I may have this posted somewhere already, but I was thinking about it again.
In my warped world view, there are five areas of attraction between people. Mind you, I’m focusing on romantic partnering, not friends. However, I can see where this would work in platonic relationships as well. Obviously, platonic partnerships need strong areas of intellectual and emotional attraction. The rest just seems weird! 🙂
- Sexual: I list this first, because in romances, this is generally where it all starts. Not always, but usually. This, of course, is that huge magnet that draws you to the other person. It’s what makes you feel warm, fuzzy, and want to snog the other person in public (even when you think that’s TOO MUCH).
- Physical: This is just you find the other person pleasing to your eye. Indeed, beauty is in the eye of the beholder so this allows for variations in “taste.” I think this applies to the person’s face and body. It may also include how well the person takes care of his/her temple.
- Intellectual: When you find the other person fun to talk to, challenging, interesting. You have enough to keep the conversation going regardless of the time of day. You have things in common, whether it’s chess, D&D, or garage-sale trips. This also can encompass finding someone amusing or captivating. I throw financial intelligence in here too, but I’ve known others who want a 6th area. Maybe it should be housed below.
- Emotional: You find the person safe, comforting, kind, and supportive. You know how to buoy each other up and to weather storms. When one person is down, the other person takes over and carries the load. This section includes morals and philosophies about how to interact with friends, family, raising children, and dealing with people in general. You can be the smartest person on the planet, but if you don’t care about the other person’s feelings… well, it might not be a working relationship.
- Spiritual: This is the God/morality question. Do the two of you have similar viewpoints about God, your place in the universe, how to deal with spiritual questions, in which religion (or non-religion) do you raise the children, and how prominent a role will this be in your shared life? Likewise, where does charity come into play? What charities do you support, how will you fulfill community service, and do you tithe or do you donate? While not a deal-breaker, I’m sure, spirituality is something to consider before making any great leaps. I’ve actually found it to play a larger role than many people think. It’s amazing what the pitter-patter of small feet can do to one’s dormant spirituality.
- NOTE: Child rearing tends to affect your thoughts, feelings, and view points on all three. However, if you don’t agree with how your partner uses 3-5 to parent, then you’re probably headed to Dr. Phil or Divorce Court.
Like anything, the prioritization of these is up to the individual. I think it would interesting to have couples rate them 1-5 (one being most important) and then compare. Even more important, which of these are present in your relationship? While everyone has these elements, that doesn’t mean you’re attracted to the other person’s idea of emotional intimacy. I believe that couples MUST have 3 areas of attraction going (not necessarily the same three) to make a relationship work. I reckon that all 5 (with both partners reporting all 5) means you’ve found your magical, mythical “soul mate”. Note, BOTH partners have to feel that way. I should put a caveat of they feel that way after a year together. Let’s face it, feel-good hormones skew your rational thinking more than just a little.
I also think this list has to be revisited throughout the relationship (both the priority of the elements as well as which ones apply to your partner). As humans we tend to want everything to be all right. We overlook little things like abusing the wait staff (something I’m guilty of doing) or cheating people when we think we can. In the early stages, we’re more forgiving. However, as time wears on, sometimes eroding the bedrock on which the relationship is built, then those faults and fissures become breaking points. This eventually leads to being estranged, break-ups, or divorce.
I’m not a social scientist, I’m merely a quack witch doctor practicing arm-chair psychology on the side. However, I’d be interested in any feedback you care to give me on this one. Who knows, maybe a short, sweet blog could be a book deal! 🙂