Nobody tells the juvenile male how much their life will revolve around women. We all expect the post-pubescent bloke to focus much of his energy on pursuit of the mystery that is female, but even decades later only the intensity changes, and not by that much.

Friends of mine who work with men in their 90s tell me this doesn’t change many decades later.

Let’s be clear: marriage, commitment and children change the patterns of behaviour, but not the overall thinking process. And if they don’t, we’re all in trouble. We notice and speculate about women in the same way that cats sense mice; it’s automatic.

Unlike cats, we filter the instinct to a higher plane. Cats will pounce when the probability shifts to their satisfaction. Men don’t. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t evaluate the world through the lens of possibility.

The Difficulty of Attraction

Solving for x is the reason for algebra, and while relationships aren’t clinical like mathematics, there are some parallels.

One such parallel is the need for one side of an equation to equal the other. As long as we invert the left side as well as the right, we can consider the problem the same. In the squishy world of people, things tend to even out, even if we don’t quite see it that way at the time or when we’re close up.

The matter of attraction is an interesting one. People have a total attraction factor (for fun let’s call it x) that’s made up of the physical, the intellectual and the spiritual. Let’s be smart here and call it the body, the brains and the heart.

In general, B + B + H = x, where x is generally about the same for everyone.

Key to figuring our own personal attraction is understanding how our individual inputs are proportioned, namely, how much B, B or H goes into our own x.

Am I attractive because of my body, my brains or my heart, and in what proportion? Figure that out and you have a strategy for finding your mate.

What Are You Looking At?

Forget football and the beauty salon – according to a new study, women seek well-travelled, cultured and informed guys, while men seek ambitious, active and creative girls.

Meaningless of itself, a notion like this is valuable because it gives us permission to think independently. I, certainly, have allowed myself to walk down the pathway of thought that goes:

What should I be looking for?

This is the kind of group-think – or for that matter peer-think – that will get us into trouble. When we filter our interests, desires, likes, dislikes, imagination and dreams through anything but our own system, who knows what we’ll find.

All this goo-goo clustery assumes that our foundations are solid. Understanding what makes a good person, noting how our visceral is flawed and that love is not an emotion are the minimum structural requirements for successful relationships. Once we have our heads on straight-ish, then we can tailor our wants to our specifics.

Enter the Devil

Hope springs eternal if you’re single because experience tells us that we never know who will turn up in our lives. Chance, luck, fortune, happenstance, kismet, fate – whatever you call it, finding a surprise is one of those knowable unknowns, made all the more fun by their randomness.

The one caveat to this idea is that to meet new people we have to be out in the world, because online encounters are not meetings: they’re something, but not of the same importance as breathing the same air.

When someone new arrives in our lives we instantly and involuntarily evaluate how they might fit in. Could they be a prospect? Am I attracted to them? Why? Are they attracted to me? Am I reading the signals correctly? Am I creating something here that doesn’t exist? How might this work in the future? Are they A one?

The uncertainty is the essence of the excitement, the discovery the fuel of pursuit.


We call it “the dance” or “playing hard to get” or something similar, and it’s an under-examined part of coupling discovery. A specific term for it would be nice so that we know just what we’re talking about, but I can’t think of one.

Perhaps we could think of it as surface tension, in the same way as water in a glass sticks slightly at the edges, the meniscus. It’s still water, but there is a definite boundary where the water meets air and the side of the glass.

In our case, part of the attraction of someone is the need to fight for them, or, if not exactly fight, then work at convincing them to conform to our vision of their affection. We want this person to be as attracted to us as we (think) we are to them. The oddity is that we don’t always want it to be immediate and complete; a little effort and time and salesmanship gives us a pride of ownership, that, like surface tension, keeps us glued together.

Think of it as the kind of camaraderie created by shared difficult experiences, such as in sport, business and war. Bonding is more piquant with adversity, which makes me think that a little difficulty in relationships might be the best way to make them stick.