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When a collision occurs between two Collider2D, both Colliders would normally receive a force from each other that separates them. Both Colliders have a Layer assigned to them respectively, which can be the same or different Layer(s). For the forces to apply, each Collider must send a force to the Layer that is assigned to the other Collider, while also receiving a force on their own Layer from the other Collider. Thus, both Colliders must mutually agree on which Layers the forces are being sent and received.
The forceReceiveLayers property allows you to select which Layers that the Collider receives force from, while forceSendLayers allows you to select which Layers the Collider sends a force to.
See Also: Collider2D.forceSendLayers.