The Laws of Attraction.

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Our relationship expert Dr Pam Spurr breaks down what happens during the all-important attraction stage of dating.

Whether you met someone before lockdown or have been talking to someone online during lockdown, the mysteries of why you two are attracted are slowly being unravelled by science.

What’s interesting is it’s such a fragile balance with attraction. When first dating someone, a single small thing can switch off interest. I’ve discussed some of these in a previous Wingman column. But other, seemingly inexplicable, things attract you to them.

One thing for certain is that attraction between two people is unique.

What attracts or repels us sometimes feels like a mystery. And it becomes even more so when we look at the person a friend’s dating. How often have you wondered why a friend’s attracted to a certain person? You wouldn’t dare tell them but inwardly, you’re thinking there’s no way I’d go out with them

And for obvious reasons being, attracted to different people is a good thing for your friendship! Because that means less competition between you. 

Here’s a fact – when we find someone attractive, there are four specific brain regions that get activated. They light up with excitement! These will be activated because of certain traits you’re attracted to. But others won’t necessarily be attracted to those same traits. 

Once activated, these areas give us physical feelings of ‘love sickness’ - you know those classic feelings of butterflies in your stomach, feeling that you’re walking on air or feel euphoric, etc.

Also, when you’re attracted to someone, brain chemicals like dopamine fire off within you.

These chemicals stimulate feel-good sensations when you talk to them. Which is why meeting online means you can still get that sexual chemistry just by talking – on a par with when you actually meet someone face-to-face. 

The lyrics ‘you’re addicted to love’ are absolutely true because dopamine production leaves you feeling so good that you want a repeat-experience and to see (or talk to them online) that ‘feel-good’ person again.

Despite if contact between you has only been online because of lockdown, you still might have these feelings due to those brain areas reacting to that new person. 

Don’t underestimate the power of ‘social value’ 

Quite apart from your brain reacting to someone new, we notice how others, especially your friends, react to a new partner. Likewise, your new partner will notice how others respond to you.  

For instance, if you have a friendly personality and it’s obvious people love talking to you, that new partner gauges your social value from this. They see that you have high social value and that’s very attractive.

Likewise, you might be attracted to someone, but when friends or family meet them, they might not like how loud they are or something else about them. When you get wind that your new partner’s social value isn’t high amongst people you care about it, it can lead you to question your feelings for them. 

It’s human nature to want our new partners to be valued by the people we care about. Depending on your personality – how independent or dependent you are on other people’s opinions – you might ignore what they think. Or you might decide this new person isn’t as attractive as you thought!

This brings us back to that fragile balance when it comes to attraction. And how in the early days your interest can be switched off in someone new, who seemed so exciting to begin with.

With your unique reaction to a new person – and their unique reaction to you – it’s essential you don’t make snap judgements. Give each other a chance, especially if at first a friend or family member doesn’t seem to warm to them. 

It could be your new date was anxious meeting them and didn’t come across well.  Think through any mixed feelings before rushing to dump them. If they have other good qualities, see how it goes in the future, mixing them with your friends and family.

Happy dating!

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Follow Dr Pam Spurr on Twitter @drpamspurr  and on Instagram @drpamspurr

For more advice, visit her website at

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Photo by @Ellisal via Twenty20.

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