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  • Writer's pictureDr Joanne Stuart

Dating and ways to survive it - Attraction

Part 1: When dating we need to understand the rules of attraction.


Why are we attracted to some individuals and not others? Or why do some people find us attractive, but others don’t? I have always found it interesting that individuals are often (but not always) not attracted to their good friends’ boyfriends/ girlfriends/ partner, etc. How can it be that our dear friend who shares our values choses someone we are not attracted to in the slightest bit?


The reason for this comes from evolution and from the systems we live in and how they influence our beliefs and behaviours.


Genes play a part. Research suggests that we are more attracted to the smell of someone genetically different to us – a wider gene pool results in greater survival.


The environment we grew up in also plays a part. Whom we are attracted to is an amalgamation of bits of our mothers/fathers/aunts/uncles/siblings/cousins/first teachers/early friends/etc.

·       It may be that when we meet someone with the same warmth as our mothers, we find that attractive.

·       It may be that our mothers were cold and distant, and when we meet someone with similar characteristics, we feel repelled.

·       Another example is that we may have admired our sibling or father or aunt, and so when we meet someone who has a similar personality, we feel attracted to them.

·       More confusingly, we may be attracted to an individual that reminds us of an unfulfilled relationship because we might be compelled to keep trying to fulfil the part that is left wanting.

·       Or it may be that we felt unsafe with a particular family member or in an early relationship. When we meet someone with similar characteristics, we are wary. Of course, there are many examples of when this is not always the case…we are all aware of stories of people serially attracted to someone that is wrong for them.


When we meet the individual that fits with the amalgamation of everything we are drawn towards, we can feel that attraction immediately. Of course, this attraction may be in our best interests – if we have had positive relationships. Or this person may not be in our best interests.

Just as we are attracted to individuals because of an amalgamation of our genes and background history, so too are others attracted (or not attracted) to us due to the same combination of factors. The most important thing when we embark on dating is to remember that not everyone is going to find us attractive, and that is okay.


This is easy to say and difficult to carry out, but if we can hold on to the fact that just because someone does not think of us as their ideal partner, that does not mean there is something wrong with us…just that we don’t fit with their background history. Of course, if we experience this disappointment repeatedly, we will assume something is wrong with us, but I will come on to discuss these ideas and how to make sure we are choosing well in the following few blogs.


Don't miss the other blogs in this series on dating.

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