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Peta Heskell Dec 2000 - "Attraction Addiction"
Peta Heskell
The purpose of this piece is many-fold. As you read it you may begin to learn about your own behaviour from stories of real people, with real ways of behaving and some of these ways of behaving may not be as emotionally healthy as we would like. I may at times appear trite and slightly humorous - take it as you will. And please, exercise your right to question all this. You should be asking questions and question what people tell you, even me! And be aware how easily we use labels especially in the media. Beware of the media programming you receive each day. Question what you hear. How do you know it is true? I know that as you enjoy reading this, you see people not as labels, but as the individual and unique beings they are. 

Addicted to the Attraction 

Is he really into love at first sight or is he addicted to the idea of it? Are you an attraction addict?  

Too good to be true? 

"He's warm, he's emotional, he's intelligent, he's funny, he loves his work and to cap it all he's good looking, sexy and he adores me." As Liz described her new man, I felt decidedly envious. Their first date had lasted an entire weekend. He had sent her 3 to 4 emails every day since they met a week earlier. After the second date, they had already planned two long weekends away together. Liz began to see the infinite possibilities of this relationship. It was just what she needed - or so she thought. It was only a year and a half since her divorce, during which time, she'd had a disastrous and humiliating relationship with another AA. 

How about you? What kind of people do you attract? If you are attracting the same type of man or woman all the time and things aren't working out, ask yourself, what is it in you that attracts them? What kind of man or woman do you want to attract? And how would you have to be to attract someone like this. Liz was a highly attractive 46 year old very flirtatious woman who hadn't spent much time without a man! She welcomed Andy into her life with open arms, not realising she was making exactly the same mistake again. Liz was a dandelion seed waiting for an attraction addict like Andy to blow her every which way. She was also, like many women, an attraction addict herself. 

When Liz first met Andy he seemed like a modern-day hero in designer gear waiting to whisk her away in his new Mercedes to a land of bliss and romance. Later as I considered our conversation, the envy dissipated and my cynic's voice asked 'Is this for real?' Are there men out there who are like that? Is romance alive and well and living in Stoke on Trent? 

Swing High Swing Low  
Not any more it isn't. After 7 weeks of swinging from high to low, Liz has finally and reluctantly broken off with Andy. Why? Andy was an attraction addict [AA]. Andy was attracted to Liz but he wasn't addicted to Liz, he was addicted to the perfection that he had ascribed to Liz and the excitement of the new romance. Liz in turn, being a woman, fell into it immediately. The more Andy adored and perfected her, the more she adored and perfected him. 

Girlie-think - How many children shall we have?  
Most women will recognise the 'go off into the future and create relationship perfection with new man after only knowing him a few hours' scenario! We women do it all the time. There are plenty of female attraction addicts. As she begins to fantasise about life with 'new man' she may brush aside tiny matters like her new man has told her he's not the faithful type. They all know that once he is trapped in the web of desire for her, he'll change! And indeed, unfaithful man may become faithful man one day or he may not! If this rings true for you, relax.. It is possible to change and be more open to reality...but that's another article! 

Boy-think - Do you want sex now or now?  
While the female is off on in fantasyville. The male of the species will be in his own fantasyville. And generally he won't be dreaming about domestic bliss with 'new squeeze' five years down the line This guy is much more likely to be fantasizing about the next five minutes and what horizontal activities he and the new squeeze could be getting into! 

While the male plans the upcoming shag, the female is planning the wedding, the honeymoon, the children and the silver wedding celebrations. True or true? True for some, and, naturally, there are those who don't fit this generalization. Plenty of women are getting hot thinking about shagging a guy they've just met, while some men will be thinking about how nice it might be spending more time with this gorgeous female. I do have my doubts as to whether many men start planning weddings and children after the first date. 

Andy didn't fit the generalisation. Sure he wanted to shag Liz. But he also had a vision, a sense of a nirvana-like life with Liz, this wonderful goddess. This stuff is great when you are in a relationship and get close. Mutual tantric adoration is very, very, powerful. Andy was acting as if he and Liz were a perfect match but how could he be sure yet? Andy was sure he was sure, at first. He had created a perfect image in his mind. For the first few weeks he matched Liz to the perfect image. He had to do a bit of negative hallucination and for a while he kept the fantasy going. Then reality set in. Andy is confronted with a flaw in Liz. He can't blot it out. Panic stations. Liz doesn't match. She isn't perfect. She's human. Perfect perfection seeker seeks perfection Some perfection seekers also expect perfection in themselves. Perfection doesn't exist. It's just an idea. If we subscribe to this toxic story, we will either feel desperately driven to find it like a holy grail or we would want to stop living because we think we can't get it. 

By creating perfection and then expecting the other person to live up to this you can miss out all kinds of great relationships. Relationships with human beings. We are all imperfect and that's the joy of our life. We are all on a path. Everyone we meet has something to teach us. People are who they are and you either accept them for that and love them even more because of who they are, or if they are not a match and fit for you, say bye bye! 
You may have already encountered an attraction addict. They are out there everywhere. You may not detect it easily at first, but peer a little closer, hold back just a little with the planning, take stock and you will begin to uncover the clues. 

If you want to avoid making the same mistakes as Liz, here's how to spot an AA:
An AA will definitely come across as warm and emotional. 
An AA may shower you with meaningfully romantic presents 
An AA will definitely tell you over and over how wonderful you are 
An AA will be very quick to tell you he loves you and appear to mean it 
An AA will probably take you on very romantic dates 
An AA may give you pedestal-style nicknames such as princess or goddess or perfect one 
An AA may discuss big life plans which appear to include you and seem very romantic 
An AA will want to spend a lot of time with you right at the beginning and may then pull away 

An AA will do this within a VERY short time of meeting you and being attracted to you Be very careful. The AA will appear to be a 'dream man'. He is the stuff of Mills and Boone romances. He is the Mr Darcy of every women's fantasy. Women all over the world have been conditioned by novelists and film-makers into dreaming the dream of Mr Right, perfect in every way and the AA fulfils this dream. My inner cynic tells me that when a human being ' appears' to be perfect there's probably a bloody great crack waiting to burst open. In the case of AA's the flaw is that the attraction wears off when the he realises his woman isn't the perfect goddess he set her up to be. He is addicted to the first idyllic days of a new romance. When that disappears, so will the AA! 

AA's will come in all shapes and sizes, but they are generally quite attractive and charismatic people. It makes sense, because a successful AA has to have the looks or charisma or both in order to attract the seemingly perfect women he is drawn to. AA's will usually be attracted to good looking and charismatic women. These women won't be any particular type but will conform to the individual AA's ideal of what makes up a 'perfect' woman. For some it will be short or tall, well-rounded blondes, for others it will be sporty and lean brunettes whilst others still will plump for the voluptuous redheads. They may also be a mixture of good looks and intellectual or homemaking qualities. What makes a woman fall for an AA? The slight envy I had felt as I listened to Liz describing this wonderful new man reminded me that even a seemingly well-balanced woman, like me, can be tempted and indeed may even succumb to the charms of an AA. 

Who wouldn't be deeply thrilled to be the centre of so much attention. Who wouldn't be tempted by the flattery of being placed on a pedestal to climb onto it and believe it's our proper place. Who wouldn't be excited to have their inbox flooded with romantic emails declaring undying love and planning for a future in paradise? And who wouldn't especially be excited by all of these under certain circumstances. And if like seeks like, and you are an attraction addict yourself, you'll probably love this guy on first sight! 

Please believe that not all AAs are malicious or out to get women. Some are and some aren't. If they are OK, they'll probably get round to realising their pattern sooner or later or someone may give them a jolt that makes them change. 

Are you potential AA fodder? 
What kind of women are at risk from this goddess-like worship that is the keynote of attraction addicts. 
Women who read romantic novels and believe that life is all about waiting for Mr Darcy to come along and make them swoon 
Women who need a man to tell them they are wonderful before they can feel wonderful. 
Women who read the kind of rules-based self-help books that lead you to look for and expect these romantic qualities in a man. 
Women who have built a picture of Mr Romantic Right and can easily transfer the AA into the frame 
Women who are desperate to feel loved and adored 
Women who think they need a relationship to make them complete rather than to enhance what is already wonderful about them 
Women who are emotionally vulnerable after a break up or loss 
Women who are attraction addicts themselves! 

NOTE: If you feel any of these descriptions touched you, then consider what can you do to be more how you want to be? You can attract the people to you because of the energy you put out. The purer you are the purer people you attract. Pure means being YOU, completely and loving it. The ones that got away Take heart because you can learn to listen to yourself and take more time to allow your emotions to settle down. 

Charlene still breathes a sigh of relief at her lucky getaway. When Charlene met John on a trip abroad, she was already in a relationship with a man and they planned to marry shortly after her return. Thing's didn't quite go to plan. John was a highly attractive, seasoned AA and it wasn't long before Charlene fell under his spell. John was attractive, sexy and appeared confident . 

A day after their first lusty and romantic encounter, John had talked of having a child with her [guaranteed to melt the hearts of the toughest women!], setting up a business in the UK together and eventually moving to Australia together. Charlene got carried away with the flattery of being so adored. Fortunately, she had to return home and the 600 miles that separated them also put some mental distance between herself and John's charms. 
Charlene had set out for home with the intention of breaking off her engagement and moving into a place with John so that they could plan their new life together. Luckily, a good friend persuaded her to take some time alone to think. After two or three days Charlene came down to earth with a bump. 

She sensed that she had fallen for John's apparently absolute attraction and desire for her and that she didn't really know enough about him to give up her life and transport herself to the other side of the world to be with him. As she came out of the daze, she began to realise that John was not as perfect as he had seemed. With the help of her friend she collected her thoughts, came to her senses and is now happily married. She was one of the lucky ones. Peta 

I too fell for an AA man myself once, when I was younger. I fell for him because I was looking for a man to give me what I thought I couldn't get for myself. I wanted a provider for an easy life. This man was not nice although he appeared to be at first and I allowed my dreaming to blot out what I didn't want to see. I was about to get married. Just before that, I went to San Francisco where I had a chance consider what I was doing. I broke off the 'engagement' and breathed a sigh of relief. I suddenly realised how foolish I'd been. I felt no loss whatsoever, just a feeling that I had learned something very important indeed. Perhaps I went to San Francisco to see more clearly. Who knows? 
Liz's story - Encounters of the AA kind 

Liz got involved with two AA's before she finally learned her lesson. She had barely had time to get over her divorce before she got involved in a luckless relationship with Gary. Gary was an AA He was attracted to what Liz represented in terms of his ideal life. He blindly tried to fit her into the mould he had created of a mother to his children and a wife who was intelligent, looked good and who would fit in at the tennis club. 

Liz wanted to be with a man. She was used to being with a man. She was enjoying the attention Gary was paying to her and when he started talking about living arrangements, she went straight off into the future and created her own scenario. It was very appealing. She started to become the woman Gary wanted her to be. She wanted to please because she wanted the fantasy. 

She folded away parts of herself and tried to convince herself that it could work. She kept up the pretence for a while, but as soon as she let Gary see more of who she really was he became disappointed. When Gary realised that Liz had a mind of her own, and was not the model image of his ideal wife, he soon got cold feet. Despite knowing that she and Gary were so unsuited Liz was still sadly disappointed at what she saw as the failure of yet another relationship. Undaunted, a month later Liz leaped straight into a heady romance with Andy. She said 'I'd never been without a man in my life for more than a couple of weeks'. 

Liz hadn't yet come to terms with her divorce and learned to be a happy singleton. Instead she crashed from one relationship to another in search of the personal fulfilment she believed she could only find when she was in a committed relationship with a man. She was exactly the kind of woman AA's are drawn to - attractive, available, emotionally needy and very vulnerable. 

She spent 7 weeks roller coasting through her new relationship as Andy gradually pulled further and further away from her. After a while he had realised that Liz was not the goddess he had set her up to be and she no longer appeared as attractive as she did in those excitement filled first weeks. 

Liz realises now that her if her 'neediness' remains unchecked she will always be vulnerable to AA's like Andy. She is beginning to learn that doesn't need a man but she does need to spend time with herself, healing herself and learning to love herself. She is also starting to accept that only when she is happy with her life and not looking for a man to fix her life, the right man, flaws and all, will appear on her path. She will no longer be vulnerable to the AA's of this world because she won't crave what they have to offer. 
What about you? 
Has this made you think about how you are? 
Do you need to be adored or put on a pedestal in order to feel good? 
Do you think you can only be fulfilled if you have a man in your life? 
Are you seeking your 'other half'? 

If the answer is yes, take some time to work on your own self-esteem, create success in your own right and you will soon see that neediness dissolving. Help yourself! There's lots more out there! If you want to preserve your sanity, be cautious when a man comes on too strong, too soon. Take it easy and keep both feet firmly planted in reality. If he is making statements of undying love after only one or two dates tell him plainly something to the effect of whilst you are flattered, [if you are!] you believe love at first sight is lust at first sight and that you would prefer he took the time to get to know you before making a decision like that. 

Allow the relationship to develop at a slower pace taking each day as it comes. Be wary of giving up everything around you to engross yourself with your new man. Carry on with your life. Keep seeing your friends, suggest you both see other people, maintain your freedom and above all stay cool. And when you sense the desire, be as warm and loving and sexual as you want, if that's what you want, and just be more aware and ask questions of yourself before diving into the future. 

In time you will discover whether your new man is an AA or someone who truly does adore you because he has taken the time to get to really know you. If he is a rational, balanced human being [and this doesn't preclude him being exciting, sexy and all of those great things] he will not make up his mind before he has had a chance to explore your relationship together, through good and bad and over a period of time. 

If you are a wise self-assured woman, you will appreciate this mature attitude and know that if and when he does declare his undying love it has come not because he is in love with love but because he thinks you are a match and fit for him. I leave you with the thought that no matter who you meet on your life's path, each relationship is neither good nor bad, but just part of life's divine purpose and a way of teaching you how make it even better the next time round. And, I am sure you know that if one door closes, there is always another waiting to be opened and as long as you keep your senses sharpened and instant emotional responses in check, you can still step into each new opportunity with a sense of wonder about the endless possibilities. That's kind of exciting, isn't it! 

I would like to acknowledge Marianne Williamson for inspiring me to write this article. I opened Marianne's book 'A Return to Love' for the first time in the company of a friend and it fell open to a particular page. There was the barebones idea of attraction addiction. Thank you Marianne.
3455 words Copyright 2000 Peta Heskell

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