Friday, January 13, 2012

The Rules of Attraction


I’ve been thinking about attraction a lot lately.  How does attraction happen?  How do two people become physically attracted to each other?  Can physical attraction grow or lessen over a period of time?  What draws me to someone initially?  How is my attraction to other individuals continual, strengthened, lessened, etc.  What purpose does this attraction serve in the grand scheme of things? 

I think of this quote from Hinckley:

“People inquire about our position on those who consider themselves so-called gays and lesbians. My response is that we love them as sons and daughters of God. They may have certain inclinations which are powerful and which may be difficult to control. Most people have inclinations of one kind or another at various times. If they do not act upon these inclinations, then they can go forward as do all other members of the Church. If they violate the law of chastity and the moral standards of the Church, then they are subject to the discipline of the Church, just as others are.” (Gordon B. Hinckley, Ensign, Nov. 1998, 71)

I remember when I first read this quote, it didn’t bother me.  To this day, I love me some GBH.  He will always be a special prophet to me.  That said, I read this quote now and take issue with it.  Still love GBH, but I have a hard time with this quote.  All of my friends and family have inclinations as I do, we’re not too different from each other in the things that we want in life.  Yet, they are at full liberty to act upon them and they get to “go forward”, and it’s encouraged that they do so.  Very young couples get married and then don’t work out because they don’t really know who they are, but it’s encouraged.  My mom, who’s a widow, is free to start dating again just so she can have some companionship, but she is clear that she wants my late father for eternity.  But I don’t get to act on my inclinations.  I don’t get that companionship.

It’s almost like taking 10 kids to the dollar store, giving each of them a one dollar bill to buy whatever item they want, but holding one of them back and telling them that they are not allowed to spend their dollar.

I find that I have a weakness for attractive men.  I’m not sexually active (except for a handful of very mild experiences) and for the most part, my physical attraction does not lead me to act out physically.  But currently, I am attracted to a guy and I find that a lot of my time is spent thinking about him.  I think of the nasty, naked stuff with this guy, sure, but most of my thoughts are consumed with: 

“How would it feel to come home to him after a long day at work?”
“What would it be like to go on a trip with him?”
“What if he felt as strongly about me?”
“How cool would it be to support him and encourage him in his goals?”
“What if I could look at him any time I wanted for as long as I wanted?”

All of this would be fairly easy to dismiss if it were just about physical attraction.  I’m clear that love is much more than being attracted to someone.  To quote GBH again, in referring to four cornerstones upon which to build a strong marriage or relationship, he said: 

“The first of these I call Respect for One Another, the kind of respect that regards one’s companion as the most precious friend on earth and not as a possession or a chattel to be forced or compelled to suit one’s selfish whims.”

I have felt that strongly about a man before.  My physical attraction sometimes leads to lustful thoughts that can be hard to shake, but honestly, it’s this kind of ideal that makes it harder for me to deal with my attraction to men.  It’s my nature to respect and cherish people, to be giving and to find ways to demonstrate my love or appreciation for them.  I don’t get to display these traits on a romantic relationship level, however and that makes me very sad.

I’ve been in love twice in my life.  Both times, it was very painful and tough to deal with, partly because neither guy was available.  Also, I wasn’t at a point in my life where I could consider asking them out anyway (still not sure I’m ready to make that step).  I’m next to certain that they couldn’t return my feelings anyway.  But what I found to be most difficult was letting go of the stuff that comes along with my physical attraction.  It’s fine if the guys weren’t available or if they weren’t into me.  But then, what am I supposed to do with the overwhelming need I have to be loved and cherished and appreciated, etc.  Being in love with someone that you can never be with is one of the most painful things I’ve dealt with and I’m scared as hell that it’s always going to be that way.  I’m a lifetime window shopper.

I can get that validation and “warm fuzzy-ness” through other sources, sure, but I’m tired as hell of not being able to get it through the relationship channel.  There is only so much one can get from a good career, supportive friends, a loving family, and a close relationship with God.  Well, I should be careful on that last one and not put any kind of limit on that.  But you know what I mean. 

I just wish my physical attraction didn’t govern so many of my choices.  Yes, I’m in control and I decide what I think about, “As a man thinketh” and all that good stuff.  But man, it’s hard to put it aside.  I can put aside thoughts of “man, he’s hot!”  But once I develop other kinds of feelings for a guy on top of being physically attracted to him, it’s a fire that I almost can’t put out.  Luckily, it’s only been that strong twice, but I’d prefer not to make it thrice if I’m not allowed to give in to this inclination, even though everyone else gets to.

5 comments:

  1. Before anything else... Goodness. Mathias Lauridsen is deffo my hero. He made me want to use Gucci Pour Homme II when I first saw it on TV. Hah!

    Anyway, we've been told that all our inclinations to unworthy things, maybe it to alcohol, gambling or unnecessary sexual drives, are temporary. I'm sure it will be taken from us after the resurrection IF we will be perfected because we were able to control it here in mortality. Life is about passing the test. That is your test. If you pass it with flying colors, eternity will be yours with unending love to share with your "forever" family.

    Bright up. Life is beautiful.

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  2. Welcome to 'No Man's Land'.

    Yes, it is tough. I fell in love with a guy in my Ward who was also my home teaching companion. I had constant fantasies about him, and imagined him leaving his family and shacking up with me. But of course, he was straight, and none of that was to be. Over time the enfatuation died down and I realized that if I did love and respect this guy I would do what was best for HIM, not for me. So I started avoiding association with him and getting a little distance between us. Eventually he moved away, which was a great blessing to me.

    The only thing that has helped 'fill the void' for me is to get involved with kids. They are so loving and full of life and energy. There are tons of them out there who have no one to spend quality time with. Maybe there's a family in your Ward that you could befriend (I started sitting with my Bishop's family in Sacrament Meeting), or you could sign up for a program like Big Brothers.

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  3. One thing you can do is talk to a gay man married to a woman; especially someone who has been married for a long time. Asked him what it was like for him as a young man and how things have changed over time and how he is doing now. The reason I suggest this is because if you talk to enough these husbands then you might get an idea of just how strong the feelings you have are and just how much improvement you can expect to make it controlling those feelings as time goes on.

    Regards,
    Philip

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  4. I forgot to mention the most important part...I did what I am suggesting to you years ago and found first impressions very misleading and only after getting to know some of these gay married men for several months did I get a true picture of what life wa really like for them. Despite what I learned, I decided to stay married so I have now learned first hand that I was not unique in any way and that what life had in store for me was going to be pretty much the same as what these men had experienced.

    Regards,
    Philip

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  5. I really enjoyed your post. I just found your blog, but I related a lot to it. GBH was one of my favorite church leaders, and like you used to be fine with that quote from GBH. But when I read it again recently in the law of chastity lesson a few months back, it really bothered me.
    See, while yes, there is a sexual component to my attraction with men, it goes a lot deeper than that. What I actually want is intimacy with men. A real connection. I want my sex to be meaningful. You know, like sex is supposed to be. Not all sex is meaningful, but having it with someone you love and care about, and are attracted to, makes a big difference.
    It's not right to me that we aren't allowed to "act on our inclinations." The inclination to find a husband, someone to love, share life with, do all the things we are taught in the church about and taught to value, is something good. "If there is anything virtuous, lovely, of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things." Once you get past all the lies and emotionally charged rhetoric about same-sex relationships, you realize that they are fairly normal relationships. Normal break-ups, disappointments, problems.
    To me, there's nothing sinful or wrong about that, loving another person. I don't see why I can't just "bridle my passions" and follow the law of chastity like every other heterosexual member. It seems to be an unfair double standard to me, and it really bothers me.
    In the interest of disclosure, I'm not as set on following the law of chastity as I was as an orthodox Mormon so take that for what's it's worth. And in response to the other comments, I'll also disclose that I'm divorced, and was married to a woman. That's a long complicated subject, but a summary of my opinion is: I think they are valid relationships, albeit problematic. Yet from my own experience, I would not marry a woman again. That being said, there is love, friendship, and companionship. It's all very real, and all very painful to get divorced. I don't judge those who choose to stay married, but I also understand those who make the choice to divorce.

    Alex

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