What Makes a Person Attractive – Free Ebook

Understandably enough, our societies pay vast
attention to the idea of ‘sexiness’; far

more questionably, they tempt us to believe
that it might be easy to understand what this

quality consists of. The leading suggestion
takes its starting point from the biological

sciences: we learn that sex aims at successful
reproduction and genetic fitness in the coming

generation. Therefore ‘sexiness’ must
logically comprise a host of semi-conscious

signals of fertility and of resistance to
disease: bilateral facial symmetry, large

bright pupils, full lips, youthful skin and
melanin-rich hair.

But this analysis too quickly assumes that
it might be simple to know what sex really

aims at. Unlike most other living beings,
our biological drives sit alongside, and at

points take second place to, a range of emotional
priorities. Chief among these is the desire

to overcome loneliness and share our vulnerability
within the arms of a safe and intimate other.

We seek, through a physical act, to overcome
our customary psychological alienation and

a host of painful barriers to being known
and accepted. Viewed through such a lens,

the erotic is not so much a promise of reproductive
health as a suggestion of a redemptive capacity

for closeness, connection, understanding and
an end to shame and isolation.

It is this emotional mission that explains
the conundrum sometimes generated by people

whom one would expect, by all standard biological
criteria, to possess an exemplary sexual aura

but who manage to leave us cold – just as
it may shed light on the associated puzzle

of those physically more challenged candidates
who nevertheless lay claim to a rare power

far outstripping the quality of their hair
or the lustre of their eyes.

The people whom we call sexy despite, or aside
from, the raw facts of their appearance are

those whose features and manner suggest an
unusual ability to fulfill the underlying

emotional purpose of love-making. The way
they respond to a joke, the curve of an eyebrow,

the characteristic motion of their forehead,
the way of holding their hands convey in an

unconsciously understood but hugely eloquent
language, that one is in the presence of a

kindly being who is liable to understand our
broken and confused aspects, to help us over

our loneliness and submerged sadness and reassure
us of our basic legitimacy and worth; someone

with whom we can at last reduce our normal
suspicions, cast aside our armour and feel

safe, playful and accepted. Whatever the quality
of their skin or balance of their proportions,

it is these aspects that have a true power
to excite us; in a melancholy and avoidant

world, this is the real turn on.

We hear so much about what we might need to
do to increase our physical appeal. But by

getting more detailed about the psychological
traits that drive desire, we could learn to

pay as much, if not more, attention to the
foundations of an exciting mindset. Armed

with a broader understanding of the aims of
sexuality, some of the following might also

  • henceforth – deserve to be counted as valuable
    sources of sexiness:
  • A sense of being slightly at odds with mainstream

Whether at work, with friends or around family,
we are too often hemmed in by exhausting requirements

to fit in and subscribe to dominant notions
of what it means to be good and acceptable,

requirements which nevertheless leave behind,
or censor, a lot of our internal reality;

there ends up being a lot we mustn’t say
and even more we shouldn’t even really feel.

What a relief then to note (perhaps via a
wry twitch in another’s upper lip) that

we are in the presence of someone who knows
how to adopt a gently sceptical perspective

on prevailing assumptions – someone with whom
we would be able to break away and express

doubts about revered ideas or people and cast
a cathartically sceptical gaze on the normal

rules of life. Good sex promises to feel like
something of a conspiracy against everyone


  • An unshockable nature:
    The more we are honest with, and exploratory

about ourselves, the more we realise that
there is much inside our characters that might

surprise or horrify outsiders: that we possess
alarming degrees of vulnerability, meanness,

strangeness, waywardness and folly. Our standard
response may be shame and embarrassment – and

yet we quietly hunger to be properly witnessed
and accepted as we really are. What may prove

supremely sexy therefore are suggestions that
another person has explored their own deeper

selves with courage, has a handle on their
darkness – and may on this basis be capable

of extending an uncensorious perspective on
our own.

  • A tension between good and ‘bad’:
    Someone who paid no attention whatsoever to

decency and scoffed at all propriety might
be merely alarming. Yet what can prove uniquely

appealing is a person alive both to duty and
temptation, to the pull of maturity and the

draw – at least for a little while in the
early hours – of wickedness; a divided person

simultaneously responsible and marked by a
touch of desperation.

  • Vigour & Impatience
    In addition might come a potential for aggression

and anger that they managed to keep very sanely
under control in daily life, but that they

knew how to release at points in private;
someone whose capacity for a little cruelty

was all the more moving because it stood out
against a customary habit of extreme consideration

and gentleness.

  • Kindness:
    A lot of our reality deserves compassion and

sympathy. How compelling, therefore, to come
across someone whose features would belie

a willingness to extend charity towards a
lot that is less than perfect in human nature,

someone who could know how much we stand in
need of forgiveness and who could laugh generously

with and at us – because they knew how to
do the same in relation to themselves.

We have allowed our concern for sexiness to
be coarsened by physical obsession because

we are under the sway of an overly simplistic
biological sense of what sex might be aiming

at. Yet by recovering contact with some of
what we emotionally crave from another person,

we can – happily but not merely conveniently

  • rediscover that the real turn on is never

just a well-polished body but, always and
primordially, a well-fashioned soul.

Great dates are made up of great conversations, our dating cards are designed to spark

insightful and playful encounters. Click the link on screen now to find out more.