Picture of my mother on her wedding day.
Sexual attraction is about the most exciting human experience I can think of. If you are like me, then you know it is difficult to think objectively about a person when you are sexually attracted to them.
But after the bubble of sex appeal burst, many stay with partners long after we realized they were not good for us just because they are good looking. This means that sex is not the reason we hang on, it is something else.
Women have told me this emphasis on the physical is a man thing, but I wholeheartedly disagree, I have seen women do the same. Then why is it we keep selecting a partner based mostly on the fact we find them physically attractive?
It is a form of people pleasing
My father had a dictum he often shared with his three sons;
“The way you show what kind of man you are is by how much wealth, power, status you have and by the beauty of the woman at your side.”
Although he would evolve to know better as his life faded, my father dedicated most of his adult life to this motto.
My father was a handsome man and my mother a beautiful woman. They remained married until my father’s death in 1998. But theirs was a bellicose marriage. From the vantage point I shared with my two brothers, it was obvious they hated each other’s guts. Their behavior towards one another was so reprehensible that it caused my brothers and me to quip,
“It is a good thing they married each other and didn’t wreck two couples.”
Aware of my father’s the kind of man he wanted to represent, it is easy to explain why he hung on to this misery. Despite their good looks, sex appeal deserted them after a few years of marriage. What he loved was the successful family illusion he tried to project onto everyone else.
I too collected wealth, power and status in line with my father’s teachings. I also clung to the beautiful women whom I married to show the world I was a man’s man.
The lessons I learned
I am not alone in having lived like this; many men and women adhere to these same values. It is different for me now because of the lessons I learned.
1) It is easy to confuse attraction with love, but they are not the same. It is puzzling to wake up one day realizing the person you once desired so much no longer appeals to you, but it is not unusual. Like me, you confused lust with love.
Love is more than just a feeling, it is an emotion you embrace that encompasses your partner’s entire being. When you love someone, you no longer entrap them to what you want, you set them free to be who they need to be. You accept who they become.
When we hang on to a partner mostly because of their physical beauty, even when we know they are not good for us, then the reason is obviously about other things besides sex.
2) It is selfish to hang on to a partner. No matter how good looking a partner is, they can become disagreeable, abusive or unfaithful. We are the ones who remain with them; they are not holding a gun to our heads to stay. Once again, I must conclude that sex is not the motivation behind this attachment, it is fear of….
- Losing financial stability
- Tarnishing the image we portray to society
- An inability to keep someone interested in us.
- An incapacity to attract another beautiful mate,
- Ending up alone
- Being seen as flawed or as a failure
Although not a comprehensive list of fears, the point is common to all of them; they reveal our attachment to external approval to define success. They have little to do with sex.
These insecurities feed an illusion of unworthiness in us. These fears negate love. Hanging on to someone out of fear makes them an object, like a piece of furniture or a work of art we want to display.
3) People couldn’t care less about what you do with your life. Relying on the approval of others by which to measure our lives is a big mistake. The fact is that people spend most of their time pondering their own life challenges. They may note changes in your life, but it only stays with them for seconds.
You may also find that their opinion fluctuates nearly every time they give it. We are the ones who imprison ourselves with their perceived approval. Time to cut that shit out.
The role of physical attraction in a new paradigm
I am not chastising the importance of physical attraction in a relationship. Feeling sparks for the other is an important part of romance. However, many of us still fall back on these instincts that our cave-dwelling ancestors used to choose a mate to propagate the species.
This is why I concluded I had to stop basing my choice on physical attraction while putting everything else secondary. I have been relying too much on this Neanderthal model that prioritizes physical attraction above the quality of the person.This is why online dating has not worked well for me.I have been allowing physical attraction to hide the obvious red flags that signal a problem partner.
If you are doing the same, perhaps it is time for you to consider the new paradigm I am using. I have stopped looking for romantic partners altogether; I am striving instead to make friendships first. This allows me to discover the quality of the person, to connect on other aspects of their character before allowing physical appearance to become a factor.
Not looking to get the opinion and approval of others either, I am relying on my inner voice to guide me.
Perhaps The high rate of divorce is a sign that human relationships are evolving into a higher plane, one that goes beyond what society designates as an appropriate partner. Physical attraction is fleeting while the beauty that radiates from within a person is not. Do yourself a favor and stop choosing partners who are eye candy to get societal approval, The key to a more fulfilling relationship is to connect with the body, mind and spirit of another.
As always, wishing you a life filled with peace, love and joy.