If you don’t fancy someone instantly, does it mean you never will?
We live in a society that likes things done instantly.
If our phone dares to take more than three seconds to load something, we’re annoyed.
You can order on amazon that morning and get it delivered to your door that same afternoon.
We expect love to follow the same format: we should know ‘instantly’ whether we’ve met our future partner.
But love isn’t about the lightning bolt.
A recent survey found one in four singles miss out on love because they’re obsessed with finding an instant connection.
Despite lots of couples claiming ‘they knew’ the minute their future husband or wife walked in the room (forgetting they felt like that about lots of people they didn’t end up with), in reality, lots of good relationships build rather than happen instantly.
That flash of connection is a great sign and shouldn’t be discounted – it means the relationship has ‘a sprinkle of fairy dust’ (what Times columnist Suzi Godson calls sexual attraction).
But I can think of at least six people I know who didn’t feel chemistry at the start who are now very happily (and sexily) settled down.
Will this be the case with you and the person you’re not sure of?
There’s good and bad news if you don’t fancy someone instantly.
A lot of attraction is known immediately – or at least fairly quickly.
Our body knows whether we’re sexually attracted to someone before our brain can even register it.
When we first see someone we’re attracted to, our eyebrows rise and fall. If they like us back, they raise their eyebrows.
The whole thing lasts about a fifth of a second and it happens everywhere in the world – to everyone, regardless of age, race or class.
Watching for an eyebrow flash when you meet someone, can actually let you know they fancy you, before their brain has even registered it.
How they smell is a huge influence
You might think it’s all about looks but how we smell and taste to each other strongly determines whether you become a couple or remain friends.
Few people say ‘It was their smell that got me’ but very often it’s the truth.
Each of us has a unique, natural, undetectable smell but we’re especially ‘whiffy’ (in a good way), when we’re aroused by someone.
If you both fancy each other, powerful pheromones are released from apocrine glands, located in our warm spots (armpits, groin, mouth etc).
Your bodies then react to each other’s smell signals: finding each other more or less attractive because of them.
If only one fancies the other or neither of you initially do, pheromones still release but the effect isn’t as noticeable or powerful.
That’s not to say they won’t start pumping out and working their magic if you decide someone is attractive later on.
Also remember, we also give out different scents at different times.
Women smell differently when ovulating and at their most fertile.
Lots of experiments prove men find women far more attractive and attainable when ovulating than at other time of the month.
If you can’t decide if you fancy someone or not and haven’t noticed how they smell, find some excuse to lean in closer.
Position your nose close to a hot spot like their armpits (yes really) and take a big (discreet) whiff.
If the smell isn’t right, you’ll know it’s not right.
If they smell surprisingly good or you seem indifferent, it’s worth taking things one step further.
How they taste is even more important
Assuming you want to take the risk of moving the relationship forward, the absolute acid test to find out whether you fancy someone or not is to kiss them.
Pucker up to kiss someone you’re attracted to and sebaceous glands in your mouth and the corners of your lips release semiochemicals that are designed to stimulate sexual excitement.
These combine with your own unique saliva ‘fingerprint’ and the end result is passed on during kissing.
It’s a bit like swapping business cards listing your personal credentials, except it’s a hell of a lot sexier!
Your olfactory systems then have a snap meeting to decide whether or not you’re a good genetic match.
If you aren’t, that kiss will feel and taste weird (as anyone who has ever had a strangely off-putting kiss with someone they like the look of can testify.)
But what happens if you don’t fancy someone when you kiss them?
Will the semiochemicals release simply because the person is technically a good kisser?
Happily, the answer is yes.
The way we kiss someone for the first time has a direct effect on whether a relationship progresses further.
Sexual technique counts for more than you think
You might feel the very first spark of physical attraction for someone only when you start getting physical.
Remember the six people I know that ended up together even when they weren’t attracted initially?
Most of those relationships followed the same pattern: they were drawn to the person intellectually or emotionally and wanted to like them.
After four or five dates they were still unsure whether the relationship was friendship or potential romance.
Each decided the only way to find out was to jump straight in there, have a good snog and then decide whether to take it further.
Not only does that give you the chance to take the all-important taste and smell test, you also give each other a chance to show off your love-making skills.
Just as lots of people fall for someone when they see them doing something they love (like working or playing an instrument), plenty of others go weak at the knees when they find out their ‘friend’ has a fantastic kissing technique or is great at foreplay or sex in general.
Technique can trump sexual chemistry long-term.
Chemistry and desire usually fade with time and that’s when technique is crucial.
A lover who knows what they’re doing will keep your interest longer than someone who merely looks hot because looks fade and technique doesn’t.
Attraction builds for reasons other than what we first see
Sexual attraction is powerful and unpredictable.
It’s also indiscriminate and common: most people feel sexually attracted to quite a lot of people, quite often.
Real, lasting love is something that doesn’t happen all the time.
Finding someone sexually attractive long-term is built on more than what you see at first glance.
The more we see of someone, the more of them we see.
We look past the outside to the inside and find ourselves attracted to their personality, sense of humour, the way they see the world.
Body language affects how attractive someone is to us; we might suddenly notice the timbre of their voice, find their choice of language seductive, the way they look at us now they know us more, the gestures they make.
A smile, a touch delivered unexpectedly, realizing you’re missing them: all these factors can spark physical desire.
Most research points to the fact that we need a mix of key ingredients to remain happily in love – intimacy, commitment and passion.
For most of us, passion usually appears in the form of sexual passion at the start of a relationship.
Others feel deeply for someone first, connecting on an emotional, spiritual or intellectual level, and find the physical desire comes later.
If you’re not sure what you’re feeling right now – friendship or potential lust or love – give it a chance.
After all, the worst that can happen is that you end up with another great friend.
Tracey’s books and product range can be found on lovehoney.co.uk; read more of her advice at traceycox.com.
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