Understanding the science of attraction can’t guarantee you a date tonight, but it can point the way towards forming mutually benefiting relationships with other people. Well, first, it turns out that one of the strongest predictors of whether any two people will form a relationship is sheer physical proximity.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.Of course, online dating and dating apps have changed where we meet our future partners.
But even online, geography continues to have an influence.
After all, the point of online dating is eventually to meet someone offline – and it costs more time and money to meet someone who lives further away.
Proximity matters because it increases the chances people will interact and come to feel part of the same “social unit”. People perceived to be physically attractive get asked out on dates more often and receive more messages on online dating sites.
Some time ago, I found myself single again (shock, horror!
) and decided to get back into the world of dating.
One thing that struck me very early on in my forays was that everyone had an opinion about “what worked” in terms of dating.But too often those opinions were based on anecdotes, assumptions about human behaviour I knew to be wrong, or – worse – pure misogyny.As a psychologist who has studied attraction, I felt certain that science could offer a better understanding of romantic attraction than all the self-help experts, pick-up artists and agony aunts in the world.And so I began researching the science of how we form relationships.One thing I learned very quickly was that there are no “laws of attraction”, no guarantees of success in dating, no foolproof methods or strategies for getting someone to date you.Human psychology is too complex to reduce to rules or laws of attraction – but that’s not the same as saying that there’s nothing to be gained from understanding the processes involved in attraction.