Why is being attracted to someone treated like an act of violence?
Being back in the singles world has brought the topic of attraction into my mind a lot. During my limbo time, I spent a lot of time thinking about it as well. There is an aspect of attraction that’s based primarily in visual appearance. This aspect is very large. Our culture places a lot of value in visual appearance. We’re fed a steady stream of images of beautiful bodies and faces to try to sell us products or influence our choices in any number of ways. This builds in us expectations about what our romantic potentials can be, and those expectations can be problematic. Not everyone can match these ideals, especially because the images we are shown are retouched, to take the individuals at the 99th percentile of physical attractiveness beyond the realm of the possible. They don’t even look like the images of them that we see, not even after professionals dress them and do their hair and make-up. These images of women seem to be based in a model of beauty most closely associated with women 20-25 – prime child-bearing years. Girls as young as 12 and 13 and older women are using make-up and other appearance-altering technologies to try to match that model. Which only serves to validate that this is what beauty is supposed to look like, and that this is what men should expect from women they are going to pursue romantically.
I have learned that there are a number of basic looks that I find attractive. Frequently, when I see someone in the wild and find them attractive, there is someone else I’ve known or known of with a similar look that I already liked looking at. And I’ve analyzed some of those looks to see what about them I like, and what that says about me. Those who’ve known me for long know about the short, blond, cute combination that’s a particular favorite of mine. For me, short is easy to come by, since women taller than my shoulders are few and far between. But very short – under 5’4”, for instance – has a particular appeal, and I think it has to do with the implication of physical vulnerability that I want to protect. Experience doesn’t teach me this – I’ve found short women to be frequently quite feisty and tough, and I respect that. And like it.
In my interactions with the Mormon Single Adult world, even before I joined it, the complaint I’ve heard the most frequently has to do with older men attracted to and pursuing younger women. The Middle Singles program is for those 30ish – 45ish, and this means that the younger women are in their 30s, and the older men are, perhaps, in their 50s. Those familiar with my dating rules will know that I think a decade is plenty enough age difference for most folks, as too much age difference can bring generational differences in cultural and life experiences, making it more difficult to relate to each other. I know of couples who demonstrate that this rule is not absolute, but I do understand the principle behind the complaint. However, I want to point out that 30 isn’t 13, and being attracted to a 30 year old woman isn’t a sign of pedophilia. One of reasons for the subtitle of this article.
I’ve come to the conclusion that pretty girls are always going to catch my eye, because they always have. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. Being pretty doesn’t mean that they are better, smarter, whatever-er than anybody else. I’ve decided that, for me, the thing to do with pretty people is to look at them, and enjoy that feeling that comes from looking at them. It’s kinda like the feeling I get when holding a baby. But that feeling doesn’t mean anything about what I should do with the future regarding that person.
Most of my dancing experience has been in the world of Country Dance (not in any way to be confused with dance styles linked to Country/Western Music, like Country Line Dance aka Cowboy Disco, which I do not do). Scottish Country Dance, English Country Dance, and Contradance. In these styles of dance, your partner is your ticket to dance, as they are danced as couples, in sets of two to four couples, arranged in squares or long-lines. One can not line up until one has a partner, so the selection of a partner is something to be done quickly, and need not imply any kind of romantic interest. When attending with a date/spouse, it is customary to dance with that person as a partner for the first and last dance of the evening. and the waltzs that may end each half of the dance, and then to dance with other partners the remainder of the night (exchange of kisses for those in a kissing relationship when passing by each other is not uncommon). My former (male) roommate, found that the best partners in contradance were the older women, because they really knew what they were doing. I agree. Some families dance together in any of these forms, and so there can be young girls dancing as well. When selecting a partner among them, I’ve found that there is a minimum height below which it is quite awkward to try to dance with them, as certain figures nearly require picking them up, but, otherwise, I have found no minimum age for a partner.
When I was 13, asking a girl to dance felt’ like declaring undying love and asking for marriage and babies. It’s not. It’s just asking for a dance, and keeping closish company for up to five minutes.
The past 20 years, I’ve been separated, but still married, so I practiced making no external sign of attraction. Prior to marriage, I avoided making external signs of attraction, because, when people found out who I was attracted to, they would do their best to torture me about it, because they found that torture funny. If you’re one of those people who enjoys this, you are an ass-hole, and you deserve no friends. Now, stop doing it, and you might be redeemable. Maybe. Showing women signs of attraction toward them seems to be highly valued, but not so much when they don’t find you attractive back (in my experience). There’s a fine line between showing attraction and stalking and being creepy, and I want to stay on the right side of it, but it’s not always clear where that falls.
This is also where the attraction can be treated like an act of violence, thus the subtitle above. To paraphrase an old advertising slogan, “Don’t hate me because you’re beautiful.”