Myers (2005) suggests there are several aspects to intimacy and attraction. These are, proximity, physical attractiveness, similarity versus complementarity and liking those who like us. Physical attractiveness of another is far more important to a loving relationship than is initially understood, and is a principle factor in the development of sporadic relationships, and influences the way we fall in love. Alternative research suggests attractive people are perceived as more intelligent, successful, friendly, trustworthy and even taller. Physical attraction plays an important role in our first encounters and there is little doubt that a “beautiful packaging” improves the final product.
Sexual attraction fuels proximity needs which may eventually lead to attachment formation. Individuals seek to maintain proximity to another due to their sexual attraction but their attachment worthiness is considered an important effect on the sexual attraction itself. Bowlby suggests that in attachment theory there is a similarity between the need for proximity between adult and infant and the need for proximity in adult romantic relationships.
Other theorists suggest that people choose their romantic relationship based on social exchange theory. Social exchange theory implies that people have a tendency to choose a partner who is fairly similar in physical attractiveness, age, height, intelligence and social background. While equity theory suggests that the satisfaction in any interpersonal relationship depends on the ratio of benefits derived from the relationship to the costs of participating in the relationship. There is one clear message the individual with the least interest in the relationship wields most of the power as they are less attached and more likely to leave.
It is clear that romantic love is a phenomenon of modern western culture. Popular media is dominated by songs, movies and television programs all dedicated to the place love has in modern western culture. Although love is the basis for relationships in the West in many other cultures in the world romantic love does not play such a significant role. In arranged marriages love is not the primary concern as marriage is based upon the compatibility of the two partners. In arranged marriage there is a belief that love will grow from compatibility.
Christopher Swane - Relationship Counselling and Psychotherapy - Wellington New Zealand