How long does it take for a man to know if he’s attracted to you?
He knows from the moment he sets eyes on you.
In hard numbers, that’s 100 milliseconds.
Researchers at Princeton found that we’re most accurate when it comes to making snap judgements about two traits:
Trustworthiness and attractiveness.
We don’t need a half-hour coffee date to figure out whether we’re attracted to someone. Our gut has its answer at hello.
Given how much work we put into winning over the opposite sex, that’s frustrating. It suggests that, no matter what you say during that coffee date, he’s already made up his mind about you.
But maybe … just maybe … that’s a GOOD thing.
If he’s already decided whether he’s attracted or not, there’s no performance pressure. You can sit back, relax, and let the date unfold as it will. If it seems to be going poorly, you can cut it short with no guilt. You don’t have to try to change his mind.
Research like this brings up interesting questions about how much control we actually have over attraction.
Most of us believe there are a number of practical things we can do to improve our attractiveness. It’s as if there’s an attractiveness scale of 1 to 10, and we can move up on that scale with hard work and effort.
But therapists who work with married couples often see attraction in a very different light. Couples pick each other not because he’s funny or she’s sexy. They pick each other because of lovemaps formed long before they met.
These powerful, subconscious influences explain why men may pass over a seemingly “perfect woman” to marry someone who appears less appealing. The outside world sees a mismatched couple, whereas in fact they’re the perfect fit.
Lovemaps even explain your dating history.
Consider the men you’ve found yourself attracted to over the course of your life. Was your attraction to these men a conscious choice … or was it a compulsion that made no sense? If it felt like something you had no choice over, then that’s a sure sign it was coming from your lovemap.
Lovemaps also explain why the guys you like often end up dating women who aren’t half the woman you are. You can’t understand why he would pick her over you. But then again, you’re only seeing what’s on the surface. You’re not seeing his lovemap.
So what is a lovemap and how can it help us understand the enduring power of first impressions?
The term lovemap was coined by sexologist John Money in the 1980s and later picked up by dating and relationship coaches as a way to explain the great variation in what people find attractive.
Ever noticed how everyone finds different things attractive? What’s attractive to you isn’t the same as what your best friend finds attractive.
That’s because you have a unique set of preferences (AKA lovemap) influenced by your culture, childhood, parenting, early crushes, and many other factors. You don’t choose these preferences consciously; they evolve from life experience.
When you meet a man, your lovemap immediately tells you if he’s a match. You don’t even have to think about it. And the same happens with him.
A man who looks at you and doesn’t feel an immediate pull of attraction isn’t rejecting you. Rather, his lovemap doesn’t recognize you.
That feels a lot different than believing he’s given you a low score on the universal scale of attractiveness!
When it comes to relationships, there is no universal scale of attractiveness. Who we find attractive enough to date and marry is unique to us.
That’s not what we’re told, though. Ever been told that men prefer women who look a certain way (curvaceous, glossy hair, big eyes)? There’s certainly some truth to these notions when it comes to physical desire, but not necessarily love.
And that’s why there’s so much diversity in the actual partners men pick. Men fall in love with stick-thin women, heavy women, older women, and even women who aren’t conventionally attractive at all.
You may have also been told that men find a certain personality type most attractive: happy, fun, and feminine. (Okay, maybe you heard that from me.)
But maybe you have some female friends who are not like that at all. And certain guys just fall for them.
Lovemaps teach us there’s much more going on beneath the surface than we realize. We can’t know what someone else will find attractive, because we can’t see their lovemap.
It can be valuable to do the inner work in exploring your lovemap, but for now just realize that lovemaps work the way they’re meant to work. They identify partners who are a match.
That match is as much psychological as it is physical.
And when you find yourself comparing yourself to another woman? Let it go. She may seem as if she has it all, but you may be the one his heart recognizes.
Can we change or alter our lovemaps? I’m asking for a friend. Just kidding. This article made me look back at my past and well, my present too. The choices of men and their physical appearance were all different but with one thing in common. They are all cheaters. Including the one I’m with right now. Even my mother went through similar situations. I feel as if I’m following her steps unconsciously. And that, that is exactly what I don’t want. Somehow I always find a man that ends up cheating on me. How can I change this path of men that are wrong for me?
Thank you James, I always look forward to reading your emails.
Hi Denise. It can be very difficult to change the patterns we subconsciously gravitate to when picking which person to pursue. I believe people can change these patterns, but in the short term it is much easier to depend on other people who have (for whatever reason) different built-in sensors. For that reason, you might choose to rely on the judgment of your friends when picking the next guy.
Is it a guarantee no one will cheat on you ever again? No, I wouldn’t put that kind of pressure on your friends. But you might find they can save you from some bad situations and steer you toward some good ones. Then it’s your persistence that will pay dividends for years to come.
Very interesting Article indeed!
I love the way everything is put up and explained. I believe in my gut feelings or you may call it intuition. I met a guy and I instinctively knew that I like him and I just couldn’t get why. Why do I like this guy even though he has characteristics that I usually hate in people? It’s been a year since that day but I actually only got to know this guy properly from a month ago. I know can see him in better eyes. I want to know how exactly to proceed with the guy. I am not to sure, what to do, or tell him, or just let it be like I did for the entire year?
It sounds like your intuition serves you well. Therefore, I might recommend that you consider using your intuition again as you ponder this question:
How can I increase the frequency and duration of opportunities this man has to interact with me? How can I find delight in every moment I spend with him without worrying too much about what comes next? How can I open a private line of communication with him so that we can get to know each other better and share intimate thoughts as they naturally arise?
What another great article, James!
I’m curious to know if the feeling of love or being in love with a woman can be instant too for men, in the same way as a man can choose a partner based on his lovemap and attractiveness factor of the woman? Or is being in love generally something that develops over time for a man? Each man is different of course, but what could be the elements in general where a man realizes that he in love with a woman versus being only attracted to her?