A Question on Permanence of Attraction

I’ve been thinking about something I haven’t seen much discussed before.  People who read this blog (I presume) know that attraction can be classified according to lots of different types, but what of its longevity?

This post isn’t asking about sexual fluidity, or changes in sexual orientation, but of changes in attraction to a specific individual (which could also correlate to an overall change in orientation, but wouldn’t have to).

I know that I’ve experienced changes in aesthetic attraction, for example, based on extraneous factors aside from the look of the person themselves — such as whether the person in question goes from being a total stranger to revealing themselves to be a raging jerk (and a corresponding change in my aesthetic perception of their face sometimes occurs).  That doesn’t always happen, though, as there are also people I strongly dislike who are still uncomfortably attractive.

I’ve mentioned before, in explaining why I identify as gray-a, that picking out sexual attraction is difficult for me — which is why I’m now looking at the volatility and longevity of other types of attraction for comparison.

Sensual attraction is very similar in some ways, so I’ve been keeping an eye on that.  It’s not as frequent as aesthetic attraction, though, which keeps the data pool limited.  And in the one case that I can draw repeated observations on… it has shown an inconvenient permanence.  Other people I’ve been sensually attracted to are people I never saw again, so I can’t say how fleeting that feeling might’ve been for them or formulate any significant conclusions, yet.

Have you ever had a reverse-demi experience, where you’ve started out attracted to someone and then felt the attraction fade?  How quickly did it happen?  What about the opposite (whether as a result of a strong emotional bond or not)?  What about attractions fluctuating from one type to another?  If you find that the people you’re attracted to (in any sense of the word) tend to stay the same from day to day, have you ever noticed exceptions?  Or is volatility your norm?

8 responses to “A Question on Permanence of Attraction

  • luvtheheaven

    My brother considers himself a heterosexual (allosexual) guy. He found himself Googling “infatuation period” and stuff to try to figure out if it was normal for the way he felt about his girlfriend to… kind of die. The intense romantic attraction people sometimes describe seems like it is that “infatuation” thing that is bound to fade over time, or be replaced with something more muted, solid, reasonable. I feel like obviously it’s a complicated matter, but I think that’s what “being in love” is supposed to partially mean to many people – you start seeing the person you love as “prettier” just because you love them (attraction toward a person changing/growing/heightening).

    I don’t know… lol.

    • acetheist

      Oh yeah, I’ve definitely heard that about romantic attraction (being strong at first and then fizzling out). I’d assumed it was normal… but that’s just an assumption, now that I think about it.

      • luvtheheaven

        I remember seeing whatever page my brother had landed on and people were saying it takes different amounts of time for the infatuation period to be over… 3 months, 3 years, etc. But one commenter said she never thought the infatuation period had ended and she was in a committed marriage for decades. I think different people experience these things differently, and the nuances of how different each of our experiences are is not properly understood.

  • Calum P Cameron

    I’m what I guess you could call a demisensual, in that I tend to grow more sensually attracted to people the more comfortable and friendly with them I become. The reverse has also happened, where falling out with someone in a major way caused the prospect of hugging them to lose pretty-much all it’s sensual appeal.

    I don’t think I’ve ever experienced a non-permanent level of aesthetic attraction, unless you count an attraction to pretty music as “aesthetic”, in which case there are certain kinds of music that I used to find ugly but I now find at least vaguely pretty in their own way. Oh, and I guess you could count my dog. I always found my dog pretty, but as time went on I noticed gradually more ways in which she was pretty, if that makes any sense. That COULD have been linked to some kind of bias due to my growing affection for her, but interestingly I can’t recall the same thing happening with any of my human friends or family.

    When I was younger and my sexuality was a little more fluid, it was a semi-irregular occurrence for me to start to experience something that could have been comparable to a weak sexual attraction towards certain individuals, but it never lasted long enough for me to analyse it or anything – and also, interestingly, it was never the same person twice. Not sure if that counts.

    I have at least one, possibly two or three friends who used to be sexually attracted to me but transitioned to only being attracted to me aesthetically and/or, I guess you could say, “intellectually” as a source of friendship and conversation.

    I have known (and in some cases watched) both romantic and sexual attractions to form and then fade within friends of mine, and have observed that romantic attractions, while generally taking much longer to form, are more likely to be permanent or at least very long-lived, but I suspect a big part of that is simply that romantic attraction is generally based less on physical appearance, and physical appearance obviously changes over time.

    That’s all I got.

  • doubleinvert

    Even after the woman to whom I’d been married was no longer aesthetically attractive, I still found her very sexually attractive due to the emotional bond I shared with her. After my gender transition began and she indicated she wanted a divorce, I found my attraction fading, and I attribute this to the fact that I no longer have that bond. It could be argued that my current partner is not the most aesthetically attractive person I’ve encountered. But my attraction to said partner is great due to, again, the emotional bond.

    I can’t answer for anyone but myself. But it does seem that attraction for me is not permanent.


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