Thursday, 13 March 2008

Traction


I don't know how to start this post. It's about physical attraction, which seems to me right now, a very superficial thing to talk about, but bear with me, I need to talk.

Once upon a time when I first discovered the internet I decided to meet up with a local fellow I had met in a "chat room". (I'm putting it in quotations because I don't really know what it was, it was years ago, really, probably close to 10) We'd talked a few times, nothing overtly sexual and I was curious to meet someone I'd only known on line.

He'd sent me a picture so I knew, or thought I knew, what he looked like, but when we met up I was surprised, and somewhat disappointed to see that he didn't match up with what I'd thought. (He also made some smart-ass comment about how my legs were shaved and he "knew what that meant" at which point I told him I really had to be going and that was that. I vowed I'd never meet someone in real life that I'd met on the internet again. But I digress.)

That same year I became very good friends with some other folks from the same chat area. After we'd talked for ages, they sent me photos (two of them ended up getting married) and it was, again, somehow disappointing when their photos didn't match up with the image of them I'd had in my mind.

It's like when you read and love a book and then go to see the movie version and the actors are all wrong. It's disappointing and things don't feel the same after.

The same thing has happened to me a few times since. When I saw Smith again for the first time after we first got together he didn't seem quite how I'd remembered. We'd talked so much on the phone and on email but somehow he didn't match up to the image I'd stored in my head of him. It took me a while to re-adjust.

I think he could sense something was up, he kept on asking me what I thought of him and how he looked, and were there any flaws I saw in him? Maybe I was looking at him differently and he noticed. Or maybe he was looking at me, not seeing the person he remembered and wondered if I felt the same way. Who knows.

I also remember seeing one of my Exes naked in the day light for the first time. I'd known he was a bigger fellow, but seeing his body exposed for the first time surprised me. It didn't fit with the image of him I'd had in my head. I knew, logically, that I should feel the same way about him and be attracted to him the same amount, but something shifted and I found myself less physically attracted to him. It wasn't a nice feeling for me and left me feeling as if I was this horribly shallow person who couldn't or wouldn't see through the flesh to the lover underneath it all. But it felt more instinctual than anything. It just happened. And it disappointed me.

More recently, I've had a similar experience with one of the guys I'm not dating. He's always appeared a certain way, but I got a glimpse the other day of what he "really" looks like. And it didn't mesh with the image of him I'd built up in my head.

So what is it with physical attraction? Is it learned? Can you grow to be attracted to someone you didn't used to be? Can you grow out of being attracted to someone?

I know with a lot of my friends, the more I know them, the more I think "damn, they're beautiful." And, really, when you get down to it, we're all beautiful when our souls shine through. But there is, especially with someone you're considering being in a relationship with, that initial physical attraction thing that guides things.

It's hardest, I think, to meet someone after you've talked to them on line or on the phone because they most likely won't look how you think. And it's also hard to be with someone long distance and only see them every so often because your mind's eye can only remember so accurately. But, apparently, it's hard too, to meet someone and eventually discover that they don't look the way you thought they looked, under all those layers. And, while you may not believe me, men hide under layers too. Ball caps, beards... (I remember when DD came back from his nine months away. He'd grown a beard and I knew things had changed. I knew it wasn't going to work. I knew he had something to hide, or was hiding from something.)

And, then, I always wonder, what about those times when you're just attracted magnetically to the person and you only realize later, that there's not really any "real" reason you should be.

Daniel Lapp. Case in point.

Physical attraction.

I'll never figure it out.

9 Comments:

Blogger Alexandra said...

It's very tricky. Call me shallow too but I went on a few dates with this guy who was tall and skinny and I was not at all physically attracted to him...and I just couldn't go on, despite all the good qualities he seemed to posses.

On the other hand, I was attracted to my ex and i continued to be so even when I started learning thins about his personality that deeply troubled me.

So,I'm not really sure you actually do find people more attractive after you get to know them better...

Thursday, March 13, 2008 10:43:00 am  
Blogger Ryan said...

Had a similar experience to you V 10-11 years ago on an internet chat channel (or whatever they were called back then?!). We chatted. Exchanged photos. She looked okay. We dated. Then I met her physically!!! Relationship quickly ended... and I felt like Shallow Hal for about a month.

Since then I've had other similar internet experiences and throughout the years I've painfully had to resort myself to the fact that it isn't wise to fall in love with an "image" (whether seen or imagined).

So regardless of how hot somebody might look on Flickr or YouTube, I know in my mind they'll only ever be good friends. If I, or they, ever wanted to take the relationship to another level it would only ever happen upon meeting physically.

Adopting this mentality has saved me muchly since.

Thursday, March 13, 2008 4:27:00 pm  
Blogger Jenn said...

I think we often miss that attraction while largely physical has so many other dynamics. I would like to think that there is something that may physically attract us to someone but it is what we will grow to see in them that depends and maintains the attraction. And that it is this type of dynamic that lays the foundation for long term commitment.

As to Ryan's comment about the online thing - even if you consider that the other person is attractive there is also the issue of a "spark..." This whole relationship stuff is so complicated - I'm taking a break and I'll live through you and Leaha for a while if you don't mind

Thursday, March 13, 2008 5:05:00 pm  
Blogger Victoria said...

Alexandra, I think if you try to get to know someone and the attraction's still not there it's not shallow. I like to think that it's biological or something! I think it's shallow when people won't give someone a try just because they're not (blank) enough or something. And, yeah, it's hard when you *know* your partner isn't "good" but the attraction's there and so you stay. Sigh.

Ryan, it's hard not to feel like Shallow Hal, I know, but... it must mean something when the attraction's not there, right? It's one of the tricky things about the internet dating scene, though, and I think it's one of the reasons I'll probably not try it.

Jenn, I know exactly what you mean about "what we'll grow to see in them". Yep, yep, yep. I think about my friends that I've known for years; sometimes I can look at them and think to myself "damn if that isn't the most gorgeous person ever." because I know them so well. You know?

And, yes, the "spark" can't always be duplicated in real life even if it's there on line or whatever, true.

Relationship stuff = teh complicated. Break = teh good idea. Maybe I'll join you! ; )

Thursday, March 13, 2008 6:25:00 pm  
Blogger Yvonne said...

I certainly relate on the book to movie thing. I never ever pictured Bridget Jones as a blonde and couldn't accept Renee Zellweger in the role. I think Kate Winslet would have been perfect. ;)

With non-fictional characters...it's a bit more grey for me. For someone I haven't seen, I do tend to conjure up some sort of mental image of him or her. If the connection is strong and it turns out the images don't match so well, I can adapt. (You know, as long as the person has good hygiene and stuff!)

But that said, I'm not a very visually oriented person. I'm shallow with respect to intellect. If a guy is dumb, that's a deal breaker no matter how "pretty" he is. >;-D

Sunday, March 16, 2008 1:43:00 am  
Blogger Aurora said...

The movie simile is great--it is a lot like that.
I think that when people's physical differences seem somehow to evoke other more serious differences too--that's when you get that gut feeling "It won't work." Otherwise you're just like, hey, this person has really big ears. Neat! I love big ears!
It is just a lot easier to focus on the physical, because you can see it and you are conscious of it.

Sunday, March 16, 2008 9:39:00 am  
Blogger Victoria said...

Yvonne, I totally agree with your deal breaker example. I likes me some thinkin up in that thar brain so we can talk about stuff. N stuff.
; )

Aurora, I got the giggles at your "big ears" comment and now I can't stop!
But, yes, I know what you mean, sometimes the missing physical attraction is probably masking something else because, yeah, when you really like someone, those big ears are just the cutest things ever. Good point!

Sunday, March 16, 2008 10:13:00 am  
Anonymous Will said...

I understand what you mean.. you've built up some image or "fantasy" let's call it.. and somehow the person you had built up doesn't match the person in the flesh, even though the "connection" with that certain someone is there.

Perhaps the lesson learned for both men and women here is that, "Attraction isn't a choice."

- Will

Wednesday, March 26, 2008 9:49:00 pm  
Blogger Victoria said...

Oooooh, I like that Will; Attraction isn't a choice. Nice!

Thursday, March 27, 2008 5:41:00 pm  

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