In the beginning, there was the sun and the earth. The earth said, “Hey, you’re pretty hot”, and the sun replied, “Thanks—you’re pretty cool yourself.” And thus, the moon was born.
Okay… That might be a little wrong.
Okay, maybe a lot wrong. Nobody ever said I was a genius! Don’t judge me!
Anyway, attraction is weird. I’m sure we all know this.
It should be relatively straightforward, though, right? I mean, the way everyone talks about it, you find someone who instantly agrees that you would have beautiful babies, you get married, and… happily ever after. BAM! End of story.
Hah… Hah Hah… Haaaaaaahhhhhh…
Yeah, not gonna even try. Just not gonna… no.
Attraction is complex. Attraction can be messy. Attraction can be unexpected. Attraction can be physical, emotional, spiritual, intellectual, or some combination thereof. It can be between people you’d mistake for twins, or it can be between complete opposites. (Jeez, I’m starting to remind myself of Yvaine’s lines about how strange love is in the movie version of Stardust. Which is amazing, by the way.) And yet, we’re told that attraction is primarily biological; primarily for the source of finding someone whose genes, when mixed with yours, will produce strong offspring who will in turn pass on those strong genes… you get the picture.
Already, though, there’s a few things wrong with this. The most obvious thing is that some people, no matter how much sexual attraction they feel to others, don’t want/can’t have kids. Even when they’re biologically capable of having kids, some people just don’t feel they would be good parents. Some just don’t want to raise kids. Whatever their reasons, they’re completely valid. I’m not even gonna bring up the whole same-sex attraction except for to say that I firmly believe this is a biological thing—not a choice at all—and their relationships are just as real and valid as any loving heterosexual couple, and that’s the end of that.
Second, the strongest genes will be the ones that win out over time, it’s generally true; however, they won’t always win out in a given generation for a given couple. For instance, a lot of people wind up needing glasses at one point or another. But I guess that’s something of a given, and so not seen as a disadvantage, since we have the technology to correct it, more or less. Here’s a more personal example: the boyfriend is hard-of-hearing. When he’s not wearing his hearing aids, I have to speak louder than I would normally (and I have been told I am loud normally) in order to make sure he’s got what I’m trying to say. There’s no cure for the specific cause, so you’d think he wouldn’t be “prime mating material” or whatever. (Gives me the willies referring to him like that! If you’re reading this, dear, I hope you’re laughing at my attempt at silliness and not face/palm-ing at it. It gets better, though! Just read on!)
Newsflash: I don’t love a lot of people who have perfect hearing. I don’t dislike a lot of people who don’t. In fact, part of the attraction (not a turn on, but just a really, really cool thing) is that I now have an incredibly good excuse to learn ASL, which is something I’ve always wanted to do. But that’s not all of why I’m attracted to the boyfriend—not by a long shot. In my opinion, he’s a really good-looking guy. (Though he did get his hair cut very recently and I really liked his hair a bit shorter than the length it was, but c’est la vie. He still looks good, and I love him anyway.) He’s smart. He’s caring, but not to the point where I feel smothered or like he thinks I’m weak because I’m *ahem* of the fairer sex. *cough*choke*DIE* I could go on, but I’m not here to bore you with all the reasons he’s amazing.
I get that getting together because you actually like the other person is something of a newcomer as far as common institutions go. But when you think about it, you’re still getting something out of it, right? You’re getting someone who is in all likelihood willing to help you out, and who you will help to support. You’re getting someone who will care for your emotional needs as you will for theirs. It’s not a bad deal!
What I’m trying to say is that, anymore, genes aren’t the be-all-end-all of getting together. That’s not to say that we should ignore the child-bearing/-rearing factor completely. In fact, we shouldn’t ignore it at all—it’s just that there’s so much more than science can really quantify (at this point, anyway) about attraction. The number of times science has told me I’m apparently attracted to the wrong person is laughably (and at the same time scarily) high. We’re attracted to who we’re attracted to, no matter how much science tells us we shouldn’t be. I’d like to think it’s a little magical, myself. As long as nobody’s wrecking anyone’s relationships, why should we really care what’s behind it?