I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the relationship between baseline attraction and long term attachment.
These days most relationships begin with attraction, which has little to do with actually knowing the person you’re attracted to.
This is known as New Relationship Energy (NRE) and can be very exciting.
If you are like most people you probably assume if this kind of energy and chemistry is not present at the beginning of your relationship, you don’t have a sufficient basis for even starting to get to know someone romantically.
I agree with that to a certain extent, but I don’t believe it has to be intense like so many people think.
A big problem with beginning your relationship this way is it lacks long term substance. When the initial excitement fades you end up in big trouble.
This is a major reason your relationships don’t last.
When the excitement dies, you find out you haven’t built anything that can endure.
Because of this it is important both you and your partner get off the attraction track as quickly as possible and shift over to a more bonding-based form of love.
One that builds your attachment for the long run. I will be emphasizing this distinction between attraction and attachment more and more as time goes on.
It really is a key to experiencing a successful love life.
What I want to talk about today though is not the question of migrating from attraction to attachment once you’re in a relationship that began on the basis of attraction.
What I want to suggest instead is that you actually get started on the attachment track from the very beginning. Since this is where you need to get to anyway if your relationship is to last, doesn’t it make sense to just head there straight out of the gate?
While this may make sense, there are definitely things in the way of making it happen.
As I mentioned in my post on friend zoning there seems to be a big difference between how I approach relationships and how most of you girls do.
While I can experience strong attraction for a girl up front, for me that is an insufficient basis for becoming physically intimate with her.
I’m not out for sex.
I want to make love.
When you make love you have a deep emotional connection with someone where you value them and desire to share yourself completely with them because of this.
This is very different from experiencing a baseline sexual attraction that makes you want to “get off” with them.
That’s nature’s plan. It isn’t in your best interests.
Although I sometimes experience strong attraction up front, it is not necessary for me.
I am completely capable of falling in love with a girl even when I don’t start out with intense initial attraction.
Because for me it is coming to know her and value her that gives me that bond, not simply feeling baseline attraction.
I don’t want to proceed getting physical at all, even having a first kiss, until I’m convinced I care about a girl enough that I would want to be in a relationship with her.
In other words, for me emotional connection and commitment preceeds physical intimacy.
And isn’t that what you girls always say you want?
You say you don’t want to have sex with someone who isn’t emotionally committed to you.
Makes sense right?
But what the friend zoning phenomenon shows is that you girls do not seem to easily develop an emotional connection with a guy that is beyond “just friends,” unless he proceeds to get progressively more and more sexual with you.
Your frequent suggestion of “Let’s be friends first and see where it goes” is a doomsday statement for the guy who takes you seriously.
He’ll never be more than friends with you if he starts out that way.
Yes occasionally friends do end up lovers but that is usually an accident that happens to people quite unexpectedly.
It is not something they experience as part of a deliberate plan of action they took together.
A major reason for this is you girls seem unable to develop a “more than friends” attachment for a guy without getting physical with him first.
Many of you say you decide how you feel emotionally about a guy based on the first kiss. You’ll even proceed to be progressively more and more physical with him to “explore” how you feel about him further.
In your minds none of this is “having sex” or “making love” so you feel fine proceeding this way despite all your protestations about sex before emotional connection.
What you’re really doing though is being more and more sexual with the guy to see how it makes you feel.
Finally if all goes well with these progressive explorations and you’re convinced he’s a keeper, you’ll decide to go “over the cliff” with him physically and actually have sexual intercourse.
At this point what you perceive as your “intimate connection” with him is usually definitively in place.
But this is also often the point where he “loves you and leaves you” and you find out you just got taken by yet another guy who is just “out for sex.”
What you failed to realize is for him, each physical progression was sexual, and you were “giving it away” the whole time.
It doesn’t matter if you see it as emotional exploration.
Same difference to him.
And even if he sticks around, your relationship has started on a completely shakey foundation.
Do you see the problem?
The method you’re using to determine and develop your attachment for a guy makes you easy prey for the players.
And the longevity of your attachment is no greater than the attraction feelings that started it.
Attraction of this nature always fades, so eventually your relationship ends, or hits the rocks big time.
After enough experiences like this of course, you move more and more definitely into the “Let’s start as friends and see where it goes” mode, thinking this will solve the problem.
But then you just keep ending up uninterested in each guy you start with this way, and end up friend zoning them one after another.
You just seem to “need” physical stimulation for emotional connection to happen.
It’s hard for me to say this to you but it needs to be said. The reason this keeps happening is, you are addicted to the dopamine hits you receive from this progressive emotionally stirring experience of physical escalation by a guy. And you are confusing the feelings you receive from these dopamine hits with love.
You guys get confused this way too. You mistake the strong sexual attraction you experience for a girl as love.
Sometimes you will stay in a relationship longer than you should just because of this.
But eventually your attraction for her fades.
That’s how attraction works.
It is a stimulation of your pleasure centers and is nature’s way of drawing the two of you together so you’ll have sex and some babies will get born and on their way.
None of this is true relationship attachment.
It is not real romantic love.
So is there another way?
I’m not a girl so I can only share my experience with all this from a guy’s perspective.
But I am coming from the perspective of a guy who was sexually addicted, and not just in the common sense in which I say most guys are naturally sexually addicted.
I was on a strong dopamine chasing track just like you girls usually are for your emotional hits.
So I understand what it’s like to think it should be all intense and overwhelming.
But I changed.
I got off the dopamine chasing track.
Yes guys this is possible. If you want to talk about this sometime let’s have a coffee or a Skype session.
And you girls can change too.
I changed so much that now even if I feel strong attraction for a girl, I still want to take the time to actually get to know her before I will consider getting physical with her. As I said I don’t even want that first kiss until I value her enough to be willing to have a relationship with her.
I know you might think this is extreme.
But you have to understand I see the whole process as making love.
From the first kiss to sharing complete physical intimacy together.
It is your failure to recognize this is the case that gets you into so much trouble and confusion.
But I also don’t need a strong initial attraction to fall in love with a girl because I’ve learned to value a girl for who she is more than just for my initial attraction to her.
Sure I need a certain level of baseline attraction or I likely won’t come to desire her that way at all.
But even when that attraction is there, it doesn’t have to be intense for me to come to love a girl eventually.
All I need to do is take time getting to know her, so my affection for her can grow.
Once that’s happened, nothing is more natural to me than the desire to move in a physical direction.
Why would I not want to give myself to someone I’ve grown to love?
Can you girls do the same thing I did? Can you overcome your dopamine addiction?
Yes you can.
But it requires you to make both mental and emotional shifts.
You have to come to see love differently than you currently do.
Right now you’re addicted to the desire to be swept off your feet and seduced by a guy.
You know, that whole Disney fantasy of the knight in shining armor who comes in and rescues you from all your problems?
This has been drilled into you since childhood.
Nature has programmed it into you. Society has programmed it into you.
But as Shannon Ethridge, author of the book Every Woman’s Battle says,
Be careful not to mistake intensity for intimacy. Intensity fades as the newness wears off. But intimacy continues to blossom the longer you know a person.
The fantasy to be intensely swept away by a man is the female equivalent of the male desire to bed a porn star.
Both of these dopamine driven patterns are designed by nature to ensure the continuance of the race.
They don’t constitute elements of true romantic love.
As a guy you are hooked on the feelings you get from having sex. As a girl you are hooked on the feelings you get when a guy seduces and romances you.
But that means in neither case are you falling in love with your partner.
You’re falling in love with the feelings you get from being with them.
But isn’t that what love is? No it isn’t.
Love is valuing the person for who he or she is, not using them to get the feelings they give you.
In the case of guys this is called being a player. I’ve coined the term emotional player for the female equivalent.
It’s a real problem and you should start assessing it in your life.
Just like you guys are naturally sexually addicted, you girls are naturally emotionally addicted.
So can you start on a different path right from the beginning when you first start dating?
Yes you can.
You can begin by seeing that what you’re looking for is not intensity, so when it is “missing” there is really nothing wrong.
The sound basis of a relationship is not intensity but intimacy.
Shannon Ethridge calls this “Into me you see.”
This is the key. You need to make your focus truly coming to know and value the person you are with.
Guys this doesn’t happen by getting physical with a girl.
It happens by taking the time to get to know her and experience her so you begin to feel genuine affection for her because of who she really is.
If you can’t do this without trying to “get in her pants,” your addiction is showing.
Girls this doesn’t happen by “friend zoning” and only going for the guys who give you a thrill.
The friend zone phenomenon is indicative of your dopamine chasing ways too.
If you keep ending up uninterested in guys you start a relationship with on the basis of friendship, that’s a pretty good indicator you’re addicted to emotional escalation.
Sadly it also means you’re destined to be “loved and left” over and over again if you don’t change this pattern.
Because the guys who give you that thrill usually have their own addiction issues going on.
Instead when you feel that affection arise that you’ve been interpreting as “just friends” in the past, start to recognize what is really happening is you are developing true intimacy by coming to know and value the real person before you.
The value and affection you feel is the initial stirrings of a true romantic friendship based on something more than just baseline attraction.
Instead of this being a problem it is actually a good sign.
The only reason you’re failing to recognize this is because you’re assuming the feelings of your addiction need to be there, or it can’t be true romantic love. In fact the opposite is the case but your addiction is keeping you from recognizing it.
You can change.
It takes time to make the shift when overcoming a relationship addiction, whether your addiction is sexual as it is for most guys, or emotional as it is for most girls.
What we’re really talking about is healing emotional woundedness.
I’ve experienced great strides in my own life in this area. I’d love to help you find healing too.
If you would like to explore this further I’d enjoy meeting up for coffee or a Skype session with you.
So what do you think? Are you ready to make a change?