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What Draws Us Together in a Relationship?

by Kathryn Rateliff Barr

You meet someone and fairly quickly feel as if you’ve known this person forever. Maybe your eyes locked and you instantly felt you had to meet. Attraction happens quickly for some people and over time for others. Certain elements appear frequently when people are drawn together, whether developing a friendship or a romance, according to Kelly Campbell, Ph.D., in a “Psychology Today” article entitled “Relationship Chemistry: Can Science Explain Instant Connections?”

You in My World

Seeing someone daily can make that person attractive to you as a friend or romantic partner, just because of proximity, according to Aronson, et.al. in “Social Psychology, Fifth Edition.” It explains why many affairs and romances begin in the workplace. You notice this person appearing frequently, stop and chat, and begin to form a relationship because that person is available. The more time you spend together, the more likely you are to find this person attractive and worth more of your time.

You Like It Too!

Similarities in activities, attitudes, values, behaviors and demographics also make a person attractive, according to Aronson, et.al. You have commonalities you can discuss or you frequent the same places, such as the gym or a class. The similarities you notice can blossom into a friendship or more. You don’t rub each other raw when your opinions match, and your agreement increases the attraction, according to Janet Shibley Hyde and John D. DeLamater in “Understanding Human Sexuality.” These similarities are what many dating sites use to find your matches. The idea that opposites attract applies more to interpersonal styles, note Hyde and DeLamater.

Looks Matter

It won’t surprise you to know that a person’s physical appearance can inspire attraction or distance. Campbell notes that this is true, even when it comes to choosing your friends. You know it because you take extra time getting ready before a date. Your physical appearance is part of your first impression and can determine whether you get beyond a nodding acknowledgement when you bump into each other or are introduced.

Making Online Connections

Meeting someone online can remove the pull of physical attraction, according to Hyde and DeLamater. In that environment, you focus on how much the profile reveals and you look for shared interests and values. Chatting and emailing can reveal more about the person beyond the profile, but there is still an opportunity for deceit about the individual’s marital status, appearance and personality.

Beyond First Blush

Once you have established initial attraction, you look for more reasons to become intimate friends or lovers. Intimacy is based on how open and honest the person is and how much personal information that individual is willing to disclose, according to Hyde and DeLamater. You also evaluate how caring, protective and warm this person is, as well as how much you feel understood in your interactions. If you both feel the connection and are mutually committed, the relationship can progress.

About the Author

Rev. Kathryn Rateliff Barr has taught birth, parenting, vaccinations and alternative medicine classes since 1994. She is a pastoral family counselor and has parented birth, step, adopted and foster children. She holds bachelor's degrees in English and history from Centenary College of Louisiana. Studies include midwifery, naturopathy and other alternative therapies.

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