Part 3 – Attractions and Affairs

Issue 112

Attractions and Affairs
Everyone Has Attractions


Hal and Sidra Stone

Attractions   are  a natural  part  of our  everyday  existence. What we do with them and how we handle them is the real issue.

Of course, as we have described briefly in the last section, there are other parts of us that feel quite different from our vulnerable  child.

Our  sexual selves, which  might  include (amongst others) Aphrodite, the satyr, the playboy, and the open marriage  or free love advocate,  all yearn for multiple partners.   These  selves are extremely  important and  carry with them much energy and a high intensity of feeling. Their attractions do not lessen just because we wish, from an aware ego, to engage in an intense,  consciousness-enhancing relationship  that includes  the  vulnerable  child.  Needless  to say, this poses quite a problem.  Talk about embracing  the opposites!

None  of us can deny these selves to save our relationships. This would just put us back in the position of disowning some parts in favor of others. And it does not necessarily work. The fact that we would rather not acknowledge a self does not in any way make it disappear.  If we feel very strong and deep attractions for other people and try to stuff them down into the unconscious,  these feelings simply go underground and begin to operate in the dark. When these feelings operate in the dark we do not see or know what is going on. But our partners  and our friends  usually do. We may not notice the way we stared or blushed or stopped talking when someone attractive  came by,  but  those others  with  us are very likely to see. Most definitely, the vulnerable child of our partner  knows, and knows immediately.

These  attractions  can  range  from  a  mild  interest  and delight to an intense fascination.  They  may happen  all the time  or just occasionally.  When  attractions  are extremely intense and become a preoccupation,  it is usually a sign that something serious is missing in the relationship or that something important  is not being talked about. The following is a classic example of a strong attraction signalling that something is missing from a relationship.

After many years of marriage, Joan became less thoughtful of Peter and stopped planning exciting things for them to do together.  Their children  were  teenagers  and  they  occupied  her completely.  At  this time,  Peter was facing the added  financial pressures  of college tuition  and emotional pressures at work. It seemed as though his life had no fun in it anymore.  He found  himself intensely attracted  to a young woman at work. She was bright,  happy and extroverted, and she always seemed to be having a good time.  He thought about her constantly  and wished that he had the courage to have an affair with her.

Something is missing  in  Peter’s  marriage,  and he is drawn to it when he sees it elsewhere. Somewhere along the way he has lost his natural connection to his own playfulness. He has become identified with being responsible  and serious. Before he met Joan, he had no connection with his own playfulness  and  fun-loving  side. Joan brought  this  out  in him. He needed her to bring this out in him, because he had never fully embraced  it as a part of himself.

Now, his playful child, who had been cared for by Joan, is  no  longer considered  important  and  feels  abandoned. Joan’s attention has switched to the couple’s children; she has fun  with  them  and  with her girlfriends.   He  misses  this element of lightness in his own life, and he is naturally drawn to this energy elsewhere. His attraction to the young woman in his office is intense.  He spends much time daydreaming about her and wondering  what life would be like with her instead of with Joan.

Most of us are used to thinking about attractions  on thebasis of our physical feelings, and these can certainly become very powerful in these situations.  However, the fascination and power of this attraction is at least in part a function of the fact that the young woman is an expression of a disowned self in him with which he desperately  wants to connect.

Attractions  that  are based on disowned  selves can become extremely  powerful.  These  kinds  of attractions  can become obsessions that will not release us despite all of our attempts  to extricate ourselves. They  can often monopolize our energies, inexorably drawing us out of our current relationship.  They  can draw us into behavior that is very destructive  or non-productive,  or they can open us up to a very new and creative kind of relationship. In the next Voice Dialogue Tips, let us look at a few examples of this  kind of disowning  and  see how the relationships  might be impacted.