The power of a glance has been so much abused in love stories, that it has come to be disbelieved in. Few people dare now to say that two beings have fallen in love because they have looked at each other. Yet it is in this way that love begins, and in this way only, Victor Hugo.
“Interpersonal attraction is the attraction between people which leads to friendships and romantic relationships,” Wikipedia. However, it is very important to point out that one thing is to start a relationship, and another, quite different, is to keep it.
The main factors for interpersonal attraction are:
However, many studies have shown consistently that physical appearance is very important for men. On the other hand, women seek intelligence, wealth, power, and ethnicity, which also makes sense from an evolutionary point of view. In other words, men seek women with high reproductive value ― women who can bear children ― for mating purposes which is related to age and healthiness. This is indicated by a woman’s physical appearance, e.g. smooth skin, large firm breasts, youth, symmetric face, wide hips, etc.
In contrast, a woman is attracted to males who have characteristics that indicate social and economic status (valuable resources so they can provide for the family), as well as being humorous and kind (so they are willing to share these resources).
As a consequence, women take good care of their physical appearance. It is very well known that pretty women have more friends and pursuers. However, as the relationship progresses, the physical element takes a back seat and other characteristics become more relevant: intelligence, honesty, kindness, generosity, loyalty, etc.
Propinquity effect. We like those who live, work or study near us. It is obvious that we cannot be friends or even get to know someone who we don’t see very often.
Friendships and romantic relationships are likely to develop with those that a person comes into contact with. The more someone sees and interacts with a person, the more likely he or she is to develop a friendship or become a sexual partner. It does make sense because it increases the chances (accessibility) of fortuitous contacts, enhances the probability of friendship, and even of marriage. Besides, people living in the same neighbourhood tend to share the same ethnicity, religion, and economic status (like-attracts-like).
Similarity. We like those who are similar to us. “Opposites attract” is not true in dating or marriage. The old story as popularized in the Hollywood industry with the handsome prince on his white horse whisking away his beautiful princess into a magical world is simply not true. Of course, it may happen, but it is the exception, not the rule.
Typically, birds of a feather flock together, people are attracted to those who are similar to themselves. What do we mean more specifically by similarity? It is conceptualised in a very broad sense, namely: physical attractiveness, personality, ethnicity, religion, age, intelligence, education, socio-economic status, opinions, interests, etc.
Similar individuals are attractive because they validate our beliefs and ourselves, and this common ground reduces potential conflicts.
For example, couples from different cultures, especially when it comes to an European female with a South American or African male have much more pressure and face more difficulties and obstacles than average couples. The male partner has lived in a significantly macho culture where men decide and gender roles are very strict, different, and strongly enforced.
Familiarity. We like those who we see and interact with regularly. This is the idea that if you see someone in the same context over and over again, you are more likely to interact and form a relationship with him or her.
It is based on the same principle that the mere-exposure effect, which states that the more you are exposed to a stimulus (a person, a commercial product, a political candidate, etc.), the more you will come to like it.
It is widely used in electoral propaganda and advertising. Both commercial products and political candidates are marketed using this effect. Let’s face it, we all suffer from advertising fatigue. Marketing has become ubiquitous (television, Internet, mobile phones, etc.) in everyday life and influences a lot of our behavior and decisions. However, too much exposure might have negative consequences.
Therefore, we are all attracted to what is familiar to us, and repeated exposure to certain people will be likely to increase our attraction toward them. We fear the unknown, we seek security in familiarity as the key to our survival, this is nothing more than another example of the evolutionary component of our behavior.- Reciprocal liking. We like those who also like us back. It describes the fact that people usually like others who express liking for them. It makes sense because knowing that someone fancies us makes us feel good about ourselves and helps us build a positive self-image. This effect is more significant when someone starts off by disliking us before changing their mind.
Let’s comment other factors suggested in self-help literature, but not proven.