Monday, February 7, 2011

On (sexual) attraction

Just as was the case with envy, the sex market is determined by competitivity - those who posses certain features that others might envy them for, have more chances of securing a sexual partner. Is it that we want to be with someone knowing that others of his/her sex envy them for features we know they desire. Men want to be with models knowing that other men will be jealous and other women envious. We want to be with rich guys knowing that men will be jealous and women envious. Are our desirous really determined by jealousy of the opposite sex and envy of the same sex?

Or are we using the mechanism of competition to ensure we end up with someone with similar values and from a similar background, thereby ensuring our compatibility? After all, we only stand a real chance if we stay in our comparison class - just like I don't stand a chance of marrying a royal I might not be compatible with someone without a degree. So I am competing with women who are educated middle class with pretty faces and average (tall) bodies. This seems to mean that I will end up with someone who is just as middle class as me. A rich guy would be able to attract women whose bodies are more desirable. So I will have to go down the ladder until I get to someone who is unable to compete for someone higher up on the female values of beauty. This might explain what happens when in a couple the man gets older, richer and thereby more attractive on the male value-scale while the woman sink on the female value-scale by becoming older less sexually attractive and less competitive. Is the only way to establish a stable bound really to nail him down by having children together and establishing a nice cosy home he'd like to return to at night?

Maybe we should take into account that although we all mingle on the sex market in some way or other, different partners value different features differently. Maybe the real challenge is to find someone who places the same values as high as me - as I lack essential physical features, I would have to place companionship over sexual attractiveness. This however posses the problem of ascertaining a value - match. There does not seem to be any way of ensuring that the partner actually wants the same - someone who might only want casual sex in a non-exclusive relationship might only be able to obtain this by pretending that he is looking for a long-term serious relationship. Conversely, someone wanting to be in a serious relationship might be afraid of scaring the other person away by talking about committal issues and might pretend that a casual relationship is fine.

On the other hand, there is something to be said about finding someone with different values - but who competes on the same market. So for instance, the most successful relationship I know about is that of my uncle and aunt. Both are from an average to good-looking middle to upper-middle class background, the only difference being that his family is slightly more educated and her family is slightly wealthier. He is an incredibly gifted theoretical physicist who excels at everything he is doing, be it art, music, philosophy or indeed physics. She is a chatty, friendly, social art-historian-gone-art-and-German-teacher. By effectively competing on the same market but valuing the other one's features (presumably) higher than their own features, they can have the impression, that they got someone who is allegedly in a "higher" market sphere - she got a genious and he got an intelligent chatty girl. By thinking that they landed someone who is higher up than them, they are more motivated to hang on to each other as they might not be able to land someone who is equally high up. Although they are effectively on the same market, their difference in value system motivates them to stay together. As the saying goes: "Gegensaetze ziehen sich an" or 'contrasts attract'.

If this is true than our behaviour would mirror the natural or chemical attraction that is said to happen when two human beings feel attracted to each other. Scientists say that people feel attracted to each other when their immune systems are different to each other - apparently, by pairing up the offspring is hoped to have a stronger immune system than the one of its parents.

Maybe we can postulate that 'contrasts attract' is true from a biological point of view as well as the value systems which keep people together whether 'gleich und gleich gesellt sich gern' ("birds of a feather flock together") remains true for determining the market on which, in turn, differences are thought to guarantee emotional as well as biological - if there is indeed a difference - attraction.

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