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How Our Brain Computes Attraction

Brain Computes Attraction

When it comes to our sex lives, we tend to focus on how much we’re getting rather than why we aren’t ‘winning over’ our partner(s). This applies both to established relationships and casual couplings. And both factors are affected by our sense of attraction. For this article, we’re going to focus on heterosexual pairings, simply because they’ve been studied more frequently. Dr. Daniel Conroy-Beam and Dr. David Buss developed a mathematical model based on Euclidian distance in an attempt to study attraction.

Their model puts together 23 factors of attraction and aims to see how they correlate and mingle to form an individual’s self-reported attraction matrix. It’s a tricky thing to define because the people we’re drawn to embody a complex mix of conscious and subconscious elements. For example, we’re unknowingly drawn to people that resemble our parent of the opposite sex, but we may not know what physical feature pulled us in.

Male vs female

Generally, men are attracted to ‘younger, more fertile women’ while women go for ‘height, maturity, and financial stability’. We’re also – at varying levels – drawn to scent, voice quality, symmetrical in facial features, and waist-hip ratio. In women, this is seen as a waist that is significantly narrower than their hips and derrière. In men, it’s more about the girth of their belly compared to their hip line. Their ‘guy cleavage’ comes into play too – that’s the v-shaped muscle crease between their waist and hip, sometimes visible above their belt.

We’re also drawn to non-physical attributes like intelligence and kindness, but these are difficult to measure. People have different definitions of kindness, and intellect itself falls into different categories like book smarts, street smarts, artistic intelligence, social intelligence and so on. They’re all fairly abstract, so it’s a challenge to quantify them. There’s a mistaken assumption that erectile dysfunction is a factor of attraction.

Partners have sometimes blamed premature ejaculation on being too attracted to their partner, while changes in appearance may play a role in non-performance. A man may be unable to rise to the occasion if his partner has recently gained or lost excessive weight, or if they’ve had a baby. A drastic switch in their style – whether it’s clothes or hair colour – can be an influence too. These issues can be remedied through kind, respectful communication, so it’s important to always keep ‘talk lines’ open.

Depends on duration

According to Dr. Conroy-Beam, “We all have a psychology of long-term and short-term mating.” He doesn’t mention it, but our criteria for short vs long-term partners is often quite different. So when you’re experiencing bedroom challenges, your approach will vary from casual to serious partners. Your commitment to finding an early ejaculation solution is likely to be higher for regular partners.

Of course, if your difficulty follows you from one casual partner to another, then it will affect your self-esteem, and you’ll work harder to fix it. Regardless of duration or intent, our sexual and romantic interest is piqued by prospects who are healthy, emotionally stable, and dependable. And finding partners we’re intensely attracted to is a crucial factor to having an active sex life. The tougher part – which we have less control over – is making that attraction mutual … and synchronised.


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