If you’re new here, my Monday musing is some loving guidance I send your way weekly to tide you over or top you up or get you through. I believe that shit happens but we can fix it and feel so much better when we do. Life doesn’t have to feel this hard. LOVE doesn’t have to feel this hard.
Today I am taking a look behind the scenes at what attracts us to good and bad, healthy and unhealthy in a romantic partner. If you aren’t single chances are you know some poor soul who is or you might just want to take a trip down memory lane to figure out how you got it all right, or as luck may have it, bought the ticket to your current hell.
The great mystery of romantic attraction keeps us guessing. In the online age we’re trying to get it all into a profile, a nice little story of us with a decent picture that captures those magic ingredients that make us desirable to our perfect person, our kindred spirit who is undoubtedly out there, swiping urgently, signing their contract with the matchmaker right this very second so we’d better get off our asses and figure this out. What are our love languages, our attachment styles, what is our lifestyle, what are those perfectly movie moment worthy things about us that we want to dance off of the page and into the arms of Romeo or Juliette? Hark! T’is I Juliette, your delicate flower, a size 6 brunette who thrives on smart conversation, and likes her glass-half-full of red with a side of dark chocolate humor.
What are our deal breakers? We ask, determined NOT to repeat what happened with Rico, or Karen, or Super Sexy Jonny Dangerous. Bad boys, married men, the high maintenance, the cold bitchy, avoidant wo/men who string you along until you look like one of those random yarn bombs that got all popular a few years back. Drug addicts, sex addicts, narcissists, manipulators, needy and dependent, controlling and dominating, the toxically jealous, the pathologically depressed or distressed who won’t get help and take it out on you, the superficial, the gold diggers, the users and abusers. Whew. That was a list.
And then, we do THE THING. We look at who we are attracted to now. We pull down from the Cloud, you know the place where all things float in loose idea form and intermingle, safely encrypted of course, until we give them some texture and form. Oh wait, maybe that’s the Universe? I am kidding you. We go into our imaginations where we hope there are regular visits from some kind of higher guidance or the good part of the 98 percent of our unused brains, and we start to pull together the threads of OUR TYPE. We’ve got to write something down, don’t we? I mean we’re trying to do it better this time. Some of us are even looking to do it BEST and LAST.
Now, dear friend, this is the part where I hear the fluster and bluster, the hesitation and apology, the confusion and distress. Every day someone tells me you’re going to judge me for this, you’re going to tell me I am superficial, I have no right to be attracted to skinny because well I’m no fitness model, I guess I am an evil terrible person and I am going to hell the moment we get off this zoom, send condolences, but I’m hoping for younger and prettier than the ex.
Do you really think you will shock me, and that I am the Judgy God of who lights your fire? That would be a different business model, I am afraid. And not one that would land too many a happily ever afters for those whose hearts I champion every day. Newsbreak, I’m actually super really nice and I want to help you understand what you want, and what you need and differentiate those heavenly things from the attractions that come from hell, WE ALL HAVE THEM and they haven’t done much for you lately, last time I asked Janet Jackson.
So how do we differentiate what we think we want from what think we should want from what we actually want? And how do we account for how badly it’s gone wrong, and what that says about us?
Let’s start with what I do know about attraction. The GOOD kind, the kind that gets us to bliss, is the kind that we are drawn to because it expands us, it compliments our personality and we become teachers to one another with lovey doveyness as the medium of instruction; the structured become more spontaneous, the analytical more intuitive. Our love interest has a lot of what we value or seek or are curious about or need to learn. I am not saying our opposite, I am referring to what fascinates us and engages our curiosity. We call this mojo or swag or witch light.
Then there is the TRICKY and STICKY part of attraction, where patterns and compensations rear their ravenous heads. We are attracted to emotionally unavailable people because we are afraid of intimacy and they are a safe bet for avoiding it. We find those strings leading to nothing and crumbs of affection and we are in heaven, because if we can reel in the beloved on a string we will finally win our mother’s love, or something along those lines. We have been taking care of business for so Gawddamm long that King Kong is our baseline for big and strong. Tipping the valet is sexy, but like carrying me around a city while you crush buildings with your footsteps and pound your hairy chest, well put a ring on my finger already. Or we are so hard on ourselves and those around us that we’re going to need to marry a saint to get us to sweetness.
Attraction is never wrong, but sometimes we can really benefit from getting some help with the blind spots, so we don’t confuse attraction to love with attraction to help. Sometimes we need to solve our exhaustion, or our over giving, or our rescuing for ourselves so that our relationship doesn’t become a lifeline or raft.
We need to be careful not to marry the first bloke or bird that is the opposite of s/he who will be not be named.
We need to build our esteem so that our partner isn’t a garment that we wear to impress the office or our friends and family.
Sometimes we need to give up the IDEA of redemption, or even the shiny new things that come to mind when we start to think of love as a shopping trip, and really get focused on what will truly make us happy.
Most of us don’t want the hot bimbo or the buff d-bag, to be crass, but we’re hanging in the living room right now aren’t we? On your sofa, sipping our wine and petting Fluffy so we don’t have to be proper.
We want to be seen and heard and admired for those amazing strong and quirky odd things that make us who we are and we are so many good good loveable things.
We want to share emotional investment with our partner. To choose each other and celebrate this lovely bond of chemistry and affection and goodwill toward one another.
We want to feel safer and stronger with our loved one.
We want to respect and admire and feel the same in return.
So get to know what you like, and put it on paper, unashamedly.
Forgive yourself for all of the bad girls and guys of your past, even if your past is coming for dinner on Friday.
Get some help with the blindspotting. I know a coach (wink nudge).
And leave some room to surprise yourself and to be surprised. Practice a yes day, where you get to stretch and learn and grow and try on something new for size. Even if you go back to your tried and true, your favourite sweater, it’s gonna feel that much better when you ‘I do’.
— Love Erin
P.S. 2021 I am bringing on the love. I’ll be featured in a podcast all about better loving, from healing your broken heart to intentional dating to creating a relationship that thrives, and I’ll be launching a sister site for all of you relationship and love enthusiasts, with all kinds of insights and offerings. Stay tuned!
P.P.S. One of the kindest things you can do for me is to share my writing. If you enjoyed today’s Monday Musing and know someone else who would please forward it to a friend.