A couple of weeks ago, I was out on my own at a club, and I noticed something. An absence, really.  I was, at the time, seeing-or-considering-seeing (or being considered by) enough people that I didn’t really need or want to connect with anyone else.  In fact, I wanted actively to avoid further complications, because my calendar was already difficult enough.  Some dust has settled now, and things that were on the table got off the table before we ever got on a table, although I’m probably still as booked up as I care to be for now.

So, this strange sensation, I ultimately realized, was the absence of the need to attract anyone.  I’m not sure that, since discovering that I “liked girls” (and later that I “liked boys”), I have ever lacked that need.  Even in monogamous relationships, I was occasionally looking for that validation of someone furtively glancing at me from across the room, or of having to (getting to) turn someone down because I was unavailable–that sense that someone new was into me.

For at least that night, I didn’t really even want that, and it was freeing.  I didn’t need to focus on how I was standing, or what I was doing with myself, or how visible I was; there’s a long list of things that I have been paying some amount of attention to for about eighteen years, and that I suddenly didn’t have to do.  I didn’t even realize that I was doing this until the pressure was lifted.

I don’t know if this is everyone’s (or even anyone else’s) experience of attraction.  I think on some level I assumed that everyone had this barely-conscious buzzing in their metaphorical ears about whether they were looking and acting their best at all times, but I had also assumed that it would always be there for me.  I didn’t know there was an “enough”.  I’m not sure there would be, except that there are simply practical limits  on how many people can have claims on my time, and unless I want to completely close myself off to anyone I’m not yet “seeing”, I’ve reached that point for now.


4 thoughts on “Peace

  1. hm… this is really interesting, Nick. I’ve had a sort of similar experience a few times, most memorably when I spent the night with a man I’d had an on-again/off-again “oo aren’t you hot but Noooo we caaaaan’t” for several years. We met again at a party that was at his house, and had for the first time in, oh, at least 5 years, an interaction that wasn’t all twisted up and weird. And we had a genuine, honest-to-gods conversation about a lot of stuff that mattered, with no bullshit, and curled up in bed together with no wish for further intimacy at all, and woke up with more respect for each other and genuine friendship & affection than we’d ever had when we in the quasi-toxic dance of “oh if things were different you’d totally be with *me*.”

  2. Oh, man. That sort of tension, would-we-if-we-could… sometimes that’s fun, but as often as not it’s just an unresolved tension that causes stress on both sides.

  3. Hah! Polysaturated.

    I think I always do have some current of wanting to be seen as attractive, for my part, but it’s not about getting people to be in sexual relationships with me. I think it’s more of the baseline assumption that women should be attractive to have any say. If I’m not attractive, I’m basically powerless. And if I am attractive, there’s way more power in leaving it rife with imagined potential than in actually doing anything with the party in question.

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