“Sexual attraction is not at all a purely physical event. The soul is always in search of whatever will complete its desire, and our physical eyes are never separate from the eyes of the soul.”
(The Soul of Sex by Thomas Moore)
We’ve all had the experience of seeing someone on the street or in a social setting and feeling an instant attraction. Our eyes lock, our pulse races, everyone else in the room disappears. Other times, attraction sneaks up on us slowly as we get to know someone. One day we realize that we are very sexually attracted to them. Whether it is their hair, body, voice, smell, or their attitude and behavior, that attracts us, we attribute it to the mysteries of chemistry.
But chemistry isn’t so mysterious. And in my opinion, it’s not what evolutionary scientists say – our instinctive way of knowing a potential mate’s reproductive potential and whether they possess the right set of genes.
On the contrary, chemistry begins in our thoughts. The subconscious mind reads signals and symbols – usually the physical traits and mannerisms of another person – and interprets them in relation to our individual fantasies. The body inspires our imagination – our reading of it echoes deeper psychological themes. We create a story grounded in our history. This happens so instantaneously that the details remain out of our awareness. When there is a match between our fantasy and what a physical trait psychologically represents to us, we feel the excitement in our body.
A person who we consider our sexual “type” possesses those qualities that we find highly attractive, though we often can’t explain why. When the right signals appear, our fantasies will be ignited even though they may occur so instantaneously that we are not fully conscious of them. The ability to decode our attractions based on our sexual fantasies is an essential to having smarter sex. With practice, we can improve our ability to tune into sexual cues, what they mean and whether they are compatible with our true sexual desires. Armed with this knowledge, we increase our chances of choosing a partner with whom we are truly sexually compatible, as well as our potential to form a restorative experience that will be far more meaningful and satisfying than any sexual hook-up.