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, intrigued 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:
#1: Stop Being Boring
Our brains are like really hungry toddlers–they are easily bored and demand to be fed with entertaining nuggets. Being “hot” simply isn’t enough.
New York Times best-selling author and developmental molecular biologist, John Medina discovered that the brain has a very short attention span. Our brains are attracted to intriguing, interesting, engaging people and things. 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.
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 try to fit in. But you know what? Fitting in sucks. It’s dull and unattractive.
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.
#2: 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 if we are attracted to someone else almost instantly.
Research shows we know if we want to sleep with someone in the first 30 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 someone’s physically attractive or not. We might not realize it, but our brains make 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 coin termed 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 six 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.
#3: 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:
#4: 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 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.
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.
#5: 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 into you as you speak
- They take any opportunity to touch you
- They rub their chin or the back of their neck (to release pheromones)
#6: 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.
#7: 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:
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.
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.
Heart Beat Patterns
“He makes my heart race” is no cliche. 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 person 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 if you are holding their hand, then you might want to go in for a kiss.
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 into 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.
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About Vanessa Van Edwards
Lead Investigator, Science of People
I’ve always wanted to know how people work, and that’s what Science of People is about. What drives our behavior? Why do people act the way they do? And most importantly, can you predict and change behavior to be more successful? I think the answer is yes. More about Vanessa.
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