Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Attraction versus Relationship

I have worked hard all day on housework and preparing for the women's retreat in Krakow, so I am allowing myself the treat of responding to a controversy that showed up in yesterday's combox.

I know we love to talk about "our type" with our girlfriends, and perhaps we watch with mingled amusement and chagrin when we find ourselves and our friends getting crushes on the same "types" again and again.

However, feelings of attraction and crushes are not the same thing as friendship and romantic relationships.

Now, I am a big fan of "spark." A friendship without "spark" may be a wonderful thing, but it is not the basis for a happy, fruitful marriage. "Spark" without friendship might be incredibly thrilling and the plot of several French films, but it also is not the basis for a happy, fruitful marriage. For a happy, fruitful marriage, you need spark and then friendship, or friendship and then spark. You must have both.

In light of yesterday's post, I state nobody can tell anyone else who they should be attracted to, although someone might--if very close friends indeed--suggest that a friend keep an open mind in terms of friendship. Friendship can indeed precede spark. So often, a woman meets a man, and doesn't know how she feels about him at first, and then comes to the conclusion that he is actually the most attractive man she knows and she will simply DIE if he doesn't call soon.

But I am talking here of the concrete. You can say until you are blue in the face that you aren't attracted to, say, blue-eyed men, and then a blue-eyed man might march into your life and make you eat those words, Missy. Personally, I always thought the Perfect Man for Me, should he ever turn up, would be over six-feet tall, dark-eyed, solemn, blah blah blah, and here I am with Pict-sized, blue-eyed, punster B.A. As Lonergan so frequently said, "Only the concrete is good."

Theories are just that--theories. And attraction is just that--attraction. It describes the present, and it may describe the past, but it does not accurately predict the future. And thank heavens for that because quite often we're attracted to the wrong stuff, thanks to the Fall or our own weird psyches or what have you.

It took me until I was 32 to realize that for some time I had become attracted to men who behaved erratically. The crazier they acted, the more I cared. But through sheer force of will, spiritual direction and a lot of prayer,I made myself stop being attracted to men who behave bizarrely. Or maybe it wasn't I who made me stop, but God.

I will repeat my two ideas. The first idea is that you are attracted to the men to whom you are attracted, but this is not necessarily a blueprint for the future. The second idea is that attraction should never be mistaken for a relationship. You can only be in a relationship with a real, live, concrete man, and there is no use worrying about whether or not you are attracted to him until you have actually met him and he has actually asked you out.

And I stand by my advice of yesterday: if people assume out loud that you wish to date only people who share your ethnic or racial background, and you don't, in fact, wish to date only people who share your ethnic or racial background, then it is up to you to correct them.

Meanwhile, I would never tell a woman that she SHOULD date a man of her own racial or ethnic background if she doesn't want to. The most I would say is, "Don't confuse the theoretical with the concrete." If it turns out that the real, live, concrete Perfect Man for You shares your own racial or ethnic background, then don't allow some once firmly-grasped-but-now-completely-out-of-date notion about "your type" stand between you.

Be friendly to those who are friendly to you, and associate with those who are actually around.

3 comments:

healthily sanguine said...

"[T]here is no use worrying about whether or not you are attracted to him until you have actually met him and he has actually asked you out."

This statement should be emblazoned on a poster somewhere!

sciencegirl said...

Good stuff! I think most women are ready to jettison the theoretical for an actual, real man, and thank goodness for that.

Eowyn said...

Our university chaplain always emphasized the fact that "Existence" is the most important quality in a husband.