Paste it in the head!


Thursday, July 20, 2006

Having rehashed last night’s date with a couple of my grad school friends and a couple of my online friends (God, when did I turn into such an internet dork? Damn you, high speed wireless internet!), and having discussed the issue of physical attraction to someone, I have a few ruminations to share.

I think, generally speaking, that men are more visual than women—sexually, men prefer watching pornographic movies and looking at girlie magazines, while women prefer erotic literature and/or their own imaginations. I think that this manifests itself in our dating preferences, too. I know girls who will “date down” in terms of looks, but not many guys. Maybe women are programmed to be less superficial when it comes to a mate? We are obviously concerned with our own appearances; we wear makeup and spend hours on our hair and clothes yet, time after time, when women are asked what they look for in a partner, these are the two things that top the list: sense of humor and intelligence. Not a sexy body, or beautiful hair, or perfect skin, but the ability to make us laugh and the capacity for decent conversation.

Sometimes, you meet someone with whom you have an instant physical and sexual connection. It doesn’t come from flirting or playing games or putting on beer goggles; in other words, you don’t have to try for that connection. I’ve had this happen to me twice in my life. Both times, these experiences occurred at work. The first was in Portland, and I always refer to the guy as The One That Got Away. He was (is) gorgeous and smart and funny, and our interests and senses of humor gelled perfectly. We became friends the first time we met and I have never, ever had such a crush on someone. I think I understood then why it’s called a crush. It reduced me, physically and mentally, to a child, and I was humbled under its weight. I blushed when he walked by. My knees went weak when I saw him or thought about him. And I was friends with this guy, and expected to act normal around him. Nothing physical ever happened with us; let me rephrase that: nothing sexual ever happened between us. (Which, I remember thinking at the time, might have been a good thing, as I probably would have imploded if we’d so much as kissed.) We cuddled a bit a couple of times after a night of drinking, but that was all. Eventually, he got another job and moved on and out of my life, despite my willingness to stay in touch.

The second time was in Miami, again with a guy I worked with. The first time I saw him, I was instantly and irrevocably attracted to him. Everyone else who worked with him didn’t get it: he was lazy, they said, and never wanted to help out when things were busy. I didn’t care; I was drawn to him like a magnet to metal. I did end up dating that guy, but he turned out to be pretty self-absorbed, and we didn’t even last four months.

What I took from those two “relationships,” if they can be called that, is that it is completely possible for two people to have combustible chemical attraction to each other. It is also completely possible for that combustible attraction to not mean a damn thing when it comes to meaningful, worthwhile relationships. I’m glad that I met those guys, particularly TOTGA, because there’s nothing more fun than having a crush on someone at work, and because they reminded me that physical attraction shouldn’t be overlooked. I’m not saying that it’s impossible for physical attraction to evolve into something more stable and concrete, I’m just saying that it’s never happened to me.

That brings me to the other kind of attraction, the mental one. Just as two people can have an incredible and undeniable physical attraction to each other, so can two people have a magnetic mental connection. The kind where your senses of humor match up so perfectly that, even though you may be used to people finding you too crass or too cynical and you want to tone yourself down so that you stop getting funny looks, you are finally excited to be crass and cynical and sarcastic, because there is someone with whom you can share it. The kind where you can talk for hours and hours and hours, and you’re not even talking about Major Issues. The kind where you want to pick the other person’s brain because it’s such interesting, unusual territory.

Can this kind of attraction turn sexual? I am going to say that it can. Case in point: another workplace, another guy (yes, there is a pattern). I remember, the first time I met him, immediately judging him on his physical appearance, as I am wont to do, and finding him lacking. We became friends, though, and I was immediately comfortable around him. I felt like I could tell him anything, get his advice on anything, and not only would he listen to me and counsel me, but he would also not judge me. I began to look forward to seeing him at work and eventually, I realized that I had a sort of mini-crush on him. (The only reason that it was mini and not full-fledged is that he was married.) Still, though, he’s nothing to look at, but God, behind that physical exterior, there lurks one of the kindest, gentlest, most interesting and sexy souls, and I would have hated to have never seen that.

I am infinitely guilty of judging people on their appearances; I think most people are. But when it comes down to it, none of us can help how we look. Yeah, there are basic things we can do: we can keep ourselves clean and neat, we can exercise and eat well, and we can wear clothes that fit us properly. However, no matter what, short of having plastic surgery we cannot change the basic shape we were born with. Unfortunately, beautiful people tend to be perceived as being nicer than less-attractive people, and strangers are more willing to help those who are considered attractive than those who are not. As children we are taught to not judge books by their cover; that beauty is in the eye of the beholder; that beauties can and do fall in love with beasts. Is this realistic? Can we expect ourselves and others to put aside the power of the visual, to hang up our beauty hang-ups and allow someone’s sense of humor and intelligence and personality to draw us in? I’m not sure. All I know is that the most meaningful relationship of my life was with someone who was no one’s idea of beautiful. I got to know him over the course of several months and eventually decided—or realized, or whatever—that I liked him. We dated for 3 ½ years and lived together for two of those years. None of my other relationships, regardless of whether they were with people traditionally considered more attractive than him, lasted as long or meant as much.


  • Well, you got me thinking, not just from this blog but also our talk. And I can't think of anyone where the mental attraction lead to sexual attraction. I've definatly had relationships where we should have worked but had no attraction(fireman), relationships where there is more spark than we know what to do with to (Mr. M and kind of course Mr. C), and yes the pretty boys (Mr. B, oh and Dan). The guys more into me than I'm into them (Duck lips, and trout boy). But no one where we started as friend and grew into a relationship. Well, Matt but isn't wasn't a mental attraction... I think that more had to do with avaliblity and competition. Maybe Tim... but it was more his spirit and passion for teaching... hmmmm what does that say about me.

    By Blogger Aundra, at 7:36 PM  

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