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Lisa Weseman
You can get caught up in physical chemistry, but there are other forms of attraction

Anyone who's gone through puberty has had enough experience with sweating palms and racing heartbeats to recognize the undeniable chemical component to attraction. But beyond the hormones and pheromones of good old-fashioned physical attraction, what really brings people together? And more importantly, what keeps them together?

The term "chemistry" implies there is some concrete, scientific basis for why two people are attracted to each other. Yet there is no scientific or mathematical equation that could even begin to describe -- let alone explain -- the phenomenon of attraction.

Forces of Attraction

Famous couples throughout history have proven the old adage "opposites attract." But there are also enough bitter breakups between polar people to suggest that after the initial excitement of courtship passes, such dramatic differences can seriously undermine a relationship. Like with magnets, the opposing forces that pull people together can often drive them apart.

Of course, the couples that start out as alike as "two peas in a pod," aren't guaranteed happiness either. Without the sizzle of exciting differences, some like-minded couples get bored and see the attraction fizzle over time. A partner who feels like an old, comfortable shoe may end up being just as forgotten.

It seems the most successful couples are neither exactly the same nor completely different, but share a complementary balance of yin and yang. The things they have in common create a kinship that helps them overcome their differences.

Forms of Attraction

Even more important than having a balance of similarities and differences is rooting a relationship in many different forms of attraction: intellectual, psychological, emotional, spiritual and physical.

Intellectual attraction is less about smarts and more about stimulation. Maybe you're turned on by someone who can talk for hours about your favorite subject. Or maybe you like when someone brings a totally different perspective to conversation. Either way, that attraction comes from intellectual excitement.

Psychological attraction can be the most difficult form of attraction to understand. Many people don't have a good enough grasp of their own psyches to begin to process another person's -- or why the two psyches might be hot for each other! Psychological attraction is the intangible 'it- factor" you can't find the words to describe.

Emotional attraction is the very beginning of affection; the feeling of just liking someone -- without really knowing why. Long before the "warm fuzzies" of love, emotional attraction hints to its possibility.

Spiritual attraction is about how two people view the universe and their own lives in it. It should not be mistaken for religious compatibility. Two people can be from vastly different religious backgrounds, but if they wake up each day with the same appreciation for life, they might be extremely spiritually attracted to one another.

Physical attraction seems to be the most straightforward, but it can sometimes surprise us the most. Despite the notion that physical attraction is simply about who is "good-looking," it goes far beyond what our eyes see. Physical attraction is influenced by everything from the chemicals our bodies produce to the images we're exposed to in the media. Luckily, physical attraction can by also shaped by personal experiences -- which means that even if you aren't physically drawn to someone immediately, you can become more so over time.

Despite the fact that we describe it as chemistry, attraction is not something a laboratory could ever create. Like the people it affects, attraction is complex, surprising and mysterious. In that mystery lies its power -- the power to bring two people together, and hopefully, keep them together.

Lisa Weseman

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