Illustration by Bryan Gomm

Everyone has their type; people that possess particular traits that draw one person to another. However, some people wonder if they have control over who they are attracted and whether attraction is really more primitive and animalistic than most would like to believe.

When asked about what attracts a woman to a man, woman will often say it was his sense of humor, his charming personality or his strong character.

The truth is humans, including women, are more carnal than they think. If a person doesn’t have some attractive feature, be it dazzling eyes or a rocking body to draw another in, they are less likely to relish that winning personality.

“There is something that is propelling us to mate,” said Lori Richards, human sexuality professor. “We all have that drive to date, mate or conceive, definitely there is a drive and physical attraction is important.”

According to the film, “The Science of Sex Appeal,” attraction is nature’s way of ensuring that those with the best genes mate and produce offspring that have the best chance for survival. So it seems that winning personality isn’t all that useful, when it comes to mating.

So what is it that draws one human animal to another? Part of attraction is based on genetic makeup, while part of it comes from the culture in which a person was raised.

“[Sociobiologist say] what goes on in the animal kingdom happens with people,” Richards said. “I think there’s great similarities in the way that we try to attract a potential mate between the animal kingdom and humans. There are a lot of similarities in attraction and the testing period that animals go through, it’s just like dating with humans.”

Another factor playing a part in attraction is what time of the month it is.

“There is speculation that when [a woman] is ovulating she is putting off more pheromones,” Richards said.

When a woman is most fertile, typically two days before ovulation, animal instincts kick in for both sexes, women are more attracted to a particular type of male and men are suddenly more attracted to the fertile female.

Yes, this could also be due to the fact that at this time of the month a woman’s breasts become more symmetrical, her hips more curvy and her facial features more feminine.

As “The Science of Sex Appeal states,” “this is when a women’s genes are trying to sell themselves to the highest bidder.”

Primitive tendencies can take over and at this time of the month a fertile woman begin her search for a fertile man to mate with. While she searches for companionship and love during the other 26 days of her cycle, during the time of heightened fertility, a woman searches for masculinity too.

If a man has more masculine features and a woman more feminine features, they’re signaling potential mates that they are fertile. Through good doses of sex hormones during puberty, gender prominent features are produced.

When a woman is more fertile she is attracted men with an abundance of testosterone, meaning his masculine features like a square jaw, large muscles, broad shoulders and height. Just as a peacock spreads his feathers and a lion displays his mane, the man who parades the greater amount of testosterone will catch the fertile woman’s attention.

These more masculine features also say to the woman that the man will be able to protect and take care of the woman. According to Richards what woman really look for is someone who can provide for her and keep her safe long term, and that winning personality will count in these situations.

“Physical attraction is great, it’s that hot love that draws us together for long enough to find out about someone, but after that there’s got to be more glue,” Richards said.

Once attraction occurs, and the two parties move forward with that attraction, different characteristics play the lead in the developing relationship and the minor physical flaws are seemingly forgotten.

While women carefully weigh the options of potential mates, the long term remains in the forefront of her mind.

Women will often date, mate or marry down, as a sort of insurance policy. If a woman who is a 7, hooks up with a man who is a 4, it’s a win win for both. The woman gets a man who can’t do better, so he’ll never stray, and the man gets someone way better looking than himself.

Whether it’s the first day of the month or the last, people will be looking at those around them and will be attracted to one another for different reasons. People are always trying to rise above their innate animal instincts, to find that one person who will inspire them, but all that all begins with a first look.