Imagine yourself walking into a bar one evening. You scan the room to check out the crowd and see an attractive man or woman. Your eyes meet, the other person smiles, and of course, you smile back.

So now what’s going through your mind? What do you think about this smiling, attractive person? And what do they think of you?

If you’re a man, you might think the woman across the room wants to have sex with you. And while there’s a chance you may be right, you could be misjudging the situation and the woman’s intentions.

Why is that? Why do men quickly make that jump from simply making eye contact with a woman to instantly believing she wants to sleep with you?

The answer might surprise you. A new research study suggests that how a man perceives whether a woman is sexually interested in him might be based on his attachment style – a characteristic that indicates how he will act in a romantic relationship.

The study asked men to imagine themselves in the scenario above by making eye contact and smiling at a woman. Then they had to determine if they perceived she was extremely interested or not interested at all. But, in addition to that, the men also had to determine if they had attachment anxiety or attachment avoidance.

With attachment anxiety, men fear being rejected and usually need more reassurance, love, and support. Men who avoid attachment, on the other hand, tend to fear intimacy and are wary of trusting others.

So men who had attachment anxiety imagined the woman was sexually interested in him whereas men with attachment avoidance were more likely to imagine she wasn’t very interested.

This makes sense, though, right?

We see what we want to see and often project that onto someone else. If we want to believe someone is interested in us, then we believe someone is interested in us. If we want to believe people can’t be trusted, then they can’t be trusted.

So how can we reconcile reality with wishful thinking?

Communicate! Eye contact and a smile is a good start, but you can’t gauge someone’s interest from those two things alone across a crowded room. If you are interested in someone, go over to them, say hello, start a conversation, and see what happens. This is a surefire way to stop seeing what you want to see and start seeing what’s actually there.

If you need relationship advice, whether related to dating or a committed relationship, reach out to a Portland relationship counselor today.