There are three factors that influence attraction. The first one – proximity is when people tend to like people who are closer to them (more proximal, greater proximity) rather than people who are farther away from them. If people are closer geographically, then they are more likely to run into one another. It is difficult to make friends with people that you see infrequently or not at all. This may explain why long distant relationships are difficult.
Another factor in attraction is physical attractiveness. People who are physically attractive enjoy several benefits, as they are better thought of (e.g., kinder, gentler, more able) than unattractive people. Thus, there is often a halo effect with physical attractiveness, such that people who are above average in attractiveness are thought to be above average in other aspects as well.
Physical attractiveness can be a disadvantage too, however. For example, people who are physically attractive may think that others are doing things for them, praising them, etc. merely because they are attractive. That is, they may come to doubt anything positive anyone else says to them, because they attribute that to their attractiveness, rather than to their self.
The third factor in attraction is similarity. People tend to like others who are similar to themselves. If the goal of attraction is partnership, and part of partnership is sharing your life with someone else, then clearly it is best to choose a partner that has similar interests. It’s much easier to share your life with someone who is similar to you than with someone who is not similar to you, because the person who is similar to you will tend to have the same likes and dislikes as you do. They will want to do the same activities as you do. Conversely, if someone does not share the same attitudes as you do, you are probably not going to want to hang out with them.
One way to get someone to like you is to like them. This action is supported by the reciprocity norm, which states that whatever is done to you should be done in return. The reciprocity norm is very powerful. When someone does something good for us, we often feel indebted to that person, so we will often reciprocate the action.
Liking is often one stage on the way to loving someone. That is, life partners typically like each other before they love each other.
There is a distinction drawn in types of love – passionate love and companionate love. Passionate love is the initial attraction between two people, which leads to feelings of lust when the attraction is mutual and to feelings of despair when the attraction is not. Companionate love follows passionate love, and it is less intense but more intimate, as the individuals feel comfortable sharing their personal thoughts, hopes, dreams, etc.