Struggling with Attraction

Who would think that this guy would struggle with feeling attractive??

I previously wrote about some of the challenges experienced at school while growing up. If you haven’t read that one, please do. I’ll wait.

In that post I mentioned dealing with feelings of attraction or feeling attractive while growing up. The struggle with feeling attractive is nearly universal, especially during adolescence; I won’t pretend this is a new or unique theme for me alone. We’re too fat, too skinny. Our hair is stupid, or too greasy. We’re not strong or pretty enough. Her boobs aren’t big enough. His biceps aren’t built. Her teeth are not perfect and his laugh is annoying, and all of their noses are too big! There are countless ways in which we’re told that we’re not attractive. We need a better hairstyle, more socially acceptable activities, more interesting hobbies or passions. We all remember what it was like growing up dealing with not being good enough. But since I’m the one sharing here, this is my story.

I remember well into college thinking that I wasn’t attractive because of my physical condition. It’s awkward to hold hands with my short arms. (Especially my right arm because that’s more curved than the left and doesn’t have the same reach.) Even if we get past the awkward reach for both of us, holding hands is interesting given that I’m missing a couple fingers on each hand. (Where will the gap be? Will we double up or just have spaces in your hand where fingers should be? Yeah… there’s a similar story here with handshakes.) I also remember a particularly vulnerable time talking with a dear friend in college about how my bony shoulders would be very uncomfortable for anyone to lean their head against.

It took me until well past adolescence to actually believe what I’d already been saying for years; that finding someone who looks past my physical appearance to see me for me was actually a blessing. You see, it’s sort of an immediate test of character and superficiality. Weed out the superficial. Keep the genuine. If you can’t get past my appearance and very minor limitations, then we probably won’t get along very well anyway. Though sometimes it’s just a matter of physical attraction, and that’s ok too.

A favorite quote of mine:

“You come to love not by finding the perfect person, but by seeing an imperfect person perfectly.”

Sam Keen

It is at that point when we see beauty at its most pure and it is almost always far greater when that beauty is found beneath the surface. That’s true depth of attraction.

It took me far too long to actually believe what I just described. And as with so many other things for me, personally, it took experiencing it for me to actually believe it. In hindsight, I wish I pushed past that discomfort and addressed that vulnerability earlier in life. Oh well. Now… imagine my surprise when I learned there are people who find this more attractive!

That’s right! I don’t know why it was such a shock at first (and it was a shock), but apparently it is an attribute which many people are drawn toward! Sure, I know what some of you are thinking… it’s a fetish. It’s a kink and only weirdos would be into that. How weird!! And I will admit that I had the same reaction initially. But hear me out; I might just get you to question your preconceptions! (That’s sort of why we’re doing this whole blog thing anyway.) The thought process went somewhat like this:

Me: That is gross! (Yeah… my initial reaction was that I, myself, was gross.)
Also me: People are into some weird things.
M: Yup. Some people are into tattoos and piercings.
A: Some people equate beauty to cup size.
M: Some people only date <insert racial preference> people.
A: Some people are attracted to blondes, beards, obese people, rich people, muscles, nerds, or even the Tiger King for crying out loud! (I realized this before Tiger King came out, but you get the idea.)
M: Well hmmm… where is that line drawn between personal preference and fetish material?
A: The line is obviously between what’s normal and what’s weird.
M: Oh so you are weird?
A: Uhhh…
M: Isn’t the whole point of your blog about how you’re really not so different from other people?
A: What blog?
M: You’ll figure that out in a couple years… but really: someone is into you, for among other reasons, because of how you look.
A: No. Way.
M: Now what’s weird? <wink>

People want to be the object of desire. And I think a lot of us, when we really think about it, would privately admit that it’s kind of exciting to be thought of in such a way. Even if it’s in a purely physical manner. Well I’m publicly admitting it! It’s an attraction that is raw and pure. It’s primal and it is real. If you manage to pair that with a person with whom you share common interests and respect, I think you’ve got it made.

Hey… my name’s Jim too!

Maybe we all need to question and re-examine what we think is normal or weird. What’s a kink or a perversion. There’s a lid for every pot, right? People are quick to tell me how they don’t think of me as any different than others in their lives. But how far does that kind sentiment go? For me or for anyone else… we can have our preferences and that’s ok. But we also need to respect others’ preferences as well. And maybe, just maybe…

The moral of this story is that attraction is subjective. It’s in the eye of the beholder yet also transcends physical appearance. And it might even change with time, as I’ve seen happen with several people including myself. With seven billion people on this planet, the chance is somewhat likely that we’ll find a lid to our pot. Perhaps realizing that someone else sees us as attractive; even with that which we are most embarrassed / self-conscious / unhappy about, will help us see ourselves as more attractive. We find beauty in so many ways that are so much more meaningful than the superficial. And sometimes, the superficial works in our favor even when we never expected it ever would… including finding someone special who would actually enjoy a short nap after a long day, head resting against my shoulder.

Now if only I had a smaller nose… 😉

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