Attraction: What Draws Us To People?
These are Bison, who flourish at Elk Island Park near where I live in Edmonton
(sorry, no poem today)
Today I would like to talk a little about attraction. Why are we often attracted to people who will often only hurt us? Why do we keep getting into relationships that are toxic? I’ve only really had two serious relationships in my life, and both of them were with women who were severe alcoholics. Why would this be? Well, one explanation is that I come from a family that was affected by alcoholism and in such a family unit there are certain rules. Unwritten ones, but very real ones and universal ones to families of this type. Some of the rules include being secretive about one’s’ family, another would be something that stems from that, which is isolation. Then there are different roles that each person in a family with an alcohol problem takes on. Somehow people like this seek each other out. I learned a lot of this from a book called “The Adult Children of Alcoholics Syndrome” which I suggest anyone with a family that fits this profile look into reading.
When I think of attraction to a person, I often think of charisma, about people in my life who I really wanted to have as a friend who perhaps knew this and took advantage of it. There was a trip to California I took at age 19 where I was left high and dry, basically left for dead after paying for a guy to travel all the way from my home in Vancouver to his home in Southern California. I still have a lot of resentment over this as it was hell trying to get myself back home after he ran up my credit card and made a lot of false promises. But the fact was I had some ulterior motives myself. He was one of these cool surfer dudes that all kinds of women loved and I just assumed that since he seemed to want to be friends with me that I could one day be as cool as he was. The problem was he was a pathological liar and most likely a narcissist with no intention of helping me in any way once he got what he wanted from me.
Then there is another guy I think of, someone I grew up with. He wasn’t the most popular person in school, but he was always trying to be. A lot of people wanted to climb the social ladder with him and I will have to admit he did a lot of fun things. In elementary he was almost always at my birthday parties, always thought to be very cool. Then one day he and another guy I had been friends with decided to simply hold me and beat the crap out of me. I think this was one of those situations where a person gets hurt a lot and develops a ‘tough guy’ attitude where they decide to hurt others or expose other’s flaws before anyone sees theirs. I contacted this guy a few years back and the way he turned out was pathetic. He was working as a stockbroker and tried to advise me to buy a stock that was worthless and always would be. He bragged about being a womanizer when he should have grown out of a phase like that a long time ago. I wrote back and told him about my writing career and gave him a long list of why I had no interest in writing about him from his criminal history to some of the things he had done to me. It kind of felt good. One of the funny things though was that in high school I had another friend (if one could really call these people friends) who went through hell with the way this same guy treated him and a few months after school ended for us, this friend chastised me for implying that this person, who had devastated him at a very critical time in his growth years, could be anything but a nice person.
I don’t really know if all of that makes a lot of sense to everyone, but I want to finish up by talking about one of the good ones in my life. When I was age 12-15, I was in something called “Air Cadets.” This was one of the most powerful experiences of my life. One of the great things about Cadets was that we were led by our peers, we were trained and given all kinds of instruction in things like leadership, photography, citizenship, first aid, and many more things. But what made the difference for me was two of my Sergeants, Chuck Howie and Kirk Popik. Just writing those names makes me think of some kind of fictional characters and to me, these guys were larger than life. Kirk and Chuck were best friends, and for a while, they were also good friends of mine. They were bodybuilders and had a huge influence on who I became as a person. Why was I drawn to them as friends? I think in a way I idolized them, wanted to be like them. They were dedicated Cadets and in a way mentors to me. They gave me an example in my life of how I could make myself into anything I wanted to be, and supported me while I tried to do it. Not to belittle them at all, but Chuck and Kirk sort of stepped in where my family members fell short.
So I don’t think I answered many questions here. I guess I could say that if you have a young person in your family who is searching for answers, who needs direction, getting them into something like Cadets or ballet or synchronized swimming where they have peers who can be a good influence on them (even getting your child a big brother or sister), can be an excellent way to see them blossom from pre-teens to adults. As far as attraction to others, I think what I was trying to say is that one should ask themselves if the person they want to get into a relationship with or have as a friend is really worthy of you. I have a good friend who is quite a bit older than me and it feels a bit funny, but I have found that he is an incredible, giving person. I don’t know how I managed it, but I also have an amazing friend who is also an author who is extremely generous and kind and caring. Other than that he is an incredibly intelligent and accomplished author I don’t know what to say about him. I think if a person wants to find friends that are truly good people, they have to get involved in their community, reach out to people and try to be as truly good a person as they can. Perhaps after a few handshakes and friendly questions, you will find a friend that makes a positive difference in your life.