Love, Attraction & First Encounter
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Love, Attraction & First Encounter

February 2, 2024

From the Balcony By Sunita Menon, Psychotherapist – Specialised in CBT & Sex Therapy

Whether its boy meets girl, girl meets girl or boy meets boy, that first encounter in flesh and blood can make or break the alliance or relationship desired. Our Indian context is so unique and fascinating that both dating apps and matrimonial websites are used for meeting that one person to hook up with, make a companion or even marry.

So I am often asked, ‘Sunita, is there a formula to apply or a checklist I must be aware of so that I don’t miss anything?’ Definitely not a comprehensive one but something for sure to get you started on hopefully the right track, I list below:

What’s the mood you are wearing to that meeting? Check in with yourself for it’s far more important than the outfit and make-up you have chosen to adorn yourself with. Your emotional state can dictate how attractive you find the other person. Even without us knowing we can transfer our state of being onto the other.

Remember the story of the woman who came out of the supermarket and grumbled to her husband about how surly the staff at the counter was? The husband merely turned the rear view mirror to her face and asked her to take a good look at her own face first.

Meet not once but many times, assuming you felt neutral or positive at the first meeting. Its called the Propinquity Effect. The more familiar we become with a person, the more attractive they will appear to us. But if that first meeting was negative in spite of your upbeat mood, then don’t waste your time. Parents these days are smart, the new mantra they chant is take your time, meet many times and only then decide. Obviously, they know more about the Propinquity Effect than you.

Often told, opposites attract but seldom warned that its hard to sustain. Look for similarities, because the more you have in common the more likely you are to stay attracted. From socio-economic backgrounds, to culture, levels of education and life exposure. Even physical attractiveness and intellectual capabilities. But here’s the spoiler alert: research also tells us that higher the similarities and therefore attractiveness quotient between the pair does not necessarily imply success and stability in the relationship.

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Now for physiological arousal — chemistry — the turn on factor. Instead of the wine and dine route, indulge in an activity. Less talking and more doing. A trek, a walk in the park, sight-seeing, a night at the bowling alley… anything that involves physical activity. When one is physiologically aroused, the likelihood of you developing an attraction for the other is high. Now you know the secret behind gym romances and affairs. Biological factors like pheromones and oxytocin also play significant roles. The cupid unseen. How does the other person smell to you? Does the other person show signs of warmth, positivity and affection?

And finally Scarcity. Simply believing that you don’t have many options, or the one you have before you is the best, adds to the desirability factor of that person. Being told to the contrary stuff like, if not this then another, so many fish in the ocean etc., can decrease desirability for the other. Its the law of attractiveness versus availability.

All of the above is true for hetero-sexual couples and same sex couples. With a few modifications, of course, that studies inform us about:

• Demographic differences among same sex couples are far more than among heterosexual ones. More dissimilarities than similarities, especially with age and income levels.

• Owing to scarcity, inability to take advantage of the Propinquity Effect (not wanting to be seen out together too often) and the social stigma attached.

Let’s treat the above as first check-list and draw up our next.


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