Exactly How The 4-Step ‘Sex Appeal’ Formula Makes You More Attractive
By Sally Griffith; photographs by Spooky Pooka
Yup, there’s a science behind why people are drawn to you…
Being the most attractive woman in the room doesn’t rely on a bodycon dress and the perfect figure. It’s a relationship formula – and all you need to do is learn it.
Who’s your sexiest friend? Chances are you’re not thinking of the most beautiful one. Instead, her ability to charm her way into a VIP area and get chatted up at the gym is down to something less tangible; she just has a way.
“That’s charisma,” says psychologist Owen Fitzpatrick, author of The Charismatic Edge: The Art of Captivating and Compelling Communication. “It’s what sex appeal is all about – the ability to draw people to you.”
The biggest myth about charisma? “That it’s an innate quality. Actually, much of it can be learned. Tweaks to your body language and verbal communication can transform the way people respond to you.” Pay attention…
Make an entrance
If you’ve never practised visualisation, now’s the time to start. A few minutes before you walk into the bar/party/gym (all bona-fide places to score, in our book), start to recall a triumphant moment, says Olivia Fox Cabane, charisma advisor to Fortune 500 companies. “Low confidence resulting from self-doubt is the biggest charisma killer,” she explains. But this kind of visualisation will flood your body with endorphins and you’ll unconsciously exude the confidence of your past.
When you stand, take up a little more space than usual. “People who assume expansive poses experience a big physiological shift,” Cabane says. “In one experiment, assertiveness and energy-promoting hormones rose by 19 percent, while anxiety hormones fell by 25 percent.”
Cabane suggests a gorilla stance – legs apart, chest puffed up. To avoid full-on King Kong, try Neil Strauss’ – author of The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists – slightly subtler version: “Drop one leg slightly, it creates a natural, relaxed curve that really appeals.”
Make your move
Typically, the more you like someone, the closer you move towards them. But playing with the concept of personal space – not in a bus-weirdo way – can pique his attention in the early stages. “Stand a little bit inside his personal space,” Strauss says. FYI, science defines this as within 1.2m from the person in question, equal to a couple of steps.
“When you’re in his space, look up at him. That plants the seed of excitement. But after a few moments, saunter a little further away. Repeat, so you’re crossing in and out of this personal boundary. The push-pull will drive him nuts,” says Strauss. It’s the body-language equivalent of the old “look, look away, look back” trick – the perfect across-the-bar technique, should you be at a distance.
Combine that eye contact with a smile and you’re five times more likely to be approached, according to the journal Social Behaviour and Personality.
So you probably already know you need to introduce a little touch into the dynamic. However, there’s a way to do it without feeling like you’re airport security patting him down – namely by matching your touch to what you’re saying.
“Open conversation by asking him a favour,” says The Attraction Doctor, Jeremy Nicholson. “Doing someone a courtesy is scientifically proven to make them like you more, because they’re ‘invested’ in you. Even something like, ‘Can you pass me a straw?’ is fine.”
Better yet, upgrade it by pointing him in the direction of the straws with a light touch on the arm. Because both your gazes will be directed elsewhere and the touch has some legitimacy, it creates contact without any of the intensity. Awkwardness averted.
Make it about them
You’re sipping your mojito through your recently acquired straw. Now what? “The first few seconds after meeting, something called ‘confirmation bias’ comes into effect,” says Fitzpatrick. “It means people search for evidence that confirms their initial impression of you, rather than information that discounts it.”
The best way to do it? Focus on them. “The key is simple: make the other person feel really good when they’re around you, rather than trying to impress them,” says Fitzpatrick. “During the conversation, have these two questions in mind: ‘How am I like them?’ and ‘What do I like about them?’” he says. “The warmth you’ll feel from finding common ground unconsciously radiates from you and it’ll mean you steer the conversation their way, coming across as powerful without being too dominating.”
It pays to let people talk about themselves – Harvard University researchers found the areas of the brain activated by talking about yourself are the same ones that give you a high from sex and money. With their ego taken care of, the rest is a cinch.