Nowadays, romantic attraction has become a near obsession in the popular culture. Because of its seeming elusiveness, it has transcended into many interpretations for the young and the mature alike. Today, we hear most songs revolving around love, see reality shows centered on finding the perfect match, and view films portraying stories of affection. In fact, we could say that the media is currently bombarded with depictions, or should I say, delusions, of love. There are indeed many beliefs with regards to the concept of romantic attraction.
Back to the older genre, it has been a very demure concept; where the people associate romantic attraction with long courtships and the beginning of a long-lasting commitment. Some have still remained conservative with the idea, although at the present, it has already evolved into a more liberal and realistic definition. Romantic attraction can be classified as a combination of platonic and physical bond. One thing remains clear, from the past until the present, romantic attraction is highly associated with love.
It is highly incomprehensible to define love itself, for when we talk about love; many aspects can be integrated in it. It can be associated with the divine love which is love for God and one’s neighbors, love for country or nationalism, love for family and friends, and love for a certain partner. Romantic attraction is that aspect of love which is narrowed towards the love and affection for one’s partner. Now that the people are bombarded by such ideas and delusions about romantic love, as mentioned previously, it is timely to discuss and understand the definition of romantic attraction.
For some, the term romantic attraction may sound slushy or over-sentimental. It may even spur thoughts that such talks are for women only, since they are the more emotional ones, and that its discussion should be reserved in a magazine article or a social-networking site. Biases could result that a discussion about romantic attraction is not that critical. But as opposed to that, I believe that understanding romantic attraction is a crucial part to our society nowadays.
The idea of romantic attraction should highly be understood by teenagers, adults, and even couples themselves. This topic is in fact a global topic which is suitable for people from adolescence to adulthood, from all walks of life. Everyone can relate to it, whether politicians, scientists, or artists, or the likes; because romantic attraction is a universal feeling. Human beings desire to love and to feel loved, that is why it is most crucial to understand the implications of the so-called romantic love.
The discussion of romantic attraction is addressed to adults looking for companionship, so that they may understand what they are really looking for; to couples, so that they would be able to comprehend on their relationships and be able to cherish and nurture it; and especially for teenagers, so that they would deeply understand the essence of romantic attraction so not to rush into things and make mistakes in the future. In the first place, how does romantic attraction occur? Or in a more theatrical sense, how do we know it is love?
Romantic love as mostly portrayed in the media today results from physical and or sexual attraction, more specifically ‘love-at-first-sight’ scenarios. In the real world though, there are different factors that contribute towards romantic attraction between two people. Perhaps the most frequent and general factor is physical attraction. Well, we have to face the fact that physique do play a major role in the beginning of a budding love. It is the physical attributes that first draws attention to a person, and it is this certain appeal that makes the person want to have a connection with the other.
Physical attraction can also refer to sexual attractiveness. Though, it is not the single primary factor of romantic attraction. There is also the mental attraction which begins with a fuzzy feeling of connection in your head. You begin thinking about the other person and you start showing your affection towards him/ her. Intellectual attraction is also very important. Partners should have a more or less similar view of the world; they could be able to share opinions and viewpoints about politics and science, or art.
It doesn’t have to be about highly academic topics, as long as they could connect with each other’s intellectual capabilities and enjoy conversing about them. Lastly, there is the spiritual attraction. For this part, many people may immediately associate it with religious beliefs, but it actually refers to the awareness and appreciation to the body, mind and soul and to the world in general. This can be considered as the ultimate connection between two people (Deborah 2).
The physical, mental, intellectual, and spiritual attraction work simultaneously and they all play significant roles towards the development of romantic attraction. Moreover, in Deborah’s article, Science of the Sexual Attraction Factor, she revealed that it was determined from a scientific study performed at a university in Austin, that attraction is somewhat dependent on a specific set of genes called MHC, Major Histocompatibility Complex. [In a medical definition], the MHC molecules control the immune response through recognition of "self" and "non-self"… (Fix 1).
The study showed that the mind is subconsciously choosing the partner with the right MHC suitable for a person. This is done with the aid of sense of smell. Furthermore, that ‘right’ partner is defined to have MHC genes very different from one’s own. So to speak, the quote “Opposite Attracts” does have a scientific basis. On the contrary, scientists explained that the MHC dependent factor of choosing the right partner can be altered through the intake of artificial hormones, like hormone replacement or the intake of contraceptives.
Moreover, the brain and other few tissues including the vagina and testes, releases Oxytocin, during sexual intercourse, which makes a person feel loved (Deborah 4). Oxytocin strongly affects your mind and behavior… and creates feelings of calm and a sense of connection (Marnia 3). Thus, Oxytocin can falsely lead a person to an immediate connection with the partner and create falls impressions for romantic attractions during sexual intercourse. Apart from these findings, the mind is also subconsciously choosing the right partner for a person.
Sometimes, one enjoys the company of another too much that even if one type of attraction is missing, say, they are not intellectually compatible, it still develops into romantic love. In 1977, Sheila Lee first proposed the six types of romantic attraction, which are proven over-time, and are widely-accepted in psychology. The six types are not exclusive of one another, meaning they can occur solo, in pairs, in triples, or may even occur all at the same time. Although, they vary in the degree of their occurrence, meaning one type of love may be more dominant over the other.
The first type of romantic love is Eros; passion and commitment. It refers to a strong physical and emotional attraction to your partner. It encompasses all the essential aspects in romantic love, like emotional attachment and physical and sexual compatibility. Partners also have great commitment and loyalty for each other. The second type is Agape; selfless caring. This is a giving and non-demanding relationship where the partner would rather allow himself/herself to suffer rather than allow his/her partner to get hurt.
The third-type is Storge; love as friendship. Here, romantic love and friendship are combined so the couple is best of friends. The fourth type is Mania; emotional intensity. The couple is centered on their relationship and is too focused on each other. This results from lack of confidence on one’s self as well as trust for the partner. The fifth type is Pragma; calculated mate selection. The person systematically searches for a partner by considering each other’s similarities.
One seeks a partner according to certain desired attributes so that they could share similarities in traits, goals, and interests. The sixth type is Ludus; game-playing. Partners manipulate one another by remaining uncertain about their commitment. For them, love is like a game (Friendship and Romantic Attraction 6). These types of love are very distinct descriptions of romantic attraction, but we know that in real life, it is far more complicated. Now that we have a more in depth insight of how romantic attraction occurs, we may arrive at its timely and realistic meaning.
Now, we see that romantic attraction is different from what reality tv shows portray; like it is something which can occur over a single date and that sexual intimacy immediately plays a major role in it. Romantic attraction is a combination of emotional and physical bond, and it can range from infatuation, to a strong bond of friendship, to strong commitment and passion. So the next time we feel a connection with someone, we could check if we really are romantically attracted to the other person, or it is just plain admiration at all.