i.e. "picking their brain" on a topic of conversation)
  • Emotional attraction – the feeling of being emotionally captivated by someone's heart, mind, or sense of humor rather than their physical appearance
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What Does Sexual Attraction Feel Like?

Though sexual attraction can feel different from one person to the next, most people describe this feeling as a desire to be with somebody.

It's difficult to describe the feelings we experience when sexually attracted to someone. If you've ever felt this way – you know what we mean.

Though sexual attraction can feel different from one person to the next, most people describe this feeling as a desire to be with somebody – to kiss them, hold their hand, or engage in consensual sexual activity with them.

A spectrum of feelings and bodily responses arise when we experience sexual attraction. Some of the most common physical or emotional sensations involved in sexual attraction include:

  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Sweaty or flushed complexion
  • Butterflies in the stomach
  • Sexual arousal
  • Dry mouth
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What Are the Signs of Sexual Attraction?

Making plenty of eye contact is one of the common signs that someone may be sexually attracted to you.

Common signs that someone may be sexually attracted to you:

  • They are close to you and make intentional physical contact with you
  • They are making plenty of eye contact
  • They may be licking their lips or staring at your lips while talking
  • They are mirroring your body language
  • They are leaning in toward you when you speak to them
  • They are laughing and smiling a lot around you
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Biological Factors

Two other important biological factors that influence sexual attraction include hormones and scent.

Sexual attraction is a primal example of a human's ability to attract others to increase their sexual selection or mating choice.

Even today, factors like physical health and physical attractiveness continue to play a role in whether we perceive men and women as "sexually attractive".

For example, many heterosexual women find the opposite sex more attractive when they are taller, have more facial hair, appear physically stronger, and display a high degree of facial symmetry. Of course, this isn't always the case.

Two other important biological factors that influence sexual attraction include hormones and scent.

Research has suggested that our hormonal balance can affect who we fancy. For instance, men with high levels of testosterone may be more attracted who women with more feminine-appearing faces (i.e. small jawlines, larger eyes, high eyebrows, etc.).

Another recent study found that women with certain scents are more attractive to heterosexual men. This research found that the most appealing scents came from women with high estrogen and low progesterone levels, indicating high female fertility.

Similarly, a study shows how a woman's menstrual cycle can determine their sexual behavior and levels of attraction. In other words, women display greater levels of arousal and pleasure as they progress from menses to the premenstruum.

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Psychological Factors

Another important psychological factor within our personality is having a compatible sense of humor.

Outside of our biology, several psychological factors influence our sexual attraction to those around us. It includes personality, lifestyle, shared values or similarities, and attachment styles.

According to research, sexual desire and attraction are highly related to having a secure attachment style and high levels of self-control and mindfulness.

Another important psychological factor within our personality is having a compatible sense of humor. Not only does this allow us to laugh and have a good time with a partner, but humor also points to having a sociable and agreeable personality – all of which is essential towards creating sexual attraction.

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How to Become Sexually Attracted to Someone

While you may be attracted to another person, the initial feeling of wanting to jump their bones may not exist… yet.

Believe it or not, having an instant spark of sexual attraction does not always arrive out of nowhere. While you may be attracted to another person, the initial feeling of wanting to jump their bones may not exist… yet.

Although you may not think someone is physically attractive at first, taking time to engage with their personality, discover their sense of humor, and explore shared interests can help inspire more emotional connection, which, in time, can evolve into sexual chemistry.

Some helpful ways to cultivate attraction include:

  • Spending more time together to discover shared interests
  • Being more intentional about physically touching one another
  • Doing something scary or adventurous together
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Love Languages and Sexual Attraction

…suppose your partner's love language is words of affirmation.

One of the most effective ways to increase feelings of attraction is by communicating and expressing certain love languages with your partner. These love languages, including physical touch, quality time, words of affirmation, gift-giving, and acts of service, describe how we all prefer to express and receive love.

After determining which love language you and your partner appreciate the most, you can begin using them in the bedroom to help boost feelings of arousal and desire.

For example, suppose your partner's love language is words of affirmation. In that case, it can help to share feelings by complimenting their looks, their sexual techniques, and how good they are making you feel.

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KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Experiencing sexual attraction is a natural human behavior that can be influenced by both biological and physiological factors – among many other things 
  • Sexual attraction brings about feelings of desire to be physically close and emotionally connected to another person 
  • Feelings of sexual attraction can be cultivated by spending more time together, being intentional about physical touch or closeness, and expressing love in a way your partner desires 
  • Keep in mind that we can never (nor should ever) force ourselves to be sexually attracted to anyone – no matter how "perfect" we think they are for us
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Medical Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to give medical advice or substitute for the medical advice of a physician.

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