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This ‘Love is Blind’ contestant's shocked reaction to his fiancée went viral. Can attraction grow?

"Love Is Blind" has returned to Netflix for its sixth season − and, oh boy, is its premise getting put to the test.

The show, which sees several singles date and get engaged before ever seeing what the other looks like, has prompted a discussion (and plenty of jokes) online recently for one contestant's stunned reaction to his fiancée. Contestant Jimmy Presnell seemed smitten with Chelsea Blackwell when she told him she has been told she looks like Megan Fox; but, when the two finally meet in person, he is in disbelief − and not in a good way.

Presnell and Blackwell's romance has been rocky since then, and relationship experts say their interactions on the show and the subsequent discourse online highlights interesting points about physical attraction and expectations in dating.

Attraction is a tricky thing. Sometimes it's there; sometimes it's not. It's not something that can be forced, but it is something that can grow over time, at least in some respects, experts say.

"I fully believe that attraction can grow over time as you form more of an intellectual and emotional connection and you get to know somebody," says Blaine Anderson, a dating coach for men. "I tell my clients this all the time: You have to be attracted to your partner. For a romantic relationship, that is a requirement. But it doesn't have to be instant sparks or instant physical attraction."

Contestant Jimmy Presnell seemed smitten with Chelsea Blackwell on "Love Is Blind" Season 6. But when the two finally meet in person, he is in disbelief − and not in a good way.
Contestant Jimmy Presnell seemed smitten with Chelsea Blackwell on "Love Is Blind" Season 6. But when the two finally meet in person, he is in disbelief − and not in a good way.

Can attraction grow? It's complicated

Whether or not attraction grows depends on what kind of attraction you're talking about, says Sara Nasserzadeh, a social psychologist and author of the book "Love by Design: 6 Ingredients to Build a Lifetime of Love." She draws a distinction between physical and sexual attraction.

Physical attraction, she says, has to do with finding the other person good-looking. Sexual attraction, on the other hand, has more to do with chemistry, connection and intimacy, and Nasserzadeh describes it as that "very intense draw that you have for somebody."

According to Nasserzadeh, the latter can often improve in time. The former, however, is tougher to grow if it's not felt whatsoever in the beginning of a relationship, especially for men.

Still, Nasserzadeh adds, it's important to remember attraction has many layers − and different layers are going to be more or less important to different people. For instance, many people may find that a strong intellectual or emotional attraction to their partner is more important to them than a strong physical attraction.

"People are able to expand their ideas of attraction, because the meaning of attraction is, 'Why do you want to be around the other person?' " Nasserzadeh says. "It could be for so many different reasons."

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Anderson says first date jitters and initial awkwardness are also normal and tend to get confused for a lack of physical or sexual attraction.

"You have to remember a first date, especially if you meet online, or even in the case of 'Love is Blind' if you haven't seen each other yet, it's going to be a little bit awkward," she says. "It's going to take a little time for both parties to get comfortable and therefore to be the best version of themselves."

In some cases, not finding someone immediately attractive can actually be a good thing, because it allows you to see who they are beyond their looks. This is why strong romantic relationships may emerge between people who start off as friends.

"When that attraction grows over time... you're getting to know them for more than just surface-level attraction," she says. "And surface-level attraction isn't enough on its own for a long and lasting relationship."

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Social media and why it's harder to find people attractive in real life

There are many reasons why people have certain preferences for what they find physically attractive. One is what Nasserzadeh calls the exposure factor: In general, people are going to feel attracted to the kinds of people they're regularly exposed to.

This means that, in the era of social media, people's standards and preferences for what's attractive have been warped. If someone spends too much time gawking at edited photos of models and heavily made-up influencers on their phone, they're likely going to have a harder time finding everyday people attractive.

Anderson advises people to take stock of why they may not find someone physically attractive and to spend time off social media to see if their preferences change.

"I tell my clients all the time, you shouldn't be seeking out someone who looks like an Instagram model because even Instagram models don't look like Instagram models in real life," she says. "Everyone is looking at a highlight reel of edited photos and even AI at this point of what they think is beautiful. And that's just not real reality or what is necessarily realistic."

Nasserzadeh wants people to know physical attraction isn't the only important ingredient for a relationship.

"There are more reasons to be around another person," she says. "As long as all of those points of attraction serve the shared vision that they're trying to create together, then they're good to go."

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 'Love Is Blind,' Jimmy's shock at Chelsea and if attraction can grow