Social Question

OuterHaven's avatar

What causes our attraction to our mates?

Asked by OuterHaven (122points) February 13th, 2010

Different men and women like different things in other people. In most animal species, females are attracted to a certain kind of male, usually the most colorful, healthy, or biggest.

now for us humans, men and women like all sorts of mates, from big to small, fat to skinny, tall to short, smart to dumb juice head jocks. Mostly people have different tastes.

what do you think causes us to be attracted to different types of people (physical appearance, personality).

do you think its the way we were raised or what we experienced, or were we born liking what we like?

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33 Answers

Sophief's avatar

I think we were just born liking what we like. I know what I like, you know what you like, simple.

OuterHaven's avatar

but if you and both have the same kind of brain and heart and the same as the next person. why do we like different things? maybe a mechanism to ensure that the human race keeps reproducing. becuase if we were all attracted to the same thing, then all those men and women that did not fit that criteria would have a slightly difficult time reproducing ( i say slightly becuase there are some men and women tht will fuck ANYTHING)

Sophief's avatar

@OuterHaven That’s true! But I think we (mainly women, because men do tend to just fuck anything), have an idea in our mind and hearts what we want for a partner.

dpworkin's avatar

Evolution has prepared us with a repertoire of assessment techniques, especially women. We use such things as odor, facial symmetry, shoulder- (or waist-) to hip ratios, voice timbre, manual grip, status, age, perceived fertility, etc,.

Cruiser's avatar

Their choice in music and ability to throw food is what attracts me the most!

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

Without a word said then what attracts me first is a healthy looking person, one who is slim to solid but not what I consider overweight. Once some conversation is exchanged then a person who comes across as in control of themselves and focused on positive living, compassionate, funny, responsible and adept at some things, that keeps my attention.

An ex of mine was pretty accurate I think when he told me I would always be drawn most strongly to “the alpha male”, the one who appears to have succeeded with what I have most issue with, independence and control.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

I’d like to think it’s insanity ;)

Ame_Evil's avatar

Remember that evolutionary speaking, that a great diversity in a species is best to promote survival of the species. It is no good if every human was virtually the same as the species would be easier to wipe out.

Then there are always mutations in genes which provides these changes of characteristics. There may be mechanisms to liking “new” or unusual stuff as well as an assortment of assessment criteria mentioned earlier where we select a mate that will either a) provide us protection b) bring healthy children c) both.

Then there are more diversity issues to take into account – such as the spreading of the species across the whole world into different climates which accounts for a large proportion of differences.

Finally, add this last point to social factors and other mentioned before (ie foreign people being attractive because they may have wealth, different genes and knowledge) and you may get a small explanation for your question. I am of course missing loads of developmental factors but only because they are still quite unclear.

engineeristerminatorisWOLV's avatar

Well, “we are born liking what we like” is a debatable topic, but sometimes what we like, are influnced by cetrain guiding factors.Sometimes we develope a lot of myth and perceptions about a lot of things and we start to like or dislike those because, we just don’t know why.There’s a point where we develope a false complacency about things we think we like or dislike,but there’s no proper reason to justify those likes and dislikes.May be the upbringing,the influence of social circle,lack of adequate knowledge or education etc, results in that sort of likings and not to mention, there are a plenty who like or dislike certain things because others do so.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

I’m most attracted first by what I see in a person’s face (specifically, in a woman’s face). I’m not self-aware enough to be able to write the specification, or to know exactly what the qualities are that I need to find, but it’s like art that appeals to me—I know it when I see it.

Which is not to say that I can’t also adore a woman’s shape when I haven’t seen or can’t see her face (or even if I’m turned off by her face, voice, or other physical / intellectual / emotional aspects of her). What a hypocrite I would be to say else! But if I don’t absolutely adore her face “on its face”, then we don’t have a chance as a couple. (On the other hand, I’m also aware that “she’s beautiful because I love her”, but I think that’s how her aging face continues to attract me even as time takes its toll on both our faces.) I have to love her face if I’m going to love her.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

@CyanoticWasp -I still say it’s insanity!lol!

janbb's avatar

I just stuck out my thumb and he picked me up; I knew it was fate.

kevbo's avatar

Haven’t read the above, but in general, men gravitate toward fertility cues and women gravitate toward “procurement of resources” cues.

janbb's avatar

@dpworkin @kevbo If that’s true, as it seems intuitively to be, do you think it changes in later life pairings? For example, are older men still drawn to younger, nubile women and women to older providers? It would explain “sugar daddies” and “trophy wives”, but why would it be so?

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@lucillelucillelucille I agree; it is. But some forms of insanity can be such a rush.

dpworkin's avatar

Because of the two magic words that begin with H and W, @janbb

janbb's avatar

ah, knew they were lurking about, waiting to rear their ugly little electronic heads.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

@CyanoticWasp -You are right about that.How far would you take it??

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@lucillelucillelucille I’m taking it as far (and for as long) as I can.

Health and Welfare?
Husbands and Wives?
Humans and Women? (I hope that’s not misconstrued by the women; to the extent that they’re not human, they’re often so much better.)
oh, wait… Hips and Waists?

janbb's avatar

@CyanoticWasp The magic words are “hard-wired.” (We’ve had this discussion before on here.)

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@janbb oh… I still like Hips & Waists, plus it fits with the concept of ratios of one measure to the other as a fertility indicator. I like my hard wiring, anyway, so that’s cool, too.

OuterHaven's avatar

@CyanoticWasp oh i agree, hips and waist….mmmmm…but i also know there are other men that like very skinny women that have no butt or just curious as to why we have different tastes…. wonder if its anything to do with our childhood.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@OuterHaven not that I’m going to cast aspersions of pedophilia on some men because they prefer a particular body type… or even because they have tendencies to be attracted to very young women in a sexual way… but there is that, too. A lot of women with “undeveloped” curves seem more juvenile.

However and not to hijack your thread since you brought up the attraction to that body type and my answer has occurred to me, I’m wondering what it is that does cause a sexual attraction to juveniles (older men to very young girls, in this case). I can be aesthetically attracted to women and girls (boys and men, too) of any age at all… but I wonder what trips in some men to make that a sexual attraction, and especially one that’s strong enough to act on in the face of the penalties we deem that to be worth. (I’m not talking about the “I thought she was eighteen!” offenders, but the ones who know beyond doubt that the girls they take are underage.)

Sorry for the musing… it’s probably not entirely appropriate to the thread.

dpworkin's avatar

Some clinicians theorize that it has to do with critical imprinting, others that such things are sequellae from childhood sexual abuse.

janbb's avatar

@dpworkin I lurve it when you talk “sequellae.”

tinyfaery's avatar

I’d sure like someone to explain why I am equally attracted to men and women. It has nothing to do with procurement of resources or fertility.

Whatever it is, my attraction to the my “mates” has always been visceral, not intellectual. My whole being just wants that other person.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@tinyfaery I especially like the relationships that I get into (more recently now than any other), where I develop an intellectual attraction first, and then find out later, “Oh, you have a body, too! Cool! Let’s talk about that… intellectually and all.”

@lucillelucillelucille… uh, okay. Pretty well domesticated, though.

dpworkin's avatar

@tinyfaery Sexual orientation and sexual attraction are thought to be linked, evolutionarily, but there battles of the experts over just how it works. Whatever. The way you do it sounds healthy to me.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

@ CynoticWasp-I was referring to hip to waist ratios,facial symmetry,propagation..things that seem to be of an instinctual nature.shrugs

tinyfaery's avatar

My mind is part of my body.

wundayatta's avatar

Looks, brains, humor, smell, talents, strength, prestige, opportunity, availability, geographic coincidence, cultural appropriateness…

There are probably a zillion more things that are associated with attraction.

With all that going on, it’s no wonder we focus on the the things we think about ourselves and our preferences. It doesn’t mean our preferences are much related to who we mate with. but it’s as good a cause as anything.

I do not think we are born with any particular preference. I think our experiences and education have a lot more to do with it.

I believe that it is possible to love a wide variety of people—or to be attracted to a wide variety of people. I don’t believe in soulmates or anything like that. That leaves the situation wide open for whatever environmental factors come in. To conclude, there’s no predicting what will cause us to be attracted to one person and not another.

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