Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Laws of Attraction

Coincidences are funny things. A few weeks ago, when I told a 50-something friend of mine that she was “eye candy”, she laughed and said that I definitely needed to get new glasses. A few hours later, a 20-something friend of mine posted on Facebook how it felt like a punch in the stomach when some of her “more conventionally attractive” friends posted about how unattractive they felt, and acted surprised when all the reassurances came in.


I responded that I’m always surprised at the people who I think are attractive, but don’t think they are themselves; and suggested that maybe they’re not being disingenuous about it.

Let’s talk about my first friend. It’s true that she’s no hot 26-year-old, and maybe she feels that she was more attractive 30 years and 30 pounds ago; but I didn’t know her then. All I’ve known is the 50-something pudgy version of her, and this 60-something could look at that 50-something all day long.

Don’t get me wrong, I can appreciate an attractive 26-year-old just as well as I could when I was 26 myself. However, now that I’m in my 60s, I can appreciate a slightly pudgy 50 or 60-something in ways that I couldn’t have imagined when I was 26.

And then there’s me. When I look in the mirror, I see my grandfather, who was 63 when I was born, and he lived to be 86. I look in the mirror and I see an old man who’s not as skinny as he used to be. So it came as quite the surprise one day when a very attractive woman in her early 40s came up to me at the library and said that I was more attractive in person than I was on my posters.

Really? Me? Now? As with my first friend, I can see it 30 years and 30 pounds ago. When I was in my 30s, I might have feigned surprise to hear someone say that, because I knew I was halfway decent looking. But this old guy? Are you kidding me? Now that’s a real surprise.

And I wasn’t being disingenuous about it. I just didn’t see it.

Or rather, I was focused on what I thought I had to look like in order to be attractive to people, and not what other people were actually thinking. And what many of us think we have to look like to be attractive to others is young. Young and thin. Or buff…or shapely.

Even though I obviously didn't think that way about others. Which brings me to an important point: we often judge ourselves by harsher standards than we judge others, or than others judge us.

The laws of attraction are very funny things; and they change as we get older. I’d like to think that they change to represent more of what people in our age group look like. But even when we’re young, our standards of beauty are different from person to person.

I’ve seen people who I understood by current standards were strikingly beautiful, and gone “Meh.” I mean, I can see it, I can understand it, but they just don’t do anything for me. On the other hand, there are people that I might once have rated a 4/10, who by the simple force of their personalities, became attractive to me, and have me checking them out every time I see them. As I said to my wife about one friend of ours, “I don’t check out Sally because she’s necessarily hot. I check out Sally because she’s Sally.”

But what are the laws of attraction? This geek would love to know. He would love to know what makes Person A attractive to Person B, but not to Person C.

And what makes my second friend attractive to unknown people who just haven’t spoken up yet.

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