• earthlycohort
    9
    It's clear that whom I have sex with is a choice regardless of attraction, as in I can choose to have sex with men even though I'm truly attracted to women for example. This choice may not reflect true attraction. The question is trying to uncover what, if not explicitly my conscious thought and will, determines sexuality and true sexual attraction?

    • Is it possible for this attraction to be decided in the conscious mind and remain true?
    • Is attraction solely determined by physical, behavioural and intellectual attributes? Or a combination of all and more?
    • Could sexuality and attraction be determined simply by what is deemed as what is deserved?
    • How significant are environmental factors such as maternal and paternal relationships during certain developmental stages?
    • Once arrived at, can it be changed? How?

    These questions can provide some lift off for the discussion though they're not a necessary part of it. While broad, it's objective is to bring a wide array of sexuality formulations into view for exploration and discussion, and so for this reason, it's a subjective matter that will require patience and understanding.

  • csalisbury
    1.9k


    All gut feelings and opinions but:

    My hunch is you can't do much to change who you're sexually attracted to. But I also think sexual attraction can develop even if wasn't there at first sight. In any case, bringing reason or conscious will into it will probably just repress actual attraction into a pressurized reservoir where it will remain until it bursts and you're suddenly idealizing someone to both of your mutual detriment.
  • earthlycohort
    9
    In any case, bringing reason or conscious will into it will probably just repress actual attraction into a pressurized reservoir where it will remain until it bursts and you're suddenly idealizing someone to both of your mutual detriment.csalisbury

    This is profound. Has this been evidenced or formally classified? Would you say that this is where the realm of paraphilias lie? If so, once a paraphilia has become set as a result of the burst as you put it, how would one determine the difference between true sexual attraction and a paraphilic attraction?
  • Izat So
    88
    I don't think you can answer these questions without disentangling cognition, culture, and physical chemistry. And I don't think these can be disentangled because they coevolved. Even the understanding of maternal and paternal relationships come with an inherited cultural cognitive software. What's available to us as options for our consciousness starts out there, not in between the ears. Meanwhile, could you please elaborate bullet 3? Also the last bullet seems to be an empirical question.
  • earthlycohort
    9
    Meanwhile, could you please elaborate bullet 3?Izat So
    What an individual will accept for themselves. For example, somebody who in truth feels attracted to a person of a specific description but is unable to accept the love of such a person due to self-perception, and as @csalisbury previously touched on; confusing their own conscious mind and reasoning with something more biologically determined. Getting in their own way. I hope that provides you with the clarity you need.

    Also the last bullet seems to be an empirical question.Izat So
    If it's possible to decide sexuality through will, then it's possible to decide whom you should be attracted to. Again, whether that constitutes true attraction is up for debate.

    And I don't think these can be disentangled because they coevolved.Izat So
    Upon reflection I agree. Perhaps this question was too broadly framed to achieve a concise discussion around the nature of sexuality and sexual attraction.
  • csalisbury
    1.9k
    This is profound. Has this been evidenced or formally classified? Would you say that this is where the realm of paraphilias lie? If so, once a paraphilia has become set as a result of the burst as you put it, how would one determine the difference between true sexual attraction and a paraphilic attraction?earthlycohort

    No idea about evidence or formal classification, grain of salt all of what I said. I don't know enough about paraphilia and what I said only goes so far. If you have an attraction that is harmful for the object of attraction, if it's beyond a fetish, then it's a little different.It would have to be a matter of management. But again, I don't really know what 'paraphilia' encompasses.
  • earthlycohort
    9
    Paraphilias are sexual perversions and deviations, some of which are classed as disorders that require psychiatry to correct, though I'm no authority on paraphilias. Could you elaborate on what you meant by the following?
    bringing reason or conscious will into it will probably just repress actual attraction into a pressurized reservoir where it will remain until it bursts and you're suddenly idealizing someone to both of your mutual detriment.csalisbury
  • Izat So
    88
    Earthlycohort, I don't understand the idea of deserving in this context. An expectation - or a sense of entitlement - that the attraction would be mutual?
  • Grre
    118
    Is it possible for this attraction to be decided in the conscious mind and remain true?

    Surprisingly, I say yes. I say that people can force themselves to usually come to love and be attracted to the other person. For example, there are only a few men at the bar one night but you're determined to take one home (maybe you haven't had sex in a month, maybe you want to revenge cheat on your SO ect.) you can probably 'trick' or otherwise force yourself to be attracted to at least one of them, even if outside of said context-you wouldn't normally be attracted to that person. I think this explains the high success rate for arranged marriages as well-if you go into something with the expectation that you are supposed to be/need to be attracted to this person, unless this person is extremely unfavourable, most likely you will find something attractive about them. Now as for 'romantic' feeling or love, that is something I believe takes longer to 'trick' yourself into. When I first met my current boyfriend, I wasn't that physically attracted to him at first (he will confirm I was actually a bit repulsed) but he drove 2+ hours to my university to meet me and stay the night-hence the underlying expectation for some 'magic' to happen, which, after many drinks and drugs, it did. Now we have been dating for over a year and I feel more attracted to him than anyone I have ever met despite various relationship obstacles/rows we have had.

    Is attraction solely determined by physical, behavioural and intellectual attributes? Or a combination of all and more?
    Depends. Again, contingent on context and circumstantial. I believe different people at different times in their life expect/need/want different things from their partners. I feel that younger people want someone they perceive as highly attractive even if that relationship is not meant to last in the long run-it looks good, raises self-esteem, and is filled with lots of hot and heavy sex (maybe I'm drawing too much on personal experience HAHA). Behavioural and intellectual attributes play a slighter role in the short term, but in the long term can cause real problems like boredom and unhappiness. I also feel like there is a pattern where extremely intellectual/smart people are attracted to or end up with, extremely 'dumb' or unintellectual type people-hence the jock and nerd archetype. I liken this to the sheer simple pleasure people like this bring-my boyfriend is not academic-he's a retired football player and doesn't know much about philosophy beyond the old Joe Rogan podcast, but I enjoy being with him because it is a break from my own brain. I think I would go crazy if I were dating someone like me. [/quote]

    Could sexuality and attraction be determined simply by what is deemed as what is deserved?
    "You accept the love you think you deserve" -a rip off of the Perks of Being a Wallflower quote. I was in an abusive relationship for almost a year-I definitely believed I deserved it. I still believe I deserved it during that time, I wasn't a nice, or strong, or good person.

    How significant are environmental factors such as maternal and paternal relationships during certain developmental stages?
    Once arrived at, can it be changed? How?

    Eh-enivoronmental factors play a part in any attraction we feel for people, platonic or sexual. People feel comforted by the familiar-or excited by the unfamiliar and exotic. Swings both ways.
  • csalisbury
    1.9k
    I want to emphasize again that any kind of sexual attraction that is harmful for the person to whom you're attracted - that attraction has to be reined in and managed. What I was saying in what you've quoted is that you can't change what you're attracted to through reason. If what your attraction is, is ethically ok between consenting adults you ought to cultivate it and find a community where it works. If it isn't, that's a truly hard thing , and you have to find a way to manage its explosive potential through other outlets.
  • tim wood
    3k
    The question is trying to uncover what, if not explicitly my conscious thought and will, determines sexuality and true sexual attraction?earthlycohort
    Aha! You have not as yet directly experienced the influence of chemicals - hormones for one - on your person. Actually you have, you just do not recognize them as such. But you will when you get old, by the (relative) lack of their influence. It's the same thing that makes female cats go into heat, and male cats in the neighborhood go crazy - and pretty much all other living things. If you believe for a moment that cognition - thinking - has anything to do with it except maybe peripherally or tangentially, I have a bridge to sell you.
  • I like sushiAccepted Answer
    1.3k
    Sex is complicated. Humans have a very tangled and messy psychological substrate upon which they operate. Sexual pleasures often combine with feelings of pain and domination, of inflicting pain on others, violence and various expression of power over others, and/or lack of control.

    Then there are basic biochemical markers where we’re subconsciously attracted to parts of ourselves seen in others, and/or parts we deem absent in ourselves revealed in others - leading to desires and then likely becoming entwined in the whole spectrum of control and power; the want to possess/increase certain attributes.

    We do know that biochemically we’re under the influence of olfactory senses. The scent of someone who possesses different anti-bodies to you is more appealing, during ovulation there are also changes that are communicated via scent.

    We can certainly control sexual attraction to some degree because we understand that dressing or smelling a certain way attracts others. Beyond the surface detail the combination of scent is further complexified by speech which indirectly stimulates all of the above.
  • Arne
    416
    that toward which we are drawn. thoughts are useful to rendering explicit that to which we are drawn. they are not the cause.
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