There are 7.4 billion people on this planet right now, we can’t be attracted to everyone, so how do we choose?
Physical Attraction is a big component of mate attraction. It goes without saying really. And no matter how shallow it may seem, sometimes relationships just won’t work if there is no physical attraction.
The weird thing about this is that what you might find physically attractive, might not be physically attractive to another person. A widely acknowledged one being facial hair or not in men; some people love it, others hate it.
It becomes awkward when you find someone you are extremely attracted to, but their feelings for you are not reciprocated. In this case, a relationship that might have been good, faltered before the start line because someone had an opinion on your appearance.
In today’s world we like to pride ourselves on making movements in the beauty industry, trying to stand up to them and say ‘the beauty you are shoving down our throats is not in fact a representative of what we believe is beauty’. It is this current movement that makes us believe we are all beautiful. So naturally we get hurt when someone doesn’t think we are. Logically speaking it makes sense that with more than 7.4 billion people on this planet, they aren’t all going to like how we look.
Mental capacity includes a lot. Essentially though this is the internal make up of how you think and act. This is the part where people appreciate your ability to hold a conversation, and your skill of witty comebacks.
I say mental capacity because not everyone is focusing on the here and now. Prime example is the partner that dates you, but tries to change you. They see the potential in you and are willing to improve you in the aspects you perhaps lack. This is really the only area that this could happen to.
Personality and smarts; the difference between just bearable dinner conversations, and shoot milk out your nose on the first date situations (obviously you would want to try limit the second scenario or you might lose points in the physical attraction arena). When talking about what one is attracted to in a person we will usually mention a trait that falls into this category, whether it is because it truly is high on our priorities or whether society frowns upon visual judgement, scaring people into saying this preference first.
“don’t judge a book by its cover.”
The mental capacity category also includes the beliefs realm. Whether someone is spiritual or religious, perhaps how religious. Most people will look for people with similar interests, beliefs and values.
To some this would fall under physical attraction, to others it might be more of a mental thing. Whatever the case, many people find that they can only be attracted to certain genders.
Nowadays gender is more fluid than it has been in the past. Where it used to be a simple male or female, people now have a variety of different ‘genders’ to choose from (the continuum above does not show the complexity that is gender). This has made things a little more difficult for some people to find suitable mates. More choices = more opportunities to be wrong.
What is confusing about what is known about gender attraction is, it’s hard to understand. Scientists for years have been trying to figure out what makes people attracted certain genders. The age old question nature vs. nurture still gets debated even now. Pulling that one apart, the question is literally asking whether being attracted to specific genders is a learned thing, or if it is something that cannot be helped.
More about gender attraction/sexual orientation is in this posts sister: Who we like: Gender & Race.
There is evidence that people consider even more factors than already mentioned. There is the consideration of external factors. This includes career, wealth, education status; things that seem the most superficial.
While we feel this is superficial, the reason we care about them is possibly an innate thing, something we think of automatically. If we think of it in the ideas of evolution. The basis of survival is to procreate; find someone to mate with and have babies; all in the name of passing on our genetics into the next generation. If the whole goal was to raise offspring for the continuation of our genetics then we want our babies to survive. And for humans, what do we need to survive? Back then it was someone who had the ability to provide what was best for the offspring, and now, it is the same. The only difference is that in caveman times it might have been someone who had the best hunting skills, or the best hunting weapons. Now it is who has the best job, because money provides for food, shelter, education etc.
So while it might seem superficial to be attracted to people who are higher up in their career, it can be traced back to evolutionary reasons, which makes it not so bad right?
So is it really choosing?
Well this is tricky. When it comes to sexual orientation, people say it’s not. When we come to facial hair, is it still? What about hair colour?
To answer this we need to figure out what attraction means. The Merriam Webster online dictionary says attraction is (among other descriptions):
“a feeling that makes someone romantically or sexually interested in another person”
I have both underlined and ‘boldened’ the word feeling. What do we consider a feeling. Most people know feelings as emotional reactions that we can’t always control. Right?
So if attraction is a feeling, it is essentially the same as ‘sad’, in which case you can avoid things that make you sad, in order to avoid the feeling. And in that case you can avoid things that you are attracted to in order to avoid getting attracted.
Potential conclusion: Attraction cannot be chosen/controlled.
BUT: we are taught from a young age that you can control how you react to something. Eg. Freddy spat on you, you hit him. Then your mum says you don’t have to react that way, you can walk away. So we have an immediate reaction that we want to do, but we are told to wait and cool down and then decide. In a way your mum is training your reactions.
So perhaps these emotional reactions can be trained, are the somewhat flexible or fluid? …. That is a debate in itself
Part two: Who we like: Gender & Race
The following video brought to you by The School of Life makes the viewer think about where their attractions came from and how they may have developed.