You can also forget playing ‘hard to get’
The whole dating and appearing to be attractive thing can be tough, especially when we’re getting advice like ‘wait 48 minutes to text back’ and ‘don’t agree to a date on a Saturday after Wednesday lunchtime.’ Sigh.
Psychologist, Viren Swarmi, who has studied attraction, recently found himself single. He quickly learned that there are no ‘laws of attraction’ and that relationships and people are too complex to apply specific rules. However, he does acknowledge that there is a science to concocting a successful relationship. And guess what? Being attractive really isn’t all that important.
Writing for The Conversation, the first thing that Professor Swarmi states as contributing towards a successful relationship, is location.
‘It turns out that one of the strongest predictors of whether any two people will form a relationship is sheer physical proximity,’ he says. ‘About a half of romantic relationships are formed between people who live relatively near each other and the greater the geographical distance between two people, the less likely they are to get together.’
So for those of you moaning about dating someone who doesn’t live in the same zone or town as you, you’re probably onto something.
‘Proximity matters because it increases the chances people will interact and come to feel part of the same “social unit”.’
His next point is appearance. Yes, it comes in to play during the very initial
stages – ie, swiping right on Tinder
, or seeing someone in a bar, however, many other factors prevail once two people have began interacting, which can elevate or detract from how attractive someone seems.
‘Once social interaction takes place, other traits come into their own. It turns out that both women and men value traits such as kindness, warmth, a good sense of humour, and understanding in a potential partner – in other words, we prefer people we perceive as nice. Being nice can even make a person seem more physically attractive.’
Well that totally debunks the ‘negging’ theory, so we’re willing to go with that.
That leads nicely onto Professor Swarmi’s point that ‘love really is blind.’ His research suggests that people in relationships, particularly new ones, view their partner than more attractive than they actually are, something he calls the ‘love is blind bias.’
Also, as basic as it sounds we ‘like people who like us’, which is why he says: ‘Playing hard-to-get almost never works. Giving the impression of dislike is unlikely to spark attraction because it goes against the grain of reciprocity.’
And while the adage suggests that ‘opposites attract’, there is actually little evidence for this. In fact, it’s more ‘people who are really alike attract’, and not just in age and social background, values are key.
‘More important than sociodemographics is similarity of values – everything from musical tastes to political orientation. We’re all motivated to think that our views of the world are right and when someone disagrees with us, we feel uncomfortable in their presence. But when someone agrees with us, they validate our world views and as result we want continuing contact with that person.’
So there you have it: Live close, be a nice person, like the person you’re dating back, and be into the same things.
We’re off to strike up a friendly conversation with the bloke next door. We don’t fancy him just yet, but once the ‘bias’ kicks in, who knows.