The Clutches of Attraction

Author: Yugal SehgalOriginally published on May 1, 2021

I was once lucky in love, a lifetime ago, but that seems distant enough to be a different reality altogether. I haven’t been as lucky ever since but more or less, it's been a good thing. As miserable as being single can get, it has its privileges. Now I won’t go on a one-dimensional pitch about those privileges — maybe in a future article — but I think it’s not half bad to be single in today’s romantic climate. Especially when it comes to the matters of attraction, I think singlehood can be a blessing. You’ll see what I mean in a moment.

Artwork by the author. © Yugal Sehgal

Naturally as any young person, I have found myself stuck in the clutches of attraction a fair few times in my life. At times for far longer than I ought to have, but hey these things are pretty involuntary so whatever. Some of these attractions have outlasted others, some died quick deaths, some were painfully squashed and some continue to resurface here and there, but none has really manifested into something “real”, which is why I feel comfortable talking about them, almost as an objective outsider — away enough from the inside but close enough to know what’s up.

Through it all, I have found that not all attraction is ever really alike. You feel different kinds of attraction towards different people, not all of which is necessarily romantic. Now this is no scientific breakdown of course, but I think categorizing these attractions would be a good way to see what I mean here, starting with the most obvious one:

You’re smitten by their looks. You find their features and body appealing. Looking at them gives you the jitters. Maybe you like the sound of their voice. Maybe you’re aroused by their touch, or by the heat of their body. Or maybe you feel drawn to their aroma. It doesn’t get more primal than this. It doesn’t get more sensual than this. This is animal instinct. This is raw magnetism. You can’t control it.

Then there's that psychological stuff:

You like talking to them. You like being around them. Maybe you like their perspective on things. Maybe their values align with yours. Maybe you feel seen by them. Or perhaps heard by them. You notice the good things about them and can’t help but admire them for it – and slowly fall for them because of it. This is mental alignment. This is emotional intimacy. It’s meaningful stuff.

Oh and not to forget that Godsend:

You can’t explain why you’re into them, not even to yourself, but you just are. You see a soulmate in them, a spiritual connection. You sense an invisible bond with them that has no perceptible reason to exist. You’re drawn to them just because you are. They don't feel like a stranger even if they might be. It feels like a universal plot, like you were supposed to find them and they were supposed to find you. This is magic. This is storyline stuff. This … just is.

And then there's that rare mysterious person:

You’re intrigued by their mystique. You’re fascinated by their hidden self. You wonder what they’re all about, what their life really looks like, and what being their friend – or somebody closer – would look like. You’re driven by curiosity, by a desire to get to know them. A desire to unlock them.

And lastly there’s a fair bit of other complicated stuff. You can be attracted to someone and not like them (as a person). You can like someone and not be attracted to them. Sometimes you can like and even be attracted to someone, but talking to them is a bit of a turn off. And in some cases, you can find someone attractive just because they’re attracted to you. Or paradoxically, because they aren't. These things are pretty wild and weird.

No wonder attraction gets a lot of bad rep. It’s generally viewed as something sacred, something you’re only supposed to feel towards a few people in life, ideally just the one. It’s most often associated with fidelity and character. But I think it’s not so much of a bad thing. How you act on an attraction is what makes it good or bad. If you’re single, it’s easy to be attracted to more than one person at a time and not feel morally wrong, but if you’re not, that’s a different story. You can still be attracted to someone and it wouldn’t be bad per se, but if you act on that attraction, or even intend to do so, that’s bad on principle. By itself however, attraction doesn’t have to be looked down upon or judged too harshly. As long as it’s harmless admiration, it’s okay.

Now about that singlehood being a blessing deal, one thing I find thrilling about it is that not being romantically tied to one person can free you up to cultivate some really strong and wonderful friendships that you wouldn’t have been able to develop otherwise. Most attractions don’t necessarily lead to romance, but they can often lead to some fun and meaningful connections, which in my opinion is a win. And more often than not, being single gets you that win because it enables you to invest in the ones, instead of just the one.

Looking back I may not have been so lucky in love but I cannot complain about the non-romantic connections I’ve been able to cultivate in my life thanks to my singlehood. Sure there are moments of loneliness here and there, but compared to the joys of solitude and the depths of meaning that single life brings, it's a trade-off I’ve been happy to make.

Yugal Sehgal writes about life, mindfulness, and people. He lives in India. Follow him and @drawcuments on Instagram.