What Triggers Emotional Attraction In A Man? 7 Triggers + How To Build Emotional attraction

Author: Sarah Meyer & Renée Shen

Emotional attraction is the difference between a man investing in you and spending the rest of his life by your side, and a man using you for what you can do for him.

So if you’ve ever wondered what it is that makes a man so devoted to a particular woman while a better looking girl gets treated like she’s disposable, this is it.

Emotional attraction is the reason men fall in love, and ultimately come to identify a woman as their one-and-only.

This means exactly what it sounds like. A man’s one and only is the woman who is so precious to him that he will sacrifice everything for her.

Everything means not only his other mating opportunities, but also his time, energy, and emotional and material resources.

In contrast, if there is not enough emotional attraction between the woman and the man, this is when a woman finds herself in the “one of many” basket.

What does the “one of many” basket mean?

It means that she’s perfectly viable as a mating partner until a better option comes along, but there’s nothing particularly special about her in the eyes of that man.

“Nothing particular special” means that there’s nothing that causes him to emotionally attach to her or fall in love with her.

MORE: How Do Guys Get Emotionally Attached? 6 Triggers In Men You Must Know.

When a woman is in the “one of many” basket, it means that to a man, she is only worth the lowest level of investment that she will tolerate.

Unless your goal is to have some fun and have a casual sexual relationship, this is a place you do not want to be as a woman.

On that note, I’d love to share with you how to become a man’s one and only woman with these 5 feminine secrets, even if he’s been distant, avoidant or losing interest.

But what is emotional attraction? And what triggers emotional attraction in a man?

Well, let’s start by thinking about attraction in general.

Attraction, even sexual attraction, is an extremely powerful force that pulls two people towards each other. This “pull” generates positive emotions, obsessive thoughts, and proximity-seeking behaviour.

By proximity-seeking, I mean trying to get as close to the object of our attraction as possible, both physically and behaviourally.

For example, we might find ourselves leaning towards someone we are attracted to, or getting into their personal space.

We also might end up imitating their body language as well as their vocal inflections and interests, often without even being aware of it.

Emotional attraction involves similar emotions and psychological states to sexual attraction, but is primarily a response to the personality and behaviour of the other person, not their physical appearance.

Related: 14 Hidden Signs He Only Wants You For Your Body.

It is about the way they act, and the way they make you feel.

Just as an example, emotional attraction is what you experience when you meet a man who is confident, independent and highly competent at what he does.

It’s what you feel when you think of a movie character that is a great hero, leader, or problem-solver, or any man whom you wish would show up in your life and take care of you.

For women, emotional attraction is generally triggered by a man’s competence, which means he is able to provide for you, and his protectiveness.

The reason for this is interesting. It is because over the many years of human evolution (most of which took place during hunter-gatherer times when women did not have access to birth control or medical care during pregnancy and child-birth), it was these characteristics in men that helped women survive and thrive.

These qualities in a man were also very important to the survival and well-being of their children.

What Triggers Emotional Attraction In A Man?

But what about men? What triggers emotional attraction in a man?

Emotional attraction is an extremely powerful force. It is the reason that men and women form pair bonds.

Understanding emotional attraction will absolutely change the way you approach relationships.

After all, it is emotional attraction, not necessarily physical attraction, that makes people do crazy things that no-one could predict.

Like settling down after swearing they’d never stop playing the field, or moving across the world to be with someone, or leaving their wife for another woman.

People will take major risks in order to experience emotional attraction, because it’s so intense and compelling.

Suddenly, life takes on this deep sense of purpose and meaning, and people are driven to do things they never thought they would.

Let’s look at 7 triggers for emotional attraction, and how to build emotional attraction with a man, so that you can experience the joy and reassurance of having him fall completely in love with you.

Trigger #1: Smiling And Laughing

We don’t need to refer to research to make this point. But just in case you were wondering, men consistently report significantly higher attraction to women who appear happy.

This trait or habit is more important when men are thinking about women for long-term than for short-term liaisons.

Interestingly, women are less attracted to smiling, happy looking men.

But since we’re focusing on men’s feelings of emotional attraction here, let’s consider why men might find smiling and laughing attractive.

For one thing, a woman who is smiling and laughing is indicating that she is open to the man, and that she enjoys his company.

This is crucial to the way he shows up in her presence, because men are very sensitive to whether they are being rejected, and also face much more rejection on average than women do.

When he is with a woman who is smiling and laughing a lot, this encourages him to show more of himself.

Specifically, to talk more, to make more jokes, and to disclose more of his thoughts and ideas.

Obviously, this facilitates emotional connection. By the way, if you’re curious about how to create emotional connection with men, here is a game changing way to do that.

A woman who is smiling and laughing also makes the man she is with look good.

He might not be consciously aware of this - in fact, he probably won’t be aware.

But he feels like more of a man when he is with her, like he is worthy of respect and can make a woman happy.

Simply put, he feels like a winner.

It may surprise you to learn that these kinds of experiences can be fairly elusive for men.

But when they have the privilege of experiencing them, it will create a strong positive association with the woman he is spending time with, and fill him with anticipation for seeing her again.

This leads me to my next point.

Trigger #2: You Make Him Feel Good About Himself

When a woman makes a man feel good about himself, he is much more likely to feel emotional attraction for her.

You may feel a little concerned reading this. Are we just talking about stroking the proverbial male ego here? Yes and no.

A man’s ego is a very important structure for his survival and reproductive success.

In fact, that is what the ego is for in all human beings.

It is there to ensure that we have what we need, and to help us look out for danger.

For a man, his ego is concerned with recognition of his competence and contributions.

If he is totally useless, or even just not useful enough, he might never make any money or have any sex. In fact in hunter-gatherer times, he may have been discarded by his fellow men and left to die.

So if you as a woman can give a man the assurance and comfort of knowing that he is worthy, even in some small way, you will become very important to him.

You will inspire him to not only feel emotional attraction towards you, but also to feel emotionally attached to you.

So how can you make him feel good about himself?

You can accomplish this by:

  • Laughing at a man’s jokes
  • Asking him about things he’s interested in or things he’s good at
  • Respecting his thoughts and ideas; and
  • Appreciating the things he does for you and for others

He will feel more masculine and more confident, and this actually helps you feel more attraction for him as well.

Ultimately, when we think about how to build emotional attraction with a man, what we are wanting to do is to help him get into a role with you that inspires his emotional investment.

This means that you want him to feel like he is needed, important, and valuable, so that he will start to feel that sense of meaning and purpose when he is around you.

Of course, we never want to do this from an insincere place.

The best way to help a man get into an emotionally invested role with you is to be his counterpart, and to invest in him emotionally as well.

Trigger #3: Vulnerability

The next trigger for emotional attraction that I’m going to talk about is vulnerability.

Vulnerability is important precisely because of what I said above. That men like to feel needed and that they are making a positive difference to your life.

In other words, it is through the experience of investing in you and your happiness, and seeing your response to their efforts, that men are drawn to you emotionally.

What do I mean by vulnerability?

Essentially, vulnerability is about responsiveness and sensitivity.

Women are, on average, more emotionally reactive than men, and experience more powerful negative emotions like anxiety and distress.

This extra sensitivity is thought to be advantageous for child-rearing and for the formation of deep bonds between mothers and infants.

And over the course of evolution, men have adapted to take responsibility for women’s happiness and suffering. (Poor men, right? I’m kidding. But when you think about it, it is quite a big responsibility).

This adaptation is part of what helped them gain respect within their tribe, as well as ensuring sexual opportunities.

So when a man is interested in a woman, he can find himself powerfully moved by that woman’s response to him.

If he can make her feel good, he’s much more likely to want to keep trying to make her feel good, because he enjoys her happiness and his own feelings of success.

She just needs to be vulnerable enough to show her joy and appreciation.

Similarly, if a woman has a genuine need that a man can help her with, he will feel rewarded by helping her.

She just needs to be vulnerable enough to ask for what she needs, or to show that she needs it.

This very simple pattern is really important for understanding what triggers emotional attraction in a man.

Here’s a video from Renée on How to Be Vulnerable With A Man Without Being NEEDY:

Trigger #4: Unpredictability

Things that are unpredictable are usually novel, and tend to get our attention.

They also tend to keep our attention for longer.

For this reason, unpredictability can be a helpful framework for thinking about how to build emotional attraction with a man, especially after you’ve been dating for a little while.

It’s important, though, to approach this by opening yourself to the genuine unpredictability that is inherent in your nature as a woman and in your personality, rather than trying to manufacture it artificially.

Trying too hard is a sign of desperation and low value, but when you fully accept all the parts of yourself, you never need to try hard to be unpredictable.

By the way, you want to always avoid the 7 universal signs a woman is low value in the eyes of all men.

Do You Know What These 7 Signs Are & How to Avoid Them Like the Plague?

CLICK here to discover the 7 common signs that a woman is perceived as low value in the eyes of men in this special report.

(Why is this important? Because men and women perceive value very differently and you don’t want to be making mistakes that would cause quality men to dismiss, abandon or alienate you.)


As a woman, you are naturally inclined towards highs and lows of emotion as you respond to little details in the environment, and connect deeply with others around you.

Your body also goes through a menstrual cycle, which involves distinct phases that are associated with different moods, cognitive skills, communicative tendencies, and sensitivity to perceptual information.

At certain times of the month, for example, your spatial skills are optimal, and you may be more likely to have specific kinds of dreams.

This unpredictability is often something that we feel ashamed of as women, as though we need to hide the parts of us that might be irrational or out of control.

But when you are comfortable with these changes and even enjoy them, your unpredictability can make you more interesting and attractive to a man.

It can polarise your interactions with him, and bring out a corresponding masculine part of him that makes you more attracted to him, creating a positive feedback loop.

Case study: From icebreaker to engagement in just 8 months… Discover the exact steps Yana took and the specific banter lines she used in order to attract the man of her life online and inspired him to propose after a short 8 months. (And then married within another 2 months…)

Trigger #5: Playfulness

One way to harness your natural unpredictability as a woman is through playfulness.

As your mood shifts, you might want to explore different roles or emotions with a man without taking them too seriously.

For example, if you’re feeling energetic or adventurous you could try going somewhere new where you get to play like a child, ie: climb mountains or trees, or swim in the ocean.

Or if you’re feeling a bit tense, irritated, or even neglected you could let that out in a playful way, through pillow fighting or bantering with him.

There are actually two specific words we recommend you say (in a playful way) to a man to capture his attention and make him glued to every word you say:

CLICK Here to Learn the ONE thing you can say to ANY man that will capture his attention, trigger his curiosity and make him hang onto every word you say!

Playfulness can be very helpful when we think about what triggers emotional attraction in a man.


Because it builds up positive associations within the relationship, where you both share lots of fun, novel experiences and memories.

It can also help a man break out of his usual focused, somewhat flat emotional state, and explore new emotional territory.

Finally, playfulness helps disrupt problematic patterns that can form in relationships!

Particularly those where women make increasing demands and men subsequently withdraw. This can reduce a man’s fear of commitment.

By the way, if you’d like to discover exactly how committed your man is to you (or how committed he could be in the future), you can do so by taking our quick and easy quiz!

QUIZ TIME: Is your man serious about committing to you? CLICK HERE to find out with this specially crafted quiz!

Trigger #6: Generosity

This one is a little more universal. We are all more likely to be emotionally attracted to people who are generous.


Because human relationships, even friendships and family relationships, are founded on the mutual exchange of value.

We all want to feel like the people we invest in are able to invest in us back.

When it comes to commitment and love especially, no man who is worth your time is going to be emotionally attracted to someone who is simply there to take as much as they can from him.

He might be sexually attracted, but his interest will be short-lived.

You can understand how this feels by thinking about a man (or someone else in your life) who was just looking to get something from you - even without giving anything to you first at all.

This would be like a man just hitting you up for sex without even bothering to talk to you properly, spend time with you, or take you somewhere nice.

Or that friend who always wants you to give her a ride or borrow your money, but when you need something, she’s “busy”.

You might also experience this feeling when someone is selling something door-to-door, or even just begging for money.

It’s that mix of desperation and entitlement, coupled with the inability to give any value back to you.

If you notice what your body is doing in response to these scenarios, you might find that you’re naturally repulsed.

You want to get away from the person who is acting this way as soon as possible.

Now, I’m not thinking that you’re going to go around demanding things from the men you date as soon as they show up.

But the degree to which it is off-putting when people lack generosity shows us how powerful it is when a woman can really give to the man she is spending time with.

So spend some time thinking about what’s valuable to him, and what you can offer him.

It may not be what you think it is.

Some basic generosity, starting with the little things, can really go a long way when we think about how to build emotional attraction with a man.

Attachment style quiz

Trigger #7: Femininity

Femininity kind of encompasses all of the above, but I have included it here because it can help to clarify the other points.

Both sexual and emotional attraction between men and women are built through polarity, where your feminine energy accentuates and brings out a man’s masculine energy, and you both feel fulfilled and alive.

This is a difficult thing to explain, but it is the reason role-play in sexual encounters is so popular.

You kind of feel like at least for a moment, you’re the “ideal woman”, while he is the “ideal man”.

This shared fantasy is something that really triggers both emotional and sexual attraction.

So when you show up in a very feminine way with a man, you are more likely to bring your interactions with him into this unique and powerful space.

He will feel more like a man/hero, which is what he subconsciously wants to feel, and you will feel more like a woman/princess/dream girl, which is what you subconsciously want to feel.

Think of it as a form of role play if you like, but one that actually helps both of you connect with your own deepest desires and share the energy that has always been within you.

How do you show up in a feminine way?

Well, most of that is in the points above, but here are 13 femininity traits that attract men to you.

Feminine women are playful, vulnerable, generous, and unpredictable, and many other things besides.

And you are all of these things too - you don’t have to fake it.

You just need to get yourself into a state of mind where you can naturally express all of these parts of your personality in your own way.

By the way, would you like to find out how naturally feminine you are? You can do that with our quick and easy quiz! QUIZ TIME: Are you truly living in your feminine energy? CLICK HERE to find out with my specially crafted 9 Question Quiz!

Triggering Emotional Attraction In A Man: Final Words

When it comes to what triggers emotional attraction in a man, the key is to think beyond sexual attraction and beyond conventional relationship advice.

For all its power in our lives, we’re actually pretty ignorant when it comes to love.

This is because there are so many bad ideas out there that people spread without really thinking them through, and without actually caring about the person they’re giving advice to.

Essentially, when it comes to working out how to build emotional attraction with a man, we are talking about a different process than trying to attract him sexually.

Emotional attraction typically happens more slowly, as we truly get to know someone.

Focusing on the triggers outlined above will help set this process in motion, but they work best if we slow down sexually and wait for the emotional connection to start to take off.

When a man is emotionally attracted to you, you will definitely know it.

His behaviour and mindset will shift dramatically, and he will be deeply focused on you.

You may even find yourself surprised at how easy everything seems, how safe you feel, and how natural it feels to trust him.

Things are not always as they seem, of course, but when a man is emotionally attracted to you, it will be pretty hard to mistake it for anything else.

Have some questions or comments? Leave them below and we will write back to you!

If you would like help with your personal situation or to get coaching with Sarah, CLICK HERE.

Sarah Meyer
Renee Shen

Sarah Meyer

Sarah has a Masters in psychology and works as a special education advisor in early childhood. She lives in Auckland, New Zealand, with her partner and two children. She has a passion for evolutionary psychology, attachment theory, and personality psychology.

CLICK HERE to get coaching with Sarah.

Renée Shen

Author & Editor For National Council for Research on Women. Founder of the popular women's dating & relationship advice website, The Feminine Woman.

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