“Emotional Attraction” vs. “Physical Attraction”

Emotional vs. physical attractionWhat 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.

Emotional vs. physical attractionWhile 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!


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

  1. Crickets said:

    Why am I always considered hot but not girlfriend material? Is it because the men I date keep turning out to be avoidant?

    Also I have put a ton of work into myself and am confident I am living my best life, am fun to be around, am having fun and looking awesome. if I’m as great as my boss, friends, family, other people close to me, and me myself say I am, why is no man pursuing me (I only date IRL)? I talk to a lot of single men, am friendly, flirt and exchange information, yet nothing!

    • James Bauer said:

      Hey, I didn’t want you to hear crickets after posting this great question, but it’s the kind of question that’s better answered with some back and forth discussion.

      You can do that on our private (members only) forum. If you’re not already a member of our Irresistible Insiders group, you can learn more about it here:

  2. Anna said:

    He is super sweet and caring when we are together (always ends up on having sex) but I feel like he only sees our relationship for sex. Whenever I message him he doesn’t sound like he’s interested in having a conversation with me unless it’s about making plans. I’ve brought this up before and he said “why does it matter who messages first” I know it shouldn’t matter but I get tired of always being the one reaching out. I am in love with him but I feel like he isn’t. I have said I love you and he usually doesn’t say anything back, it hurts me. We have different ethnicity, their culture doesn’t allow dating because they get arranged marriages. I keep using that as a reason why he doesn’t say I love you back but I’m getting tired. I’m scared to bring this up because I don’t wanna offend him by accusing him that he only sees our relationship just for sex. Please help! Am I wrong to feel this way?

    • James Bauer said:

      Hi Anna. I understand why you would ask if you are wrong to feel this way. But perhaps a better question is, “Would I be happy if I spent the rest of my life with a person who has this level of emotional openness and this level of drive to communicate and share his inner thoughts?”

      This decision is about your needs, not about whether other people (myself or others who may comment here) think you should or shouldn’t feel the way you feel.

      If there is an opportunity to communicate with him about these things, that is the route that makes the most sense in a relationship where you highly value the bond you share.

      You may find this special report (about communicating with men on emotional issues) to be useful in your particular situation.

  3. Emma said:

    What happens though when your boyfriend has a deep emotional connection and is crazy about you but doesn’t seem to have a physical one?

    • Lorna (LaLa) said:

      It would help if we knew more details, and especially how old he is and how long you have been together? I get the impression (but may be compleely wrong) that men are less sexually motivated these days. We can’t generalize, of course, but I am hearing that more and more young men have problems in that area!! (No pun meant!) Personally, at age 68 now, I have found that my present “man-friend” (who was 59 when we got together, and is now 64) cannot perform, but I believe now that that is mainly related to the amount of alcohol he consumes. Added to that, is his anxiety when I go to stay with him, as he thinks I will expect him to perform. and that makes him very nervous. Older men have all sorts of probems – prostate, high blood pressure, low testosterone to name a few – but mainly it is psychological, as the mind controls things down there, and if they THINK they can’t do it, they very often can’t, which has a knock-on effect.. It seems, however, that young men are also having difficulty nowadays, mainly because they watch too much porn from a very young age (something that never happened before, except for the relatively tame top-shelf magazines). This has the effect of them expecting things which are just not “normal” by any standards. They feel emasculated because they cannot achieve this, and this in turn causes anxiety – which then causes impotence. Young men are much less physically active than years ago – spending more time indoors glued to a screen. Life is also much more stressful than it was in the past, and men are expected to achieve more and more professionally (women, too, of course). There is now also the suggestion that hormones present in foodstuffs and water can cause impotence. As far as your boyfriend is concerned – I would take this matter VERY seriously. Personally, I think sex is very important (and James has written an article about this before).The sex act SHOULD be the culmination of deep emotional feelings of love towards a person – a total giving of oneself. The sex act binds two people together emotionally much more than anything else can. The sex act “lays claim” to a person more than words can and strengthens a relationship The sex act is a means of apologizing after a disagreement and saying you still love that person more than words can say. And, of course, the sex act is the only (well almost) way we can get pregnant, and the most pleasurable. A baby created by the act of love is a very precious thing, and binds the parents to that child. If your boyfriend is young and healthy and not interested in sex – I would question it, very seriously. Give it some thought before you rush in and discuss it – try to play detective as to what could be the problem (for problem it will surely be!! Especially if YOU want to be intimate and he does not – and you would not be writing on this forum if you were not worried). He needs to, firstly, speak to his doctor. There are many medical and physical aids which will help. But he should not take medication unless he has been checked out by his doctor – it can damage the heart. And medication bought on the internet is dodgy and does not work!! Or perhaps he (or both of you) need sexual counselling. Whatever way you deal with it, there is a lot of help out there and it is not hopeless. Try to be open and honest about this, get as much information as you can on the internet and from professionals, and talk it through together. Don’t give up, if you love him – it is important long-term. I wish you luck. Lorna

  4. Connie said:

    As someone who is involved in a long term relationship who recently discovered that my man was having an emotional affair with an old “friend,” I do not advise any woman to get involved with a man who already is in a relationship. It’s very painful to be on the receiving end of this. We are working on rebuilding the trust and I love him very much but it’s very hard to go through an emotional betrayal even if there was no physical contact. I don’t understand why men or women sabotage a great relationship by doing this sort of thing.

    • Lorna (LaLa) said:

      Connie, It is my feeling that old-fashioned relationship “rules” have now changed radically. It is seen as perfectly normal now for men and women to have “friends” of both sexes in their lives. With so many people going to University now and with social media, it is more and more possible that people will have long-term friends of the opposite sex. While, to me at aged 68, this goes absolutely against the old rules of having a committed relationship with the “one and only”, we have to realize that if these two are really, really JUST friends, with no other emotions or hankerings involved, then it is quite alright. I myself, being divorced, now have lots of male friends whose company I really enjoy, but I have no sexual feelings towards them at all – and I know absolutely that I never will have. In other words, I don’t “fancy” them at all. Full stop. They are more like brothers or fathers to me. However, I do feel very strongly for my long-distance man-in-my-life, but as he has these long-term friendly relationships with other women, it has been a real struggle for me to come to terms with it. But I have learned to “grow-up” and realize that we all need people and friends in our lives, and maybe it doesn’t matter whether they are men or women, as long as there is absolutely nothing else going on. It is all a matter of trust. I hope this helps you sort out your feelings, and slowly change your attitude. It can only hurt you and your relationships by having jealous thoughts – I know from experience!! Men hate jealous women. Best wishes. Lorna x

  5. Nemo said:

    Hi i loved this discussion. Is it possible to send an email in private. My situation is very complicated. …very complex.

    • James Bauer said:

      Yes! You can send a request for private consultation with one of our relationship coaches here.

  6. Sakura said:

    why I have feeling for someone I dislike? Are those feelings physical or emotional? We are just party friend, not really close friends. But, I don’t know why the feeling has been felt for over a year now. It is so annoying.

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