Attraction, Physical Intimacy, and True Love
By Charles Glassman M.D.
For Valentine’s month I thought a discussion of intimacy would be appropriate.
Physical intimacy, attraction, and “chemistry” are indeed a big part of a relationship. Well, I hate to be a party pooper, but a lot of the time this stuff is our automatic brain (AB) being attracted to someone with the genetic features that our AB knows will place our offspring in a favorable and dominant position. Love at first sight, let’s face it, is really lust at first sight. If you wish to believe, trust, and take direction from this or are forever looking for this to happen and therefore trying to identify your “soul mate,” then you may well experience the supreme disappointment that comes with AB behavior and thinking.
A little refresher on my terminology: The AB is essentially our primitive nature; some call it ego. It has one purpose and one purpose only—to protect us from danger, threat, and vulnerability by fight or flight. I believe that when we lead our lives believing, trusting, and taking direction from this brain, we are drained and true happiness eludes us. When we base our relationships mostly on physical attraction—to our mate’s physical features, power, influence, or money—then we are set up for failure. Many people, when asked what they want in a mate, reply with physical descriptions or statements like, “He has to make me laugh.” (What are you looking for—a circus performer?) You should ask yourself, “Am I looking for someone to protect me from my own insecurities (hence, vulnerabilities)?”
A relationship built mostly on physical attraction and sexuality can rest on that foundation (in my estimation) for about three months. After that time, the AB begins to get impatient and any pimple (literally) that disrupts the relationship places it in jeopardy. Three months into your relationship with the “perfect” person for you, he or she develops a furuncle (fancy-sounding medical term for a large boil) on the butt. A few weeks later you, the lover without a flaw, come down with a whopper of a sinus infection productive of yellow mucus, etc., etc…What are you feeling now?
At this point, I’ll come out of the closet and admit that I was an avid listener to Howard Stern prior to his move to Sirius. Before his divorce from his first wife, he used to fantasize with the strippers and actresses who paraded through his studio. “Ah, what I would do to you,” he would say, “if only it were the two of us, alone, on a desert island and we had a pact of secrecy that nobody would ever find out!” The reality is that someone always finds out.
The finding-out part need not be an actual someone. You may find out that this person is not the fantasy that you thought, or that you actually are fighting or fleeing something in yourself, or your relationship that could be fixed, with some work. When someone tells me in confidence that they are contemplating having an affair, I recommend that they rent two movies: Fatal Attraction and Unfaithful. Since it is usually the AB that leads someone to have an affair, these are two good movies to make one fight or flee the notion of the affair. Then we can talk about the why.
So you may ask yourself, is this guy for real? Is he telling me that the physical part of a relationship is not important? No, that’s not what I’m saying. In fact, a strong physical attraction is very important in an intimate relationship and usually is what separates a friendship from a relationship. The pleasure we get from intimacy is arguably the single greatest physical pleasure we as humans can experience, is life affirming, and can solidify the bond between two already connected people. But when it is the only feature or the strongest link, then the relationship is a set up for implosion, because it is based on the automatic brain. When the AB’s physical need for dominance or lust for immortality (i.e., passing along DNA) takes over, the Tiger Woodses, John Edwardses, and the Arnold Schwarzeneggers of the world sabotage their lives with many other people getting hurt in their wake.
So if you are a married man and on Valentine’s Day your wife greets you at the door wearing something risqué, don’t ask what’s for dinner! Instead, strengthen your bond with physical love and passion. If you are married with kids, put your relationship needs first, so your children’s ABs will not equate resentment with relationships, thus creating their own danger memory. If you are single, work to understand your own danger memories, so when you meet people you are not looking to them as a vehicle to fight or flee something within yourself. And first and foremost, love yourself in every sense of the word. Taking care of your physical body is not only a sign of self-love, but a powerful attraction for those to whom you wish to appear attractive. When you achieve a true love and respect for yourself, you are able to trust your relationships with people in an authentic and loving manner.
He is the author of the critically acclaimed book Brain Drain, which helps explain and fix self-sabotage. It is the winner of the 2011 Independent Publisher's Award and 2011 Eric Hoffer Award as the best Self-Help and Health book, 2010 Pinnacle Book Award for best Self-Help Book, and 2009 LA Book Festival Best Spirituality Book.
To new subscribers on his website, he is now offering his free, new EBook, Destiny Diet. Weekly, Dr. Glassman hosts Medicine on the Cutting Edge, which gives a voice to pioneers in medical research and development. Dr. Glassman lives with his family in Rockland County, NY.
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