The Science of Attraction & Repulsion: The Molecular Tug-of-War

The Science of Attraction & Repulsion: The Molecular Tug-of-War

Written by dating coach for men Gary Gunn - Founder of Social Attraction

In this blog post, I will explain the science of attraction and repulsion with women.

I explore the fascinating process that unfolds when a woman finds a man unattractive.

You can also transform your dating life with our digital products and coaching courses.

The Chemistry of Attraction and Repulsion

When a woman finds a man attractive, her brain releases a mix of neurotransmitters, hormones, and pheromones.

  • These substances create the feel-good sensations we experience when attracted to someone.

Dopamine, oxytocin, and vasopressin play key roles in this symphony of attraction.

But what happens when the opposite occurs?

When a woman finds a man unattractive, a completely different set of chemical reactions takes place.

  • Instead of releasing “feel-good” chemicals, the brain may trigger stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline.

These hormones can make a woman feel tense, anxious, or even fearful in the presence of an unattractive man.

Oxytocin: The Double-Edged Sword

Oxytocin, often called the “love hormone,” plays a crucial role in attraction and bonding.

Lacking this hormone reduces feelings of trust, empathy, and connection.

The Pheromone Puzzle

Pheromones, chemical messengers that play a role in sexual attraction, are released by the body and detected by the olfactory system (sense of smell).

This is thought to be an evolutionary mechanism to ensure healthy offspring.

On the flip side, if a woman perceives a man’s pheromones as “unpleasant” or “off-putting,” it may signal that their immune systems are too similar.

  • This can cause a woman to feel repulsed by the man, even if she isn’t consciously aware of the reason.

Neurotransmitters: Flipping the Switch

When a woman finds a man unattractive, her brain may release less dopamine, the neurotransmitter associated with feelings of pleasure and reward.

  • The lack of dopamine can result in a lack of interest, motivation, or excitement in the presence of the unattractive man.

Additionally, serotonin, a neurotransmitter involved in mood regulation, may also play a role.


  • When a woman finds a man unattractive, her body undergoes various chemical changes.
  • This leads to feelings of discomfort, disinterest, and emotional distance.
  • Change your dating strategy and start to attract women on a biological level.


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  1. Sobel, N., & Brown, W. M. (2001). The Scent of Genetic Compatibility: Sexual Selection and the Major Histocompatibility Complex. Ethology, 107(3), 209-224. This study investigates the role of pheromones in sexual attraction, focusing on the major histocompatibility complex (MHC). The researchers found that women tend to be more attracted to the scent of men with dissimilar MHC genes. This suggests that our sense of smell may influence mate selection on a molecular level. Furthermore, this research provides evidence for the pheromone puzzle mentioned in the blog post, highlighting the importance of compatible immune systems in attraction and repulsion.
  1. Schneiderman, I., Zagoory-Sharon, O., Leckman, J. F., & Feldman, R. (2012). Oxytocin during the initial stages of romantic attachment: Relations to couples’ interactive reciprocity. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 37(8), 1277-1285. This study explores the role of oxytocin in the early stages of romantic relationships. The researchers found that higher levels of oxytocin were associated with increased interactive reciprocity between couples. Including affectionate touch, synchronized movements, and positive affect. In addition, the findings support the idea that oxytocin is involved in promoting feelings of connection and bonding. Additionally, the study implies that lower levels of oxytocin may contribute to feelings of emotional distance when a woman is turned off by a man.
  1. Fisher, H. E., Aron, A., & Brown, L. L. (2005). Romantic love: An fMRI study of a neural mechanism for mate choice. The Journal of Comparative Neurology, 493(1), 58-62. In this study, the researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to explore the neural mechanisms associated with romantic love and mate choice. The study found that areas of the brain associated with the release of dopamine and other reward-related neurotransmitters were activated when participants viewed pictures of their romantic partners. Furthermore, the findings support the notion that dopamine plays a key role in feelings of attraction. It can help explain why a lack of dopamine release when a woman is turned off by a man may lead to disinterest and lack of motivation.

Written by Gary Gunn

Gary Gunn is a trained coach, accredited therapist and best selling author. He offers proven, evidence-based dating advice for single men.

He has hosted over 1,000 in-person dating confidence courses across the UK and Europe, as well as over 1,500 online courses.

As the head coach at Social Attraction, he leads the team and oversees the training and courses provided, helping countless men transform their dating lives.
Dating Coach