When I first started dating, I believed attraction was an art. A beautiful mosaic that two people painted together, each with their unique brush strokes and favorite hues. I still believe this to some degree. It’s two intricate, complex humans coming together to create something equally intricate and complex.
This view of attraction as art suited me in the early years. I was never much of a math/science person. I naturally gravitated towards the humanities and would run rapidly from anything that required small numbers in even tinier boxes (hello, excel!).
But as I started dating more and reflecting on those experiences, I came to a critical realization: there are more patterns in attraction than I originally realized. If I did certain things, the guy would disappear, guaranteed. If I did other things, the guy would chase me, hard. The inverse was also true. If a guy did certain things, I would be very interested. If he did other things, I would Check please! quicker than a Scaramucci. There’s a level of predictability to interest, which, in turn, challenged my original hypothesis. Attraction is just as much science as it is art, maybe even more so.
Before I dive in to what I learned, I’m offering a soft disclaimer. I haven’t been appointed official Spokesperson for Womankind (I mean… but how cool would that job be?), so what I’m saying might not apply to all women. But I *can* speak for myself and what keeps me interested. And I’ve floated this by many of my female friends and they all say I’ve hit the mark. So, there’s that.
Here is what I’ve noticed. The two things that keep women interested.
Women stay interested when their partner is fascinated and fascinating.
Have one without the other (or neither) and a woman will lose interest.Let’s unpack this.
He is fascinated.
When a woman feels she is the object of her partner’s fascination, she will stay interested. What does this look like?
He is fascinating.
When a man is fascinating, a woman will stay interested. This is a man who:
He’s figured out what he wants to contribute to the world and is doing it. He’s ambitious but also takes time to relax and have fun. He’s intentional about building and pouring into those important to him. He wakes up each day excited to learn, do, contribute. A fulfilled man.
All of these things are a life force for him. He doesn’t need a woman to complete him. He has a full, thriving life already. He’s got it going on. He’s someone she can lean on, learn from, respect, and desire. He’s fully perfect & external to her. And that grounded, stable presence pulls her in.
We’ve all been in situations where someone we are dating is one but not the other. For example, someone who is fascinated with us but have nothing going on in their own life. That’s a turn off. Or the incredible person with the incredible life, but they barely reach out or make an effort. Also a turn off. Both pieces — fascinated and fascinating — are needed to maintain attraction.
I was recently at an event where the speaker could not stop talking about his wife. How much of a rock she was in their marriage. How wise she was. How he loved her smile and her legs (not in that order). She was in the audience — the front row to be exact — and was just glowing. I mean, connect some sort of generator to her and we could power the state of Michigan for perpetuity. The interesting thing? From a looks perspective, she was *average* by the world’s standards. It didn’t matter. Her man’s fascination made her glow.
For a second I was almost jealous of her. Not because I wanted to be with her husband, but because I wanted someone to feel about me the way he clearly felt about her.
Men, don’t miss this. It’s less about your looks or your paycheck and more about how you make her feel. Your affection has the power to make a woman shine. Be liberal with it. She will blossom under the sun of your interest & shade of your presence. And that’s not to say women can’t bloom without a partner. That’s not it. It’s that there’s a certain type of illumination unique to a woman basking in the rays of a man’s fascination. It’s breathtaking.
And the speaker was more than just fascinated. He was fascinating. He was changing lives through his public speaking career. He was charismatic and captivating. He was living out his value system. He was community-driven and purpose-driven. He was someone she could admire and respect.
I would often look at couples who had been together for decades and were still taken with each other, and compare them to those cheerless couples that make observers want to run from commitment, and wonder how the same situation — years in a relationship — could produce totally different outcomes. I don’t wonder anymore. It’s the science of interest. Smitten couples are doing the work of fascination. That is it. They are still interested and show it, they are still interesting and live it. That’s the magic sauce.
When I see couples like that it inspires me to hold out for the real thing. And validates every past decision not to settle for something less than.
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