Thursday, May 27, 2010

Reciprocal Attraction

I've always been better at picking up women that like me than picking up women I like. Before Bryce has a chance to refute me and lavish humiliation let me qualify that by saying I'm not actually good at either, it's a case of tallest pygmy.

I'm reading Dan Gilbert's 'Stumbling on Happiness' currently and it's pretty entertaining, I'm not finished but thus far it indicates as its central thesis that we are generally terrible at predicting future happiness because it is coloured by our present context.

Which is to say whomever we though was the most desirable partner when we were 14 is probably not going to be the same person that we estimate the most desirable partner when we are 24 and so on. So aside from the immensely practical advice, don't pick your life partner when you are 14, it offers an explanation as to why divorce rates are so high.

There's other fascinating insights into the human mind via the books documented studies, for example the more elaborate somebodies fantasies about someone they have a crush on the less likely they are to actually act on those desires. Why? The book suggests that the more pleasure you extract from anticipation, and the greater those fantasies depart from likely events the less incentive you have to try and realise them.

It reminds me of another excellent book Social Intelligence by Daniel Goleman who in the american tradition is one of the authors quoted on the front of Gilbert's book saying 'tour de force' or some other endorsement cliche.

It had a fascinating insight into sexual selection via the evolution of the human brain, things like what we look for in a partner - the primary characteristic for both sexes being kindness. But there's also peculiarities like you only get a hit of dopamine from your brain when somebody you are attracted to looks at you, not simply by just looking at them. Its a handy evolutionary measure that encourages partners to stick around and not leave the other with the baby. You only get the reward if your partner is happy with you.

Enter feedback systems, now it's pretty obvious that a relationship isn't a relationship unless there is a mutual attraction a consensus that you are together. Elstwise its stalking/rape. 'It takes two to tango' which due to my lack of knowledge of dance may be a fallicy but does apply to relationships. What I'm wondering now though is there any feedback effect to the effect that we are attracted not just to kindness, appearance of physical health, humour etc. but could we be attracted to attraction? In other words:

Are we attracted to people who are attracted to us?

Now this I find highly confusing, but no books seem to touch on this possible feedback effect. It does sound like something from 'The Secret' and maybe it's covered in Neil Strauss' 'The Game' I don't know, as I've said already I'm not particularly good at picking up anyone.

To the contrary of the argument I sympathise with D-Ro wise man that said 'the secret to a good relationship is to date somebody you actually like.' or something, I remember sitting at lunch with uber philosopher D-Ro whom confessed that sometimes when he found out somebody liked him who clearly wasn't in his league he was personally offended. Not to single D-Ro out as some kind of narcissistic chauvinist, I concur I too have felt this way.

Furthermore the number of people I know that have confessed they find rejecting people exhillarating, almost as good picking up somebody you like, requires me to take my shoes off to count.

Then there's the lunch cutters, which while it is generally agreed to be unethical most make exceptions to the rule when they feel somebodies claim is unrealistic. My own host sister is a lunch cutter having picked up the guy her best friend was in love with. After days of mercillesly telling Sis she was a bad person I finally got to accompany her to school and see her best friend, a sight at which I blanched and told Sis to 'forget it, you've done no wrong there.'

So of course it's not as simple as just being attracted to somebody will make them attracted to you. That's patently untrue as Brook found out when I ran away from her at the grade 2 disco.

But to the affirmative there is just the general principle of laziness. The path of least resistence is surely to just feed the crying child. Why? because it's easy. They like you, you are not revolted by them. Why not? That doesn't sound like attraction though.

In the prolonged and protracted break up I went through back when I was at Honda, I was constantly amazed that my ex just seemed to bump into guys she liked and they reciprocated her attraction all the time. This never happened to me. She just seemed to meet guys walking along beaches anywhere in the world that were viable suitors wherever she seemed to cast her eye. I'm not calling her a slut, it wasn't sleeping around merely the identification of prospective partners, but to me it appeared that for her finding a new partner was as easy as going to a supermarket.

For me by contrast it seems like 1 out of 10 girls I actually like have any actual interest in me. Suggesting once again that there is no such thing as a reciprocal attraction, we must look for the 'double-coincidence-of-wants' there is no give and take, no subconscious chemical medium of exchange to step in and grease the wheel. Thus it appears I am doomed to that narrow sliver if where my Venn diagrams overlap 'People who are attracted to tohm' and 'People tohm is attracted to' which given what Gilbert's book tells me is going to shift and change all the time anyway.

But not that above I said 'it seems' like 1 out of 10 girls I like have any actual interest in me. Truth is I just don't know. I never falsified this theory because the majority of girls I've liked over my years I never actually asked out. In large part this is due to the fact that often they were taken at the time I was interested in them. Or alternatively I would be. On top of that, I was a chronic fantasizer thus I increased the risk of rejection tenfold and had no incentive to test my attraction against theirs.

So maybe, just maybe there is such a thing as reciprocal attraction. Again to the affirmative is not just that my feisty ex is probably much better at communicating her interest in people than I am, but also mancrushes.

I have had one I am accutely aware of, it was Yusuke, he was this cool cool very cool Japanese guy, the sort of guy I'd pimp my sister to if I'd thought of it. He turned up to basketball and was damn good at it. I didn't want to sleep with him per se, but I did try to emulate him. His hairstyles, dress sense and japanese speech patterns. He is one of the few japanese people to not become my best friend. I have a feeling the mancrush wasn't mutual but I did crave his approval. One of the highlights of my street balling career was scoring a put back and turning around to see Yuseke giving the 'black power' salute.

Yusuke never tried overtly to ditch me from his gang, I suspect though my skills weren't up to scratch. But have I had any other mancrushes? I've certainly been the recipient of them, my sister has a friend that works in our local bikeshop, apparantly he has a mancrush on me. D-Ro may claim that I had a mancrush on him, but to this day I swear I thought he was gay and was just trying to get him to cheat on John.

But when man-crushes are reciprocal you just become BFFs. Best Friends Forever. If somebody thinks you are really cool and you in turn think they are really cool you start sitting next to each other in english class and the teacher turns around to find you laughing at felching or whatever and you hold out from telling the teacher what it means because then you won't be able to call people felchers anymore in class. Or you set up a mandate to 'smash stuff'.

I keep thinking of all the BFFs I have were the friendship was instigated initially by a one-way 'attraction' I don't want to sound queer or nothing, but typically one guy decides another guy is cool and pays them time and attention. This in turn forces that person to pay time and attention to somebody normally outside their social circle. Bingo-bango, the (I assume* platonic) attraction is set.

So man-crushes are only man-crushes when they fail, they are one way. Could it be? Could it possibly be that the same is true of hetero/homo-sexual attraction? That some component is feedback, I've read that 'women want to be wanted' and on at least one occassion I felt as if somebody hitting on me had actually pointed out to me I wanted to hit on them, but somebody should do some safe, clinical study. Goleman or Gilbert or whatever.

what would I do with the results? Probably nothing. Knowledge doesn't make your balls any bigger.


mr_john said...

I was going to post an outraged comment about how I was the initial proponent of the date-someone-you-actually-like school of thought, but my searches through my email backlog are inconclusive...

ohminous_t said...

plagurism is a serious offence at MIT.