Why Attraction? Of Buxom Beauties and Handsome Hunks!
When I was a tot, I had a really hard time relating to the things adults did around me. Watching news on the television, talking non-stop about national and economic issues, fighting over the choice of bathroom tiles, curtain rings, burnt food, crying kids (not me!) etc. were all matters of profound interest to them, and I failed to grasp the appeal then (I fail to, even now). But most of all, I observed a perplexing attitude amongst teens mostly, that had me perturbed. What was this weird behavior, one may enquire. Initially I believed it to be specific to the locality where I resided; a malady spreading like wildfire in my previously pristine neighborhood. But I was mistaken. It seemed that more often than naught, the young adults around me were too busily involved in their inspection of the opposite sex to be mindful of the delicate/innocent lurkers around (me, that is). Not that someone would deliberately try to corrupt a ‘youngling’ like yours truly, but the fact remains, that I was nosey enough to butt into situations that did not specifically require my expert opinion. Granted, I was a spectator to such inane behavior from females, mostly, but more than the gender, it was the age that mattered. With time, I grew bored of the nonsensical giggles, wide-eyed wonder and furious whispering going on; instead opting to learn the mystery behind those when I was of age to make sense.
That age to discern the underlying elusive facts has come and gone, leaving me bereft still. Silent observation has proved futile and so have my own conclusions. After all, when a friend of yours checks out a random stranger in a railway station, enthusiastically gushing, “Oh man! He’s one hot hunk!” or when another shy introvert you’ve befriended, flutters her lashes and breathes, “He has the most beautiful eyes!” or when a longtime classmate clears his throat for a long overdue proclamation, “I’m telling her today!”, you’d also be as bewildered as me. In moments of silent contemplation, I’ve often wondered what was so appealing about the ‘hunk’, so beautiful about the ‘eyes’ and so passionate about a silly declaration. These are all dregs of a bubbling emotion we feel with the onset of puberty, or as my mother primly dubs, ‘hormones’. Does that mean I’m immune to the vile hold of these ‘hormones’? Of course not. Though my tastes in potential suitors come off as ‘prudish’, ‘lanky’ or ‘plain boring’ most times, when I share them in friendly company or when am in the mood for candor, I find a little reprieve in the fact that the definition of hunk or hot or attraction is legions apart for me and most people.
Is that the case with you too? Do your tastes clash horribly with those of your peers or neighbors or even siblings? How is it that twin brothers born and brought up in the same household have opposite interests in everything, including their choice of a partner. Why is it that some prefer a silent, sophisticated mild-mannered girlfriend while others are better off with the town tomboy? These niggling questions have always been at the back of my mind, and as is the mantra of everyone who is in doubt, I too turn to research. But before going into details, let’s examine the first roadblock that I stumbled across during my ‘research’:
Attraction: An invisible power in a body by which it draws anything to itself; the power in nature acting mutually between bodies or ultimate particles, tending to draw them together, or to produce their cohesion or combination, and conversely resisting separation.*1
Law of Attraction: The law of attraction is the attractive, magnetic power of the Universe that draws similar energies together. It manifests through the power of creation, everywhere and in multiple ways. Even the law of gravity is part of the law of attraction. This law attracts thoughts, ideas, people, situations and circumstances.*2
The two explanations above had me a little confused. How can attraction happen only between entities of similar/ mutual energies when we always drone on about the attraction between opposites? Or was that a myth?
Maybe a deeper and serious approach was needed.
What I’ve understood from experience and creepy observation is that attraction for any individual (in the biological sense and towards a member of the same species, preferably) is what said individual wants it to be. Anyone can be attracted to anyone, and there isn’t a stringent law in nature that dictates the path our hormones should take. Fortunately, as our cerebral matter is a little more developed than other members of the animal kingdom and as we’ve incorporated a section as the emotion centre, copulation alone isn’t the end result of hormonal evilness, and emotional compatibility does come into play.
Signals that indicate your interest in another person may vary from the fluttery stomach twisting feel to excitement induced vertigo. Scientifically? Did you believe that a golden character to compensate for your mediocre appearance could be a key to snag a potential partner? No (You did? Join the club). Are you of the opinion that your vivacious looks and up-to-date fashion sense was all you needed to attract a potential suitor? Sorry again, but no. If we go by the research that’s been done in this area, we’ll come across a lot of interesting facts.
The human brain (like the brain in apes, chimps etc.) has a region isolated for stimuli response called the Anterior Cingulate Cortex (ACC). This area of our grey matter focuses on any unusual response or any form of error that we encounter at anytime. It may be a wrongly color coded book in our bookcase that triggers the ACC into action by the secretion of a hormone called dopamine. This hormone is responsible for reward driven learning and each reward increases the secretion of this stimulant. Over time, dopamine secretion gives an addictive rush rivaled by very few drugs. When presented with a situation that is different from an expected scenario, the ACC jumps into work mode. This is usually the reason women are attracted to brooding men with an air of mystery (which girls fail to figure out in their first encounter) and men are immediately drawn to a woman who shuns their advances. We are, therefore, attracted to anything that seems different from the expected norm, and is unpredictable. So, it isn’t opposites that attract, but unpredictability from a man or woman that drives us to target them as prospective dating material.
Physical appeal also plays a minor, if not lasting, role in any relationship. Humans are all social animals; the keyword being animal, and any attraction between people is triggered (at first) by physical appeal. However, what entails good looking for me may be quite different to someone else’ perception of beauty. Superficial qualities though, lose their significance should other desirable characteristics fail to materialize in the future. A relationship works best when it is not grounded on the external appearance of partners alone. As I’ve mentioned before, a complimentary behavioral pattern is another feature that holds an attraction for long.
Attraction usually happens between people who share at least a few common interests. Again, similar interests do not mean supporting the same EPL team or the same rock band; a shared passion for any activity counts as common interest, and goes a long way to serve as a bonding tool.
When does simple attraction become love? Love is a pretty far-fetched concept for many. Though we callously toss around this four letter word, it is elusive and many fail to secure a strong and working relationship. Love, as opposed to attraction, considers many more factors than scorching chemistry, unresolved sexual tension or witty banter. It is often wrongly assumed that men are drawn by physical appearance and women by emotional compatibility. Those aspects contribute to attraction only during the initial stages, or during an age when we are thinking more with our hormones than our head (or heart). Emotional synchrony is equally important to both sexes and if included, attraction doesn’t fizzle out as is often the case.
Let’s not base our love lives on an instantaneous attraction that may not be lasting. Let’s understand that the magnetic pull, though addictive, may just be the starting point for something that, given the chance, could be much more beautiful.
This hub was just a generalized opinion on a subject that I find interesting. The motivation to write it came from a popular Tamil song, that’s become an international hit and made me wonder about the woes of those caught in a net of attraction. Why this Kolaveri, indeed!