Given the theme of modesty I’ve been on the past few days, it seems like a good time to do a two part series I’ve been planning for a few weeks now. The second part of the two part series is dependent upon this reasoning, so I’d like to stop for a moment and discuss the concept of attraction.
In my teen years, I realized that there is a difference between beauty and attractiveness; indeed, it is much the same as in the arts: in music, visual arts, and literature, we realize that a work may be objectively beautiful but there is a difference between objective beauty and enjoyment. I acknowledge the objective beauty, say, of Mozart’s music, but I don’t particularly “enjoy” it–it is not attractive to me. On the other hand, I both enjoy and acknowledge the artistic greatness of Bach.
Similarly, it is possible–and quite often true–that a man can acknowledge the beauty of a woman without feeling attraction or lust towards her.
On the flip side, of course, we find personality and character. Thus, too, one might admire the personality and character of a member of the opposite sex without being attracted.
I originally formulated this in high school, where I realized that some girls were pretty but uninteresting, some girls were pretty and interesting, and some were just interesting but not particularly pretty.
I also noticed that there was a more ineffable element to attraction that I used to philosophically distinguish from attraction per se. It left me quite baffled. It seemed that, from time to time, the girls I thought were pretty but uninteresting would suddenly become hugely attractive to me. Those on the brains over looks side, as well. Further, from time to time, those to whom I felt attraction in both respects were suddenly extremely attractive.
This awareness is one of the reasons I never dated: I was confused about what it meant to be attracted to someone.
Now, thanks to Natural Family Planning/fertility awareness, I know what it was: a woman is naturally more attractive to men when she’s fertile, and she’s also more attracted *to* men. Thus, in my cluelessness about body language and social cues, all those times I wondered if a girl was actually flirting with me, may very well have been so–even if it was unintentional on her part, as well.
Since I have come to this understanding, I have long maintained that a lot of our problems would be simplified if we taught fertility awareness to everyone. Why do so many “one night stands” result in “surprise pregnancies”? Because a woman is more willing to give herself away when she’s fertile. Do teenagers have to be slaves to their hormones? No, especially if we acknowledge that we have them and do our best to keep them apart. Most adultery occurs between close friends or co-workers–why? Probably because the man and woman are in close quarters at a time when she’s fertile and confuse natural hormones with “falling in love.” If you just acknowledge that’s what’s going on, it’s very easy to put it out of your mind and move on.
On the other hand, the concept of being “bored in one’s marriage” or “falling out of love” comes from a combination of not working at it and relying too much on that feeling. It is easy to see why, if a man’s love for his wife is based upon that monthly thrill, he might be singing “Trying to Get the Feeling” when his wife nears menopause.
One of the great frustrations of NFP, for those who really understand it, is that abstinence occurs when it is most undesirable, and the times of non abstinence are often when both parties are feeling least interested. Yet it also challenges the couple to remember that love is a choice.
So, again, fertility awareness can do a great deal towards helping people overcome various temptations and misconceptions.