Patterns in Attraction: Developing Self-Awareness

pexels-photo-38940

Most of us have patterns in the kind of people we are attracted to. I know I do! All kinds of factors can come into play – personality, age, gender, status, ethnic background, etc. To some extent, this is healthy and natural. There are many wonderful and attractive qualities to be admired in others! There are also certain circumstances that can predispose us to developing romantic attraction to people. It’s smart to be aware of this in order be prepared, and to deal with inevitable temptations that arise.

I’ve been intrigued by the concept behind Imago Therapy, which argues that our attractions in adulthood are based on our childhood experiences with our parents. According to Imago Therapy, we tend to unconsciously choose romantic partners or spouses who have the same negative traits as our parents, because we want to heal unresolved hurts and wounds from the past. (Please note, I am not trying to argue that same sex attraction is always – or even usually – caused by damaging relationships with parents. I simply want to empower you to be prepared and self-aware when you face temptations.)

I have found that there are certain personality types that particularly attract me – as I can look back and see a pattern of developing crushes on the same personality types, over and over! I’ve also found that at times my attractions to close friends or potential romantic partners have a connection to my parents, as Imago Therapy posits. Sometimes this might be the fact that the person is older, married and in a position of authority. In other cases, it might have something more to do with the personality – or perhaps the things I missed out on as a child. If my mother was critical, I may find myself irrevocably drawn to someone who is critical. Or if my father was distant, men who are emotionally unavailable may seem strangely appealing.

Another pattern in our attractions will be certain circumstances or moods. I know when I’m tired, down or bored, I’m much more likely to give into the temptation to lustful thoughts or a romantic fantasy. Or even just thinking about someone too much, to the point of becoming a bit obsessive. There are many situations I’ve found where suddenly I am struggling with lustful thoughts more than usual – and it catches me off-guard.

Generally these are times of transition, or difficult periods in my life. In my case, I’ve had plenty of health issues and chronic pain, which can exacerbate feelings of loneliness and longing. It may be stress at work, moving house, relocating to another city, changing jobs, changing churches, a friend moving away, or a death in the family. It might be that I’m going through a conflict, feeling rejected by someone, or dealing with unexpected criticism. I also find that when I’m struggling with anxiety about anything, I tend to seek comfort and security from people more.

I remember suddenly feeling attracted to a certain work colleague, and wondering why I had never felt all that excited about her up until that point. It remained a mystery to me, until I went through a systematic series of questions about attraction. As I answered them, I realised that one of my favourite colleagues who I previously talked to frequently, had recently left and moved overseas.

I discovered that my romantic fantasy was actually my way of subconsciously trying to deal with – and perhaps suppress – the feelings of sadness and loss. Then it made perfect sense that my attention was drawn to someone else, because I missed my old friend at work and wanted something (or someone) to comfort or distract me. I also longed for some company and companionship during stressful times, and wished that someone else would affirm and pursue me.

Here are some questions that have helped me in dealing with situations where I felt attracted or infatuated with someone, and wanted to explore it on a deeper level.

Questions about Attraction – Female

  1. What were your feelings prior to meeting this woman?
  1. What were your top three felt needs at the time?
  1. What do you like about this woman?
  1. What was the first thing that drew you to her?
  1. What are her special features and characteristics?
  1. What does she do, what are her passions, and what does she believe in?
  1. Does she remind you of anyone you have known in the past?
  1. How are you alike?
  1. How are you different?
  1. How do you feel when you are around her?
  1. What do you like to do together?
  1. Is there anything about her that frightens you?
  1. Is there anything about her you dislike?
  1. What do you want out of your relationship with her?
  1. What are your hopes and desires for this relationship?
  1. What relational longings have been stirred in you as a result of meeting her?
  1. What do you hope to experience if your sexual fantasy is fulfilled?
  1. What do you fear if you enter into a relationship with her?
  1. What do you fear if you don’t enter into a relationship with her?

Source: The Heart of Female Same Sex Attraction by Janelle Hallman*

 

Questions about Attraction – Male

  1. What were your feelings prior to meeting this man?
  1. What were your top three felt needs at the time?
  1. What do you like about this man?
  1. What was the first thing that drew you to him?
  1. What are his special features and characteristics?
  1. What does he do, what are his passions, and what does he believe in?
  1. Does he remind you of anyone you have known in the past?
  1. How are you alike?
  1. How are you different?
  1. How do you feel when you are around him?
  1. What do you like to do together?
  1. Is there anything about him that frightens you?
  1. Is there anything about him you dislike?
  1. What do you want out of your relationship with him?
  1. What are your hopes and desires for this relationship?
  1. What relational longings have been stirred in you as a result of meeting him?
  1. What do you hope to experience if your sexual fantasy is fulfilled?
  1. What do you fear if you enter into a relationship with him?
  1. What do you fear if you don’t enter into a relationship with him?

Source: Adapted from The Heart of Female Same Sex Attraction by Janelle Hallman*

 

It can help you analyse your own circumstances, weaknesses and types of people you tend to be drawn to. It may even be useful to make a list of traits or personality types that you normally gravitate towards, so you can be prepared in the future. Ask yourself questions to go deeper. It could be even more fruitful to discuss this further with a counsellor, mentor or trusted friend. Others may observe patterns in our lives and relationships that we are blinded to.

Not only that, consider what moods or circumstances tend to precede falling into lust or unhealthy behaviour. Some find the “HALT” acronym relevant, and prepare for times when they are Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired. You may also add other moods/situations to that list, and consider how you can respond differently to those emotions when they resurface. How can you express your emotions in healthy ways, rather than attempting to numb or distract yourself?

The more prepared and self-aware you are, the more insight you will have into the real reasons behind your temptations and struggles. And the more insight you have, the better you will be able to find healthy ways to meet your needs and resolve the issue directly – instead of trying to hide the problem, distract yourself or being blinded by intense emotions.

*  Please note that I do not agree with everything in Janelle Hallman’s book ‘The Heart of Female Same-Sex Attraction’, which is primarily written from an ex-gay perspective. However, I found certain excerpts to be quite useful.

 

Image Source: Pexels

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s