In my first field report, I mused about how difficult I found it to follow Hayley Quinn’s advice to approach and “say simply whatever that initial specific spark of attraction was that made them choose this woman”. I talked about being more like the description of female desire that Quinn and other PUAs use, than their description of male desire. That objection still feels very valid to me, but all the same, I thought it was worth my while paying attention to whether there were any patterns in what I saw for women I saw who seemed attractive, compared to those I was less interested in approaching (or at least, observing). So I’ve been doing that for the past couple of months.
There aren’t many. About the only thing that seemed consistent in terms of appearance was that I tended to be more interested in women who had faces that seemed convex, like a vertical pipe, and less attracted by women whose faces seemed concave, like a horizontal skating ramp. And even that is far from a fixed point. No, physical appearance did not affect to any great degree (beyond appearing to be roughly in my age range) whether I was contemplating how to make an approach.
However, I had a moment of revelation the other day and paid attention to the idea that came to me subsequently to check whether it was working. What I realised was that I was looking for, if you will, “fixed points”. The things that don’t move or change moment to moment. But the human body and human mind is not a static thing. We move and think and respond to the world around us. What’s attracting me to some women and not others, at least, enough for that initial spark of “maybe I will approach her”, is not her features or her body, but rather, what she’s doing with them. The ways she moves and the expression(s) on her face.
I had been assuming that I was making a conscious rationalisation about not approaching, if I saw someone looking unhappy, stressed, cross, or whatever. But maybe those were the cues that made me not attracted anyway?
The astute reader will no doubt object, “But if you were rationalising not approaching, then surely you found something attractive to think about approaching?” That’s a fair point, of course. The answer is the difference between “I want to approach” and “I think I should approach” (or even, “I think I should want to”). I am perfectly capable of telling whether a woman conforms to some physical standard of “hot babe”, or even if she fits what I have come to think of as “my type” (not necessarily the same thing), without necessarily feeling any intrinsic or fundamental desire for her or for talking to her, as a result of that. So, “hot babe with scowly face” is someone I “should” want to talk to, based on performative masculinity, but fundamentally don’t. And yes, it is still sometimes a struggle (even with my confident assertion of my MAAB genderqueer not-quite-man-liness) to recognise and avoid the pressures of a lifetime being “encouraged” to want what “all men” want. Classic case in point – from that first “field report”:
This was the second moment in which I got an instant attraction going. This time, a woman came out of a shop a few yards in front of me. She was looking at her mobile phone, so I thought, “won’t bother her”. But then she looked up from the phone and smiled this huge, bright smile and that was it.
There you have it. I have, if you will, been looking for a specific tree to observe-assume-relate to, when in fact I should have been looking at how the forest moves in the wind. I talked about “staircase wit” and the issue of coming up with openers using Hayley Quinn’s technique just too late to be able to make use of them. But I’ve been trying to figure out something that was never really there – the “thing about you” that I noticed. There was something, but it wasn’t a thing but an act, or way of acting. A demeanour, one might say. So I can stop looking for the feature, or even “thing you’re wearing” and pay more attention to the movements that catch my attraction and use that as the basis for my observation, assumption and relating.
There is a downside to this. If attraction comes from motion and demeanour, then this leads inexorably into the “punishment cues” problem. A person who keys on motion for attraction, and also who keys on “punishment cues” rather than “pronoia cues”, is going to be picking up a lot of negative and not a lot of positive vibes. In fact, the ‘revelation” I mentioned at the top of the post was precisely brought about because I noticed that I was labelling people’s emotions (particularly women I thought I should approach) mostly in negative terms: “she looks nervous and edgy”, “she looks cross”, “she looks impatient” etc. I tried to think about whether I was inadvertently sending out similar signals (some of those women, I reasoned later, were probably just showing their “at rest” face rather than any particular emotion – just as my “at rest” face looks quite serious or grumpy).
All the same, knowing this about myself gives me a better chance of working with it. For one thing, asking the right question on “what attracted me to her?” might be just what I need to solve the question of what to say, in time to say it. For another, it means I can be more honest with myself, for instance, noting what her demeanour was that meant I wasn’t interested in approaching.
All of which does NOT mean that once I am in a relationship, my partner must always be cheerful; by that stage, genuine foundations of person-to-person connection exist. This is just about what gets that initial spark from which may eventually grow something more deeply rooted. Intimacy (and the attraction that brings) for me includes being able to be miserable in front of each other from time to time!