Home  >  Love Couch  >  Romantic Love

The Science & Rules of Attraction and 29 Traits that Are Far Sexier Than Looks

All games have rules, and the game of love and romance aren’t any exceptions. So, if you want to know the rules of attraction, we have all the answers.

science rules of attraction

Little did we know, the rules of attraction are really all about calculation going beyond how we act and what we say to someone else. It is more about how we are biologically wired through our genes and our brains. 

Aside from this, much of how we find the opposite sex attractive also has something to do with every shape, angle, and curve of our faces and bodies. 

Therefore, the “right” person for you is governed by a complex formula dictated ultimately by the rules of attraction. [Read: 45 positive and negative personality traits that can change your life forever!]

Why science is the key to human attraction

At some point in our lives, we feel infatuation or attraction for someone. Maybe it’s because we have a certain “type,” but that doesn’t really explain why we thought of them as attractive.

It makes total sense that movie stars and supermodels are the height of attraction for most. But it makes less sense that we can be attracted to a person who isn’t traditionally attractive.

This is where science can help us out in explaining this phenomenon, although it’s not crystal clear how it really works. [Read: 65 physical attraction tips to look way more desirable in no time]

While we don’t fully understand human attraction and its factors, they definitely involve hormones and the brain. 

For example, the release of dopamine in the brain during attraction is associated with positive emotions, which compels us to seek out more of those feelings through social interaction with the person we’re attracted to. 

What you need to know about the rules of attraction

The thing is, sexual attraction is very complex and goes beyond materialistic needs. It’s something that doesn’t factor in the amount of money you make or where you live. [Read: Attraction theory – what it is, and the factors that make you desirable to others]

Scientists have dug deep and continue to research what makes us attracted to one another. 

What they’ve found so far is that attraction, though a personal preference, is also based on biological and genetic factors. It’s really much more complex than you thought.

Below we give you a short list of science-backed rules of attraction and how you can find a mate—if not for life, at least for the long haul.

1. Hot or boring? 

According to our brains, being “hot” alone just won’t cut it. According to developmental molecular biologist, John Medina, the brain has a very short attention span.

As such, the brain is more drawn to people and things that are interesting, intriguing, and engaging. 

Therefore, it doesn’t matter if you look attractive; if all you can manage off a conversation is a dull script of “How’s the weather?” then you’re out on the dating scene. [Read: How to not be annoying and be everyone’s best friend]

2. 30 seconds, go

Despite the quote “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” the reality is that people judge you by how you look the moment you step into a room. 

In fact, attraction can happen instantaneously. Within just a matter of seconds—30 seconds, to be exact—as research would tell you about what they scientifically call ‘thin-slicing.’

According to this study, our brains make incredibly and, surprisingly accurate, long-lasting snap judgments of the person we meet within just a few seconds of seeing them.

3. Red flag

Now, if you want to catch the attention of other people, or of someone you’re dating, red is the color to wear. 

From red lips to red shoes, research has shown both men and women who wear red are more desirable. The color is widely associated with passion, lust, romance, and fertility, so it makes sense.

4. Symmetry

A University of New Mexico study by evolutionary biologists has found that both men and women find attractive those members of the opposite sex who have more symmetrical faces and bodies.

This is because our brains associate good symmetry with good genes. Undesirable genetic mutations skew symmetry, and these are not good choices for mating. 

The study also revealed that males with more symmetry enjoy more sexual partners than those with lower or less symmetry.

5. Body shape

While there are many skinny women on television and in magazines, research by psychologist Devendra Singh of the University of Texas has shown men still find curves desirable. 

Singh studied people’s waist-to-hip ratio *WHR* and revealed that men still find the hourglass figure much more desirable.

Those with a waist that is significantly narrower than the hips, particularly those with a 0.67 to 1.18 WHR, are much more attractive to men. 

As for women, they find desirable those guys who have 0.8 to 1.0 WHR, while men with broad shoulders are still a major turn-on. [Read: What turns a guy on? 51 subtle sexual turn-ons that arouse men in seconds!]

6. Body language

Many studies have proven time and again how open body language is attractive to both men and women. This shows availability, which is a must in attracting people and encouraging the starting of new relationships.

Exposing your torso shows availability while showing or even stroking your neck makes you more sexually attractive. Avoid crossing your arms on your torso, and make sure your hands are visible, as this also makes you more approachable.

7. Face structure

Face structure is actually caused by what happens inside the body, as multiple studies through the years have shown.

Estrogen contributes to bone growth in a woman’s face, particularly in her lower face, chin, and brow. [Read: Psychology of attraction – the types and the ones that make you fall in love]

Meanwhile, testosterone shapes a man’s face, developing the lower face, jaw, and prominent brow. Our brains automatically see such face structures as attractive, as they also show good reproductive health.

8. Sniff and smell

study has shown women smell and look more attractive to men at certain times of the month, as this has something to do with their hormonal cycles. 

Meanwhile, men with more symmetrical features are found to smell better. Additionally, women who are menstruating have a keener sense of smell, as they were more attracted to symmetrical men’s smells.

In a separate study, women and men who have particular similarities to their own genes find each other’s smells much more attractive. 

What’s more, many of these people can’t even detect a smell on the opposite sex’s clothes yet still feel attraction, proof that the attraction goes beyond the senses to a subconscious level. [Read: How to smell good – 25 secrets to attract anyone with your delicious scent]

9. Pitch perfect

Apparently, the way you sound plays a role in the rules of attraction too. Men find women with a high-pitched, trill voice more attractive. 

Meanwhile, men with deep voices are more desirable to women. This has something to do with hormones and both sexes’ reproductive developments, as this development affects these changes in pitch.

Furthermore, small voices are associated with small women, which men also find more attractive. And big, deep voices in men are associated with their large size, which women also prefer.

10. Single hottest trait

While structure, smell, and symmetry can play big roles in attraction, there’s one underrated trait that actually plays a huge part in all this: availability. [Read: Body language attraction – 58 male and female signs and how to read and use them]

This is a true rule of attraction not only between dating people and friends but also in other aspects of relationships such as business and socialization.

When it comes to availability, it’s not enough that you show up. You have to show you are able to connect. 

This is why smiling, pleasantness, and humor are big deal-makers. All these show that you are physically, emotionally, and intellectually available. [Read: 45 happy ways to keep a conversation going and be a lot of fun to talk to]

11. True love explained

While romantic love is one of the most compelling and powerful of all human experiences, science is still having a hard time explaining it. And yet, there are studies that relentlessly try to decode true love. 

In one study, the brain scans of people who say they are in love show more brain activity in areas related to love than sex, proving true love is really more than just physical attraction.

A separate study found that people looking for long-term partners found the following traits more desirable: physical attractiveness, social status, health, ambition, and faithfulness. [Read: What is true love? 58 signs and ways to tell if what you’re feeling is real]

12. A key to lasting relationships

Psychologist J. Philippe Rushton of the University of Western Ontario has told LiveScience some genes work well when combined with other genes, so these tend to cause an attraction between certain people.

This is why married couples eerily look alike. Furthermore, according to Rushton, genetics play 34% in friendship and mate selection. [Read: Lusty signs of sexual attraction to keep an eye on]

Therefore, if you are genetically similar to your partner, chances are you’re more likely to have a happy marriage, as altruism and willingness to sacrifice are higher when your partner is more like you genetically.

13. For men, it’s about the eyes

Men are visual. In fact, they have 25% more neurons in their visual cortices. Now, if you think that’s not important, it is. Because of their visual cortices, they’re overall more visual. 

They notice bright eyes, smiles, shiny hair—the overall physical appearance. Not saying that women don’t notice these things, it’s simply men notice these things more. [Read: 25 traits and things guys notice first and find really sexy and attractive about a girl]

14. It’s about your childhood

The next time you look for your boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, or wife, look at a picture of your opposite-sex parent—any similarities? 

The research shows that those with positive childhood experiences are more likely to feel attraction to people who share similarities with the opposite-sex parent. The saying, “You marry someone like your dad/mom,” isn’t far off!

15. You have a sexy immune system

Ladies, it’s not them, it’s their immune system. Not a bad excuse, right? Can you believe it, but women are able to sense major histocompatibility complex molecules *MHC*? [Read: How to dress sexy – 29 subtle and classy ways to make them lust for you]

These are proteins that release into the air and give an indication of their immune system.

Women tend to be more attracted to men with an opposite immune system as them. That way their children will have the best of both immune systems, making them healthier.

16. It’s all pheromones

Sure, she has a great smile and he’s super funny, but really, at the end of the day, it’s all about the pheromones. Both men and women are attracted to pheromones. [Read: What does sexual attraction feel like? 15 hot signs to recognize it]

Women are attracted to testosterone which indicates a man’s strength and fertility. While men are attracted to copulins produced during ovulation.

17. Periods have the power

For heterosexual women, who they find attractive varies depending on where they are during their menstrual cycle. 

If a woman is at the peak of her fertility, she’ll most likely be attracted to more “manlier” men. You know, the guys with muscles, a deep voice, and a beard. [Read: Is period sex worth it? Reasons you might want to pass]

18. It changes with the seasons 

The rules of attraction don’t ignore the calendar. It even changes with the seasons. 

You probably think that the summer season is when people are the most attracted to one another, but that’s wrong. It’s actually during the wintertime when people, in particular men, are attracted to women physically.

19. Where’s the beard? 

Women love a man with a beard. Now, if you don’t have a beard, you’re still attractive. [Read: Do women like men with beards? 48 facial hair secrets, rules, and what girls want to see]

This is more from a biological standpoint as men with beards or stubble are viewed to be healthier, attractive, and likely to be better fathers. The beard represents the protection factor that women look for when finding a partner.

20. Physical matches mental

Research shows that if you find someone to be physically attractive, there’s a higher chance that you automatically pair them with positive personality traits such as intelligence, kindness, honesty, etc. It’s called the “Halo Effect.” 

21. Using contraception? 

You probably just thought using birth control would prevent you from getting pregnant, but actually, it does more than that. [Read: Should you take it? 26 pros and cons of birth control pills]

Research has shown that women who use contraceptives found themselves to be less attracted to men with less masculine features. Crazy, right?

22. Must love dogs

Fellas, if you don’t have a dog, consider getting one. In one study, men were 50% more likely to get a number from a girl if they had a dog with them. Women love a man who loves animals. 

Why? Subconsciously, the rules of attraction show they’re not only able to take care of someone else but that they’re nurturing. A huge factor when looking for a partner. [Read: How to attract men – the irresistible secrets no one talks about]

23. It doesn’t matter if you’re black or white

Get this, whether you’re a man or woman, whether you’re Asian, African, Mexican, or Norwegian—we are all in agreement on who we think is and is not attractive. [Read: Why men love women and their oh-so-hot bodies]

We actually have this universal standard for attractiveness. Can you believe that? This is the only thing we all agree on. The science of attraction is without borders.

24. Beer goggles exist

Believe it or not, this is not a myth. They exist. So why is it that drunk people are attracted to basically everyone they see? 

Well, when you’re drunk you’re less likely to notice the symmetry of someone’s face. This is why some people wake up beside the person they slept with thinking, “what did I just do?” [Read: Sober reasons why drunken sex is never a good idea]

25. Your parent’s age matters

Who would have thought that this actually plays a role, but it does. 

Research shows that parents that gave birth in their thirties have children who prefer older-looking faces. While parents who give birth in their twenties have children who prefer younger-looking faces.

26. Playing hard to get 

Oh yes, the old “playing hard to get” routine. There’s a reason people do it—because it works. And it works because people who are too easy to attract are seen as more desperate and clingy. 

Plus, humans are wired to want things they can’t have. So, when a person is slightly out of our reach, it makes us want them more. [Read: Does playing hard to get work? Tips to make it swing your way]

Plus, someone who isn’t easy to catch probably has high self-confidence, which is another very attractive characteristic to most people. 

27. The joys of giving 

A kind heart is something that most people desire. There are too many selfish people in the world so when we find a compassionate, loving, giving person, we tend to be attracted to them.

So, in general, most people also find generous people more physically attractive. The more giving they are of their time, attention, effort, or money, the more we like them and want to be around them. [Read: 19 signs of a taker in a relationship – are you a giver or a taker?]

Final thoughts

Despite many changes in civilizations, customs, traditions, and technologies over the centuries, only one thing stays the same: the rules of attraction. 

Indeed, we as humans are built to court, woo, attract, be attracted, fall in love, reproduce, and commit to another.

Behind this, beyond the looks and status, lies a more complex set of laws dictated by our evolution, our subconscious, and our genes. The right mix of all these factors determines how attractive we are to others and how we find others attractive.

[Read: How to be sexually attractive – 40 subtle ways to seduce anyone]

These rules of attraction show finding the right partner or mate isn’t just a matter of chemistry, or how good you are in bed together. There’s more to attraction than meets the eye. In fact, the traits that develop and make you more compatible with another person develop even before you were born!

Liked what you just read? Follow us on Instagram Facebook Twitter Pinterest and we promise, we’ll be your lucky charm to a beautiful love life. And while you’re at it, check out MIRL, a cool new social networking app that connects experts and seekers!

Carol Morgan LP
Dr. Carol Morgan
Dr. Carol Morgan has a Ph.D. in communication and is a professor at Wright State University where she loves corrupting young minds. As a relationship and succes...