Wednesday, May 10, 2006

I'm brilliant, I'm eighteen, I'm hyperkinetic, and possibly if I stopped to think about it I might be upset!

**This is a little long and rambly...sorry. Every time I tried to edit it just got worse, so I figured I better stop before it was totally incoherent, which it might already be.**

I've been thinking a lot lately about attraction (and here I mean "physical attraction"), and the role of attraction in both dating and marriage (or whatever long-term relationship, if any, you subscribe to). In the past, the men I have had an immediate physical attraction to, what I would normally call "chemistry", have turned out to be pretty horrible. You've got your adulterers, your abusers, your drug users, your alcoholics, your secret sex-lifers, and worst of all, your plain old "I just don't care about you enough to put forth any effort whatsoever"-ers.

For the past couple of years, I have been really trying to put some thought into my relationship choices. And I'm not saying I haven't made some terrible choices, because, well, I have. But I'm trying really hard to learn something. And I'm trying to make conscious decisions, to not just be a slave to whatever that thing is that only makes me attracted to "bad boys." My former therapist, affectionately known (behind his back, obviously) to all my friends and family as "The Zenmaster," had basically said "The reason you are attracted to these men is that they don't like you and don't respect you, and you don't like you and don't respect you you automatically have something really important in common." And, it's true.

The question now is, what do I do if I meet a guy who DOES genuinely like me? Who DOES make the effort? Who DOES call? How do I change this pattern of being attracted to men who really don't like or respect me? Obviously, loving and accepting myself, and being able to provide intrinsic affirmation would help. And I'm working on that. BUT, what I'm finding is that although I am much more confident now, and I'm actively watching what I do instead of just landing in situations and letting them take over my life, I still find myself physically attracted to guys who just are not what I need long-term (or short-term either for that matter). And I don't even mean a hot body or whatever (although sometimes that is true), because they're not even all conventionally attractive. What I mean is, they ultimately cannot give me what I need or want. They usually can't even begin to provide just the basics of human decency, let alone the foundation for building a life together. Sometimes I think this residual "bad boy" desire is just a legacy of my 20's, and I got used to doing things a certain way and I just don't know how to react to other people now. And sometimes I think that maybe the chemicals in my brain are totally effed up and only jump around and clap their little hormonal hands when they meet guys who are dickheads.

The question in my mind is, what is "chemistry." Is it a habit? Because the phrase "He's my type" sounds kind of like a habit to me. Like, "Well, I've always dated guys who are tall with brown hair and blah blah blah, so that must be the only type of guys who I'm attracted to." Is chemistry something that just happens to us, the result of two people's pheromones getting a whiff of each other and deciding they like what they sniff? Or, can attraction be learned to some extent. I mean, we've all probably had a friend we weren't attracted to, and then once we got to know them, all of the sudden we could picture "it." That seems sort of like learned behavior to me...your decision about the other person's sexual attractiveness changes based on your getting to know them as a person.

So, there's the instant attraction people, and the people who kind of grow on you after you get to know them, and the people who just magically are a certain "type." But the question I always go back to is, what MAKES that happen? Can it be changed or manipulated consciously based on other factors. In the instance of the guy you become friends with who later starts to be attractive to you, can you take that point of view and look at all potential partners with it? Or, is it better to meet people and NEVER think of them as potential partners so that there is never any expectation and the attraction, if it's going to happen, just grows naturally out of the friendship?

I have really been pondering on and struggling mentally with this issue, because I don't want to pass up a great guy (should I meet one) because he is too nice to me, or he's a bit quirky, or he doesn't have enough of an "edge." And believe me, I KNOW that the edge is what usually comes back to bite me on the ass later on. There's just a fine line for me between too much of an edge (not that I usually have the sense to think there's too much of an edge, but looking back in hindsight, there was too much of an edge in the sense that the guy was a criminal or whatever), and "PLEASE, please, pllllllllease, get a backbone," the latter of which makes me lose all respect, and that kills whatever attraction might have been there anyway. See, I'm like the kid who already knows the stove is hot and just can't stop touching it!
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