Relationships can seem complicated, but they often follow patterns that make them easy to understand and predict. The following three secrets constitute the major elements of attraction in relationships. They apply not only to romance, but also to work relationships and friendships. The more powerful each of these elements is, the higher and the longer-lasting the attraction.
1. Propinquity, or the “girl next door/boy next door” factor:
If you had heard the term “propinquity” before, you are probably in the minority. But it’s very likely that you have had feelings for the next-door neighbor or a schoolmate you had as a child. Propinquity is a proven scientific phenomenon; essentially, it says that the closer or more familiar you are to a person, the more attracted you are to him or her. That is why the Starbucks barista you get your coffee from every day appears better looking than a very similar person you are meeting for the first time. It is also why you prefer to watch a good movie that has actors you know than a possibly a better movie with unknown actors: Familiarity breeds attraction.
Sometimes, propinquity goes beyond geographical familiarity and extends to background, such as ethnic or religious affiliation. The more unique you are, the more attracted you are to someone who embodies that uniqueness. Sometimes, propinquity attracts you not to someone like you, but to someone like the idea or ambition you have for yourself. The more complex your dreams, the more precious is someone who embodies these dreams.
2. Admiration, or “the he/she is too good for me” factor:
Whatever your relation is to someone you admire, you are always trying to deepen it: If it is a famous actor you see walking on the street, you will try to get a picture with him. A younger sister you normally don’t see very often suddenly wins the state spelling bee context, and you find that you want to get to know her more and even introduce her to your friends. Your nerdy neighbor you wouldn’t want to be caught dead with? See how you smile to him after you learn that Google is interested in acquiring an app he has developed.
We admire people who are better than us in areas that we value. If I don’t value hockey, I couldn’t care less if an acquaintance of mine was a hockey champion, but if I am uneasy in social circles and I am very conscious about it, I will admire my friend who is a great communicator and seems to have no trouble making friends. You can be admired not only for your skills, charm, wealth, or beauty but also your loyalty, compassion, patience, work ethic, humility, and strength of character. So to become more enticing, it doesn’t hurt to work on becoming a better person.
3. Value added, or the “what can you do for me” factor:
Each one of us has needs, problems, issues, and goals. It makes sense therefore that we would be attracted to people who can help us with our needs, problems, and issues and move us closer to achieving our goals. At one end of the spectrum, every relationship should be able to offer the basic value of making us feel less lonely. At the other end, no single person can probably fulfill all our needs and desires and resolve all our problems. But the closer a person is to that perfect state, the more you will be attracted to him/her.
Given that requirements and needs differ from person to person, you can’t be all things to all people. The value you can bring to one person’s life will differ significantly from the value you can bring to another’s. Inversely, you will also be attracted to people for whom you can make a difference: They fulfill your need for accomplishment.
So if there is one person that you really want to attract, you should follow these three steps:
1. Insert yourself in his/her daily routine, taking care not to intrude, become obnoxious, or stalk, which would have the opposite effect.
2. Work on achieving a likable persona and developing traits for which you can be admired.
3. Learn about that person’s needs and wants and see how you can make a positive contribution in his/her life.
Of course, you may find that your particular characteristics don’t match that other person’s interests, in which case you should move along. Life is full of opportunities, and it makes no sense hanging on to illusions.