8 Science-Backed Traits of Emotionally Attractive People

Zulie Rane

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Research shows the emotional stage is where you fall in love and bond. When I was younger, I thought there would be no more amazing feeling than that instant rush of having physical chemistry with someone. I was wrong: the feeling of being emotionally attracted to someone blows that out of the water.

Emotional attraction is one of the four types of attraction psychologists have identified, along with status-, health-, and logic-based attraction. It’s the most enigmatic and least understood. But it’s also, for me, anyway, the strongest type.

“Sometimes, people find themselves initially drawn to the person they’re most physically attracted to. But when there isn’t a deeper, emotional connection, they have a hard time continuing the relationship.” — Rachel Perlstein, psychotherapist.

That’s why I was so fascinated to read about it — it was something I’d felt for years, but never had the vocabulary to describe. The closest I could do was gush to my best friend about hot this guy was, “But on the inside, too!”

While everyone is attracted to something a little different, every single emotionally attractive person I’ve ever met has portrayed these eight habits without fail.

1. They’re Comfortable Telling You No

How can you be attracted to someone who doesn’t give you everything?

Research shows we crave boundaries in our relationships. This doesn’t mean we’re attracted to people who play hard to get, but rather people who are so confident in their own boundaries that they’re not bending over backwards to give you anything you want.

An emotionally attractive individual will tell you when something is okay and when it isn’t. People who respect themselves and their own needs are people you can trust to respect yours, too.

Most people feel the urge to betray their boundaries due to our people-pleasing tendencies, but by reflecting on what matters most to you and not budging, you become more instantly emotionally attractive to others.

2. They Rarely Share Negative Gossip

Yes, it feels good to gossip and it feels even better to hear that your opinions are shared. But you know what happens when you talk bad about someone, especially if you do it all the time? The person you’re talking to will begin to wonder if you do it about them, too.

Not all gossip is bad — in fact, recent research shows that gossip is a necessary social skill, most of which is neutral or positive. But those individuals who regularly share negative gossip for personal gain are viewed with more suspicion and distrust than those who share neutral or helpful gossip.

As good as it feels in the moment, the upshot of sharing only bad stuff about other people is that they start to associate you only with negativity. Emotionally attractive people, on the other hand, are sources of positivity.

You don’t have to eschew gossip altogether to become more emotionally attractive — psychologists say you should just think twice, never share details for personal gain, and not exaggerate when you gossip.

3. They Remember the Smallest Details About You

Most people engage in conversations the same way: low attention and with our own agendas. It’s no secret that in our personal universes, we’re the center. So when someone takes time and effort to remember one detail about you — especially if you haven’t made a point of underlining it or even mentioning it again— it feels like you’ve really been seen.

Emotionally attractive people are those who pay attention to you. For the duration of your conversation, you’re feel like not just the center of your world, but theirs, too. Anything like remembering favorites, following up on projects, noticing moods, shows that you’re being listened to — and that habit is extremely attractive.

One way to remember more details is simply to be mindful of it. At the end of your day, spend just five minutes actively try to recall details about the individuals you interacted with during your day. Did they mention kids? Jobs? Ideas? Bring them back up during your next interaction.

4. They Are Fastidiously On-Time to Everything

Research shows that when your partner is late to something, you go through a psychological process called “attribution” where you basically try to justify why they aren’t on time. The more you have to do this, the less satisfied you are in your relationship because your end conclusion is always the same: whatever they were doing was more important than being on time to be with me.

It’s easy to see why this is the case: when you agree to meet someone and you’re late once, no biggie. Life happens. If it keeps happening, you’re basically telling whoever you meet that your time matters more than theirs. That hurts.

Emotionally attractive individuals show they value you by valuing your time.

5. They’re Dangerously Vulnerable With You

Emotionally attractive people aren’t hidden away behind a thousand layers of mystery. They let you in. This feels scary to most of us, maybe because you’ve been hurt in the past.

But if you make the foundation of your relationship about superficial things, like attractiveness, passing interests, or the latest trends, the relationship will be superficial. Emotionally attractive people are able to bond with others by talking freely about what’s important to them. Not just trauma or mistakes, but goals and dreams for the future, too.

“The only way to create an emotional attraction is to make the decision to be vulnerable,” dating and relationship coach Laurel House says.

This doesn’t mean you have to overshare, but next time you want to conceal a vulnerability or big dream of yours, share it. It will strengthen your relationship and make you approachable.

6. You Never See Their Phone

Ever since smartphones came out, the outside world is one ping away. For many of us, that temptation is too hard to ignore: we check our notifications even while we talk to others. Research shows we check our phones once every ten minutes, on average. Part of the reason is FOMO — every ignored notification is a chance we’re missing out on a crucial chat, meme, or like.

Emotionally attractive people will give you their full and undivided attention when they spend time with you. Not only will they not check their phones when they’re with you, but you won’t even know they have it on them.

The reason this is so emotionally attractive is that it signals to us that we, not their other connections, are their primary focus right now. It’s like basking in a golden glow — especially because the opposite is such a common experience. Who among us hasn’t been interrupted by a buzzing phone mid-dinner?

To learn how to put your present relationships above your phone doesn’t mean you have to delete all your apps and bury your phone. Just turn notifications off for a few hours at a time and see how your relationships flourish.

7. They Keep Small Promises

Our relationships are complex social engagements and understandings. When we say we’ll do something, especially something that requires any level of trust, we are essentially borrowing an emotional deposit with that person.

If you keep that promise, you get it back — with interest. If you break it, that person may forgive you, but they’ll trust you a little less.

Steven Covey, of Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, talks about the way these emotional banks build trust. Emotionally attractive people are those we can trust to do what they’ve said.

You don’t have to take on massive responsibilities to others to be emotionally attractive. Just do what you say you will, whether it’s picking up eggs from the store or giving an honest opinion on an outfit. The more someone is trusted, the more attractive they are emotionally.

8. They Give You Space

While it’s amazing to have someone there when you need them — and being present is definitely emotionally attractive — the opposite is true, too. Sometimes, you need space from your relationships.

The reason space is emotionally attractive to us is because it signals self-security. Insecure people are clingy and needy. Emotionally attractive people, by contrast, know you’ll let them know when you want them, and they’re happy just doing their own thing until then.

If you want to be more emotionally attractive, just let go a bit. Try not to be the first person to text or call. Next time you go to an event with friends or a partner, enjoy yourself rather than trying to spend the whole time with them. It’s scary, but the act of giving others space shows them you’re someone who knows your own value.

It’s much harder to pinpoint what makes someone emotionally attractive because there’s much less of a cultural touchpoint than there is for physical attractiveness. We see hot people on TV and magazines and advertisements all the time, but those same hot people on TV often act in really emotionally unattractive ways — and the characters react unrealistically.

To really understand what makes emotionally attractive people so magnetic, you need to look into the psychology of their interactions. At the core of the matter is this simple truth: they value you, and they value themselves. These two facts underlie all their motivations and behaviors that make them so attractive.

Of course, it’s very hard to explain and understand how to care more about yourself and others, but by breaking it out into these 8 habits, you’ll find that it’s not so hard to start becoming more emotionally attractive today.

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Content creator, problem solver, psychology enthusiast.

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