Laws of attraction

What draws us to certain people and makes us click? Jennifer Kang explores the relationship laws of attraction.

The relationships we share with others are fickle, transitory things. There are those with whom we don’t share any common interests yet get along with so well and conversely, there are those who are similar in character and personality, yet there are an abundance of awkward silences in small-talk-filled, disjointed conversations.

This profound connection we share with others – the connection that enables us to feel a rush of intimacy, an instant bond and a sense of trust – is what many refer as ‘clicking’ with another person.

But is this powerful connection we feel with others real and if it is, how do we make the most of this once-in-a-lifetime connection with another person? Psychologist Meredith Fuller says this ‘clicking’ phenomenon is real and that this connection is a special one.

“When we feel like we click with another person, there’s an unconscious recognition of each other. We unconsciously pick up on similar experiences and values we have with each other and these similarities bind us together,” Fuller says.

Fuller says this ‘clicking’ phenomenon is based on shared values, similar life experiences or complementary life experiences.
“You can also go to a level of connection far more quickly compared with others,” she says.

According to Click: The Magic of Instant Connections written by Ori and Rom Brafman, there are many benefits to clicking. Not only do we feel better about ourselves when we’re in the company of another person with whom we ‘click’, but he or she can also provide lifelong companionship. You only have to take a look at the relationship with a person you ‘click’ with to see that this is true – people we click with often provide long-lasting companionship, because the relationship with this person is usually unchanging and steady.

It seems these types of relationships also make us happy. Research published in the Journal of Happiness Studies, 2006, showed that having meaningful friendships with a small number of people was a stronger indicator of higher happiness levels compared with having many ‘shallow’ friendships, which means a person you click with can boost your happiness levels. “When we feel heard, understood and appreciated, it’s good for us,” Fuller says. “We know we’ve got someone to share a laugh with, someone who can be happy for us and someone to support us in difficult times,” she says.
Studies show that this phenomenon also boosts our productivity. While clicking with co-workers might seem to waste time and reduce work-related dedication, according to the authors of Click, the euphoric brain boost that results from clicking with another person makes us more efficient problem-solvers.

The benefits of ‘clicking’ can also apply to love and romantic relationships, where ‘clicking’ is fundamental to a fulfilling companionship. While instantly clicking with a potential partner can be likened to love at first sight, studies have shown this instant connection and gravitation felt towards a partner does not result in reduced relationship quality.

A 2007 study conducted by the University of Groningen, Netherlands, showed that partners who made an instant connection and fell in love quickly with each other did not report more relationship-related dissatisfaction compared with those who became involved with each other more gradually.
Fuller says it doesn’t matter how many years you’ve known a person – some people who’ve only known each other for a short while can have just as intimate and close relationships with each other.

“It’s about your level and degree of comfort, how much you disclose and how open, honest and trusting you are of each other,” Fuller says.

Many of these relationships are formed based on a series of situations and circumstances surrounding you at that single moment in which you befriend or are befriended by a person you instantly feel a euphoric, uplifting connection with. They can often happen by chance and according to popular belief, the indescribable moment where you click with a special someone cannot be forced. But is there any way to accelerate this process or ‘get clicking’ with another person?

“There are some people you click with and some you don’t,” Fuller says. “However, you can maximise your opportunities of meeting people who you will click with,” she continues.

For a friendship that sparkles with the magical click, or a relationship with a partner where you complement each other’s characters completely, there are a few factors to consider, according to the Brafman brothers. Calling them ‘click accelerators’ the co-authors explore the way vulnerability, proximity and similarity work together to create a relationship in which you feel an instant sense of connection.

Proximity is a factor they explore and the book reports that the closer you are physically and visually to another person, the greater your chances of being able to forge a deep and meaningful connection.

As such, if you’re looking to build on your relationships either at work or in your social circle, ensure you’re making the effort to attend work functions, meetings in person and social events.

“Introduce yourself and ask questions about the other person – people enjoy talking about themselves,” Fuller says. “Know that many people are shy – sometimes all it takes is saying ‘Hello’ to get things going.”

Vulnerability is another fundamental concept to clicking. According to the authors, being vulnerable means you are more exposed and emotionally open, allowing for greater opportunities for deeper bonding.

This often arises as an issue when it comes to workplace relationships as many of us are inclined to compartmentalise our identities – our social identities can be very different to the one we show to our colleagues.

Consequently, it is important to achieve a balance between your two priorities, as showing more of your true personality will add some spark to your relationships. “When we develop relationships with others, the first phase we go through is usually positive, in that we share our talents and who we are,” Fuller explains.

“The second phase is when we’re more open to talking about our frailties, vulnerabilities and hopes and fears – if they listen and understand, the relationship can progress more quickly,” she says.

Similarity is particularly important when it comes to clicking and according to the authors of the book, opposites don’t attract. Sharing common interests makes for an instant talking point and can also mean that you share the same priorities in life. However, according to Fuller, opposites can click, too, but only for a short while.

“Often we’re very drawn to someone because they’re very different to us and usually it’s because they have a quality that we’d like to have in ourselves,” Fuller says.

“For example, in relationships where there is an introverted person and an extroverted person, it might be the case that they have something that they value in each other,” she says. “The extrovert might really like the stillness in the introvert and the introvert might like the chatty quality of the extrovert, but it’s really about wanting more of a certain quality in your life or yourself.”

However, once you get close and intimate to the ‘opposite’ person, you may find that their contrasting characteristics can irritate you.
“You often find this in relationships – initially in small doses the opposing character trait can be something you like, but after a while it can become frustrating,” Fuller says.

The friends we ‘click’ with are special, so make sure you preserve these relationships. In many friendships, there’s always one individual who arranges all the coffee dates and outings, and another person who relies on the other person to do all the organising. If you’re the person who waits around for your friend to keep in touch, try to put more effort in.

“Give and take – make sure you reach out to the other person because relationships are a two-way street,” Fuller says.

Psychologist Meredith Fuller says to ask these questions to identify whether another person is someone you ‘click’ with:

  • When I’m with that person, do I feel relaxed and alert?
  • Do I feel I can be myself and do I feel like I’m not being judged?
  • When I leave the interaction, do I feel that I’ve been heard, understood, listened to and validated?
  • Do I feel valued?

    Did you answer ‘yes’ to all of these questions? Then you’ve got clicking!

In contrast, you can ask yourself these questions to know whether another person doesn’t click with you:

  • Do I feel apprehensive about sharing my personal experiences and stories?
  • Do I feel like the other person isn’t listening to what I’m saying?
  • Do I feel like the other person is judging me?
  • Do I feel exhausted being with them?
  • When I leave the interaction, do I feel rundown, depleted, grumpy or frustrated?

    Did you answer ‘yes’ to all of these questions? Then you’re not clicking.

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