The Phenomenon of Attraction

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There are unconscious motivations that take people into relationships and marriage. The choice of partner is often made very quickly and based perhaps on little conscious knowledge, life experiences or personality fit of the other person. In relationships projection occurs, that is, those feelings, desires and needs which we try to put outside of ourselves because we cannot manage them, we project them onto another person. In strong relationships such as marriage and the therapeutic relationship these projections are particularly powerful. Some relationships can be negative and damaging, people can come to live in locked systems, dominated by mutual projective phantasies with each not truly married to a person, but rather to unwanted, split off and projected part of themselves.
It is hard to define physical attractiveness, as it is both subjective and changing. Jeff Apselmeier thinks that faces seem to be important – liking what is childlike, feminine and symmetrical. He also discusses the weight stereotype, for example, perceiving overweight people as having no will power and being less sexual. There is also the attractiveness stereotype, for example that physically attractive people are sexually warm and responsive, that they will have futures which involve happier marriages and more fulfilling lives. However, they are not perceived to be more trustworthy, honest, sensitive, or nurturing. Furthermore, he claims that with further information about a person, we are less influenced by physical attractiveness. Argyle realises that although men and women look for different things when choosing a partner, physical attractiveness is significant for both. And those in long term relationships are said to have similar levels of physical attractiveness. Tysoe (1995) claims that ‘we all want the most attractive person we think we can get, but if we aren’t very attractive (or think we aren’t) we won’t aim too high and risk rejection. So we end up with someone at about our own level.’ Apselmeier discusses something called ‘the matching hypothesis’ – that people tend to have relationships with those that are similarly physically attractive and/or similar in I.Q. Similarity in attitude is also key and he notes that most of the literature focuses on this, ratings of attraction increases as the proportion of similar attitudes increases. This preference for similarity could indicate genetic relatedness i.e., ‘our’ genes are more likely to survive if I share with those who are genetically related. But of course similarity is often in the eye of the beholder and there are many ways we can be both similar and different.

One Response to “The Phenomenon of Attraction”

  1. Jony

    It makes sense.


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