There’s a lot of mythology in our culture about the right way to fall in love. We have an all or nothing mentality. Both men and women expect that when it happens, they’ll be hit by a lightning bolt, knocked off their feet, left dizzy and breathless. Popular stories through history cement this notion, although there are also many stories of would-be lovers at cross purposes and love at first sight between disastrously matched pairs. Overall, we have dangerously high expectations in dating.
Both sexes want chemistry, more commonly referred to as “sparks,” and that’s fair enough. The trouble is, sparks aren’t always kindled right away. Research shows that familiarity breeds attraction, and consequential strangers may become part of our lives over time. The Exposure Effect can also be powerful:
The exposure effect is “a psychological phenomenon by which people tend to develop a preference for things merely because they are familiar with them…In studies of interpersonal attraction, the more often a person is seen by someone, the more pleasing and likable that person appears to be.”
One study found that attraction grew as people interacted more. This is so common that one researcher quipped, “Familiarity breeds attempt.”
In addition, both sexes tend to project their own sexuality when evaluating the opposite sex.