…Understand What the Bikini Will Buy You
Every year at this time, thousands (maybe millions) of women start to worry about bikini season. Some of us do something about it, like dieting and exercising, trying to get our bodies to look more like the women in magazines. Since we were teens, we have believed a babe in a bikini gets the boys. The better we look in a bikini, the belief goes, the better our chances of snagging a man’s attentions. In a superficial way this is correct. The female form, scantily clad or otherwise, is sure to attract male attention.
However, this is where the bikini stops. While able to attract male attention, it fails to attract male affection. We have falsely hoped that the attention would lead to affection. This is because we have grossly misunderstood the effects of attraction. Many of the things I have learned about men, in the last eleven years at PAX, have surprised me. Some have rocked my world. None have both thrilled and angered me as much as what I learned about the real effects of attraction on men and women.
Good and Bad News about Attraction
There appear to be two types of attraction which affect men. The first type we call Sexual Attraction, best understood by the definition of Allure, “to attract by that which seductively offers pleasure, delight, reward, etc.” What causes a man to be sexually attracted are the things we have been sold on for years: shiny hair, a shapely body (although the sexy shapes vary much more widely than we have been led to believe), sexual energy and sensuality.
This type of attraction causes a man to want to have sex with a particular woman. And that’s it. That’s all. This is the bad news about sexual attraction. It angered me to find this out after so many preventable mishaps with men. Sexual attraction just doesn’t produce the results we are looking for in our lives. It doesn’t cause a man to pursue a woman romantically. It doesn’t cause a man to call again. It doesn’t cause a man to consider a woman a potential partner for his life. It doesn’t cause him to fall in love. It just causes him to want to have sex with her.
A woman who is very sexually attractive will get a lot of male attention. But no one seems to wonder if it is good attention. As I envied the sexy cheerleaders in high school, surrounded by boys at lunch, I never wondered if all that attention was satisfying or enriching their lives in any way. I just wanted it. And I was sure that the attention I sought would lead to the affection I craved. If you have attempted this, I don’t need to tell you how it turned out.
The second type of attraction we call Charmed and Enchanted, which means to attract by very pleasing qualities and to evoke great admiration. This type of attraction causes a man to want to spend time with a woman, to want to take care of her, to want to make her happy, to want to protect her and contribute to her life. This is the good news about attraction! And there’s more good news — because these are the things that men from Los Angeles to Atlanta, and New York to Chicago to Salt Lake, have told us make a woman Charming and Enchanting:
* Self-Confidence. She likes herself, likes who she is, and is comfortable in her body (whatever the shape or size)
* Being Yourself. Men have a great sensitivity to authenticity. They can tell when someone is being themselves or posing as something else.
* Passion for something. Whether its ending world hunger or a ceramic pig collection doesn’t seem to matter, so long as she is passionate about something in her life.
* Interest in other people. This means she can listen with as much enthusiasm as she can talk.
* Willing to need a man, but not being “needy”. This means being able to take care of herself and still allowing men to contribute to her life in big and little ways.
* Likes men. Doesn’t expect men to be like women. Appreciates their unique qualities.
* Thinks for herself. This means having her own opinion about things and being able to express it without disrespecting another’s opinions.
As you can see, what makes a woman Charming and Enchanting is as good for women as it is for men. This is what thrilled me the most to find out about the effects of attraction. The more you like yourself, the more men like you. The more you be yourself, the better chance you give men to know you and love you. The more you enjoy your life, the more men enjoy your company. The more you appreciate men, the more men appreciate you. The more you think for yourself, the more interested men are in your thoughts.
Men have told us that they pursue romantic relationships with women by whom they are both sexually attracted and charmed and enchanted. If they are only sexually attracted and they do anything about it, it will be to pursue a sexual relationship. If they are only charmed and enchanted, and not sexually attracted, they will be a friend.
A Mystery Solved
Women often ask us, “Why is it that the men I’m attracted to, never like me? And the ones I’m not attracted to, do?” The answer is: Because of the effects of sexual attraction on women.
When a woman is sexually attracted to a man it causes her to do the opposite of what men find attractive. She becomes self-conscious, loses confidence, becomes timid (or overly aggressive), and, especially, she goes out of her way to please him, contorting herself to fit what she thinks he wants. As you can see, this is the opposite of what is charming and enchanting to men. Her very attraction to him will usually prevent her from being what is the most attractive to him: herself. On the other hand, around men to whom she is not sexually attracted, she is naturally more comfortable and natural. This is why they like her.
A Recommendation You Might Dislike (at first)
When presented with this information in Celebrating Men and Marriage (one of PAX’s graduate programs), women always ask, “Well, then what do I do?” We recommend that women avoid men to whom they are overly sexually attracted. This recommendation always causes an uproar.
We further suggest that you pay attention to the men around whom you are most yourself. The men around whom you feel beautiful or special or happy or at home. These men like you just the way you are. If you give these men a chance, sexual attraction may grow in you over time. One day, you may look at him and think, “Wow, he’s so handsome!” The time it takes for this to happen will give you the opportunity to establish a solid foundation for a relationship. Women who have followed this recommendation (albeit without enthusiasm at first) have reported back that they now have relationships where they are naturally themselves, have an easier time honoring their boundaries, are more inclined to resolve issues instead of hide them, and cherish the friendship they have with their new love. Many of them are now engaged or married.
We offer this information to you in hopes of preventing unnecessary anguish and suffering. By paying attention to the effects of attraction on men and women, you can approach relationships with more intelligence and authenticity. You can focus on being the person you want to be instead of the size you think you need to be.
©2002 PAX Programs Incorporated. Reprinted by permission of the author.