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Author Topic: Principles of Attraction
likewhoa19
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Okay, so I think I inadvertently hijacked the beauty thread, though I really was in earnest when I said I had a problem with coming up with a definition of beauty as being a way to counteract negative body-image.

But I'll start on the attraction issue specifically here. The way I am attracted to people just doesn't seem to act on very open-minded-hippie principles, the way nearly all of my beliefs do. My sister's take on this is that I am "attracted like a guy." I am physically turned on by being near athletic bodies, big lips , nice eyes and round butts. Everything else like personality and smell is definitely secondary. I'm interested in physical sensations and not much interested in emotions or longterm commitments.

Now, I'd guess that a lot of Scarleteeners would balk at the idea that guys and girls experience attraction in different ways. What are the most important factors that would cause you to want to have relations with someone? By chance do you think the sexes do operate on inherently different principles of attraction? And if not, what do you think are the social forces that contribute to them acting differently? (For instance a lot of posters on Scarleteen have been talking about getting to know someone and emotions as important elements of physical attraction, which is very much the stereotype for females as opposed to males.)

[ 04-23-2006, 04:55 PM: Message edited by: likewhoa19 ]

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Heather
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quote:
the two sexes
Not meaning to nitpick, but there are actually more than two biological/chromosomal sexes: to date, there are at least five which are known and documented.

That's relevant with a question like this not only to be accurate, but to also show that ideas on what "the sexes" do already are pretty iffy when by 'the sexes" we mean only two.

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likewhoa19
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that's okay. you know I am a super-knit-picker myself when it comes to ideas. you can include other biological sexes in discussion if you think a biological factor is even relevent. i still think this would make an interesting discussion if people throw out some opinions

[ 04-23-2006, 04:56 PM: Message edited by: likewhoa19 ]

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Beppie
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I don't think there's any pre-conditioned "principle" in terms of how we find people sexually attractive, no matter what our sex or gender. HOWEVER, I do think that we are socially conditioned to have particular responses regarding our sexual attractions.

Personally, I can only speak from a heterosexual/heteronormative point of view, because that is where the vast majority my social conditioning has come from. From what I can tell non-heterosexual couples also face this social conditioning (ie, the idea of butch/femme in lesbian couples), and I want to make it clear that I'm not saying that this is any less significant, but simply that I don't want to pretend to speak for people who have experienced this social pressure from a non-heterosexual and non-binary-gendered perspective.

I think the stereotype that (heterosexual) men are more visual, while (heterosexual) women care more about the mind is simply the result of a society that values women for their appearance far more than any other attribute, while the value placed upon men's appearance is balanced by valuing many other attributes to a greater or at least equal extent. As such, men who try to mold themselves into a heteronormative stereotype feel sexual attraction based on the way that their socially designated sexual partners are valued in general (ie, appearance with things like personality, integrity, education or ability, success, happieness all regulated to the background), and women who want to fit into heteronormativity do the same, and value their partners' sexual attractiveness in the same way that their value to society is measured (ie, things like personality, integrity, education or ability, happiness, success are much more likely to be in the foreground, sharing the stage with, if not completely eclipsing the factor of appearance).

(I also want to note that the non-appearance attributes that I mentioned are also not all necessarily good things to value above others either-- I'm just making a comment about how they are assigned relative importance with a heteronormative framework.)

[ 04-23-2006, 08:16 PM: Message edited by: Beppie ]

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likewhoa19
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Regarding: "I also want to note that the non-appearance attributes that I mentioned are also not all necessarily good things to value above others either-- "

Oh good! I've been meaning to express that same opinion on these forums for awhile.

[ 04-23-2006, 09:13 PM: Message edited by: likewhoa19 ]

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kitka
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And I'd add that we are to some degree biologically conditioned - in terms of our own genes, not our sex. Pheromone experiments in Britain have shown that women (and homosexual men) are drawn to men with different genetic markers, through scent. It's not yet conclusive, but I think it indicates that biology is still important.

I'm interested in physical sensations and not much interested in emotions or longterm commitments.

I'm not interested in emotions either and I don't declare love for people or any of that - largely because I wear figurative armor all the time. I communicate more in the "traditional" mold of men, if there is such a thing - I don't talk a lot, look for solutions and not reasons, don't express affection verbally, etc. Nothing wrong with that.

But it's fallacious to attribute a larger degree of sensate vs. emotional feeling to men. For one thing, it's not fair to men. Some behaviorists have argued that men's sense of self is much more fragile than women's, that it's more deeply based in their perception of their masculine physical self, and that they put up a corresponding blockade of toughness in order to hide their feelings.

There are a lot of men who are interested in long-term, committed relationships; you can find
a lot of cold-hearted women as the subject in agony columns. A sizeable portion of college-age women engage in "traditionally" masculine behaviors of casual sex and the aggressive pursuit of several potential short-term partners.
That suggests that culture has in some ways overcome "inherently different principles," at least for some people.

Now, I'd guess that a lot of Scarleteeners would balk at the idea that guys and girls experience attraction in different ways.

Why? Because many of people at ST identify as feminist, and therefore promote blank slate equality? On the contrary, I think a lot of people here would acknowledge that men and women experience attraction through different lenses, many of which are subject to cultural determination that is sometimes difficult to escape; the trick is to figure out how to see things on the same wavelength.

posters on Scarleteen have been talking about getting to know someone and emotions as important elements of physical attraction, which is very much the stereotype for females

To the contrary - I think posters in the beauty thread were pointing out that, while emotional connections are important, physical attraction is often mutually exclusive (for some people) to a damaging extent. Physical attraction is as such for many people, regardless of gender or orientation.

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Beppie
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quote:
Originally posted by kitka:
And I'd add that we are to some degree biologically conditioned - in terms of our own genes, not our sex. Pheromone experiments in Britain have shown that women (and homosexual men) are drawn to men with different genetic markers, through scent. It's not yet conclusive, but I think it indicates that biology is still important.

It's important to note that these experiments are conducted on adults. All they prove is that the roles that we are socially conditioned to perform are reflected in chemical impulses in the brain. They don't indicate that gender roles are determined biologically.
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logic_grrl
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My sister's take on this is that I am "attracted like a guy." I am physically turned on by being near athletic bodies, big lips , nice eyes and round butts. Everything else like personality and smell is definitely secondary.

But as Miz S pointed out in the first thread where you raised this, this seems to be bound up with a whole lot of other stuff for you, like feeling very uncomfortable with your own appearance (thinking that it "sucks" that you don't look like Angelina Jolie, etc.), feeling that guys are only interested in"stereotypically pretty" girls, feeling "repulsed" in relationships with people who don't meet your standard for looks, and so on:

http://www.scarleteen.com/cgi-bin/forum/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=3;t=007109

You started in the "beauty" thread by trying to argue that everyone responded to conventional "good looks" in this way, and now you seem to be saying that it's "stereotypically female" to feel differently, and that your issue is that you're "attracted like a guy".

Biological, cultural or whatever - you seem to have a whole lot invested in setting up attraction to conventional "good looks" as this unalterable, unchangeable phenomenon, even though it seems to be making you unhappy and uncomfortable with yourself.

So I'd like to turn this back on you, since it seems like this is something you're very invested in, and suggest that you ask yourself why that is. What is it that you're trying to prove, and will it make you feel any better if you do?

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"Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it." - the Talmud

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likewhoa19
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Note to logic_grrl:

NO!!! You missed what I was saying about myself. I don't even care much for the way Angelina Jolie looks. I just pulled her out of the hat as a person a lot of people want to get with based on physical features. I don't feel badly about myself and the way I look, inherently. I just want to get with people who attract me, and if I could do that I couldn't care less how I look.

Because what I was interested in talking about here, is I have a lot of very good guy friends. And most guys I've encountered are attracted to people by degrees based on physical appearances, just like I (and actually, a couple other of my female friends) are. And when I say attracted, I do mean physically aroused. I could get more explicit if you don't believe me. But an awful lot of females (including many on this forum) talk about how as they get to know someone they find him/her more attractive, and how personality is more important than looks. (And for people in this latter category, they even seem to have a superior attitude about the way attraction works for them, which to be blunt DOES rub me a little wrong.)

I'm not trying to PROVE anything here. I am just curious what people think in terms of hormonal vs. social reasons, etc.

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likewhoa19
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Thank you Beppie and kitka for your input!

Another note to logic_grrl:
(As to my personal situation and becoming repulsed by the appearance of someone I got with, if you REALLY think it's that important: When I met him I liked nearly everything about him except the way he looked, which I thought was just so-so. Part of the reason I dated him to begin with was on my mother's advice that "as you get to know someone, how they look isn't important." I found out later if I'd asked either my best guy friend or my male cousin for advice theirs would have been like "If you think someone has a fascinating personality [but not especially attractive looks], you become friends with them. You don't sleep with them." (and my cousin would have added "been there. done that. it was a bad idea.") I should have asked my cousin for advice instead of my mother.)

Every culture has different beauty standards, but there are some mostly universals (white eyes, strong teeth, clear skin, strong men, amply-padded women). It was about 2000 years ago that the greeks decided the mind was separate from and superior to the body, and that idea has stuck in western culture since. Regarding blaming attraction to physical characteristics on the media, I think I could as easily hypothesize that it's perfectly inherent for people to be attracted to people based on things like appearance and skills, but that western women have been socially programmed to think they're bad people if something "shallow" like physical appearance of a partner is a major factor for them. But that could be wrong. Does anyone else have ideas they'd like to share?

[ 04-24-2006, 10:39 AM: Message edited by: likewhoa19 ]

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Heather
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The thing is, mass media is not even fifty years old, and a mass media seriously changes things.

NEVER before would one culture's (temporary, they always are) beauty standards literally be broadcast around the wold. Never before have cultural standards of expressly physical ideals been so universal: the visual is one of the only things that's going to cross language barriers.

And never before, to this degree, have people had the sort of quasi-relationships they do with celebrities, with nothing BUT media representations of people the way they do now.

As well, EVERYTHING we know about how sexual attraction works is multi-sensory. So, the mass media throws a pretty serious monkey-wrench into that works, because someone getting off on an image, or being completely attracted to an image -- two-dimnensional, usually -- is pretty much...well, there are things clearly not being taken into consideration when that's often discussed by people who don't study sex, namely that it's very unlikely to be just that, but some internal fantasy which creates multi-sensory ideas driving the car. (And in this regard and others, even talking about sexual attraction as solely physical or solely visual just isn't sound. There is no reason to believe -- especially given responses that have been studied to say, pheromonal responses -- that the visual, all by itself, that appearance alone, can drive arousal. Just because that's all the guy next to you with the hard-on SEEMS to be reacting to, it's pretty unlikely that's so.)

That's a whole topic unto itself, but suffice it to say that downplaying it, or thinking it a minor issue strikes me as not sensible or sound.

I mean, even this:
quote:
there are some mostly universals (white eyes, strong teeth, clear skin, strong men, amply-padded women)
is fallacy. There's a whole continent where facial scarring is considered seriously beautiful in many areas. The size and shape of women and men per what is ideal not only vary MASSIVELY cross-cultrurally, but have historically in nearly any one given culture.

quote:
I think I could as easily hypothesize that it's perfectly inherent for people to be attracted to people based on things like appearance and skills, but that western women have been socially programmed to think they're bad people if something "shallow" like physical appearance of a partner is a major factor for them.
Again, I think you're bringing a lot more of your own stuff to the table than you are more broad ideas, here.

quote:
But an awful lot of females (including many on this forum) talk about how as they get to know someone they find him/her more attractive, and how personality is more important than looks. (And for people in this latter category, they even seem to have a superior attitude about the way attraction works for them, which to be blunt DOES rub me a little wrong.)
Bear in mind that the userbase of this site is overwhelmingly female. And I've heard plenty of men, in my personal life, as well as in my work, have the exact same sentiment.

If -- if, don't know what your situation is -- most of the people you are around and talk to have NOT engaged in any or many long-term relationships, it's going to be pretty unsurprising that you don't hear so much about how long-term knowledge can change patterns of attraction and aesthetics, and see MORE of a focus on just the physical or visceral, if for no other reason than that it is what is right there on the surface, easily perceptible. The other stuff generally takes time, and for most opeople, does tend to change perspective.

Per superiority issues, once more, I think you're projecting a bit: I think you're reading superiority when plenty of users who talk about that here are just, in some ways, experiencing the developmental wonder that is more intimate relationships: it's heady stuff, and it can be a big eye-opener. However, I think we can fairly make some judgments when someone is fixated on the surface, only seeing the surface, or primarily interested in the surface, especially if they're seeking out any sort of relationship in which they want more than that, or want another person to see THEM more deeply than that.

[ 04-24-2006, 01:25 PM: Message edited by: Miz Scarlet ]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Heather
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(I'll go dig up a few studies for you on this matter later today after I get some unpacking done, btw.

Good ones are tricky to find, because most are very strongly heterosexist, and most are bound up in a lot of bias about sexual attraction -- again, heterosexist -- being primarily about cues per reproduction. But there have been a small handful without those biases.

One interesting study I'm recalling found that some of the reason women ARE fixated on physique per attractiveness is essentially a projection of the fixations by men put on THEM. In other words, the priority put on women to be concerned with their own attractiveness has potentially changed the way women see others, beginning to judge men by the same harsh standards often applied to women.)

[ 04-24-2006, 01:12 PM: Message edited by: Miz Scarlet ]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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likewhoa19
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quote:
"NEVER before would one culture's (temporary, they always are) beauty standards literally be broadcast around the wold. Never before have cultural standards of expressly physical ideals been so universal: the visual is one of the only things that's going to cross language barriers."
I agree with that point, that never before would it have been possible for beauty ideals to get so specific. I say this to people all the time actually.

quote:
"And never before, to this degree, have people had the sort of quasi-relationships they do with celebrities, with nothing BUT media representations of people the way they do now."
I'm not talking about quasi-relationships with fake people. I'm talking about attractions to real people who look similar to media images, which is slightly different.

quote:
"If -- if, don't know what your situation is -- most of the people you are around and talk to have NOT engaged in any or many long-term relationships..."
I think EVERYONE around me, certainly anyone who I would have cited in a group above, have had longterm relationships (1 yr or more). So yes, I was citing many men and a couple of women who have been in relationships, who perhaps were in-love, who still see physical appearance as a major element of attraction. Who see consistent physical attraction in a longterm relationship being impossible W/O at least finding their partner visually attractive.

quote:
"I mean, even this:

quote: there are some mostly universals (white eyes, strong teeth, clear skin, strong men, amply-padded women)

is fallacy."

Clear skin meaning lack of pimples. Find me a culture that thinks bad acne is attractive.

quote:
"The size and shape of women and men per what is ideal not only vary MASSIVELY cross-cultrurally, but have historically in nearly any one given culture."
Thus using the word "mostly." But I did see an anthropologist study that surveyed cultures around the world including of course indigenous cultures and found that MOST cultures liked chubby women. I'd say our culture at least echos that in its like of large breasts.

quote:
"There is no reason to believe -- especially given responses that have been studied to say, pheromonal responses -- that the visual, all by itself, that appearance alone, can drive arousal."
I don't know if there's more to it or not, but when I'm dancing, making-out, or heck even sitting next to a random guy who I think has a good body and is decent looking (usually dark features), I tend to get all tingly and want more physical contact. I see how that could be two senses (touch and visual) but unless all athletic guys smell the same way, I have difficulty seeing that as a very multi-sensory reaction.

On me personally, I don't know if it's just the media causing me to have an attraction to certain builds and looks, all I know is I can't seem to be attracted to people who don't have these characteristics no matter how much I love other things about them. I also know it doesn't help my love life, since the people I meet who have these physical characteristics are never the people who are interested in me.

quote:
"Good ones are tricky to find, because most are very strongly heterosexist, and most are bound up in a lot of bias about sexual attraction -- again, heterosexist -- being primarily about cues per reproduction. "
Per that, I TOTALLY sympathize with you. I hate it when people loosely use Darwinian principles to conclude that old men biologically like teenage-looking women with long legs and an hourglass figure b/c that indicates she's fertile or something. And that men are meant to reproduce until they die -what bull!

[ 04-24-2006, 02:20 PM: Message edited by: likewhoa19 ]

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Heather
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quote:
I'd say our culture at least echos that in its like of large breasts.
Actually, most studies done on male breast size preferences show that there is BARELY an across-the-board preferenjce at all, and the barely that it is is towards SMALLER breasts.

(Again, it's really important not to base ideas about this stuff by what the media sells or shows, what popular culture seems to espouse/enable, because once dollars are in the equation, as well as public posturing, it skews things massively.)

Again, more later. I seriously need to unpack.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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likewhoa19
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Those of you who are saying looks are not a major factor in what attracts you to someone, are you also claiming there are no physical/visual characteristics which can be an absolute barrier to you having a good romantic relationship with someone?

[ 04-24-2006, 06:09 PM: Message edited by: likewhoa19 ]

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Beppie
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Likewhoa, I don't think that anyone is arguing that there is no physical/visual element in attraction-- I think it's just a matter of recognising that this element of attraction is highly fluid, that in many people it takes a back seat to other characteristics, OR that being attracted to other characteristics increases physical attraction. It's also important to recognise that these elements of physical attraction are also fluid simply based on the stage of life we are at, they are fluid across cultures, and as such they can't be established as something intrinsic.

And no, I don't think it would be possible to have a good romantic/sexual relationship with someone to whom you are not physically attracted. HOWEVER, being physically attracted is, in my personal expereince at least, more a mental property than a visual property. What we perceive as visually attractive is determined by our mental processes, not the other way around.

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Heather
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You know, I think working in the sun this morning on and off fried my brain. I sat here and made a list of a few studies for you on this you might find of interest, and SWORE I posted them.

How irritating that it seems I didn't, after all.

So, here we go again, with a wild mix of geekdom on the topic:

Here's an interesting study that DOES posit that it is more "male" to respond solely to visual stimuli sexually, saying (via brain wave study) that even the women who reported feeling arousal were actually not: http://userwww.service.emory.edu/~shamann/hamannnatneuro04.pdf

Here's one looking at a group of women where it was found that their base of attraction fluctuated during different points of the menstrual cycle: http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/bpl/psci/2004/00000015/00000003/art00011

Here's another on gender differences in preferences: http://tinyurl.com/fgwa9f (And it should be noted that it's tricky to differentiate between a draw to "attractiveness" and "status" when attractiveness IS status, especially if it's considered to be so by a given person seeking a partner)

More geeking: http://tinyurl.com/gc83b

Where power issues can come in: http://www.landofangels.de/py1/sadalla-etal-1987.pdf

And, related, here's a study on adolescents and attachments to celebrities: http://tinyurl.com/kasg8

And here's another that shows that BOTH men and women weighed factors above physical traits, ultimately: http://tinyurl.com/jfc5v

And darnit, I found a really neat one earlier which appears to be eluding me right now.

Per your last question, I'll pipe up, if for no other reason than that I've been a very active dater for over 20 years whose sexual and romantic history is akin to the It's a Small World ride at Disneyworld. I also have dated men and women alike.

In my case, I really can't think of any off the top of my head, and I certainly don't have a running list. I can think of some common traits many of my partners have shared (often I am drawn to people close to my same size or smaller than me, and a whole lot of body hair can sometimes be an ish for me -- but I'm betting both are residual abuse issues -- and there have also been exceptions to near anything I can think of that's a commonality among several exes), for sure, but just as many they haven't. And I don't see how one given purely physical characteristic would be a barrier, no, save that I have a hard time being attracted to people who look very unhappy. But even something like that is more an indicator of personality via appearance than appearance itself. I've been with and attracted to people of all races, genders, shapes, sizes, levels of fitness, nationalities, facial structures, you name it. From a personal and professional vantage-point, I'd say my attraction base is slightly more broad than the average bear, but I also grew up with and without a lot of influences (in very diverse community, primarily without television/mass media and with books instead, with partners of all genders, with parents who dated a broad array of "types," with a lot of art in my life, with a disability, blah blah blah) common to a lot of folks these days. I also have seen some study -- and that does meet with practical experience -- that often lesbian and bisexual women are a lot more inclusive in their base of attraction than other groups.

Now that I think about it, the only thing physical that just is NOT a turn on for me os when a person looks in any way homogenous: for me, with the physical, it's the little quirks, the very unique things about someone physically that are uniquely theirs.

Flatly, it's always been strong sexual/interpersonal chemistry that draws me most of all, and more than once, I've gone on a date with someone who I thought was aesthetically gorgeous, but who I just didn't feel "it" with. (In fact, I was once on a date many years ago with an ex-model who all night EVERYONE was drooling over, so I even made the stupid mistake of TRYING to force chemistry I just wasn't feeling, since I figured maybe I was being a dumbass. Newp: it just wasn't there, pretty as he was, and as much as I also just plain liked him.)

By the way? I feel the need to say that if you are finding you are the anomoly in anything, it is OKAY to be the anomoly. It's also pretty important to note that for most folks, as we grow older, as we have more relationships, more dates, get around more in the world, that all things tend to broaden, including sexual attraction. Pretty hugely a lot of the time, actually.

But really, all we know about sexual attraction and selection tells us that it is HUGELY varied: through history, culturally, via gender, age, class, sexual orientation, the works. So, looking to try and sort any of it easily into one of two groups is iffy at best, no matter what.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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likewhoa19
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yay geekdom. i like the "lordisa"s too, btw, i just thought you should know
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likewhoa19
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You know, I was thinking about this some more again. I have a cousin who's a supermodel (Alison Meiresonne, if anyone cares enough to google). And many other members of my family are quite physically attractive in the "what's hot, here and now in the media" sense, so that's probably influenced me more than a little growing up too.

On the other hand, most of my friends who say "looks don't matter" are for some reason petite, busty, and pretty in the "what's popular now" sense, so even if they're not drop-dead gorgeous (whatever that means) they probably have plenty of options for who they date, and perhaps that makes it easier to feel like looks are not a major factor for who they choose. Or it could just be girls who are not very pretty in the "popular" sense are more likely to focus on physical appearances (when you've experienced lookism you're more likely to see looking a certain way as a valuable, almost magical quality in potential partners, sort of the way looking lighter used to be very attractive in African-American communities). I think it's a combination, personally. Plus I am a very visual person in everything I do, just the way I best process information, the media I like to work w/, etc.

Right now I'm just a little frustrated with having to wait to meet someone I'm attracted to and who is also attracted to me before I get into another relationship. A lot of bad feelings were triggered for me a couple of weeks ago when I met this good-looking super-liberal jewish boy with the quirkiest personality ever over spring break and fell madly in-crush, only to have it not returned in the slightest. But hopefully I'll meet someone eventually *sigh*. (Another thing I didn't mention previously b/c I was afraid it would seriously narrow down where I live, but I've decided I don't care, is that I'm currently attending a single-sex college where there are boys around some but not living in the dorms so it makes it harder to get to know people. I do kind of have a crush on this one girl, but I've not been able to determine if her interest in me is friendly or romantic, and I'm super-busy with the last two weeks of classes anyway.)

[ 04-28-2006, 11:50 AM: Message edited by: likewhoa19 ]

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Heather
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quote:
when you've experienced lookism you're more likely to see looking a certain way as a valuable, almost magical quality in potential partners, sort of the way looking lighter used to be very attractive in African-American communities
This is really a very apt observation.

(Though it probably should be noted that the value on being "lighter" for African-Americans was more often about passing than about aesthetics.)

Sounds, likewhoa, like you're branching out in your thinking on all of this: it's a cool thing to watch/read.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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likewhoa19
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well, but I've been reading 20th century African-American Lit for an english class, and some of the female characters we've read about have negative self-images b/c they do not look as "pretty" as "lighter" African-American women. So obviously it was a visual characteristic valuable for practical reasons in a certain time and place (ie passing), that definitely got transferred into an aesthetic preference, which could transfer into an element of sexual attraction. I was never really denying that looks were circumstantial to begin with. I was just saying that in a given time and place many people have the same preference, whether for practical reasons or not, and that this group-think is as real an element of attraction as any. And effects most people's lives, in who is attracted to them and/or who they are attracted to.

(On a separate and more personal issue, I'd still be curious to find a culture which had no preference towards acne-free skin and facial symmetry, since these are both ways in which to a slight to moderate degree I don't measure up to our cultural ideal. And while it's easy to find a diversity of preferences on body shape and size, even face-shape, finding a diversity of preferences on these less-talked-about more simplistic things seems to be harder. Which is why the question of "innate preferences?" is still in my mind.)

[ 04-28-2006, 04:21 PM: Message edited by: likewhoa19 ]

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September
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Sorry if I am jumping in here late and missing bits and pieces, but I just wanted to say something about the shallowness vs not caring about looks at all thing.

Of course you can't date people solely for how they look. It's a chemistry thing - you have to feel the attraction. HOWEVER, looks are as important for that chemistry as everything else, maybe even (at least initially, because it's the first thing you see) more important.

I have a friend who prides herself on not caring about looks AT ALL when getting into a new relationship and actually appears to be making an effort to pick the people she is LEAST attracted to physically to date. Needless to say, not a single one of those relationships has lasted longer than a few weeks.

Of course, though, you run the risk of feeling shallow when putting looks at the top of your list. I have twice tried to date someone I was very attracted to in every department but the physical and even though I tried very hard, it didn't work.

One more thing though, is that I think even with all of those media projections around us of what a 'perfect' person should look like, I am finding that nearly everyone I know might find some movie start physically appealing, but that those tastes are never reflected in who they are dating. I might put a poster of Angelina Jolie up on my wall, but that doesn't mean that I am looking for a real-life replica of her.

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logic_grrl
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HOWEVER, looks are as important for that chemistry as everything else,

Well, that's going to depend on the person - looks may be a major ingredient in chemistry for one person, and only play a minor role in another.

And of course "looks" doesn't always equal "looks that fit the current Western media standards". People are very diverse in their tastes; people can and do think that someone looks fantastic and hot even if they look nothing like the current "ideal".

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"Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it." - the Talmud

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