Being desired

I find I tend to panic a bit when I notice someone is attracted to me. It often happens that I notice their attractedness well before I’ve decided whether I am attracted to them, or indeed paid any attention to their attractiveness. I met someone recently who, it’s clear, fancies me quite a bit, but although I could repeat a lot of what he said (in half an hour’s conversation), I could give only the haziest description of what he looks like! (I don’t think it’s too much of a stereotype to say that it’s rather rarer for a man to speak to a woman without noticing the way she looks than vice versa!). Anyway, the effect is that I often feel I’m under pressure to catch up and decide!

It’s more unease than panic, I suppose – a feeling that the situation is out of my control, and that I have a responsibility to make my mind up straight away about what I want so as to avoid giving the wrong signals and leading someone on. And yet I know that for many women being desired is something that gives them great pleasure and affirmation. And some women, consciously or unconsciously, use this power to manipulate and control men.

I’ve never wanted that sort of power, and I’ve never sought out that sort of affirmation. I was a bit of a late developer in the dating game, as I’ve mostly had other priorities that seemed more interesting (and deep down less scary!) than pursuing relationships when I was quite happily and busily single! So being desired was always rather unfamiliar ground, and kept taking me by surprise.

It didn’t help that most of the guys I noticed looking at me that way often showed it in a dog-like, rather hopeless, sad and unassertive devotion, which (sorry guys), just wasn’t at all attractive to me and made me feel guilty about not giving them the attention they clearly craved. (On the other hand, when I noticed I was attracted to someone before I had an idea how they felt, I was often so nervous about whether the feelings were returned that I was completely unable to read their behaviour at all!)

Having said that, I’m getting better… the first time I realised someone was attracted to me (I must have been about 17) I panicked and avoided the poor guy (with whom I’d been pursuing a relaxed and (from my side) entirely asexual friendship) for about a month. I’ve come a long way since then, and have navigated serious relationships and casual flirtations with increasing confidence. And once I’ve confirmed that desire is mutual, I am very happily uninhibited. But still I catch myself, as a few days ago, feeling a bit uneasy when I notice someone fancies me, before I’ve made my mind up about them.

But this time, having identified my reaction, I am working to change it. To accept, and to enjoy, the fact of my attractiveness. To accept that me just being who I am, physically and in personality, is going to be attractive to people. (I’d never claim to be drop-dead gorgeous in the conventional sense, but I have gradually overcome the false modesty and lack of confidence that stopped me being aware that I am, in my way, very attractive to particular men).

I am starting to feel convinced that, if someone is attracted to me, it’s not something I’m doing to them. So if they end up experiencing confusion or frustration or disappointment, that’s not my responsibility. Nor do I need to change the way I want to behave naturally – e.g. dancing with less energy and joy – just because of the effect it might have on people watching me. There’s a world of difference between setting out deliberately to seduce someone, which I feel does confer some responsiblity for feelings that have been provoked consciously, and happening to seduce someone by being myself.

So most of the time, if someone is attracted to me, it’s just their reaction to the person I am. And the fact that they are attracted to me does not reduce my control over the situation. My feeling of being powerless comes because I feel I should be responsible for controlling their feelings. But if I stop feeling responsible for that, I can see that the fact that they are attracted to me does give me a degree of power.

Not that I wish to be manipulative or abuse that power. But actually I think being aware of it, and accepting it, will make me kinder and less likely to confuse or hurt people. I hope that through accepting my attractiveness I will find it easier to relax, be myself, and react naturally and frankly, rather than being driven by fears. As with so many things, it is often fear that makes us behave most cruelly towards others – and I’m sure I hurt and confused the poor guy who first shocked me by being attractive to me. I suspect using attractiveness to manipulate often results from fear in one way or another.

Alongside that acceptance I need to develop another – an acceptance of my own desire or lack of desire or simply haven’t-made-my-mind-up-yet. That any of these feelings are appropriate and acceptable, regardless of whether the other person desires me or not.

I have a feeling life might be more interesting with this new perspective…

( Photo – Pretty Woman Walking Down the street, originally uploaded by QTR at Flickr.

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10 responses to “Being desired

  1. there is no need to panic,, if they are attracted to you for all the right reasons,, they still will be when you have taken the time you need to address your own feelings….

  2. Thanks Paisley – I think you’re absolutely right there.

    Interestingly I don’t actually tend to worry that someone will lose interest by the time I’ve made my mind up – what worries me is rather that my behaviour will lead them to think I’m interested but that I’ll have to turn them down.

    Perversely I’m more often afraid that they are attracted than that they’re not or will cease to be so!

  3. Hi Lirone,

    You’re right to think you are not responsible for other people’s feelings about you, so don’t worry about that. But I also think we have a duty, once we become aware of such feelings in the other, to limit their possible anguish by stating clearly where we are at. This can perfectly include even just telling them that we don’t know exactly where we are at concerning them at the moment. If anything, this shows concerns for their feelings and an acceptance of their “hommage”, and besides that, it’s an incredibly interesting and empowering challenge to be able to state your position clearly to a man (or woman, whoever one is dealing with) in such circumstances. I say this from experience. People don’t usually declare themselves, apart from the odd dog-eyed devoted attitude you talked about, for fear of rejection or humiliation. In the reverse case, something strangely akin if reversed happens, I think: we are just as terrified of hurting and then also being rejected by someone whose company we may enjoy and value. Not saying anything can lead to immense confusion on both sides (and has done in multiple cases for me). And saying things has had strange effects too in some cases, such as when I told a man who obviously fancied me that I was afraid, however much I liked him and enjoyed our time together, I could never return such feelings and he responded by telling me I was a presumptuous little girl who thought far too much of herself and that he had no such feelings for me whatsoever… I ended up being the one who was humiliated! Fact is, I learned much later he’d spent two whole days composing his letter to me to teach me a lesson for rejecting him!! Anyway, it was still a good lesson for me, because it taught me: 1) I felt I still had been right to express my concern, despite the horrible feelings it gave me, 2) I learned that he was a dishonest manipulator so I should be wary of him, and 3) it taught me to trust my own intuitions, which have never been wrong so far on such matters. In other cases with other men, it helped defuse a very edgy situation, even with a man I fancied but who was obviously uncomfortable in my presence. I was able to tell him my feelings but also to reassure him that what mattered more to me was our friendship and feeling of closeness and trust, so I was never going to pressure him and he needn’t be afraid of me. Every time, it was a challenge to me, and my heart would be bounding and I would be in anguish over their reaction, but every time, it was less challenging and I became more and more able to be confident, to accept the situation, their feelings and mine for whatever they were, and to remain myself. This eventually freed me from any such complexes. And I think I can say I can finally be totally honest and at ease with men whatever their feelings and mine. I must say I am pretty proud of this achievement, because I remember just how panicked I used to be in exactly the situations you described, Lirone. All this to say that such handicaps CAN be overcome! Good luck! 🙂

  4. i can def. relate to the slight feeling of uncomfortableness attached when you realize someone’s attracted to you, especially if you aren’t attracted to them in the least.

  5. You have analysed yourself pretty well Lirone! It was interesting to read this. I always wanted to be desired, because for me it was rare! That is because I was always something of a tomboy and got along with guys too well! I’ve had guys (who I had crush on) telling me about they girls they had fallen for or adored and guys telling me how wonderful it was talking to me because I understood them! That I was like a guy! I wondered what it was about those girls that I didn’t have, I was as good looking, and smarter (I thought) but the guys didn’t go crazy about me! How I would have loved that!
    I waited and waited for it…but anyway finally married my best friend. I was in love with him for years actually before he realised he was!! And our romance still isn’t over.

  6. well said and added a dimension to the subject I hadn’t put a lot of thought into..much to my chagrin..:) have a good day

  7. Katia – yes, that’s exactly what I meant by saying that accepting that power will make me kinder and less likely to confuse people. It’s not easy to bring this up when the other person doesn’t mention it, but I think it’s healthier in the long run!

    Lissa – I entirely agree – noticing that someone we desire returns that feeling is generally far less uncomfortable!

    Nita – I’m very happy to hear of your continued romance – always encouraging! I wouldn’t say desire is the most important thing in a relationship – or rather, the stereotypical love/lust at first sight type of desire isn’t important, because desire of a more relaxed kind can develop of its own accord so long as other things are right. Still, being able to deal honestly and appropriately with desire and being desired are important in the dating game!

    Robert – thanks, and welcome to my blog!

  8. As a guy attraction is always really complicated- especially since I have a number of platonic female friends who are quite attractive from an objective perspective. I think the perspective that it isn’t “your fault” or something “you’re doing to them” is a very healthy and powerful one. I also like the idea of seriously considering how attracted you are to them or “haven’t made up my mind yet” as the more important factor in your behavior and not letting it influencing how you dance. I’ll have to try to copy that mindset, I tend to get really nervous when I realize that a girl is into me and go into things a little full throttle to keep form “missing my chance.” The idea of slowing down seeing what it means to me beforehand seems healthy as well.

    Everything Will Be Alright – A Journey Through Couples Therapy

  9. I do think men and women are in general set up both biologically and socially to have quite incompatible reaction patterns on these matters – or at least different speeds of reaction. From my point of view if I am attracted to someone it’s slow to develop and doesn’t go away in a hurry!

  10. Pingback: #36: Unknown Directions, Different Destinations « Everything Will Be Alright – A Journey Through Couples Therapy

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