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Love Is Not Attraction – Or Is It?

Question: Mr. L. Rx I am very attracted to this girl in one of my college classes. I’ve known her for several months now, though we don’t have a relationship. I feel that I am deeply in love with her and told her that the other day. She told me that attraction is not love. Is she right? I feel that this strong of an attraction must be love. Could I be wrong?

Answer: This is one of the best questions I have had in a long time. And the answer is simple. Love is not attraction.

Well, perhaps I should temper that. For some people, love is experienced as attraction, or at least love is misidentified as attraction. Attraction between men and women is entirely a physical force not a mental force. Attraction between men and women can be created by mental considerations, but in the end it is not a mental force.

Mr. Webster defines attraction as:

“The electric or magnetic force exerted by oppositely charged particles, tending to draw or hold the particles together.”

Men and women are oppositely charged particles. When we are talking about attraction here, we are talking about a physical attraction.

Now most women, not all, have a better handle on this than men. Most women can feel a physical attraction for a man, recognize it as such, determine that the man for other reasons is unsuitable as a “love interest” and move on. Most men, on the other hand can’t do this. Most men feel a physical attraction for a woman, and the stronger that physical attraction is, the more they misidentify it as “love.”

Both David DeAngelo and myself have written extensively that attraction can be created and that it is not innate. You can create attraction, where there is none, just by teaching men (or women) to say and do or be certain things.

Men physically saying or doing or being certain things, creates attraction in women. This is a physical law not a mental condition just as it is a physical law that you can magnetize any piece of metal, and create attraction to that metal whether or not it was magnetized before. (Incidentally you can do this no matter how ugly or poor that piece of metal is!)

Now love, on the other hand, is also an attraction of sorts. But it is a mental attraction not a physical one. Physical attraction is different for everyone. For some it is how cute you are, for others, how rich you are, or yet others, how famous you are. But in all cases a physical attraction is an instantaneous attraction with no thought attached – just like a magnet.

Physical attractions are meant to get us to pay attention to someone. That’s all. That is the extent of it. Once you pay attention, cognitive processes should take over.

Now love, when it is not misidentified, is a totally cognitive process. It is a mental process. After someone gets our attention, love is the attraction that develops because we get to know someone and find that many of their non-physical qualities are a good “fit”, agreeable, or a match for us.

Love can take a long time or a short time to develop, but “love” is where we arrive when we overwhelmingly start finding ourselves attracted to a person in ways that the physical sexual attraction did not foretell.

When we find that the person’s humor, personality, style, way of being, way of communicating, and goals in life are all “attractive” or compatible with ourselves (and are real – not fake attributes that were meant to create a instant physical attraction); and when we find that we naturally want to be with a person because of a whole set of these variables – not just looks or money or fame – we are starting to develop a cognitive attraction or “love.”

There can be so many cognitive attractions to a person that at some point it can overcome a lack of “physical attraction” (looks, money, fame). But, most importantly, a cognitive “love” would look for a similar variable in another. In other words, a cognitive attraction would not consider it “love” – as between a man and a woman – unless the cognitive attraction saw the attraction going in both directions.

Similarly, other types of love – say between parent and child – can also get misidentified. Parents will often misidentify love for responsibility. When you cognitively consider your children “undeserving brats”, but help them anyway because you “love” them, you are mistaken. You help them because you are responsible for them, not because you “love them”. In this society, that is how “family” usually works. It is a tight group that takes care of each other, despite love or lack thereof. It is just an agreement.

Friendship is usually the purest form of love, in that it is the least often misidentified. There are those of us who feel the obligation to be friends with anyone we know, or grew up with, or work with, or who are in our vicinity, but most of us don’t say that we “love” a friend unless there is a deep sense of compatibility – numerous variables that we are attracted to, feel compatible with, etc. with that friend – and usually we don’t say it unless it is a mutual feeling. You know, you both feel the same way.

That is why friendship is and should be the basis of a good relationship. If we love our friend and he or she happens to be of the opposite sex, and some of the attraction variables present also can create the man-woman attraction (or the man-woman variable was the first attraction to begin with), then we have the likelihood of a real or true man-woman love relationship, and not some here-today and gone-tomorrow sexual attraction.

And why are instant sexual attractions and infatuations usually here-today and gone-tomorrow? Well that is because after we get to know this person we were instantly attracted to, and find out we are not attracted to them in so many other ways, it actually kills or suppresses the instant man-woman attraction that was there to begin with.

Again women are better at this than men. Most women –like it or not – can suppress their instant attraction to men in favor of a more cognitive approach.

So the moral of this story is “Don’t misidentify sexual attraction for love.” Sexual attraction is physical and instant. Love is a cognitive attraction that takes a while to develop. If you act on a sexual attraction as if it were “love” you may find yourself in a place down the road that you don’t want to be in.

Mr. L. Rx

Posted in Articles, For Men, For Women.

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