Is Attraction Your Choice?

Is attraction a choice? Can I choose to feel attracted to someone?

People talk about attraction in the form of seduction all the time (as in, getting someone else to like you). But what about the other way round? Can you get yourself to feel attracted to someone else? Let’s look into some things you can do to achieve this. Although I must say this before we start: the attraction issue is too complex to be broken down into a few elements, so you should take everything said here with a grain of salt. Or ten. But here we go anyways.

Close and Personal

Isn’t it curious how almost everyone can find their soulmate in their hometown or just a couple hundred miles away? This happens because of propinquity (Yes, it’s a real word). Propinquity is the term psychologists use to describe the proximity between people, which can generate attraction. This proximity is, at first, physical; in other words, you can feel more attracted to someone by spending more time near them.

Why? Because we are social creatures, and no matter where we are, we want to be in good social standing; this means getting people to notice us but also getting ourselves to associate the idea of being around them with positive feelings. So yeah, go stand near the person you want to like.

Birds of a feather

Ok, you are close to the person you want to like. Wait, too close, back up a couple of inches. There. Now look at them closely: you might find a lot of things that make you two similar, and that’s great. That’s also propinquity at work. People say all the time opposites attract but that’s only true to magnets! We like familiarity and relatability because they give us security. We are statistically more inclined to feel attracted to people who share our values, upbringing, and socioeconomic status. 

Curiously enough, confirmation bias plays a role in this as well: when we like someone, we want to like them and we also want them to be the version of them we like, so our brain makes an unconscious effort to “fill in the blanks” of the other with things we already feel identified with, giving them a boost in attraction.

The “Ben Franklin” effect

It has been said for a long time that if you want someone to like you, get them to do a small favor to you; if they are already helping you, you must be someone important for them. And this works the other way round: when you do nice things for someone, big or small, you’re telling your brain “hey, we must like them/they must be important to me because I am doing this for them”. And even when there might be no reaction from the receiving party, we get the satisfaction of having done a good deed, and positive feelings can turn into attraction.

So, as a final thought. Can you choose to feel attracted to someone? YES. There are things you can do to genuinely become more attracted to someone without taking the “fake it ’till you make it” approach and much of it comes from sheer choice. After all, the things described above are used by couples therapists to revive the flame of love when it’s dwindling. But is attraction entirely a choice? NO.

We are yet to truly understand the forces that draw us to people or things and make us stick to them.