In the first post on Building Attractive, we discussed diet and exercise. MJ replied in the comments.
“Interesting – I thought that your deconstruction of attractive would start with being interested in something outside of yourself, as I think that’s what makes people truly attractive.”
I thought. I’d considered writing about the non-physical components of Attractive, but that felt presumptuous.
I thought some more. So let’s deconstruct. How to understand the universal principles of Attractive? Define your terms, then derive the global rules and parameters.
1. Attractive comes from “attract,” meaning, to cause to draw near, or to compel approach
If someone is attractive, you will be drawn to them. If you are attractive, you will draw people to you. (I will note, everybody attracts someone, but you will want to choose those someones with care.)
2. We will assume that organisms are attracted to anything they believe will help them survive
If we believe that life seeks life, we conclude that attraction involves the presumption of benefit. We conclude that we are drawn to creatures we believe will keep us afloat. Of course, trickery abounds, even in non-human species. Birds display tails, insect-eating flowers put out strong scents, lions lie low in the grass. But we want what we want. we need what we need, we are drawn to apparent resources.
3. Attraction changes across the spectrum of intimacy and distance
Something that appears attractive from a distance may look very different close up. Think of self-absorbed achingly beautiful movie stars, badly-behaved high-tech geniuses, wounded pretty narcissists of the world. From afar, glamor. From closeup, whoops, you’re going to be cleaning up all the mess and experiencing little of the spark.
4. Attraction is not the same as admiration
Principle #4 speaks directly to MJ’s comment. While I might admire someone who is interested in something outside themselves, I’m not necessarily drawn to them. Unless you’re standing on firm home ground, outside interests are options, taken on sometimes at the expense of those we love.
Again, we’re talking attraction, not absolute virtue. Some people do find virtue attractive. It happens.
5. In modern day terms, to Build Attractive, become a Net Plus
Many of us in the modern world live in a state of material surplus. But as we know, even when Maslow‘s infamous lower needs are met, we are compelled to want more by so much. The drive to identity; undigested mustard of our childhoods; dreams promoted by those who who need us to buy stuff. We are therefore attracted to those we believe can provide something. A Net Plus, whatever the algorithm.
Perhaps the non-physical component of Attractive is best understood by what it is not. Attractive is not A Black Hole. We are repelled by those who take more than they give. I believe this is behind the entire theory of Dating Rules, and Make Them Beg. By acting as though we need no one, we appear as the mythical Net Plus, one who contributes without need. It’s false, of course. Everyone needs. The question is how are those needs managed and expressed.
The most productively attractive people understand their own needs. They get them met gracefully, and manage their feelings about the process, leaving all sorts of resources to provide for others. Those resources may include, but are not limited to,
- good cooking
- skills with wrenches
- upper body strength
- earning power
- reminders of your father’s eyes, or mother’s skin, or John Lennon. Pick your icon.
- the realization that while life may be short, the little mud bubble we call love brings with it moments of felt immortality. This is the ultimate need for those in plenty.
You build Attractive as you choose.
Choose to create, and succeed, you’ll attract those who want success as much as creativity. Choose to create and fail, you’ll draw a different sort.
Choose service, and commitment to mankind, you’ll attract those who feel that their own survival is most dearly affected by the survival of others.
But choose to neglect yourself, you’re a net minus. Your own needs will drown your capacity to contribute. Whatever signals of survival enhancement you may generate – good health, intelligence, style and literacy – all for naught.
My own personal theory of attractive is, I confess, somewhat bound to virtue. Delight follows close behind.
- Love and kindness trumps all.
- Care for yourself first.
- Care for the safety and comfort of those you love next.
- Finally, provide delight through invention - material, spoken, acted. In the surprise of pleasurable moments we feel we can live forever.
And nothing compels life to draw near more than life.
Image: Doug Woods on Flckr