Saturday, 15 March 2014

Fatal Attraction: It Ain't Me, Babe

The process of attraction is a funny thing. Depending on what philosophy you subscribe to, it's either a completely random process or one that you can actively control.

Scientific communities speak about the different chemical and hormonal process' our bodies experience when we meet someone we're attracted to. There are physical reactions as a result; dilating of pupils, a racing heart, sweaty palms.

Advancements in science mean that we can map our genetic blueprint. There is a greater understanding and knowledge to how our brain works.But there is no one, clear answer as to what causes a spark, a click, an attraction between the sexes. Our to quote the French, it all comes down to that certain je nais se quoi.

It is in that unknown that our individual philosophies lie. Personally, I don't fully buy into either theory mentioned previously. I have however, have noticed a pattern in my own affairs de coeur. A couple of years ago, I came across a quote by the screen icon Mae West. That fabulous woman has a menagerie of excellent quotes on men. But as I journey through my 20s and the evolution of relationships that occurs, one has stuck in my mind: "Every man I meet wants to protect me. I can't figure out what from."

I don't have a definitive answer why, but there seems to be a common thread with the men - past and present - in my life and there desire to protect me. From what, I don't know. This need doesn't only occur in my romantic relationships (although it has been there too), but with most male figures in my life. I'm independent and outgoing and as far as I can tell, don't give off a damsel in distress vibe. And yet... I am the link between these random men. Men of different ages, different backgrounds, different intentions - I am the common denominator between them all. So either it's an unbelievable coincidence that I attract men with a hero complex, or it's something to do with me. I'm practical enough to know which is more likely.

                                                         Mae West was onto something...

While I'm a very open person with many things, I'm quite guarded when it comes to romantic tangles. I'm suspicious and wary. I feel a persistent insecurity that the idea these men have of me won't live up to the day-to-day reality of "me", and they will leave. Once again, I'm practical enough to know that such an insecurity has "daddy issues" written all over it. Which is part of it. But it's more than that.

In my head, I take a view from the sidelines and watch my social interaction with men, the blooming attraction, the build-up to an encounter. In this view, I see what they see when they look at me; a fun and bubbly young woman, confident and comfortable with her place in the world. She is the first one up to dance and the last one to leave. She will tell you an off-colour joke over cigarettes while she plays with her pearls. She believes everything is possible.

In this view, I shake my head at the disappointment I feel is inevitable. That girl is all those things, but she is also so much more. She can be intense and worrisome. She can be cautious and difficult. She has a lot of baggage, a lot of history, a lot still going on in her life now. But of course, this isn't obvious in the first steps of courtship. In this scenario, all the guy sees is this one side, one dimension of her. But it's not the whole picture.

Looking back on certain relationships, I wonder to myself if part of the men who have loved me felt some disappointment at obtaining me. Perhaps the pursuit was more enjoyable because they could live in the fantasy of what would be. Where as in reality, things don't go smoothly.

The recognition of this has prompted me over the years to refuse dates as I knew the guy was in it for the chase of getting me, not to actually get me. More often than not, I made the right call. There have been times when a guy was able to call me 'his', but then would subtly try to change me. Like I was a "Miss Almost-Perfect"; a work-in-progress that they needed to polish up. Sometimes, certain qualities that attracted them to me become an issue once I've become their girlfriend; my independence, my opinions, my need to have my own time alone and space and freedom.

If you've been placed on a pedestal, you're always going to fall, it's as certain as the rising sun, because for some the sweetness of a chase is much more satisfying than the prize.

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