“Emotional Attraction” vs. “Physical Attraction”

Emotional vs physicalWhat is the difference between “emotional attraction” and “physical attraction?”  While there are varying opinions on this matter, I’ll share the general consensus from men I have asked to put their feelings into words.

Physical attraction is the desire to look and touch because what you see is pleasant to look at or arousing on a biological level.  Basically, your sexual desire is triggered.

Emotional attraction is a feeling that you want to kiss someone on the mouth and meld the story of your life with hers.  You want her to love you back and you feel a possessive romantic drive to be important to her–to share life with her.

Physical attraction is far simpler, and far less sustainable than emotional attraction.  It is more of a one-sided attraction (at least the way men feel it).  This may or may not be a surprise to you, but men can feel a sexual attraction toward a woman without necessarily feeling a need to posses her exclusively.  It’s kind of like he can feel a wild biological drive to have sex with a woman without much concern for what she does the next day (non-possessive physical attraction).

On the opposite side, emotional attraction is driven by the respect a man feels for a woman he would like to experience a two-way relationship with.  He wants her to think highly of him and respect him.  He wants her to value him above all the other men she could be with.  Emotional attraction is necessary for him to experience a true, deep sort of jealousy when her interest seems to be drifting toward another man.  It is a possessive desire for shared oneness.

While physical attraction can turn heads, it is emotional attraction that binds his heart to yours in a way that causes him to desire commitment.  If you’re not sure how to pull for that binding desire for commitment, allow me to suggest you start with my program on the unique way men respond to crucial relationship cues women do not pay attention to.  Click here to learn more about it.

I’m always rooting for your happiness.  I believe emotional attraction trumps physical attraction when it comes to finding the kind of relationship that yields the most happiness.  The good news is you can increase the odds he will feel emotionally attracted to you with a few tweaks to the way you approach men.  Talk to you soon!


24 thoughts on ““Emotional Attraction” vs. “Physical Attraction”

  1. colleta nafula said:

    Hi, my name is collet and am happy to read your emails. they are very good and they are helping me to realize so many things about men. thank you so much, keep it up

  2. Absolutely!….thank your for the reminder…I just had someone tell me how attracted they are to me, and i know it is physical, which is, or can be tempting, but not what I’m looking for so I won’t sett;e

  3. Lori said:

    Ok, so I get the difference between the two attractions. Here’s my dilemma: I have been seeing this guy for almost a year now & while he always tells me how great I look & how sexy he finds me, we don’t have sex all that much even though he knows I would very much like it much more frequently. He is both emotionally & physically attracted to me as I am to him. He just recently told me he loves me & I NEVER saw that coming because he always said he is reluctant to use that word because of how hurt he had been in a previous relationship. The progression of this relationship has been over the past year & has taught me patience. But it just seems like we skipped right over that whole “honeymoon phase” where you can’t keep your hands off each other & want each other so much like you just can’t get enough of each other. I am so attracted to him & he always tells me the same. He’s a fantastic guy in all categories. We have our differences but I really have no complaints except that we hardly have sex. Is there anything I can do? Should be doing?

    • James Bauer said:

      Hi Lori. This may be a complicated issue better discussed in private coaching.

    • Lynn said:

      I have the exactly the same issue in my relationship

  4. barbie said:

    i think ur right in both ways,men can be shy and so can women be,respect for him and ur self is important, but emonital is the best way , don’t settle for less ,,

  5. I never have any lack of sex in a relationship, because I give my man the admiration and attention he needs. My last relationship before this, though, wanted me to wait for HIM to initiate and this one lets me initiate all the time (and with only one day/night that we always have together, I don’t like to put it off until starting sometime after dinner. If we have something cooking in the kitchen that does not need attention, then that is a good time for at least a bit of romance and sex. I know he enjoys my touch and I melt with his.

  6. Mary said:

    Is it possible for a man to start by being romantic and tender without being emotionally attracted? He said he was only physically attracted, and he doesn’t want us to get into a relationship. We had a short relationship years ago

    • James Bauer said:

      In a word, yes. He means he finds you physically attractive but he is not attracted to the idea of an exclusive relationship with you. I would not recommend that kind of relationship.


  7. Lissa said:

    I’ve been having an emotional affair with a guy for the last 6 months. He says he’s unhappy in his current relationship. I’ve kept my distants and had not met him until 6 days ago. We went on a date and had a pretty long make out session afterwards. I wasn’t going to sleep with him, because he is still in this other relationship. The last couple of days he has been a little distant. Did I make a mistake by getting physical with him?

    • James Bauer said:

      Hi Lissa. There’s a good chance getting physical caused him to feel the need to reevaluate what he is doing with you. Often people become a bit distant when they are trying to figure out whether it’s right to continue a relationship.

      I don’t know much about your situation, or the nature of his relationship with the other woman. But I want to caution you against doing something you would not be comfortable with another woman doing to you.

      If you would be uncomfortable finding out your boyfriend was in this kind of relationship with someone else, maybe you should ask him to come find you if he finds himself free in the future.

      • Lissa said:

        James, I agree. But, how do I approach this. I really do have strong feelings for him. And, would like to pursue him in the future, If he ends his current relationship. Do I keep the communication lines open or end it completely?

        • James Bauer said:

          Oh, definitely keep the communication lines open!

          Maintaining propinquity (frequent opportunities for interaction) will ensure that you are on his mind when he becomes free (or makes a decision to become free now so he can pursue you)

  8. Kore said:

    Interesting article.

    This year I told a guy about my feelings to him.
    He told me he wasn’t looking for a serious relationship.
    He’s in a non-serious relationship with someone right now and would not want to start a second one as it wouldn’t be fair for either of us.

    I asked him did he like me and he told me he falls for my personality each time he sees me.

    What does that mean exactly?, is that a good thing for him to say?

    He’s expressed before and now that he wants to get to know the real me.

    We were good friends before I told him how I felt however after that time he’s been nervous around me and slowly becoming more affectionate physically and emotionally.


    • James Bauer said:

      Hey Kore. I would guess he was using a phrase that would lessen the impact of what he was really saying. It’s like the euphimisms people use when talking about something in public when they are not sure it’s “allowed” to talk about that taboo subject. He probably wants to say, “I fall in love with you more every time I spend time with you,” but that would be coming on too strong…so he says he falls for your personality instead.

  9. Megan Revell said:

    Hi. I have a guy who says he is physical attracted to me n loves me as person. But emotionally. I need help in this please

    • Megan Revell said:

      But not emotionally. I ment

  10. Gee said:

    Okay, my man is physically and emotionally attracted to me he says. And he keeps telling me hire I’m “the only one for him” or I’m the only one he’s”attracted to” but he also told me he would probably get turned on my a naked woman. He told me there is a difference than being turned on and being attracted to someone. I don’t understand what he means by that, because if you get turned on doesn’t that mean you’re attracted to what you’re saying? He told me it’s a human reaction to be turned on to something, but I really don’t understand what he means by that and how there is a difference.

    • James Bauer said:

      It’s not something you really need to worry about. It was ridiculous for him to even bring that up because it really has no bearing on your relationship. Technically, it’s true that visual stimulation is hardwired into a man’s brain in a way that will cause a physiological reaction that has nothing to do with the relationship. That’s why men can even have a physiological response to a cartoon drawing of a “sexy figure.” The body/brain is hardwired to react to sexual triggers even if the emotional mind has no attachment to the things triggering the sexual excitation.

  11. kiara said:

    Uhmm I’m a bit confused plz do help me with my so confused situation
    Ter is this guy I feel for…..
    Nd I blush everytime he is near me
    Sometimes I get vibe’s from his side but then I think it’s nly in ma head…he cares for me
    And last night he was a bit too cozy with me like we didn’t actually kissed but he was almost near ma neck nd can feel his breathin nd a bit much more
    He does remember everythin frm the day we met to everythin but that might be bcoz he has good memory
    And I really am confused that wht exactly is goin on between us
    Plz help me out

    • kiara said:

      Can u plz help me out with ma situation I’m still waitin for ur reply……

      • James Bauer said:

        Hi Kiara. For personal questions unrelated the blog topic, please submit your question to our professional relationship coaches. They will help you to sort through what the core of your question is and give you a personalized response.

  12. Nicole said:

    So this guy I have really strong feelings for says that he wouldn’t mind having a fwb kind of relationship but doesn’t want anything serious right now. Would pursuing this be beneficial and possibly allow him to have similar feelings as me or would it just hurt me?

    • James Bauer said:

      Your chances are better when you don’t give a man physical satisfaction before there is a relationship that warrants it.

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