Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The (Not So) Easy A: Attraction

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!!  
Today's topic seems particularly appropriate on such a holiday. 

Much of this material comes from an original post from a couple of years ago, found here.  However, some items have been edited, shortened, expounded upon...you know.  Kind of like when a professor says "You really, really, have-to, must buy this NEW edition of the textbook, the old one just won't cut it...yes, I know it's $227.83 more than last years' edition...but you really need it..."
And then, it turns out that they just re-ordered some of the chapters (without changing any content), fixed some punctuation, and added, like, two sentences...yeah.  Like that.

Well, this is a little more than that.  Plus, I mostly wanted it to fall in order with the rest of the alphabet, and add some actual research to back it up. So here you go, the 2012 edition of
The (Not So) Easy A: "Attraction."

Ofttimes we hear the phrase "Why don't boys date me?" "Why do the same few people get asked out all the time?" "Why is everyone so in love with so-and-so?" "How did SHE get a boyfriend, while I am still SINGLE?"

or, on the male end of things: "I'm asking girls on dates, but I can't seem to make it go on from there." "Why is it that the girls that I'm not attracted to, like me, and the girls I'm attracted to, like me--'as a friend, or a brother'?" "Ugh...I'm stuck in the Friend Zone!" "Why is it all the girls I want to date, are already dating someone else?"

And other such variations on a theme. Well, kids, here's a question for you:

How do you find someone you are attracted to, convince them that they are attracted to you, too, and then date that person?

(voice)I don't know. How DO you find someone you are attracted to, convince them that they are attracted to you, too, and then date that person?

The answer?

 First, you must BECOME the person that someone you would be attracted to would date, thus attracting someone you would be attracted to, and then each of you get up the courage to enter that relationship of your own free wills.

(voice) Well, THAT'S not an answer to the question!

Well, did I promise you an answer to the question?

All poorly written allusions aside, I honestly think many of us ask the wrong questions. People are so focused on finding someone they want to date, of finding the one-and-only that will give them their long-sought 'happily-ever-after.' Truth is, they are only your 'one-and-only' AFTER YOU ARE MARRIED.  Not one minute before. You choose your own soulmate. We've heard all this before.

I disagree that we need to (put on your best Mia Maid Instructor voice here) "BECOME the person we want to marry." I don't know about all y'all, but I'd like to marry someone who, well...isn't me. The key is to
 become someone to whom our ideal would be attracted.

So, that's great. But what does that mean? That sounds suspiciously like changing myself. Aren't we supposed to be loved for who we ARE?

Absolutely. We need to be loved for who we are, not in spite of or because of any characteristics of self, but simply for the whole of it. On the flip side, though,
we have an obligation to be the best version of ourself that we can. 
On a brilliant social comedy called "Community," a favorite character of mine, Abed, explains it this way:
 "Let's face it; I'm pretty adorable. I got self-esteem falling out of my butt." 
(friend) "Well, if you like yourself, why did you change?" 
(Abed): "Well, when you know who you are and what you like about yourself, changing for other people isn't that bad."

Abed understood what many of us miss: That as long as he knew who he was, knew what he liked about himself, and kept those qualities, he was able to use that as a anchor point as he tried some new things. (Moving past the Community analogy now) As we apply this to the dating scene, we can start to ask those previous questions honestly, and actually expect answers. ("Why" questions are often statements in disguise rather than actual questions).
***This can be dangerous for those not grounded; however, if the changes are good ones, that make you a better person (as they should be, otherwise the person you are trying to date isn't worth it) it doesn't really matter if the relationship works out. You've been left a better person, and better able to attract you future spouse!  Yay!  

There is a quote by President Spencer W. Kimball that I have heard repeated or paraphrased often over the pulpit or in talks. It can be easily misunderstood, and is not for the emotionally squeamish. 
"How nice and easy would it be if we had a magic wand! But we haven't. You might take a careful inventory of your habits, your speech, your appearance, your weight, if it is heavier than most people appreciate, and your eccentricities, if you have them. Take each item and analyze it. What do you like in others? What personality traits please you in others? Are your dresses too short, too long, too revealing, too old-fashioned? Does your weight drive off possible suitors? Do you laugh raucously? Are you too selfish? Are you interested only in your own interests or do you project yourself into the lives of others? Do you have annoying mannerisms? ... Do you repeat old stories till they are threadbare? Are you too anxious or too disinterested? Can you make some sacrifices to be acceptable? Are you dull or are you too exuberant? Are you flashy or are you disinteresting? What do you do to make yourself desirable? Do you overdo or underdo? Too much makeup or too little? Scrupulously clean both physically and morally? Are you in the right place or have you pegged yourself? "What are your eccentricities, if any? I think nearly all people have some. If so, then go to work. Classify them, weigh them, corral them, and eliminate one at a time until you are a very normal person" (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1982], pp. 295-96. Emphases added).
Woah. Way to call it like it is. 
Many of us in the world today bristle a bit at the word "normal."  I would assert that in this case, "normal" can easily be relative to the social group which you are attempting to attract.  "Normal" is not synonymous with "unoriginal," nor should it give the connotation of "cookie cutter." We can--and should be--outstanding. We should excel at being whatever it is that we want to be. For many of us, that pursuit of excellence drives us to look in a full-length mirror and really decide who it is we want to be. As we become that person, we will attract other people of the same sort. As we build our friendships and continue refining ourselves, we will be in a better position to build lasting relationships.  Our spouse can and ought to be our best friend. 

Some things to consider: 

--Dating is often about first impressions, and the initial contact people have with you. How close is your appearance (both physical and manner of conduct) to who you really are on the inside? If you come off as harsh or bullying and on the inside you're a marshmallow, are you accurately portraying yourself? Think of the person you want to attract. What are THEY looking for? Are you giving off that kind of image? 

--Don't fret about the situation. As a friend of mine put it once, "It's only a matter of yes, or no." 
For example: "Do I like her? (yes.) Does she like me? ('maybe' is not an answer-- it's merely saying you don't know the answer yet. So, "answer unknown") Should I ask her out? (yes) Will I ask her out? (if yes, then do it. If 'no', then move on)."
First date went well? Great. Now it's "Did I have enough fun to try this again? (yes--repeat above process; no--move on)."
It's really that simple. It gets a little tougher when it's "Do I like her? (yes) Does she like me? (no)." The only way to get things working again is to change one of the answers. It's a lot easier to change yourself then to change them, but that doesn't always mean changing your answer to "no." Sometimes that means understanding yourself enough, and wanting them enough, to critically analyze yourself and make some changes, in an attempt that their answer will then be "yes." (see *** comment above.^^)
And, a new take on a quintessential song about attraction, to send you on your way:

(I know I posted it before, but it's really too perfect to NOT post today) [maybe ignore the part about never, ever changing. haha]

1 comment:

Emily said...

Over the past couple years I feel as if I have done a decent job transforming into someone much more date-able. (Some people might still call me eccentric....) It has not helped me have any amount of dating success, but I'm having so much fun being me now that I don't even care. It's a win-win situation, I guess!