Someone wrote to me:
I’m curious what it means to be attracted to a person, but only if they have a vagina. What feelings were being felt during the flirtation, the date, the deciding to go home, the making out, first base, second base, etc? If a penis was found and that killed the mood, was all that transpired before somehow false? If so, what does attraction even mean?
Which got me wondering what attraction is.
I mean, we use the word, and understand it (or think we do) when others use it, but what does it REALLY mean?
So, I went first to the dictionary, and frankly, Merrium Webster gave me no assistance.
So, I dug a bit deeper and found this:
n. 1. in social psychology, the natural feeling of being drawn to other individuals and desiring their company. This is usually (but not necessarily) due to having a personal liking for them. (https://psychologydictionary.org/attraction/ )
Ok. This gets us somewhere, and I started shaping my thoughts a bit more here.
And I removed specific genitals from my process, to get a broader view, before I circle back around.
And I thought about how attraction in my own life has occurred and then gone away in relationships, friendships, and crushes.
And then, I thought about the different types of attraction: sexual attraction, romantic attraction, aesthetic attraction, physical attraction, emotional attraction, intellectual attraction, and I started to get an idea of what might be going on in the proposed scenario.
Now, let me be clear, I’m talking this through as I write it to share with you, and I’m far from an expert here.
I just like poking at things from different angles and seeing what happens.
Let’s say I meet someone. At first, I’m attracted by their eyes. They have gorgeous eyes. And their lips, and then, I notice that how they walk and move is sexy and confident.
I’m physically attracted. Aesthetically, I’m attracted. I’m becoming sexually attracted as well.
But WHY am I attracted?
Well, the FIRST reason is because biology has wired me to respond to specific biological signals of health and status, as I perceive them. That’s my lizard brain saying, “Hey! This person may make excellent progeny with me!”
We all have that to some extent. It’s autonomous.
Secondly, because the characteristics I’m noticing MEAN something to me.
Their eyes remind me of other eyes, and I imagine they are kind and intellectual. Their lips are full and look soft, like they would kiss me well—all over. Their grace makes me think they might move horizontally as nicely as they do vertically. And their confidence suggests that they are strong enough in themselves to be a good match for me.
ALL of that is our conjecture.
Fantasy if you will.
No less powerful for it.
But not real.
The ATTRACTION is real. But the reasons for that attraction are not, because I have no way of knowing whether that person is all of those things.
Then we meet. They are also attracted to me, and they let me know it. That’s flattering and more points in confidence for them. Emotionally, I’m digging them. And when they speak about their passions, I’m thrilled, deep in my core. Yum.
And they are smart! My intellectual centers are firing on all cylinders. Going gaga.
And as we spend time together, and they show me who they are, well, I become romantically attracted.
I’ve hit all of the attractions, and I’m well and truly gobsmacked.
Well, this was a real person to me.
It was my husband.
And he was definitely SOME of those things I imagined, but certainly not all of them, although I convinced myself that he was for years.
And my attraction in most of those areas remained strong.
I learned eventually that he was NOT who he portrayed himself to be OR who I thought he was (which is the more important thing, here).
And then, not only did my romantic, emotional and intellectual attraction fail, but so did my aesthetic attraction—I now saw his personality traits portrayed in his physical form. The way his brow furrowed, the way he walked.
Physically and sexually my attraction died as well.
I was left with repulsion instead of attraction.
Which is pretty common, and I’m guessing all of you have had at least one similar experience in your life.
So, to circle back around to genitals.
Some people are sexually attracted to specific biological sex characteristics.
And they imagine, like I did at the beginning of attraction, that what they see will extend to what they expect.
Whether they are misled OR they simply assume.
The attraction is real.
They are attracted to what they believe and expect. And their primal need to procreate (ie attraction to opposite SEX versus gender) might be stronger in them than in others.
And when that is changed, so is their attraction.
For some, it will kill only sexual and romantic attraction. All the others might remain: aesthetic attraction, physical attraction, emotional attraction, and intellectual attraction.
For others, the shock might deal them all a swift death. After all, they were very wrong. And maybe wrong in ways that also affect how they see themselves, or fears or hatreds deep inside them.
I get it.
And if you don’t yet, well, let me put it this way:
Think of something that is deeply important to you. Maybe a religious belief or a political one.
Now, imagine that someone you were seeing, who seemed perfect to you suddenly espoused the opposite of that belief, and claimed it as being who they are as a person.
Might you find your attraction waning?
If you did, it’s not because you were not attracted to begin with.
It’s because what you know now makes you non-attracted.
So, that’s what I’ve come up with. No debating whether it is right or wrong to hold specific attractions—that’s not a scope I’m willing to deal with here.
Just the nature of attraction itself.
What are YOUR thoughts? What am I missing? What has YOUR experience with attraction been?