Tag Archives: attraction

What is Love? Part 2

What exactly is love?

“Why can’t we just sniff each other like dogs and mate?”

“Why do women make this love thing so complicated?”

For one, the hunt wouldn’t be as interesting if it was too easy, truly. Being human takes work. To deal with the complex matrix that makes the human brain and find lasting love, we can take the word of any religion that tells us exactly what to do. Not.

You could figure it out by trial and error. How exhausting.

Really, you want to be smart about this whole love thing, right? Throughout history, romantic love has played major roles. Antony and Cleopatra, John and Abigail Adams, Bonnie and Clyde, Lucy and Desi, John and Yoko, and some of our parents. Repeat: some.

Making éros happen for the long haul takes 3 things:

  1. attraction
  2. readiness
  3. compatibility

Attraction

This is easy. All you need is a pair eyes. (If you don’t have eyes, sorry.) If every woman in the world took care of herself inside and out, the streets would be an ocean of eye candy. Since not every woman takes care of herself, the number of attractive women is limited. Still, there are plenty of women to light up your love rod. (Of course there’s the not-so-hot woman with personality who you might find is pretty “alright” after getting to know her. But that’s not the point right now.)

You want that attraction to last, of course. Looks don’t last forever, so it also takes associating those initial sparks with the intimacy that develops as a result of bonding. More on that later.

Readiness

Now, if you scoffed at the title of this article, you’re might not be ready to embrace this thing called love. Though you’ve probably been through enough trial and error to realize that it must exist. As tragic as true love ending in death, being ready means being willing to risk impending loss just to enjoy reknowned relationship bliss for even a brief moment on Earth.

Sometimes it takes life changes to realize readiness, such as the birth of a child, or witnessing the least commitment-minded person you know falling in love. Sometimes it takes pressure from family or friends. Sometimes we just grow up. A few are ready long before the rest of us because that’s how they were born.

Being ready for love takes having EQ. That is, emotional intelligence. If you didn’t know, EQ is like IQ, but it regards how one handles his or her emotions. A person with high EQ has the ability to empathize with others and handles heated situations with calm, for example. Not everyone who commits to a relationship has high EQ. But for true love to happen, it’s definitely helpful. True love could happen without high EQ, though that would be an emotional rollercoaster.

Readiness without drama certainly requires at least some emotional intelligence. Even better if it grows. EQ growth happens when working through emotions or painful memories and becoming resolved about them. It might take therapy, serious talks with someone you trust, or plenty of man-cave time.

Compatibility

If readiness isn’t challenging enough, there’s compatibility.

The problem with compatibility is that it’s easy to be deceived into thinking you get along with a woman just because you shared one amazing night or week together. More often than not, real compatibility lacks. It takes life experience, use of logic, or friends showing us how blind we are to see when compatibility is missing.

Sometimes similarities mask incompatibility. Just because you moved to the same neighborhood, worked in the same industry, and like the same music doesn’t make you and the girl you like compatible. The test of compatibility happens among day-to-day redundancies, such as dealing with how bills are paid, or how the house is kept.

Of course, you can’t know if you and a woman are compatible in daily life without becoming roommates. If that situation is out of the question, having friends who know you really well can help. You know, friends with that sixth sense.

Compatibility is unfortunately the one thing that couples absolutely need for true love but far too often miss. How can we be more astute in having compatibility in a relationship? That will be the topic in the next article in this series on love.

Opposites don’t attract

For as long as I can remember, I’ve heard people say “opposites attract.” They use this to explain any number of romantic occurances: the hot young girl with the homely older man, the clean cut guy with the rocker girlfriend, or the church-going girl with the alcoholic guy. Looking over the list, does it really seem likely that the attractive young girl is drawn to the homely older man because of his looks? Or that the clean cut guy is drawn to the rocker girl because she’s so different? Of course not. They how did these people end up together? That’s part of the mystery of attraction but it has nothing to do with being opposites. Opposites don’t attract, complements do.

Complements are often mistaken for opposites, perhaps a sign that we don’t have the proper phrasing to accurately distinguish the two. Opposites are black and white, completely opposing forces; complements are two sides to the same coin, two forces that flow together more harmoniously than each could were it separate. Many people mistakenly view the Taoist yin-yang symbol as a representation of opposites when, in fact, it is a representation of complements. Yin and yang circle around one another, each representing different parts of a greater whole, each completing the other to form a perfect whole.

Attraction is the recognition of complementary aspects in another person. We’ve all had the experience of being drawn to someone that, logically, we should not be attracted to. They’re too young or too cocky, they’re not pretty enough or in good enough shape…yet we find ourselves attracted to them. This type of attraction goes on at a deep, subconscious level that some would call the soul. Our soul, some believe, is always deficient in some way and always seeking to complete itself. In a way, it is a yang seeking its yin, or a yin seeking it yang. It’s not an opposite that we yearn for, it’s our other half, the part that will make our soul complete.

Most of the people we’re attracted to are quite similar to us in some way. Most of the ways people meet seem to indicate this as a truth. A friend of mine who is a wedding photographer found some patterns: most of the couples met either at work, through a shared activity (class, sports, etc.), or through church. Each of these three indicate similarity between the two people in their chosen profession, in their hobbies, and in their spiritual beliefs, respectively. But if your partner were exactly the same as you, they would not be nearly as attractive. If you ever travel so far as to run into yourself, you will surely wish to take your exit as soon as possible. You don’t need another you because another you doesn’t bring anything new into your life. That’s why you’re attracted to someone who is similar, but not the same, someone who is a complement and not an opposite.
If attraction is the recognition of your complement, then love is the realization of that complement. Falling in love has been referred to throughout history as two people becoming one, and there’s nothing that could be more accurate. Being in love with someone means that some major parts of you have found their complement in the other person; you feel whole having this connection. There are numerous stories of people rising to greater challenges and achieving higher goals after being in love. This makes perfect sense, of course, as a complete person is incredibly powerful.

This also makes sense in the context of one of the most powerful experiences people can have: a break up. The only other life event that causes such a drastic and sudden emotional response is the death of a loved one. In a way, a break up is a sort of death. The complements that you had found in that other person are suddenly and ferociously ripped from your being. Even if the break up was logical, as in the case of abuse, the pain you feel goes far beyond emotion…it literally tears at your soul. You feel like nothing will ever be right again, your entire being shakes knowing that the other person is gone. Why the big deal? You had survived for numerous years in your life before meeting this person and did just fine, yet now, the thought of not having him or her there is unbearable. The pain you feel is the loss of your complement, the process of once again becoming incomplete after spending so much time as a whole person. It’s brutal and it can take some time to recover. But you do.

After recoving from the loss of your beloved, often times you’ll find that you are, in fact, more complete than before you met your ex. Even though that other person is gone, some of the complements you found in them actually became a part of you. You may find that you’re more confident or have a different view of life. In effect, you have absorbed the complements that were present in your ex, making yourself closer to being whole. The next attraction will continue the trend, identifying more complements that are necessary for your own growth.

So try looking back at your past relationships with gratitude. At some level, they all helped you grow and become a more complete person. And remember, it’s not because they were your opposite, it’s because they were your complement.