Love Isn’t One Size Fits All: 5 Different Types of Attraction

Everyone looks for something different when they’re searching for a life partner. Some people want their partner to make them laugh, others want to constantly be turned on by their loved ones, and others still just want a kind companion to spend their days with.

There is no one way to love, nor one requirement to meet to find love. That’s the beauty of love — it’s not one-size-fits-all.

What is Attraction?

We’ve all had that moment when we’re on a date with someone and we realize that we like them, but we’re not necessarily attracted to them. While this phenomenon is often referred to as ‘the friend zone’ and comes with negative connotations, it really shouldn’t be as villainized as it is in current culture. 

Natasha Marie, a sexual wellness expert at MysteryVibe, comments on attraction, “As the adage goes, ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ and multi-faceted. However, pop culture peddles another, flatter version of attraction: an inherent assumption that when you are ‘attracted’ to someone, it’s all-encompassing, meaning you are, all at once, romantically, emotionally, physically, spiritually, and sexually attracted to that person.”

We’ve all seen couples who were perfect on paper, but their chemistry was always just a little off. Do you need to check off all those types of attraction to be in a relationship with someone? Is that even possible?

Well, yes, but it is harder to find someone who ticks off all those boxes, and some types of attraction might be more important than others.

The Different Types of Attraction


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Marie acknowledges five different types of attraction: sexual, romantic, physical, emotional, and aesthetic. She says, “There are many ways attraction can be interpreted, expressed, and manifested… While defining ‘types’ of attraction might feel like a semantics game, it’s helpful and liberating in successfully navigating relationship dynamics. By understanding and acknowledging the broad spectrum of emotions we’re capable of feeling toward one another, we can free ourselves from any limiting narratives about ‘attraction’ and ‘attractiveness.’”

So what are the different types of attraction? 

Sexual Attraction

Sexual attraction is pretty cut and dry. At its core, sexual attraction is having the desire to be with someone on an intimate, physical level. While the other types of attraction might require you to get to know the person before you feel them, sexual attraction can occur with anyone from your husband of 20 years to Jeff Goldblum from Jurassic Park.

Sexual attraction is often what we think of as the default level of attraction. Madeleine A. Fugère, PH.D., says, “Men are more likely than women to mistake friendship attraction for sexual attraction, and women are more likely to underestimate men’s sexual attraction to them.” Even though sexual attraction is often the most emphasized type of attraction, it’s not necessarily the most experienced type.

Romantic Attraction


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Romantic attraction is one of the rarer types of attraction to find. This type of attraction often requires a deeper understanding of the person and a yearning for them that’s not necessarily related to sex. 

While romantic attraction will often overlap with sexual attraction, each can exist without the other. Verywell Mind uses the example of people who are asexual to explain the stark difference in romantic versus sexual attraction. Kendra Cherry explains, “According to this framework, the genders of people a person is romantically attracted to may not necessarily be the same as the genders of people they are attracted to sexually.”

Some people are ‘aromantic,’ meaning they don’t experience romantic attraction. Sarah Fader explains, “While they will still have social needs that can be satisfied through platonic friendships, they may not feel the need to date, get married, etc. [because of this].”

The different attractions that people feel in life and the different sexualities they identify with further emphasize that all different types of attraction are valid – one is not necessarily more important or better than the other.

Physical Attraction

While the types of attraction don’t all correlate with the 5 love languages, this one does. One important thing to note is that physical attraction and sexual attraction are not the same. Physical attraction is all about wanting to be around a particular person, touch them, and be touched by them — but not necessarily in a sexual context. You can feel physical attraction with a lover, friend, family member, or even your pet.

Emotional Attraction


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Emotional attraction requires a deep kind of intimacy that the other types of attractions might not. Marie explains, “At the heart of emotional attraction is connection…. Emotional attraction is a shared experience of expressing and/or receiving love, respect, support, and acceptance because of someone’s mind and personality.”

Emotional attraction and romantic attraction are very similar in that you can only experience these two types if you’ve been open and vulnerable with your partner and they’ve been the same with you.

Aesthetic Attraction

When people hear the term ‘physical attraction,’ they’re more than likely thinking about aesthetic attraction. Aesthetic attraction is not necessarily about being attracted to someone but more about appreciating how they look. You could be in the most committed relationship ever but still acknowledge that Matthew McConaughey is hot. You could also identify as straight but cannot deny that Blake Lively is the most beautiful woman in the world. It doesn’t mean you’re sexually attracted to McConaughey and Lively (but I mean, who wouldn’t be?); it simply means you’re not blind. 

Marie goes on to define aesthetic attraction as “purely about appearance,” meaning that there doesn’t have to be anything deeper than noting the person is attractive and moving on.

Where Do We Go Now?

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You might have read this article and found you care about all of these different types of attraction. You might have only gravitated towards one. And you might find that in some relationships you care about a few types of attraction, while in others you care about the others. 

Tracy Crossley, a behavioral relationship expert, explains, “Having awareness of each of these types of attractions can give you a bit of a roadmap to your reactions…many times we do not know why we are attracted to someone and may not be paying attention to exactly what it is we find attractive. By looking at the definition for each, it could help a person to have that…self-awareness when choosing a date, mate, or friend.”

Knowing what types of attraction matter the most to you can help guide you as you’re navigating new and old relationships. 


What type of attraction is most important to you? Have you thought about it before? Comment below!

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