Have you ever wondered how to be more attractive? Attraction isn’t only about looks.

Attractive people have a certain primal magnetism.

Of course, we can be physically attracted to someone, but we are more often drawn to their confidence, passion, and personality. Being attractive is about more than just appearance.

Not only is attraction the basis of finding a romantic partner, but we are also…

  • attracted to work with certain people
  • attracted to certain friendships
  • attracted to certain types of ideas
  • attracted to certain coffee shops because we like their vibe, their menu, or their location

Attractiveness is an essential part of understanding what motivates people.

If you want to make people want you, if you want to be attractive, if you want to understand people, you need to learn:

The Law of Attraction

I want to redefine the law of attraction. Attraction is about being available and drawing the right people, ideas, and opportunities to you.

First, what is attraction? Attraction is when we are interested in, intrigued by, or feel the urge to gravitate towards something or someone.

When we feel attraction, we want to know more. We want to be around someone more. Attraction makes us feel engaged and alive.

How can we be more attractive to others? Here are my best tips:

Stop Being Boring

Our brains are like really hungry toddlers–they are easily bored and they demand to be fed with entertaining nuggets. Being “hot” simply isn’t enough.

New York Times bestselling author and developmental molecular biologist, John Medina, discovered that the brain has a very short attention span. Our brains are attracted to people and things that are intriguing, interesting, and engaging. Luckily, you are an intriguing, interesting, engaging person!

Yes, I have met thousands of people at speaking events, conferences, and networking parties–and I have never met a boring person.

how to be interesting

Sometimes we act boring because we are afraid of being seen as “weird” or “different.” So we have the same the mind-numbingly boring social script of “what do you do?” and “where are you from?” We don’t share how we really feel, we hide our quirks, and we try to fit in. But you know what? Fitting in sucks. It’s dull and unattractive.

Our fear of not fitting in makes us boring.

Scientific research has shown us that there are tools we can use to fight the boring, increase our attractiveness, and make us more memorable. How do we do this? We learn how to be interesting.

Action Step: Learn the 5 Steps to Be More Interesting.

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You Have 30 Seconds; Go!

Don’t let anyone tell you different. People judge you the moment you walk in the room.

If we get rid of social niceties and get down to the science, attraction happens in the first 30 seconds. And, as much as we don’t like to admit it, our brain decides almost instantly whether we are attracted to someone else.

Research shows we know whether we want to “sleep with” someone in the first thirty seconds of meeting them.

Rutgers University anthropologist Helen Fisher studied hundreds of couples in love and found that the human body knows within one second whether or not someone is physically attractive. We might not realize it, but our brain makes incredibly accurate and long-lasting snap judgements in the first few seconds of meeting a new person.

In the non-dating world of attraction science, research shows we get a little bit more time to make a first impression, but not by much. The scientific term for first impressions is thin-slicing, a term coined by Nalini Ambady of Tufts University. Ambady wanted to test how accurate our first impressions are. She videotaped 13 teachers, and showed 30 second clips to participants. She asked the participants to rate the teachers’ effectiveness. Ambady then compared these ratings to the teachers’ end-of-semester evaluations from actual students.

The participants accurately predicted which teachers would be the most successful — from just 30 seconds of video.

Ambady even shortened the clips to 15 seconds, and then to six. Again, the students could correctly predict the most successful teachers. So, you have 6 seconds, what will you do with them?

Action Step: Become a master of first impressions. Learn my 8 Steps to Making a Killer First Impression.

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The Single Most Attractive Trait

What turns you on… eyes? humor? legs? Research shows that a person’s most attractive trait is their availability. Yet, this is one of the most overlooked aspects of how people work. And this is important for every area of life.

In dating it is about physical availability: “Will this person mate with me?”

In friends and long-term romantic partners it is about emotional availability: “Will this person open up to me?”

In business it is about economic and intellectual availability: “Will this person work with me?”

The best way to show availability–whether it is at a networking event, party, business meeting, or date–is by demonstrating availability. Show people you want to connect, talk, and start a relationship. A woman at an event once asked me: “Isn’t it obvious that I’m available to connect? I’m here aren’t I?”

Showing up is NOT enough! You have to show people you are emotionally available to connect.

Action Step: At your next social event, make a point of telling people why you are there and what you are looking for. Something like, “I’m excited to meet you because I was hoping to make some really interesting connections at this event.” Or, “This event is going great, I came wanting to stir up some business and I have already passed out a few business cards. May I give you one?” We don’t realize that our availability isn’t as obvious as we think. Try showing it, and you will be pleasantly surprised at how welcoming and curious people are in return.

The other way you can show availability is nonverbally. Read on:

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Attractive Body Language

If you want to look more attractive, you don’t have to change your looks, you simply have to change your body language.

Open body language is more attractive than any outfit, hairstyle, or dance move.

Female and male body language also differ. Here is an overview of female body language to watch out for:

You can also use body language to show availability and increase your attractiveness in interactions.

  • Open Torso:  Body language research has shown that keeping your torso, chest, and abdomen open to the world is the best way to show availability. Crossed arms, clutching a wine glass in front of your stomach, checking a phone in front of your chest, or hugging a purse to your center are all ways we close our body language and seem unavailable. Studies have shown that we actually close our body language when we are feeling mentally closed off.
  • Hands: We love to see people’s hands. Studies have found that when we can’t see people’s hands we have trouble trusting them. When you put your hands in your pockets, tuck them under the table or hide them behind a coat, your attractiveness decreases because people can’t open up to you.
how to be attractive

An interesting story about how open body language and open-mindedness go hand in hand: I was people-watching at a networking event, and watched a man and woman chatting. At the beginning of the conversation, the woman was holding her purse in front of her chest and the man was holding his wine glass in front of him. At one point the man made a joke and both of them began to laugh. You could see them emotionally relax and open up. At that moment, the woman swung her purse over her shoulder and opened up her body language. In the very next second the man placed his glass on the cocktail table next to them, and pulled out a business card. They continued speaking the rest of the night.

*If you want to add sexuality to your attractiveness you can also expose your neck (think Marilyn Monroe tilting her head back and laughing). From a body language perspective an open, exposed, or stroked neck is not only more sensual but also releases tantalizing pheromones. See more about this in the video above.

Be honest with yourself. How often do you stand with your arms crossed at an event? Check your phone out of nervous habit? These make you seem unapproachable and unavailable–and therefore unattractive. On your next date or at your next event, challenge yourself to not check your phone, keep your hands out of your pockets, and uncross your arms.

Action Step: Read our Ultimate Body Language Guide to get your nonverbal cues on track.

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How to Know if Someone is Attracted to You

Body language is an essential ingredient of attraction. When we talk about love, dating, and romance, body language plays a big role.

You are not alone if you struggle with these basic attraction questions:

  • Is she attracted to me?
  • Does he like me?
  • Why didn’t they call?

Body language will give you the tools to know where you stand.

To understand modern day, nonverbal signals of attraction, it is helpful to look at the history of where our body language comes from. Our caveman ancestors used the same body language we use today.

Here are the messages we are trying to send to potential mates with our body language, and what is seen as attractive:

  • I’m open
  • I’m harmless
  • I’m interested
  • I’m approachable
  • I’m fertile

You want your nonverbal to show two attractiveness signals:

  • Availability: Both males and females find people with available body language the most attractive. Available body language is smiling, uncrossed arms, uncrossed legs and upward gazing (not looking down at shoes or phones).
  • Fertility: From an evolutionary perspective, humans are tuned into body language cues that signal fertility and youth. Luckily, these can be emphasized with body language. For men, standing up straight, squaring the shoulders, planting feet slightly more than shoulder width apart and displaying hands all are signs of fertility. For a woman, keeping your hair down, tilting your head to expose pheromones and keeping hands and wrists visible to display the soft skin of the wrists are highly attractive for men.

These also help us know when someone is attracted to us. Here are the typical signs someone is attracted to you:

  • They lean in.
  • They tilt their head as you speak (a sign of engagement).
  • They smile at you.
  • They make eye contact with you.
  • They reach out and touch your arm, hand, back, or leg.

Men and women also have slightly different cues. How to know if a woman is attracted to you:

  • She exposes her neck (to release pheromones).
  • She tilts her chin down and looks up through her eyelashes (called the “coquette look”).
  • She touches her hair (to release pheromones and call attention to her health).
  • She touches her lips to call attention to their shape.

How to know if a man is attracted to you:

  • They claim your space by draping an arm over your chair or shoulders.
  • They lean in toward you as you speak.
  • They take any opportunity to touch you.
  • They rub their chin or the back of their neck (to release pheromones).

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How to Be Attractive Nonverbally

Once our mind decides we like someone as a potential mate, our body automatically begins to change physically to attract the person. Our cheeks flush to make us look like we are aroused, our lips swell to look more fertile, and even our pheromones pump to attract the other person. We can do a few things to attract a mate from a body language perspective.

  • Lean In: Leaning toward someone is a nonverbal way of telling them you are engaged. This works especially well if you are in a group of people and you are interested in one person in the group. A way to show them you are interested is by leaning toward them. This subconsciously will pull them in your direction.
  • Head Tilting: Head tilting shows interest and engagement. If you are speaking with someone, let them know you are present and interested by tilting your head and gazing at them. Be sure to not look over their head or around the room, this shows lack of interest and sensitivity.

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Read the Subtle Attraction Signs

It’s good to be able to recognize some of the more subtle signs of attraction. Keep these in your back pocket:

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Flushed and Blushed

When we are attracted to someone, blood will flow to our face, causing our cheeks to get red. This happens to mimic the orgasm effect where we get flushed. It is an evolutionary way the body tries to attract the opposite sex. This is why women wear blush. This also happens with lips and eyes. The redder the lips and the whiter the eyes, the more fertile and attractive someone is.

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The Power of the Purse

Purse behavior is a form of nonverbal communication. It is how someone interacts with their environment based on their emotions. The purse is an interesting indicator of nonverbal behavior. For example, if a woman is feeling uncomfortable or not attracted to someone, she either will clutch her bag tightly, or place it in front of or covering her body. When a woman is attracted to a man, she literally and figuratively wants nothing to stand in the way between her and her man. If she loosely holds her purse and it is not blocking her front, this shows she is at ease and feels more attraction. Better yet, if she puts it on the floor, a nearby table, or on the back of the chair, she wants it out of the way for her interactions with you. [Please note context here, if you are in a very public or potentially dangerous location, she could be gripping her purse for safety concerns, but in a casual place or on a date, this can be a good indicator.]

I was actually at a singles event the other night and watched a man and woman talking. The woman had her purse partially blocking her body and was gripping the handle tightly under her arm. Then the man told her he was a doctor, and the woman literally swung her purse up and over her shoulder, out of the way. It was amazing.

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Heart Beat Patterns

“He makes my heart race” is no cliché. Studies have found that when someone is near an attractive person, their heart rate increases. AND this works both ways. Researchers tried increasing someone’s heart rate, and then put him or her near a stranger. This then artificially made the stranger seem even more attractive. People seem more attractive when our heart is racing. I wouldn’t recommend taking someone’s pulse on a date or in a bar, but if you can see someone’s breathing rate increase and you can feel the heat of their palm when you are holding their hand, then you might want to go in for a kiss.

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Their Feet Like You

The feet serve as a direct reflection of a person’s attitude. The key is recognizing where a person’s feet are pointed. When the feet are pointed directly toward another person, this is a sign of attraction, or at the very least, genuine interest. If, on the other hand, the feet are pointed away or toward the exit, that is a sign that attraction probably is not there.

Here’s the bottom line: Attraction isn’t just about looks. You become more attractive when you draw people in to your personality and your charisma. Attractive nonverbal helps a lot as well! Be sure to use these cues to be more attractive to everyone you meet.

About Vanessa Van Edwards

Vanessa Van Edwards is a national best selling author & founder at Science of People. Her groundbreaking book, Captivate: The Science of Succeeding with People has been translated into more than 16 languages. As a recovering awkward person, Vanessa helps millions find their inner charisma. She regularly leads innovative corporate workshops and helps thousands of individual professionals in her online program People School. Vanessa works with entrepreneurs, growing businesses, and trillion dollar companies; and has been featured on CNN, BBC, CBS, Fast Company, Inc., Entrepreneur Magazine, USA Today, the Today Show and many more.

14 replies on “How to Be More Attractive: 7 Rules to Increase Attraction”

  1. Teeney

    Allen, as long as you believe no woman could be attracted to you and no woman will ever see you so there’s no point in trying to be seen and there’s no point in trying to invest any time in conversation or acknowledgement, regardless of setting and time- you will be correct in your “reality”. What you believe and how you view yourself and others is very apparent whether said verbally or not. Work on how you speak to yourself (especially if that’s the only person you’re speaking to) and be nice! Then work on being open and available to others. All your experience has led you to draw conclusions and all your future experiences will be based on that conclusion if you are never allowing yourself to genuinely look inward and change that self sabotage.

  2. Justin T Montgomery

    Allen + whomever else it may concern: As a man I can say the majority of what makes a woman attracted to you is character traits that are non-visual… Many women May initially be attracted(or unattracted) to the way you look or your body language but after the first few seconds you have to capture their interest in the way you communicate with them. Confidence is huge if you don’t find a way to develop that then you are just about hopeless with any woman. This applies to many other areas of life as well. Women want a man who is confident(but not cocky), strong, intriguing, interesting, fun, funny, who also has drive, courage, is optimistic about the future and who knows what he wants. This is masculinity.

  3. Anonymous

    Allen, it’s a number game with self improvement. Be yourself. Own your strengths and opportunities of improvement and put yourself out there. Someone told me that you lose when you stop trying.

    1) Have a positive mindset. You will find a gal who likes you for you.
    2) Talk to women around you. Start with cashiers and waitresses. Talk to strangers with no expectation in elevator, grocery store normal day to day living.
    3) Every day move forward. Start with casual talk weather, store item etc. Then move to asking about them . Then ask about their fav part of town etc. You goal is to increase the duration and content of conversation. Finally when you start having longer conversation just say. I have to do/go to … whatever you have to do/go. But I liked talking to you, can We exchange numbers and talk later. Heck if you are going to pick a sandwich, invite them to join you to continue the conversation. The goal is no expectation judging the fit. 4) Next when have mini/casual/elaborate dates keep tab of what you like and didn’t like in the person. Also what you did/reacted and how you would like to react. This is similar to learning for your phds. Read and see videos about dating and relationships (relationships are key as people learn dating but forget that relationship needs another set of skills like boundary’s flexibility assertiveness)
    5) if you go through above steps fix mindset, connect socially, personal growth and evaluate/feedback loop, I am sure you will find a suitable gal naturally during this journey.

  4. George Gray

    @Allen – dude you’re alive and breathing, so there’s hope. Maybe try learning more social skills. Try some improv classes, they’ll increase confidence, and if you do some comedy improv you’ll learn how to roll with stuff a bit more. So if a girl turns you do down you’ll jiu-jitsu roll out of it and come back stronger 🙂 Your time here is short mate, make self-development a lifelong activity. If you want to meet someone your current skills are not getting the job done, so time to learn some more. If you have the attitude of ‘take it or leave it’ you won’t develop. When you go fishing you bait your hook with what the fish likes, not what you like 🙂 Best wishes dude 🙂

    By the way Vanessa, you absolutely rock!!! Your material is incredible, and you have the most uplifting personality!! You truly live what you’ve learned and teach, because 5 seconds into one of your videos I’m ready to trust you 100% Thanks Vanessa!!

  5. Ann

    Wow, Allen, are you always a downer? Have you ever shown interest in someone else? Some people are interested in super casual dates, I’m sure someone would take a swing with you if you asked a bunch of people. Love yourself a little! Buck up, put on your big boy pants and put yourself out there! If this is really important to you then you can make it happen. And if not, who knows, maybe it’s just up to God’s timing.

    1. Allen

      Hello Ann – thank you for your response. The short answer to whether I have ever shown [sexual/romantic] interest in any woman is no. I observe other men and it’s clear I simply do not have what it takes to compete for women’s attention on those levels. Women enjoy receiving attention from attractive men and not from those, who – like me – are unattractive. As such, I have many women friends but have never expressed romantic/sexual interest in anyone – even though I have been very attracted to several women – because I’m certain doing so would be offensive.

  6. Allen

    Nobody has ever shown the slightest interest in me. I don’t socialize because it’s a waste of time – I know I’ll go home alone feeling even worse about myself. I spent 12 years at university but never asked any woman on a date – rejection (or worse) was always guaranteed so there was no point. I have 2 PhDs and am in a highly paid role in a great profession. I take good care of myself and have a lot of interests and hobbies – but nobody ever seems to want to get to know me – I’m invisible. Women are attracted to outgoing guys – which I am not. I have never had a relationship or sex and have never approached any woman because there is no way they could be attracted to me no matter what I do. For some of us there is no hope.

    1. Claire

      Your problem is your attitude and expecting these women to make you feel good about yourself. Speaking as a woman, NO, I don’t want a man who is closed off and lacks any confidence. You don’t have to be the outgoing life of the party, you just have to be self-assured. Are you naturally quiet? Embrace that. Don’t beat yourself up for it. It’s YOU. Women are attracted to men who are themselves, whether that’s outgoing or reserved. The worst thing you can do for yourself is think you or anyone else “should” be different.
      You are setting yourself up to fail by thinking that no woman would be interested in you. How can they be if you don’t make yourself available? There’s no trick to getting ALL women, but if you like yourself for who you are, women who like the type of person you are will be attracted. Just stop worrying about how to socialize “right.” Be you. He IS under there, under all the self doubt and shame.

      1. Allen

        Hello Claire – thanks for your response. It makes sense but I do not know what you mean when you say I need to make myself “available”. I have never tried to be anything but myself – extremely shy, very introverted and with interests shared by very few – and certainly not by anyone I’ve met in person. I have literally no interest in movies of any genre or sports of any kind so I never had much in common with my peers. I ask people about themselves and we converse for a bit and then the other person invariably says they need to go – and they do. As a result, I don’t put much effort into socializing – I’m always the one asking about the other person, and nobody ever asks about me. On the romantic front, because I’ve never sensed any interest in me from a woman, I see no point in asking them out. Added to this, there has never been any evidence that a girl/woman has had the slightest romantic interest in me. People say I need to find myself attractive. OK – but on would I base that conclusion given my experience, which has told me – very clearly – for years that I am unattractive.

    2. Mellody

      Hi Allen, I’m not sure what kind of woman you are attracted to, but I know there are women who like your type. I’m married to a guy just like you. Women who have been cheated on by the “outgoing” guy, soon discover guys like you are the real diamonds. I get why you say there is no hope, because so far that is your reality. Don’t let mean girls reinforce that because it’s not true. If I were single, you would be my exact type, because you understand pain, you are open, and yet, your shy quiet manner probably blooms in private. Not to mention, you are smart, and lots of girls are sapiosexual. Make the effort to look at girls and smile. It will pay off.

      1. Allen

        Hi Mellody – Thanks – it makes no difference what type of woman I’m attracted to because no woman could ever be interested in me. There is no point looking at / smiling at any woman as all that could happen is her being offended so I mind my own business, make as little eye contact as possible and leave people alone. If you were single, I guarantee you wouldn’t even see me – I really am that introverted as to be almost invisible. There is no point in trying to be seen because every other guy around me is by default 100% more attractive than me. I am not attractive – and I cannot be.

      2. Justin T Montgomery

        starting to workout again 5 days a week has boosted my confidence back up in an extreme way that’s another piece of advice for you that i TRULY believe as well Allen. Most people who are mentally unhealthy or not in a good place as far as self-esteem just need physical activity !!

      3. Allen

        Justin – like most people you assume I’m a slob who never moves. I work out 5x per week and climb mountains as a hobby – so I am in great physical shape. I also dress well, take care of myself, etc. – in short all the prerequisites a guy is supposed to have / do / be in order to attract women I have in droves. In my case there is zero connection between feeling good physically or any / all of these other attributes and having confidence with women. There is no evidence that any woman could ever be interested in me other than as a friend – so the logical conclusion is that I am fundamentally unattractive.

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