In the first thirty seconds of meeting someone, you’re both paying close attention to the sub-communication. They are determining your value, and you are determining theirs. We become attracted to other people when our values match. Whether it’s our socioeconomic status, our desire to write and learn, or our joy of spending time with family and playing board games.
Everything you’ve ever enjoyed or disliked was a result of the value you gave that object, person, or experience. When people tend to speak about a value an individual holds, they are talking about the individual’s ideals and beliefs that they valued higher than other ones.
Our values are the standards by which we value ourselves. When we have high value on a certain aspect of our identity, such as dancing, we are unwilling to give up that aspect of our identity no matter what people say or do about it. To some degree a beautiful woman may cause a man to become a boyfriend chameleon. It is possible for some extremists to value things more than their own life, such as the Kamikaze suicide bombers on Pearl Harbor.
Each person’s values are different, and each value will hold a different strength to that person.
Let’s use Joe as an example. He’s an Investment Banker who values the following things:
It’s easy to tell that Joe values his life based on external validation. He cares about the size of the home he has. If he is in a relationship, he cares more about how attractive the woman he is dating, rather than how happy the relationship makes him on an emotional level. His work is far more important than time spent on his own hobbies or learning new skills (expanding ones identity). More than anything, he cares about what people think of him.
Jamie values the same items, but differently.
Jamie doesn’t care about the size of her home, because she finds traveling the world and learning new skills far more fulfilling. Attraction is important to her, but given the choice, she prefers to date someone who is vulnerable and matches her values. The quality of her relationship and how happy the relationship makes her is twice as important as the physical appearance of her significant other.
Additionally, Jamie doesn’t spend all of her time working. She prefers to spend her time on things she loves, such as writing about psychology. Although social acceptance is something Jamie does value, she values her own ideals more than those of others.
This example makes it clear that every metric for happiness is different. Dan Gilbert calls this squishy language. 1 It’s one of the reasons I don’t believe in the scale of attractiveness that rates from one to ten. Just like individual values, attractiveness is subjective, and it’s never the same for two people.
When we fall in love, it is very obvious that the person we fall in love with should match our values. Yet, what we may love one year may be different than that which we love five years in the future. As we experience new things in life, our value systems changes relative to what they were. If our partner’s values do not evolve in some tandem with ours, we may fall out of love or lose interest altogether.
Every person has their own conception of the world. We have our own frame of reality that assigns different values to different people, places, and things. This is very apparent in a woman who only dates rich men, or a short man who could never imagine himself with a tall woman. But the short guy may be indifferent because he doesn’t value that aspect of a woman more than others. Therefore, he just doesn’t care about her height at all.
So what causes us to become more attracted to specific things and unattracted to others?
We seek out things that we perceive to be of equal or higher value, and we lose attraction for things that we consider lower value. We don’t normally involve things that we feel are lower value than our self-perception, but we are highly reactive to things we perceive as higher. Value is an internal metric system of worthiness that is relative to one’s perception of the value of others. It’s similar to social status.
When a guy becomes infatuated with a girl that doesn’t like him back, he perceives her as higher value, while she perceives him as lower value. The guy in this situation is inflating her value and placing her on a pedestal.
There is no fixed “higher” value, because it is always contextual and relative to greater cultural and social influences. Material luxury brands like Gucci or Dolce & Gabbana cost an economic premium from the standard of higher value, which is created in the brand’s inherent quality. This brand perception is a result of their marketing and how well high-value individuals (celebrities) have adopted them.
When you see a guy walking away from a Ferrari… with a beautiful blonde on each arm – what do you think? Do you want to be him? Do you think he is attractive? He’s driving a Ferrari and has two beautiful girls grappling for him. Or, do you see insecurity and fear of inadequacy, which makes him feel the need to show off? Each person will see this man and his value differently.
Almost every individual has a long-term social strategy of building value. We all search for ways to become a person of higher-value, while also becoming friends with people we consider higher value. The higher the value is perceived, the more attraction there is.
When two people fall in love, it’s because their values match. Value attracts value.