How to Pick a Lover

Posts tagged ‘emotional attraction’

Picking a Lover: Taking Chances

Why not go out on a limb? Isn’t that where the fruit is?
—Frank Scully

The process of picking a lover is a process of prediction and projection. You think: “If I were to have Robert as a lover, how would he be? Would we fit well together? Would he make me happy? How would being with Robert compare with being with Michael? Who knows?”

Cupid

Cupid (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

No one knows. It isn’t that we are left with an inexact science. We have no science at all. Cupid is, by definition, capricious and sometimes mischievously puts together two people who are complete opposites of each other. The most unlikely couples can be blissfully happy, drawn together by a magnetic attraction no one else can understand.

On the other hand, sometimes a marriage which seems made in heaven is, in fact, a private hell for the man and woman involved. Richard Needham, a former Canadian humor columnist for the Globe and Mail, puts it well when he points out, “You never know the truth about anyone else’s marriage; you only know the truth about your own, and you know exactly half of that.” Generalizations based on experience and common sense can suggest that some kinds of men are probably a better bet than others. There are guidelines about the kinds of men who might make better lovers for you than others. Alas, there are no guarantees.

Each man and woman is a complex individual; each relationship unfolds under unique circumstances. Since predictions must be made without the aid of a crystal ball, any advice which can be given is less than crystal clear. You could have selected some men for all the right reasons, men who had all the right attributes. Nevertheless, your choice led to a disastrous affair because something unforeseen happened. He crashed his car or lost his job or succumbed to a numbing midlife depression or encountered some other hazard no one could have predicted.

Or as often happens with young marriages, the man you picked may have been exactly right for you at the time, and then you grew up and changed your mind—or he did.

Sharing the experiences and perspectives of others will not give you absolute answers about what you should do next. It will, however, give you something to ponder as you sit by the phone, waiting for it to ring. Or in a bolder mood, as you scroll through your Blackberry or iphone address book, trying to decide whose number to call.

Picking A Lover: The Rating Game

Women are moved by sexual impulses towards particular men, not towards men as a whole, and men will never understand women as long as they do not understand this.
—H. M. Swanwick, The Future of the Women’s Movement

When you look around a party or when you go through your email address book or when you count on your fingers and toes men whom you have found attractive, you make implicit decisions about their appeal relative to one other. You also make decisions about their attractiveness to you. You have formed impressions based on appearance and conversations and, perhaps, on reports from other people; and you mesh these together into an overall response to the man. The many factors involved in sex appeal or animal magnetism or whatever it is called are difficult to define, but they combine to form an impression that is easy to recognize.

Every time you meet a new man, you form an opinion about him. Sometimes you feel indifferent, sometimes you feel a faint distaste, sometimes you feel drawn to him. In your responses, you subconsciously rank him from terrible to terrific, from fatuous to fascinating, from disgusting to delectable. It’s fortunate for everyone that the man who seems exactly right to one woman may not even seem passably attractive to another.

Helen of Troy

Helen of Troy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Christopher Marlow in Dr. Faustus describes Helen of Troy as having “the face that launched a thousand ships.” Some irreverent young men, not attuned to the sacredness of classic poetry, borrow this line to rate their women. Out girl watching, they will say cryptically to each other, “Five hundred ships, huh?” “No, I don’t think so. Three hundred at most. But look at that one! Eight hundred easy.” The popular 1980’s movie Ten, featuring Bo Derek wearing rows of corn braids and not much else, was based on a variation of this perennial theme where men rate women on a one-to-ten scale.

Long-distance love affairs call for another sort of rating scheme. Just ask yourself: how far would you be willing to commute for a rendezvous? Some men are attractive enough to draw you across the street. Some are attractive enough to rate a drive across town, if it isn’t raining. Some of the spectacular ones are worth a bus trip from Boston to Philadelphia. A few even rate a transatlantic flight.

On the other end of the scale, to quote a woman friend of mine, “Well, if we had twin beds, and his was all the way across the room, it wouldn’t be worth the trip.”

When you are thinking about rating various men and comparing their pros and cons, there is another problem to be taken into account. In assessing a man and the pleasure he gives you or might give you, you cannot always average out the good with the bad. Sometimes, the bad is so bad that it destroys all of the rest.

In Fats Waller’s song, “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” the man turfs out his girlfriend, complaining, “Your feet’s too big!” If shoe size is that important to you, then a beautiful smile and charm won’t compensate. However, it’s important to learn to overlook unimportant quirks and refrain from making arbitrary judgments over insignificant flaws. The more tolerant you can manage to be, the more people you can find potentially compatible, and the more tolerance you can expect in return.

Except for axe murderers, many of the so-called fatal flaws of physique or character are not all that fatal. Sometimes, however, a potential lover has a trait that makes him beyond the pale as far as you are concerned. He’s like a phone number you dial by memory. If you correctly remember six out of seven numbers, your memory is 86 percent correct, but you still don’t get the person you were trying to call.

Six correct out of seven is pretty good; but with phone numbers, as with people, it’s not good enough.

Lovers Are Not For Everyone

Women keep a special corner of their hearts for sins they have never committed.
—Cornelia Otis Skinner

There are many circumstances under which a modern woman might decide that having a lover would increase her quality of life and would bring her a great deal of joy and satisfaction. It does not follow, however, that this is a decision that would be right for all women all of the time. At least three kinds of women will not be interested in the prospect of taking a lover: the woman with homophilic tendencies, the contented celibate wife, and the (presumably contented) wife in a traditional marriage.

Women as Lovers

Women as Lovers (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Some women who are seeking a lover are not seeking a man at all but are instead looking for another woman. The sexual revolution and the new permissiveness have made the lesbian option an increasingly acceptable alternative to traditional marriage. Some women may be exclusively homosexual. Others who are basically heterosexual may, under special circumstances, find themselves in what amounts to a homosexual encounter. Or they may wish to have a woman lover in addition to a husband or male lovers. However, the focus of my blog happens to be on picking a lover who is a man. It may well be that many of the same principles would also apply to picking a lover who is a woman. The examples in my posts happen to be male oriented: their application is a matter of personal preference and taste.

To borrow a slogan from another context: “Sometimes the best man for the job is a woman.”

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