A recent survey found one in four singles miss out on love because they’re obsessed with finding an instant connection.
But despite lots of couples claiming ‘they knew’ the minute their future husband or wife walked in the room (forgetting they felt like that about lots of people they didn’t end up with), in reality, lots of good relationships build rather than happen instantly.
That flash of connection is a great sign and shouldn’t be discounted but for every couple who ‘knew’, there are six dozen others who weren’t struck by the lightning bolt and who are now very happily (and sexily) settled down.
Will this be the case with you and the person you’re not sure of?
Trust your nose
You might think it’s all about looks but how we smell and taste to each other strongly determines whether you become a couple or remain friends.
Granted, few of us say ‘It was their smell that got me’ but quite often that’s the truth.
We each have a unique, natural, undetectable smell but we’re especially ‘whiffy’ (in a good way), when we’re attracted to someone.
If you both fancy each other, powerful pheromones are released from apocrine glands, located in our warm spots (armpits, groin, mouth etc).
Your bodies then react to each other’s smell signals: finding each other more or less attractive because of them.
If only one fancies the other or neither of you initially do, pheromones still release but the effect isn’t as noticeable or powerful.
But – and here’s where you can take heart – that’s not to say they won’t start pumping out and working their magic if you decide someone is attractive later on.
The smell test
If you can’t decide if you fancy someone or not and haven’t noticed how they smell, find some excuse to lean in closer.
Position your nose close to a hot spot like their armpits (yes really) and take a big (discreet) whiff.
If the smell isn’t right, you’ll know it’s not right.
If they smell surprisingly good or you seem indifferent, it’s worth taking things one step further.
Kissing the frog makes biological sense
Assuming you want to take the risk of moving the relationship forward, the absolute acid test to find out whether you fancy someone or not is to kiss them.
Pucker up to kiss someone you’re attracted to and sebaceous glands in your mouth and the corners of your lips release semiochemicals that are designed to stimulate sexual excitement.
These combine with your own unique saliva ‘fingerprint’ and the end result is passed on during kissing.
It’s a bit like swapping business cards listing your personal credentials, except it’s a hell of a lot sexier!
Your olfactory systems then have a snap meeting to decide whether or not you’re a good genetic match.
If you aren’t, that kiss will feel and taste weird (as anyone who has ever had a strangely off-putting kiss with someone they like the look of can testify.)
What happens if you don’t fancy someone when you kiss them?
Will the semiochemicals release simply because the person is technically a good kisser?
Happily, the answer is yes.
The way we kiss someone for the first time has a direct effect on whether a relationship progresses further. A good kisser can change your mind in mere minutes.
Sexual technique counts
You might actually feel the very first spark of physical attraction for someone only when you start getting physical.
Try kissing first to take the all-important taste and smell test and, if that goes well, you might consider going further.
Just as lots of people fall for someone when they see them doing something they love (like working or playing an instrument), plenty of others go weak at the knees when they find out their ‘friend’ is fantastic at foreplay or sex in general.
This is about to right time to point out that I take it as a given that you are taking the other person’s feelings into account in all this.
There’s a heap of emotional issues you need to consider – like what if you don’t feel anything, is the friendship ruined? Is it leading them on to be sexual and then tell them it’s not going to work?
I’ll leave you to navigate that (or the blog will never end) but I will say it’s not a bad idea to be totally upfront and ask if they want to take the risk.
Most people say yes, especially if they’re confident sexually because…
Technique can trump sexual chemistry long-term
Chemistry and desire usually fade with time and that’s when technique is crucial.
A lover who knows what they’re doing will keep your interest longer than someone who merely looks hot because looks fade and technique doesn’t.
Sexual attraction is powerful and unpredictable.
It’s also indiscriminate and common: most people feel sexually attracted to quite a lot of people, quite often.
Real, lasting love is something that doesn’t happen all the time.
Finding someone sexually attractive long-term is built on much more than what you see at first glance – respect, trust, history, all these things add to the pot.
The more we see of someone, the more of them we see
We look past the outside to the inside and find ourselves attracted to their personality, sense of humour, the way they see the world.
Body language affects how attractive someone is to us; we might suddenly notice the timbre of their voice, find their choice of language seductive, the way they look at us now they know us more, the gestures they make.
A smile, a touch delivered unexpectedly, realizing you’re missing them: all these factors can spark physical desire.
Most research points to the fact that we need a mix of key ingredients to remain happily in love – intimacy, commitment and passion.
For lots of us, passion usually appears in the form of sexual passion at the start of a relationship.
Others feel deeply for someone first, connecting on an emotional, spiritual or intellectual level, and find the physical desire comes later.
If you’re not sure what you’re feeling right now – friendship or potential lust or love – I’d strongly recommend you give it a chance.
Life doesn’t follow the same script as a rom-com!