reflections in who we date Sex: reflections in who we date

Harloquin on Tuesday, January 5, 1999 - 06:39 pm:

    I was talking to a friend the other day and he pointed out to me a trend I had blinded myself to. His quote was "the girls you date all have more baggage than fits in the overhead bin. They are all vulnerable in some significant way. What does this say about you?". I thought about it a while, and filed it off as a good question, and one for a more introspective moment. In the end, it was supprising to find that not only does there appear to be a vulnerability requirement in my date selection criteria, but that the type of vulnerability is rather spacific.

    In the depths of this introspection, I could not help but wonder who else out there has made realizations about themselves by spotting this type of trend. I also wonder what those realizations might have been. Most importantly, I wonder if there is any advise out there for overcomming this odviously destructive trend.

By Elizabeth on Wednesday, January 6, 1999 - 01:48 pm:

    Takes one to know one? This isn't an uncommon thing to hear from nice, seemingly well adjusted people. Get off on the Christ thing? 'I'm gonna save you!' Boy oh boy, join the club.

    Questions for you to answer:

    1) What do I get out of these relationships?
    2) What is it about all this baggage that is so appealing?
    3) What is it about the lack of baggage that is unappealing?
    4) What is appealing about the vulnerablity?
    5) What am I avoiding by being with these people (intimacy? happiness?)

    What I am beginning to notice for me (in the past week so I could be off). Is that being around vulnerable baggage laden people:

    1) Sure is exciting: You have so many problems and I get to feel so good when I take care of you!

    2) Luckily with you having so many problems there is little time left for me to wonder what I'm not providing myself in the way of self-nurtuance. Or for me to think about what is missing from my life/ what I need to work on.

    3) Hey I bet this will never work out because you're such a mess, but I can pretend and dream (and get hurt) can't I?

    4) And best of all I can't leave because YOU NEED ME. YOU NEED ME FOR EVERYTHING. AT LAST I FEEL REALLY, REALLY INDISPENSABLE IN SOMEONE'S LIFE. Now I bet you'll never leave. Right?

    That's my story anyway. Does it help? My answer so far is to try and focus on what in my own life I'm avoiding healing by being with this person. I think that is why I've been in it, maybe different for you

By Chordata on Wednesday, January 6, 1999 - 03:42 pm:

    it may sound trite and cheesy, but i've found it to be at least slightly applicable, it least in my dating situations: it's the idea that falling in love is completing yourself in some way. so, who you chose to incorporate in such a major way into your life is an incredible reflection on the self. i often learn more about myself by examining the people to whom i expose myself than i do through introspection. i tend to fall in love with those i idolize, because i find that the most satisfying element of a relationship is learning from someone.

By Harloquin on Wednesday, January 6, 1999 - 09:14 pm:

    I do not doubt the idea that falling in love is compleating yourself in some way. That is what is frightening me here, what am I compleating myself with?!? I dont think that learning is the most satisfying element of a relationship for me, for me it is trust, but that is a most personally feeling and I am sure that most people would not agree on any chosen "most satisfying" aspect, but I would love if you would elaborate on that a bit.

    Back to the subject at hand:
    The problem is not with the thought process, it is with something more basic. I don't know how to say it exactly, but I am certain that I could walk into a room with 100 women, and the 5 I would be attracted to would be the 5 least, um, stable is not a good word here, um, at peace with their lives.

    The comments by both of you were outstanding, thanks. Elizabeth, I think the empathy you are showing makes me afraid for you. I do not wish anyone to be in the same boat I am in.

    Woody Allen (whom I don't really care for) once said "I would not want to belong to any club that would have me as a member" Another fear is that I have been aproaching dating that way for quite some time now. Elizabeth, I will ask your questions, thanks. Chordata, I will see what I can learn from my next choice, perhapse that will set things on a more peer level, thanks.


By R.C. on Wednesday, January 6, 1999 - 11:56 pm:

    Gosh -- you guys are way too cerebral for me!

    Haven't you ever walked into a room & been drawn to someone just becuz he was wearing a beautiful shirt? Or he had a great voice when you overheard him talking as you walked by? Or becuz he said something hyseterically funny abt the bartender's hickey while you were waiting for yr drink?

    I mean/isn't what makes you 1st sit up & take notice of somebody a lot less heavy than the size of their emotional baggage? How can you even know abt that stuff/unless you liked them enuf to go thru the whole song-&-dance of small talk/exchanging digits/phone chat/1st outing together, etc./& spending time w/them? Esp. since most people try so desperately to conceal their flaws & problems when you're 1st getting to know them?

By Harloquin on Thursday, January 7, 1999 - 01:23 am:

    All the gender spacific pronouns aside (my days of bisexual exploration are over), perhapse I can shed some light on this.

    To the first paragraph, the answer for me is no. I am admittedly superficial at first contact, what attracts me is how someone looks. It is one of my biggest character flaws I know, but that is just how it is, I am attracted to a certain physical type where sexuality is conserned. I tend to break females into two basic groups based on this assessment, potential sex partners, and other. This sounds crass and rude I know, but I am being honest here. The other catagory is not a bad thing, this is where most of my friends come in, but I do not look at them as even potential sexual partners (maybe I should make this point on the woman/men friends board).

    As for the second issue, all I can really tell you is that having done this for so long (as long as I have been dating and sexually active) I can tell by how someone dress/ holds themselves/ interacts with others/ responds to my first two sentences/etc (not one, but all these factors) more or less where their self esteem is. Case in point, and insecure person holds themselves in a certain way and has certain patterns of behavior in groups. After this long, I can spot them easy. It attracts me.

    Worse, when I decide (happens about twice a year) that I am not going to persue people that are so insecure anymore, I default to group two, which WILL hurt me. These types of emotionally dangerous people give certain signals as well. The process is the same. Now here is the killing part of this...

    If I don't see one or the other, I am not physically attracted. So I get back to wondering, if that is the case, what the hell is wrong with me?!


By Elizabeth on Thursday, January 7, 1999 - 01:17 pm:

    Chordata - What an excellent point you've made about learning about yourself through the sort of people we select. If anyone can find a book called 'Hidden partners' (I think) it is about the role of the animus and anima (male and female parts of females and males respectively) as defined by Carl Jung and 'dark side' of your personality and the psychology of attraction, the projection of your other side onto the other person and how all of your S.O.'s reflect this other part of yourself back at you. I've been reading this recently and thinking about the kind of men I find most attractive and what that says about me (like and maybe I should worry!), about what I need, or about what I'm trying to learn from them. Hmmm....

    Harl - RE: Walking into a room and finding the 5 least stable people there,... I dig. I'm of the mindset/spiritual belief that we already know everything - this will be hard to explain - but it means that when you walk into that room Harl, you are magnetized to those women for a darn good reason, there is something about them that you are trying to work out, some kind of role-play that you want to attack again and again (ever have to take care of someone? A parent perhaps?), but you have not yet resolved. These women have the same situation with you (maybe not exactly the same play but one probably near the same). You know when you have a dream that repeats over and over? It's your mind trying to tell you something. When you figure out the dream, you stop having it. The knowledge is finally there. You're trying to tell yourself/resolve some personal issue w/ these ladies, what is it?

    If you believe in God or someone like that (or even in pre-sleep suggestions) you may want to pray or simply ask your mind to sort out what you are trying to replay with these unstable women before you go to bed. The brain is pretty incredible and will come up with your answers if you give it time/permission to sift. Of course then you will have to understand some unlikeable part of yourself and make peace with it. But that might not be so bad as continuing in a path you're not happy with.

    BTW: I don't think it is crass to break people into possible for sex and other, I would reckon that most people would do that. I mean, the chemistry is either there or not.

    I have close male friends who I'm just not interested in but love all the same, and ones that if they came on to me,.. well,... we'd have to see what happened. I know that although I would love to be attracted to someone externally like myself, outgoing, enthusiastic, et al that I'm usually drawn to quiet, nervous, nerdy men. I see this pattern of looking for the other person to supply what we don't have. Maybe that person is supplying what we already have though? I see my inner reflection in these boys pretty clearly.

By Agatha on Thursday, January 7, 1999 - 10:32 pm:

    what about applying these questions to those with whom you choose as your friends? i seem to come up against that problem time and time again. i don't know if i choose the emotionally challenging people, or if they choose me. it's something that has really been bothering me of late, because i am having a particularly rough time with this one friend of mine, who is extremely demanding and, when it comes right down to it, not a whole lot of fun. i'm not sure what to do. of course, at this point, she has firmly entrenched herself in my life, is in my classes, moved to this town because of me, etc etc. again, i ask for help from the enlightened folks at

By R.C. on Friday, January 8, 1999 - 12:11 am:

    Aggie: Beware of psychic vampires -- people so needy they suck all the life & energy out of anyone who gets drawn into their emotional orbit.

    (See -- I've done the reading!)

    I dunno... Maybe my life is just too simple compared to most folks. I only have 3 friends. Two I've known for well over a decade each /one for half that long. Everyone else in my phone book is people I can take or leave. But my friends are the kind I cd call at 3:00 am if I woke up & found myself in bed w/a dead hooker/a shitload of crack/& no memory of the previous nite. And they'd be there/no questions asked. (At least not 'til after the arraignment.)

    They're my friends becuz they remember the days & the times... So for me/3 friends is plenty. But I've always been somewhat the loner.

    A hard lesson I've learned/from my salad days when I was a lot more popular: If you've got more than 5 friends in yr life/you need to be suspicious. Becuz some of those people aren't really yr friends.

    As for attraction/I know what traits draw me to someone. But if I had to explain it -- as you have all done so well -- I don't think I cd. But I've never ended up w/a gorgeous mess of a man.
    Maybe couple whose lives were perhaps a little complicated. But never anyone whose problems I felt I needed to handle or assist with. Passion is important/but Sturn und Drang just don't appeal to me.

    The again/maybe I'm just too boring for anyone to wanna get w/me...

By Elizabeth on Friday, January 8, 1999 - 02:54 pm:

    Agatha - You gotta blow that woman off. Telling her 'you are a pain in the butt' will initiate a conversation you don't want to have I'm sure. Just refuse to make plans with her, ween her off you, don't return her calls. I had a friend like this before - too needy, when you stop paying attention they do go away after a while as that is what they need. You will hurt her feelings but you have to put yourself first, and don't engage her in combat when she says 'are you blowing me off?' just insist you don't know what she's talking about. This of course is only the plan if you truly can't stand her. You may temper it for your own uses.

By Bagpuss on Friday, January 8, 1999 - 09:42 pm:

    Hey guys, I'm attracted to people who don't like me. What does that say? I don't mean in "you must like me" kind of desperation, I get off on the pain and rejection.

    It's been fine up until now, but I've got myself into a messy situation regarding unrequited lurve. sad I know but hey, I didn't mean to fall *this* hard.

    As far as the "grooving on other people's pain" goes - According to Kant, if you help someone who's a friend and get pleasure out of it then it is not morally correct. You should help because it's the right thing to do and nothing else.

    According to me, it's the contol freak lack of intimacy thing, that and people without pain are either dull as fuck or kidding themselves.

By Agatha on Saturday, January 9, 1999 - 03:44 pm:

    elizabeth, thank you for the advice. did i mention, however, that i am the teacher's assistant for one of the classes she is taking this quarter? this means i will see her twice a week for three hours, and more if she comes in to work during open studio hours, which she most definitely will. i need to keep things civil, i just wish i had a way of explaining to her that i don't want a friend i have to call every day and worry about offending. she does have good qualities, but i would prefer her as a more casual friend. i don't think she is capable of that type of friendship, though. what i am trying to do for now is call her every once and a while, and try not to accept favors from her in any way. i have a four year old daughter, and she frequently offers to babysit, etc. i am trying to avoid dealing with her on this level, so i won't have any reason to feel guilty for anything. it's a rather tenuous situation.

By R.C. on Saturday, January 9, 1999 - 07:24 pm:

    Good Grief! Agatha -- don't dare let her babysit Chloe! There's no telling what yr kid might pick up from her!

    To paraphrase a bad movie: "Never give an unstable woman a power position in yr household."

    Just steer clear of her AMAP til the semester's over.

    [Or if you're feeling bitchy/introduce her to the most gorgeous, absoltuely poisonous guy you know/& let him take yr place in her little psychodrama.]

By Agatha on Sunday, January 10, 1999 - 02:58 pm:

    she's married. and, i think i have only let her babysit maybe twice ever, in three years. it's a tough situation.

By Elizabeth on Monday, January 11, 1999 - 12:01 pm:


    ICK. Bad friends. Ick. Considering your situation, that you have to see her for the class I reckon I'd just blow her off more slyly then. Like when she calls and starts to lauch into her hi-need action pretend something happened and you have to go. I guarantee the less you reinforce 'You acting this way = attention from me" the more she will evaporate. It's like training a pet. Pavlov anyone?

    As for you Bagpuss, if we take all this 'seeing ourselves in who we like' thing I will gamble that in some way you find people who don't like you appealing because... you don't like you? I'm not saying that you are sitting at home thinking 'wow I suck' but maybe some sly and bad way your subconcious is thinking 'I don't deserve anyone to like me, I'm dirt, therefore I'll find people who think the same to prove this point'. I will agree w/ you that those w/ out pain are kidding themselves, but people who have transcended their pain would be much better. If it's drama you want it's drama you'll get (I know this first hand).

By Harloquin on Monday, January 11, 1999 - 02:59 pm:

    I think the boring/lack of pain aspect that just came up is intresting. I think it very common, and while I wish I could not relate, I can. It requires at least a small amount of insight to keep a conversation intresting, but with that insight often comes introspection, and there are painfully few people I know who come out of that with happy joy joy feelings. So what does this say? Is it simply that in our overstimulated society the only realm in which we can find intrest in a conversation is when we talk about pain? Case in point, I usted to race motorcycles, but I consider this poor conversation, talking about it lacks any real content, because while I did it, and it was exciting, it has little "Meaning", few revalations occur at 165 on two wheels. Hum, yet another point for the baggage factor, if they have baggage they can always talk about it and how it has changed them. Maybe the only intresting conversation revolves around how things change you. I don't know.
    Wow, I ramble (and spell poorly while doing it! YEAH!)

    I have a friend somewhat like you describe. The hard part was that he was too important in my life to cut him out, and I knew he was not bringing me down on purpose. What I did was similar to what Elizabeth is suggesting, but at a different level. I no longer made as much time for him, and when I did and he would tell me about his trouble, I would simply not offer anything. Case in point:
    Him: "I have this problem..."
    Me: "Yeah, it sucks, but I am sure you will work it out" Change subject.
    Him: "What should I do about bleah..."
    Me: "I don't know man, never been there." Change subject.
    Eventually he learned that there was a limit on how much emotional weight of his I was willing to bear. There was a limit on how much time I was willing to spend with him. If he went over on either, he learned I was not always plesant to be around. Maybe this more moderate approach will work for you, I hope so.


By Agatha on Tuesday, January 12, 1999 - 12:28 pm:

    i will give it a go, although it's going to be hard for me to ignore her complaints. i'm not so good at that. the idea sure beats the alternative, though.

By Elizabeth on Tuesday, January 12, 1999 - 05:08 pm:

    Be strong girl, we're all behind you! Put you first!

By TheGoddess on Thursday, January 14, 1999 - 12:20 am:


    Well In response to your attraction to women with emotional baggage....I have found that I am the same way... I tend to graviate toward men that not only have a lot of their own emotional baggage, but also tend to have this very unstable psyche that seems in a constant state of confusion. They are incredibly philosophical but at the same time quite unpredictable in relation to the amount of stability that exists in their internal and external world at any point in time. I have found that this attraction goes back to my own needs as a person. I am a person who gets bored quite easily... and as my friends say i have a tendancy to unconsciously dramatize my life by creating certain situations and complexes for myself in order to... well keep me from becoming bored with my life. I find that the men I am attracted come with their own "built - in" dramas and conflicts that can weave themselves into my own problems. not only do I now have my own problems and situations to deal with... I can now "spice up" my life with dealing with THEM and THEIR endless problems. One way to get some variety.

    I'm not saying this is your problem... but knowing this might give you a new line of rationalization to consider. Also... everyone likes to be challanged. I think that is one of the key elements in a successful relationship... that both individuals challange their partners... dealing with women who have these problems provides a number of challanges...first with dealing with their personalities and emotional hangups as a result of all these difficulties.. and also the challange to help them resolve their inner conflicts. In turn, perhaps these women find that you challange them to triumph over their difficulties.. and also to maintain a successful relation given all the potential setbacks with their previous difficulties.

    hope this gives you some new things to consider at least.

By Elizabeth on Thursday, January 14, 1999 - 11:18 am:


    Point well made. Since I am of the same variety your words are thought provoking indeed. Perhaps the yen for drama has to do with intelligence? Feeling alive? I too get bored easily. It can't be much fun for people I date as it seems everyone has a less active mind than me.

    Last night I began to realise some fucked up shit about this whole dating a guy with (not much of a) girlfriend. That I like it. That depresses me. I feel I must be pretty sick. My commitment fears just go right down the tubes. But what I've come to find is that the extreme emotional intimacy and romantic notions we share leave me hungry for more than sex, they leave me hungry for a boyfriend. For spooning and watching a movie and making dinner and joking around. Like a bad dinner I just feel hungry an hour later the way it is now. Maybe that's not such a bad thing to recognize though

By TheGoddess on Thursday, January 14, 1999 - 04:37 pm:

    Elizabeth.... So RIGHT! I feel the exact same way. I tend to get myself into situations where a commitment is lacking... and I feel very needy for the kind of trust and bonding associated with a committed relationship. Sex lasts about 15 minutes... but i'd much rather just feel a sense of physical closeness and emotional connection than the actual act of sex. Personally, I think its just the pure timelessness of it that makes me like it. Its so raw and its I think the one thing besides death that has remained constant throughout history as humanity has evolved. But I know exactly what you mean... sometimes I tend to substitute the brief moments of intimacy with a man as a sort of "quick fix" for a need for intellectual recepriocity and deep emotional connection between myself and another person.

    You're right... it is a great thing to recognize... the hard thing is trying to make yourself "hold out" for something better. I feel this "tendancy" of ours identifies an area that we are weak in our own self. For example, To "settle" for sex when we really want continued intimacy. We need to focus on meeting our emotional needs on a more permanent scale. We should focus on developing out own self-respect and self-esteem to give us the strength and presense of mind to "hold out" for a lasting change that is what we REALLY need for ourselves.

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