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Author, Teacher, Screenwriter


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Teen versus mature values

Suzanne posted an excellent list of characteristics attractive in a man. A question: how does this compare to the list you had at the age of 15? 20? 30? The reason I ask is that unless adopting these qualities will increase their popularity with girls in their own age group, most won't do it. Or at least, the boys and men who most need a code of honor or directed values will not pay attention. The trick will be to see where the qualities younger AND more mature women overlap, and nurture those.

Other ladies (and maybe gay men?) out there: what is the contrast between the qualities you were attracted to in your teens as opposed to the ones you find attractive now? Which have changed? Which remain constant. This, I think is an important question.

10 comments:

Pagan Topologist said...

Interesting question. So far as I know I never "attracted" any females at all until I was over thirty, and never one who was emotionally healthy and non-abusive until I was over fifty. I did marry someone in my twenties who went to considerable effort to remind me that she had never been attracted to me.

But, I think Suzanne is probably right that learning self love is key. It took me that long to work through my childhood indoctrination that self hate is the only morally acceptable point of view. Self love is deeply and profoundly sinful. I think this is deeply embedded into the culture I grew up in and was not my parents' fault, per se. I do blame Christianity, however, since the belief that one needs "salvation" is only possible if one hates oneself and believes oneself completely unworthy as one is.

Pagan Topologist said...

Maybe what I wrote above was not completely clear: I had to escape from the mind-prison of Christianity before I could learn self-love.

Pagan Topologist said...

I now realize upon rereading that I was not supposed to post here; you were asking for comments from women. Apologies. I will delete these if you like.

Lynn Gazis-Sax said...

Well, if you were trying to attract me, personally, in my teens, your best ways of improving your odds were: 1) learn to sing and play a musical instrument well, and 2) adopt outspoken left of center politics. Either one or both of these things applied to nearly every guy I was attracted to (though sometimes some other interest, like theater or writing, substituted for the music).

If you couldn't do either of these things, you could try showing me an interesting artificial intelligence program, and I might forgive you the lack of a musical instrument :-).

But in general, what changed as I grew older wasn't so much what I found sexy as what I was willing to put up with. Particularly what I was willing to put up with from men I didn't even find attractive, and certainly wasn't going to sleep with, but when younger wasn't quite assertive enough to send packing.

On the other hand, one positive quality that always attracted me personally, and still does, is intelligence.

suzanne said...

most of these are the things
I was atracted to
for most of my life
from adiolescence nward
er ahhh
however
I had some difficulties knowing dishonesty
when confroted by it
eventually though
and some years (and years) later
I learned that too

suzanne said...

most of these are the things
I was atracted to
for most of my life
from adiolescence nward
er ahhh
however
I had some difficulties knowing dishonesty
when confroted by it
eventually though
and some years (and years) later
I learned that too

Lynn Gazis-Sax said...

Going back over the guys I was attracted to in my teens, I'll add: 3) Be Jewish (represented among guys I was attracted to way in excess of what you'd expect from random chance), though that was decidedly not mandatory, and isn't terribly useful as advice to young men :-).

Angie said...

Looking at what I'm attracted to, there are actually two levels of that now. On one level, there are men (mostly actors) I admire because I think they're handsome, cute, sexy, etc., and that's like 95% surface -- based on looks and the charisma an actor can project. The other 5% is things like Viggo Mortensen's artistry in several areas, his polyglot skills, and his passionate defense of what he believes in; that sort of thing counts too. In reality, though, I prefer to keep this sort of attraction at a distance. They're good for surface-level admiration and fantasies, but I can't imagine being married to any of them.

Mainly because, at the second level, is my husband. Jim and I have been married for thirteen years, and have been "together" for twenty, with a hiatus of about eighteen months or so early on when we broke up and then got back together. Jim's not incredibly handsome, but he's not ugly either. He's bald on top and has a paunch, but he has wonderfully broad shoulders. What really matters, though, is that he's a wonderful, loving, caring man. He's almost as smart as I am (his estimate) and we share many interests and spend time every day just talking about things. He loves me to bits, beyond all reason, does his best to give me whatever I want which is within his power, and I know he'd die to protect me, although I'd really rather he not. I love him back and literally cannot imagine being married to anyone else in the world, including any of those hot movie stars mentioned above.

When I was younger I was more about surface -- looks were premium in my own attraction to guys. I was not conventionally attractive when young, however, and was socially awkward, and would often take what I could get, which wasn't offered very often. Just from my side, though, I always imagined myself with some incredibly handsome guy.

I still see the attraction there (and yes, I'd love it if my husband looked like Liam Neeson -- they're even the same age) but "looks" moved farther and farther down the list as I got older. It's icing, and while I love icing, it's the cake underneath that's really important.

If you want a list, being painfully honest:

--has to love me intensely
--has to be kind
--has to share interests; not 100%, because time alone is good too, but enough that we can have conversations and enjoy sharing activities
--has to have a good job; I don't demand wealth, but I want to be comfortable
--has to be able to manage the money he has well
--has to be intelligent; I test out in the low genius range (for all the good its done me) and couldn't maintain a relationship with someone who can't keep up with me
--has to be willing to discuss differences, listen to data and arguments and change his mind at times (as I do sometimes)
--has to be able to deal with my permanent issues (I'm bipolar and can't fix that; I can't fix the arthritis either; both just have to be dealt with)
--has to be supportive in my efforts to fix the issues of my own that I can fix and am working on
--has to get that being in a relationship doesn't mean being joined at the hip 24/7; I like spending time together but I also need my space, and want him to have his (this is what we broke up over; he fixed it and we got back together)
--has to have a certain minumum of social skills; I don't need someone incredibly suave or a shmoozer, but I don't want to be embarassed in front of friends or family either

I'm sure there are more, but what's coming to mind now is mostly little things around the edges.

Angie

Steven Barnes said...

Thank you! And Pagan--don't you dare delete a word!

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