The Complications of Attraction

While ninja surfing the realm of dating sites, I was struck by the ineffable nature of attraction. A seemingly simple concept is far less so when one stops to think about it. We all have our idea of what draws us to someone. For some it is physical beauty. For others it is personality. Sometimes it is as simple as sharing the same interests and hobbies. Each of these areas can be further broken down into a variety of even more specific criteria, and of course its all relative to individual preference at the end of the day. With all these levels it begs the question, does universal attraction exist? And if so, how can we explain the apparent differences in humanity’s preferences.

Physical attraction seemingly supports such an idea. We see it in the celebrity obsessed culture we reside in. All the magazines with the amazon-like goddesses and men who could be clones of the Herculean heroes of myth. However, in reality physical attraction is hardly that simple. There are differences in opinion regarding everything from the ideal hair color, to the proper body type. Then of course, there is the reality most of us will never look as perfect as the sculpted avatars of the world’s actors, actresses and models. If there truly is universal attraction, do we merely settle for less or is there more to it?

A counter argument to the case for universal attraction can be found when one looks beneath the surface into the deeper minutia of personality. This is where the idea of compatibility comes into play. We look for someone who has a personality most in line with ours, or at least what we are looking for. Certainly this is unequivocal proof that universal attraction is a myth. Well that is until you look at the “What I’m looking for” section of your average dating profile anyway. More often than not, a good sense of humor and direction top the list. Yet another level of attraction painted with shades of gray.

What of those who are attracted to someone based on shared interests? A definitive argument against universal attraction no doubt. Except, I’m willing to bet the vast majority of us probably share less than half of our hobbies with the one we end up with. You might be thinking, how could this possibly be? Perhaps, it has something to do with the inevitable feeling we get from the other areas of attraction that make us willing to downplay the apparent lack of common ground. Then of course there is the old adage of opposites attracting. Sadly, it would seem this level is perhaps less important when considering the complexity of attraction.

Like most things in life it would seem there is both some validity to the concept of universal attraction, and plenty of arguments against it. At the end of the day, it would appear the complexity of what attracts us to one another is relative and made up of many layers. What is truly important is staying true to our instincts and not attempting to modify our idea of the ideal individual merely to conform to what we think is right or what society would have us believe. After all, unless we are true to ourselves, attraction is a meaningless concept.


3 thoughts on “The Complications of Attraction

  1. Kelly R Asche says:

    Did you know that most evolutionary biologists have yet to explain attraction as well? They also look for the “smoking gun” of universal attraction, but they can only speak to individual preference. So perhaps, the universal attraction is just that? It’s individual preference on each layer that composes attraction. As you lay out, we can all argue about what we think is attractive. It seems that relationships and dating are ways in which we sort out what we want in a companion. Some of them fail, but still allow one to learn a little something about themselves. If universal attraction existed, in the true sense that there is “the one” for all of us, then what does that mean of a relationship where one participant is really into the other while the other participant isn’t? Is that misplaced attraction? Does that mean that when someone desires certain attributes, but those attributes in someone else inherently turn off the other, than they will be eternally alone? I think not.

    • thoughtninja says:

      Well said Mr. Asche. I hadn’t really thought of it from the scientific perspective, as I approach thing from the emotional/spiritual side of thing, but it is definitely worth considering.

      In addition, its the very concept of “universal attraction” that makes the dating world so complicated for many people. A complication that is only buffered by the unrealistic cookie cutter ideas of attraction and romance that bombard us in the movies and music we absorb throughout our lives. Its no wonder the dating world is so wrought with conflict.

  2. […] grow and to grow up, but not necessarily to grow up completely.  One of the things I learned was the complications of attraction.  Typically you would not think of learning about attraction in the world of politics; but […]

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