What attracts us to each other? There are, of course, a variety of ways we feel drawn to other human beings, pets, events, causes, etc., ranging from the fun to the serious: mutual interests or concerns, humour, insights, romance, and many other elements draw us to one another.
Sometimes we are attracted in more personal and deeper ways, such as when I feel romantically attracted to a woman, or when I feel ready to share almost anything with a close friend who is relatively new to me.
At the root of our willingness to open up to another is the simple fact that we feel safe with that person. In a society that is largely based on fear, privacy, owning things, and the single occupancy vehicle; we generally feel less secure with each other than do people living in poorer countries. In this sense, it is we who are poor.
Yet we are hard-wired for relationships. We are social beings. We cannot be healthy individuals without having a sense of belonging and connection with others.
From my own experience I know that the more isolated or lonely I feel, the stronger my urge becomes to find “the right woman.” At its root, this desire for the “perfect mate” is an expectation that she be responsible for making me feel whole. That desire, while fun and exciting at the start, creates dysfunction and often acts as the ultimate source of destruction, destroying the relationship itself.
The romantic pull toward another person is also experienced by those who are in committed relationships. When acted upon, this leads to affairs. Feeling romantically drawn to others is normal, and it speaks more of what is going on inside of ourselves than it says about the other person.
Broadly speaking, there are two different kinds of a deeper sense of attraction between human beings. One is sexual in nature and the other is more spiritual. Our sexuality and spirituality reach into the deepest core of who we are; both kinds of attraction can move us beyond our usual fears like being rejected or hurt. When we are in this deeper state of attraction, our hearts and souls are more open.
The faster a romance begins, the more likely both individuals have unconsciously found someone with whom each can work on old wounds. This is why multiple relationships often feel similar: we continue to attract relationships which provide the opportunity to re-experience the issues that we have not yet resolved. When we feel a strong sense of romantic attraction to someone it is likely to be more than just how they look, smell, sound, and feel to us; it is actually a deeper spiritual connection that we are feeling.
Feeling connected to another spiritually (of either gender) is quite a different experience. Such friendships and relationships are more likely to have solid foundations. A relationship based on a spiritual connection is created from a more healthy place.
The gift of all friendships and relationships is the potential to become more of who we were meant to be: fully functioning, amazing human beings.
Ian Gartshore is a local therapist and emerging human being.