Monday, September 10, 2012

The Law of Attraction!

I can't believe I haven't written about this before! Especially since it's something that fascinates me. It's the idea of attraction, that we're drawn to certain people. Have you ever been drawn to a person? Or people? Some people have very specific "types," others can pretty much fall in lust with anyone. But why do we feel attraction towards some people? And how come sometimes it's mutual, and other times it's not?

For me, there have been maybe a handful of guys in  my life that I've been sexually attracted to. I have a VERY specific type. Unless you have a certain look/body type combined with a certain personality, chances are, I'm not going to be attracted to you, even if you are a good looking and/or nice person. I can't explain it, and I've tried to change my 'type;' It just doesn't work for me. It's a lot of hair, emotional mess, bad histories with parental units, detachment to the world, and fueling the desire to be 'wanted' that does it for me, in a nutshell. (A very small nutshell, mind you). Even in a platonic sense, I've always been attracted to the 'troubled' types of people--typically ones who depend on some kind of substance to 'take them away,' and those who have had rough lives, problems with families, friends, and themselves. Throughout the years I've come to the realization that those people are using me for the things they don't have themselves--positivity, acceptance of themselves/others, strength, companionship, etc. I'm extremely open, optimistic, friendly, and even when I'm in a horrible mood, I'm fairly incapable of maintaining it. I always break down laughing. Now, I'm not trying to talk about myself here. I'm more or less reflecting on what it is people see in me. They see the positives, the, why am I attracted to the opposite?

If you do it right, you can completely change the person you're with.*     
 *Results not typical

In an article in PsychologyToday, Ken Page has an interesting theory-"Our conscious self is drawn to the positive qualities we yearn for, but our unconscious draws us to the qualities which remind us of how we were wounded the most."
Very interesting! He says that since many of us try to 'change' the people we are with, some deep desire within us leads us to find a person who we believe will hurt us in a way we were hurt in the past, so that we can successfully change them and, in a way, 'fix' that part of us that was hurt. So, for example, if you have a past in which a lot of people in your life have left, you may fall for someone who you believe will do the same, with the unconscious intention of making them stay because they love you so much. It's an internal plan that we devise in order to make ourselves happier and more fulfilled.

Dr. Helen Fischer, anthropologist and consultant for says that, "[...] while couples may have similarities, they also have traits that compliment each other."
It's kind of the whole opposites-attract type thing. It makes sense, that if you are an impatient person, you might go for someone who is very patient, in an attempt to better yourself. This is why lots of time attraction isn't mutual. Sometimes, signs and factors are misread, and we think a person can give us what we need, when they can't. They might have been fulfilled in that part of their life and have no open desire to assist in another's journey, or they might be lacking in a trait themselves, which can ultimately clash.
As far as biology goes, there are always tons of factors. There is the fact that people emit pheromones and have face symmetry, which we innately pick up on. Face symmetry is pretty self explanatory. It's how symmetrical one side of your face is compared to the other. People with more symmetrical faces are generally rated the most attractive. Pheromones are unique chemicals we secrete that others are able to pick up on a biologically sexual level. We aren't aware that someone is appealing to us because of their pheromones, but it certainly is a component. We also tend to pick mates that we know will be able to provide for us, or create strong offspring that will survive. Men generally look for more curvaceous women (childbearing hips) and women tend to go for strong, abled men. (Note: no, most people are attracted to something different and detailed, but on a biological level, this is what our race seeks out in a mate, even if it's not what you end up with.) But biology is not always the deciding part.
 Psychologically, like I said before, we tend to look for in other people what we lack in ourselves. In my personal opinion, Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs can be applied to relationships as a whole rather than taking just a part of the pyramid and applying it to them.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs is a pyramid-shaped description of how we humans live our lives. Starting from the bottom, it is the order in which we rate the things in our lives as far as importance goes in each category. The five components are physiological needs (such as water, food, shelter, etc.), safety needs (health, taking care of the family, financial security, etc.), love and belonging (friendship, family, and sexual relationships), esteem (self-confidence, belief in yourself, self-respect, etc.), and self-actualization (reaching your full self-potential). There is another level, which is self-transcendence, which is more of a spiritual re-invention of the hierarchy itself, which is not something I'm going to talk about.

Maslow believed that this hierarchy must all be fulfilled, level by level, in order for us to successfully reach the next level. Any discrepancy in a level, such as financial hardships, lack of physiological needs or safety, low self-esteem, poor intimate relationships, etc., would cause problems in every level. If any of the key components of any level are missing, a person might be subjected to stress, anxiety, and emotional or mental problems. His idea was that in order for us to become self-actualized and in turn reach our full potential in ourselves, each of these stages must be completed in a complete and successful way. Now, there are criticisms to this theory, as there are any theory in psychology. But I'm focusing on it because I find it interesting. Maslow placed love and intimacy before esteem, and both of those before self-actualization. But time and time again, we are heartbroken and devastated over the loss or failure of a relationship, due to lack of strong and healthy characteristics in ourselves. 

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs!
Personally, completion of a sense of esteem and self-actualization (in a sense, because I don't believe actualization is something that can be nor should be fulfilled) would more benefit a relationship than the other way around. How many women do you know go for the men that break their hearts? Or men who go for women who just use them? This is due to something we are lacking in ourselves. It's not easy for someone who is attracted to people who use them and then lose them to just change what they're used to.
But, it is possible. You can change who you are attracted to. It's not easy, but if you find you no longer enjoy those appealing to you or you are sick of getting rejected, you can put in the effort to change the kind of people you build lasting relationships with. Sometimes, it just happens. Personal preferences can change. I remember in high school, I loved feminine looking guys, those who looked youthful and fresh, clean shaven, with maybe some shaggy hair. After I graduated high school, my tastes changed a bit. Though I was still into hair (the longer the better, so it became!), I started to love facial hair, the scruffiness, and more built men. I started to notice men, rather than just the boys I was used to. This comes with age, of course. But it's fascinating to notice the natural flow of things. Whereas I used to notice teenaged celebrities with bright eyes, smooth faces, and thin womanly lips, I began to notice five o' clock shadows, thick biceps and deep, husky voices. It makes sense. As a high schooler, we're looking for experiences and fun. As an adult, you begin to look for someone to take care of you, to make you awesome babies. But, if your tastes didn't change, or you're still sucking in those bad boy types, try to change it.

I still like this...

But now I like this, too. ;).
It's actually true that it's not all about the looks. We can't lie to ourselves--looks ARE important. You can't force yourself to be 100% into a relationship with someone if you don't find them physically appealing. However, personality can change that. If you've ever broken up with someone you now dislike, think back to when you were dating them. You found them attractive, didn't you? How about now? Lots of times after we start to dislike a personality, we start to lose attraction as well. It really is a whole mixture of things. So, maybe the person you've started dating isn't the most attractive person you could have ended up with, but give it some time. I think you'll realize that as you come to know and love this person's personality traits, their face and body and overall sexual presence will become intoxicating to you.

On the other hand, if you know that you tend to go for men who end up hurting you, or women who end up using you, don't go for them in the first place. I know, it's not that easy. Lots of times we go after people we think will be different, and then after getting to know them, we realize they are scarily similar to the one before them. But if you typically meet people at a bar, try and join a sport instead. If you typically meet them at school, try church. Not necessarily those places, but you get what I'm saying. Expand your horizons, go places you wouldn't normally go, talk to people you wouldn't normally talk to. Of course it's always nice to chat up the person you most would like to invite into your bed, but maybe talk to the second most attractive person in the room to you (or third! Or fourth!). And like I said, take your time. If you aren't super attracted to a person, don't give up hope. It could happen. Just keep thinking about the things you do enjoy about them. If, after a long period of time and getting to know a person you realize that the sexual intimacy is just not there, then you can end it. At least you tried.

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