Attraction & Aesthetics

The question of what we find attractive in others and what we can do to enhance our own best assets is a major preoccupation during at least some part of our lives. Sadly, the ideal lovers of sexual fantasies are usually completely unrealistic because our relationship to them is over-simplistic, lacking intimacy, bonding, or emotional commitment. A principal pleasure in imagining seducing or being seduced by your fantasy lover is his or her unavailability in real life. Understanding the secrets of attraction will enable you to relate to others in a more fulfilling way.


The male love of The Chase is universal, though this may be changing in the 21st century. It seems that women are finally breaking out of the passive role within the early rituals of non-verbal sexual seduction. Traditionally, it would appear that men have always been expected to make the first move, whether hunting for food to feed potential offspring, fighting rivals for the prize of a maiden's hand, or wooing with endless written, sung, or spoken declarations of romantic love, accompanied by numerous presents ranging from single handpicked flowers to trunk loads of treasure.

Has all this been a foolish male conspiracy to keep womankind passive, weak, and vulnerable? Or is the reality that women have always had to be very choosy about selecting their mate as, once committed, the long-term consequences of child-rearing are enormous. The latter point has some truth, the former is less convincing. Women are rarely truly 'passive' when they are being persuaded by potential lovers. It is usually the women who, with a subtle variety of non-verbal signals combined with higher visual accuracy and a generally elevated intuition, initiate the chase. An invitation to this ritual a man cannot resist. How can he, when one glance across a room can set a heart aflame?

Traditionally, the woman has thrown down the gauntlet and if the man has had his eyes open wide enough to spot it he has been expected to pick it up and start running. This 'chase' phenomenon may link with the irresistibility of peek-a-boo; it is certainly a similar dynamic process, and also has an element of voyeuristic pleasure to it too. The feminine opening gambit is like being shown a brief glimpse of treasure without the requisite map to aid in its discovery.

However, it seems things are changing. In North America especially, it is now quite common for a woman to make the first overt move, to initiate conversation, even to swagger and strut when in the presence of a man she finds attractive, and rather than 'follow' she takes the physical lead in proceeding up the step-by-step ladder of nonverbal behaviors that lead to a full sexual commitment. Most cultures, though, still expect the man to apparently take the initiative while in reality following her subtle commands. Perhaps an ideal will be reached when each male and female takes an equal responsibility and active engagement in advancing into a sexual relationship.

In accepting equality most of us still have a long way to go. The ideal, however, should be kept in the forefront of the mind. It spares us the intense emotional pain of unrequited love and the endless, almost compulsive pursuit of someone who just does not fancy us or love us in the same way.

One fallacious contention of many writers is that endless persistence, particularly by men, will eventually persuade a person of the correctness of the suitor's point of view; that is to say, it is possible to talk someone into liking you, going to bed with you or loving you. This kind of thinking is potentially dangerous for both parties concerned because if a relationship of some sort does result the more reluctant partner will not feel easy in that relationship. All too often people end up with an unsuitable partner despite their intuitive reading of their own or their partner's body language. Warning thoughts such as, 'You really don't fancy this person, so why are you letting them kiss you?' breed not affection but self-revulsion. Listen to these warnings and act upon them. Sometimes your reasoning head will tell you one thing and your feeling heart will suggest another. (Men tend to be more thinking and women more feeling.) If you normally act upon one source of internal information, stop a while to ask yourself about the feelings or thoughts generated by the other source.


Of course people do grow to love people over time, while 'love at first sight' is sometimes lost. Nothing in life is concrete; we change in our tastes all the time. What and who we find attractive is highly fluid -- we are all friends with at least one person whom we did not like when we first met them. In the same way that first impressions about people can be completely wrong, our feelings of attraction are sometimes unreliable.

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The surer you are of your own likes and dislikes the more attractive you are to others, because self-confidence is usually rated as being attractive. But remember that being a good listener, together with showing sensitivity to the feelings of those around you, can be equally attractive.

Your aesthetic intuition counts for a lot. Be careful how much you let your intrusive intellect muscle in on territory best dominated by your gut feelings. Tune in to your own body language as you come close to someone of the opposite sex.

Practicing self-analysis will heighten your ability to read the non-verbal signals of others. If you find yourself in the common bind of saying one thing and thinking or doing another, examine your own non-verbal messages and change your spoken words accordingly. The integration of thoughts and feelings is a difficult goal worth striving for.

Continually reminding yourself that you are able to change your mind about other people and what attracts you to them is a way of escaping the limitations in life that we all too often construct around us. As you enhance your love of variety and your love affair with life, so your love of yourself will grow. By trying to be optimistic and positive you can obtain a much greater level of contentment in your life, and develop an understanding that a wider scope of what is attractive to you in other people will greatly enhance the likelihood of your meeting someone to whom you are very attracted and who is attracted to you.

We all have expectations of people's characters and personalities and we base these on physical appearance. Research shows these expectations are usually inaccurate. We are continually bombarded with mass-media-conceived images of what is attractive, yet most of us fail to match these images.

Secrets of Sexual Body Language by Martin Lloyd-Elliott. This article was excerpted from the book:

Secrets of Sexual Body Language
by Martin Lloyd-Elliott.

Reprinted with permission of the publisher, Ulysses Press. ©1994.

Info/Order this book.

About The Author

Martin Lloyd-Elliott studied at the University of London and the London Institute for the Study of Human Sexuality. He is a board-certified psychologist working as a counseling psychologist and psychotherapist with a focus on body language. He is the author of Secrets of Sexual Body Language and City Ablaze.


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