What do our attractions tell us about our lives

September 1st, 2021
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Last month we explored the topic of ATTRACTION in 7 different cities. From Los Angeles to Stockholm, we found that there were so many different types of attraction between sexual, romantic, aesthetic, sensual, emotional or intellectual. Yet regardless of form, our bodies seem to connect (or not) with the energy of attraction in similar ways.

Here are our key takeaways…

The feeling of attraction

As we checked in with bodies, we realized that when we were attracted to a person, a place or an experience, it either felt like a force was pulling us from above or an impulse coming directly from our gut. For many of us, daydreaming over our attractions translates into a tingling sensation, similar to when we feel excitement, anticipation or curiosity. It feels playful and flirtatious. For others, it was the opposite. We felt emptiness or a block; we struggled to remember the last time we felt attracted to something or someone.

Yet the feeling of attraction can sometimes be so powerful, intoxicating almost, that it becomes difficult for us to pause and ask ourselves if what/who we are attracted to adds value to our lives. So we jump right in without thinking of the consequences. Other times, the tingling sensation becomes a tightness in our chest or throat as our mind starts to analyze and wonder: What could happen if I follow this attraction? Would I be judged by others? (e.g. “responsible parents” don’t leave a stable job to live a nomadic life, or do they?) What if I fail? (e.g. moving cross country to explore a new relationship only to realize it wasn’t meant to be). Culture also plays a rolepreventing us in some cases from exploring our attractions because we’ve been conditioned to think that they are “wrong” (e.g., feeling attracted to someone outside of traditional heteronormative narratives or beyond our race, religion, or current identity).

How do you relate to the feeling of attraction? Do you allow yourself to go there? Do you become curious about your attractions? Do you judge them? A bit of both?

There’s so much mystery behind attraction

At times, it’s easy for us to recognize why we are feeling attracted to something or someone. Perhaps they embody our core values or they are living a life we wish was ours. Other times our minds can’t explain what our bodies are experiencing. We feel a magnetic energy, an invisible force that is beyond what the eye can see. Like the attract and repel forces in a magnet.

Across our tables, we talked about a “deeper knowing,” a part of us that knows there’s “something” in the unknown that we are connected to. Like locking eyes with a stranger and feeling connected to their soul, dreaming of moving to Mexico even if we have never been there, or becoming partners with someone we hardly know anything about. In those cases, can we just trust the pull of what is there? Can we be curious without needing an explanation?

Our attractions can also be complex and contradictory. We may be attracted to living a very homie, sedentary life AND also be attracted to adventure and a nomadic lifestyle. Can we be ok with being attracted to contrasting ideas/feelings?

Our human tendency is to want to attach meaning to things we don’t understand. But what could happen to the bewildering feeling of attraction if we try to over rationalize it? How do we save or create space for its mystery?

The myth of “healthy” vs “unhealthy” attractions

Across our tables, most of us agreed that there was no such thing as a “healthy” or “unhealthy” attraction — but rather a healthy or unhealthy relationship to the attraction.

When we relate to our attractions in a “healthy” way, we know when to stop and when to continue. We feel in “control” and trust that our decisions are coming from an intentional and clear place. When we have an “unhealthy” relationship to our attractions, we feel that some “dark force’’ is taking the lead; we completely clam up (pushing our attractions away) or struggle to stop (for instance, we can’t end a toxic relationship, we can’t stop partying hard or watching too much porn). In these cases, we can enter loops of intense shame and self-judgement. But what if we embraced the wisdom from spiritual teacher A.H. Almaas, who talks about “that part of you that loves you more than anything else that has created roadblocks to lead you to yourself.” What if we trusted that this “dark force” was here to help us know and love ourselves more? How would we relate to it?

Elements that help us create a “healthy” relationship to our attractions

  • Playfulness: bringing an energy of joy and fun as we are exploring our attractions; not taking ourselves too seriously. Being more child-like.

  • Curiosity: being curious about what’s attracting us without over analyzing — what we are attracted to can give us clues about our hidden desires! If you are attracted to things that you know are hurtful, tap into your curiosity and consider exploring them with a trusted and loving therapist or guide.

  • Coquetterie: relating to our attractions in an inviting, amorous way.

  • Imagination: allowing our creativity and imagination to expand, without limiting ourselves too soon.

Elements that can create an “unhealthy” relationship to our attractions

  • Judgement: over-rationalizing or judging what we feel attracted to (perhaps because they don’t fit traditional norms or societal / personal expectations).

  • Shutting down: clamming up when we feel attraction. We do this to protect ourselves, what could be other safe ways to explore our attractions?

  • Manipulation/envy: taking advantage of other people’s attraction to us or feeling too much envy — how could we turn some of that envy into inspiration?

  • Over-Fantasizing: continuously dreaming about our attractions without taking any actual steps towards pursuing/exploring them; feeling empty or resentment after dreaming.

Is the grass really greener on the other side?

In a society that constantly pushes us to crave more (the latest iPhone, a better pay, a partner that can simultaneously be our best friend and lover etc.) feeling 100% attracted and complete is rather rare. Most of us admitted that there was always about 20% missing; and we were surprised to realize how much of our focus goes into that 20% gap instead of the other way around.

What could happen if we accept that no relationship, no job, no home, will ever fully satisfy us? Would that take a lot of pressure off of our attractions? Could accepting that there will always be a “20% gap” help us release our need for perfection?

Every dissatisfaction (and attraction) is an opportunity to pause, check in, and auto-reflect. How do you view your status quo (your job, relationships, etc.) if you consider 80% = “success” (keeping in mind that success can mean different things for each of us)? Do you still feel a longing? Do you still feel empty? Do you still feel a strong desire for change? If that’s the case, perhaps this is an opportunity to reevaluate your life and make some important changes. If, on the contrary, the longing dissipates; if you feel open and desirous to connect and appreciate what you have, perhaps this is an opportunity to celebrate what makes up your life. The point here is not to dismiss the “20% gap”, but to use it as a source of information so we can make the grass greener HERE, in this present moment.

EXPERIMENTS

  • How do you experience attraction across different genders and body types? In a completely free and open society, what attractions may you explore that you haven’t already?

  • Reflect on what’s attracting you right now. How are you relating to those attractions? Are you exploring them, judging them, shutting them down, over-fantasizing about them? What would be the most nourishing way to relate to them?

  • Are you attracted to yourself? To your body? To the life you are creating? Notice the feelings and sensations that come up when you sit and meditate upon these questions. Is there anything that needs to change for you to feel more attracted to yourself? What do you want to celebrate about you and your life?

Written by Julie in Rome, Veronica in Miami, Alana in Lisbon, and Roxanne in Edinburgh with contributions from Dinner Confidential hosts, Uditi in Stockholm, Caroline in Nairobi, Mira and Aden in Los Angeles, and Leslie in Jersey City.

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