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Sexual attraction and Self-esteem

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A person of low self-esteem is attracted to similar people, but if such a person raises their self-esteem by living virtuously will they cease to be attracted to mindless sluts and start to feel sexual attraction to good people? The reason I ask is that I feel split down the middle; I feel an inconvenient lust for women with bad characters and while I recognise, admire and desire a good woman I just don't feel the sexual passion. I think that deep down I still don't feel worthy of a good woman and maybe there's less risk involved with a lesser one.

Is it as simple as: live ethically and your emotions will change accordingly? Or are there psychological factors I need to study? I believe that Nathaniel Branden has done some work in this area. I'd appreciate your advice on this.

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A person of low self-esteem is attracted to similar people, but if such a person raises their self-esteem by living virtuously will they cease to be attracted to mindless sluts and start to feel sexual attraction to good people?

In the long-run, yes, your emotional reaction will change as you become more integrated. However, you might have a false premise that "good girls" may not want sex since it is implicitly a "bad" thing to want. This premise might prevent you from realizing that rational women with self-esteem would also want sex. I mean, were you attracted to sluts because they would have sex with you, or was it because that due to their low self-esteem they were easy? I think you are the only one who can answer these questions, but if you find that you are not attracted to women with high self-esteem (acquired rationally), then I suspect there is a problem with your premises -- as in do you feel you deserve something better? or is just getting the sex is all that you are after?

Occasionally, I become attracted to women who are not rational due to their physical attractiveness, but once I get to know them those new facts lead me to no longer want them. I would say, in general, that in our culture, the "bad girls" dress more provocatively than the "good girls" and that might be the root of the initial attraction. But getting to know them is the best approach in the long-run, because then your reactions will be based on character and not just their physical attractiveness.

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In the long-run, yes, your emotional reaction will change as you become more integrated. However, you might have a false premise that "good girls" may not want sex since it is implicitly a "bad" thing to want. This premise might prevent you from realizing that rational women with self-esteem would also want sex...

Occasionally, I become attracted to women who are not rational due to their physical attractiveness, but once I get to know them those new facts lead me to no longer want them. I would say, in general, that in our culture, the "bad girls" dress more provocatively than the "good girls" and that might be the root of the initial attraction. But getting to know them is the best approach in the long-run, because then your reactions will be based on character and not just their physical attractiveness.

A false premise indeed, yet oddly one that seems to run rampant in the thoughts of many young men, especially those who are still putting te final pieces of their own puzzle together. I have to wonder, however, if women are not guilty of promoting this premise because I think a lot of women (well, not rational, integrated women...) still, to this day, feel guilty and ashamed for feeling and exhibiting true passion. I think one of the largest reasons for that is that many women simply have a completely erroneous definition of passion that they're working with: when they think of passion they think of sexy love nibbles, clothes being torn off, sweat, etc. etc. While those are all nice things, they are , or properly should be, a consequence of passion, not passion itself. My conversations with my female coworkers would provide ample evidence of this misidentification. Passion itself is more, well.... rational! It's when two minds start to see the world in the same way; where their values are similar enough that they not only recognize the worth of the person they are passionate about, but they seek to exhibit that in all ways imaginable, both sexually and emotionally.

James I, I think you will most definitely become less attracted to shady women as you become more integrated, and you should welcome that moment when you first cast scorn upon such a women with absolute pride. When you cease to become "passionatelt" attracted to women such as the woman you allude to, you will have proof that you are becoming more conscious of your worth. You will be recognizing that you are worthy of seeking and possessing a TRUE passionate relationship: one that stems from like values and a similar sense of life--- not one that stems from fleeting thoughts of "gee, he/she look great...." "Passion" that stems from thoughts like that is fleeting at best, and could hardly compare to passion in its proper, intellectually fueled form. Just wait and see. In the meantime, don't soil yourself with lust that comes from women who are incapable of appreciating the process and the product of your integration.

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Passion itself is more, well.... rational! It's when two minds start to see the world in the same way; where their values are similar enough that they not only recognize the worth of the person they are passionate about, but they seek to exhibit that in all ways imaginable, both sexually and emotionally.

I definitely agree with this, though my last attempt at getting to know a woman well enough to have that kind of passion went bust. I talk about what happened in the Admirer or Stalker thread that we were both engaged in a while back. I mean, all I wanted to do was to get to know her, and it turned out to be a nightmare all summer, so romancing a woman can have it's drawbacks :huh: However, I've decided not to give up, which is one reason I keep writing in these forums.

I think some people -- can't say it is true of all people, though I wonder sometimes -- really resist talking about who they really are, I think because they got burned sometime in the past. Pursuing someone for romance -- I mean truly rational romance -- requires getting to know one another. Though I think love at first sight is possible, knowing something else about them that is positive certainly is more intimate. Sex ought to be a union of mind and body, rather than turning off one's mind and going for the physical gusto. A union of both your mind and body and your partner's mind and body. I find that really being fully conscious of her qua person is what makes me passionate. And I couldn't do that with just physical sex. I mean, if that is all I wanted then there are plenty of pornography options out there, and while they are definitely attractive, it's not the whole woman -- the total integration of mind and body.

I once wrote a poem for a personal ad stating what I was looking for, and I put it on my website. One of the interesting challenges for writing this poem was to make each line have the same number of characters so that it would fit in the space allotted for the ad.

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However, you might have a false premise that "good girls" may not want sex since it is implicitly a "bad" thing to want. This premise might prevent you from realizing that rational women with self-esteem would also want sex.

Yes, I can think of a few times when I was shocked that a girl I admired and thought of as good would tell me about her love life. I also believe that being raised in an environment where sex was either not mentioned or seen as dirty made me believe that it is something immoral, but that being dirty was a guilty pleasure which normal people should enjoy because (altruist) morality is impossible and indulging in your whims through binge drinking and indiscriminate sex is the only alternative.

I mean, were you attracted to sluts because they would have sex with you, or was it because that due to their low self-esteem they were easy?

Because they were ‘easy’ and I had low self-esteem I thought that they wouldn’t judge me as a good woman would. For the record I haven’t had sex with such a woman, it’s just the desire that bothers me.

…as in do you feel you deserve something better? or is just getting the sex is all that you are after?

Yes to the former question and no to the latter. I think I am gaining in self-esteem but on an implicit level I’m not there yet. Right now I’m attracted to a woman who I admire and hugely respect for her virtues but when it comes to sex I don’t get aroused by this- I think the fact that I just don’t feel worthy of her really hits the nail on the head. Either that or an automatised thought that sex with ‘good girls’ is boring and you need to brake the rules to have fun.

I think a lot of women (well, not rational, integrated women...) still, to this day, feel guilty and ashamed for feeling and exhibiting true passion. I think one of the largest reasons for that is that many women simply have a completely erroneous definition of passion that they're working with: when they think of passion they think of sexy love nibbles, clothes being torn off, sweat, etc. etc. While those are all nice things, they are , or properly should be, a consequence of passion, not passion itself

I think you are right on this point 4reason and it ties in with what I said above about sex being a guilty pleasure. I know of otherwise good people believe this and fall into the trap of one drinking to excess and one night stands.

I think you will most definitely become less attracted to shady women as you become more integrated, and you should welcome that moment when you first cast scorn upon such a women with absolute pride

I think so too but the annoying thing which prompted this topic is that I do dislike these women consciously while valuing good women consciously, but my body isn’t following suit! I’ll keep integrating my principles into my life- truthfully I’ve studied Oism for a while but haven’t really expressed my opinions outside of a small circle of friends and family; but I’ll begin to be more assertive about my beliefs which will give them power. Although, I don’t want to preach things I haven’t fully integrated either and turn into some kind of Branden character.

I definitely agree with this, though my last attempt at getting to know a woman well enough to have that kind of passion went bust. I talk about what happened in the Admirer or Stalker thread that we were both engaged in a while back. I mean, all I wanted to do was to get to know her, and it turned out to be a nightmare all summer, so romancing a woman can have it's drawbacks

I’m not so good at talking to women either, I mean I am if I let myself relax but I tend to let my social phobia take over and tell me that I’ll never succeed.

I think some people -- can't say it is true of all people, though I wonder sometimes -- really resist talking about who they really are, I think because they got burned sometime in the past

Before I found Objectivism I absorbed what I knew about relationships from my parents; my mother a very kind but submissive type, and my father a hard working but also hard drinking dominant type. I was a real asshole to my first serious girlfriend but she wasn’t as submissive as my mother and made me realise what an insecure and sad person I really was, and a lot of bitterness between us followed. After that I believed I was inherently bad because of my upbringing and bad character traits I’d inherited from my father.

Thank you for your input guys, I will take it on board. I feel a kind of catharsis from expressing my thoughts and feelings.

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Thank you for your input guys, I will take it on board. I feel a kind of catharsis from expressing my thoughts and feelings.

You are welcome, but at this point, since you have the conflicts and you are trying to fight them, you might want to seek psychotherapy. It's nothing to be ashamed of, as it gives you someone to talk to about these problems who can help you to identify your conflicts more consciously so you can better deal with them. Change won't happen overnight, but the more you understand yourself and your conflicts the easier it will be to resolve them. And there is nothing "unmanly" about seeking a rational resolution of your conflicts.

By the way, you misinterpreted what I was getting at in the thread I alluded to. It wasn't that I was having a hard time opening up to her -- in fact I sent her many emails stating exactly why I was in love with her, but got no replies from those. But, eventually, I received an email that directed me to a website that asked if I minded if I could be monitored while I was communicating with her. Thinking she was requesting a chaperon, I agreed, but that agreement led to me being spied upon, stalked, and harassed all summer, leading me to have sever psychological problems. I absolutely hate them for that, and I still don't know who they were or even if that girl was involved or if she was what her role was. That was several years ago, and I'm getting the medical help I need, which is why I recommend psychotherapy. The thing is for me is that those guys are still out there and still yell things at me occasionally while I'm in my apartment, and seem to even reply anonymously to some of what I write on the Internet, so the issue isn't settled. The reason I brought it up publicly is to try to get information as to who they were and as to what they wanted.

But, sometimes one must take a high risk when a high value is involved. I should have called the police earlier than I did, but thinking she was involved I didn't want to cause too much trouble and wound up paying the price for that decision.

So, best of premises to you -- any of you -- seeking the love of your life. But sometimes that process can be stranger than fiction!

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As men, we tend to react as nature designed us, i.e., to be attracted to women on a physical level - hence the desire for the more flamboyant, "Bad Girl" archetype. I find women of this type attractive (Amy Winehouse comes to mind - yes, I know...) As rational beings, however, we balk at a long term relationship with these women simply because we find them intellectual dullards, or at least I do. I'm sure the rest of you here likely think the same. I had my share of the "Bad Girls" back in the day, and they were a lot of fun, but there was no future in it. I settled down with one that did stimulate my noodle 22 years ago, and I haven't regretted it.

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I definitely agree with this, though my last attempt at getting to know a woman well enough to have that kind of passion went bust. I talk about what happened in the Admirer or Stalker thread that we were both engaged in a while back. I mean, all I wanted to do was to get to know her, and it turned out to be a nightmare all summer, so romancing a woman can have it's drawbacks :) However, I've decided not to give up, which is one reason I keep writing in these forums.

I just read through that thread, and I must say the response by some people on this forum was disgusting. Nobody on this forum has the ability to take away the rights of the perpetrator, so this whole 'innocent till proven guilty' thing is irrelevant, the context of that thread was of a girl who went through a terrible situtation and was seeking advice, this forum is not a court of law. Some people on here responded by suggesting the event was not as terrible as she might have thought it was, 2nd guessing her actions and response to the situation, and, most absurd, suggesting possible alternative intentions to forgive this perpetrator of assault. What the hell, this guy was a complete scumbag. He was not passionate or pulling a Howard Roark or just a misunderstanding, and the victim was in no way at fault by not acting like everyone is a criminal and perpetually living on guard for that. As a kind, respectful, considerate man I find the incredible tolerance and pseudo rationalization of this behavior absolutely despicable. If you misjudge a person to be better than they actually are, the result of that persons moral transgressions are still not any fault of yours, even if you are the victim. "I should have known he was a jerk who would attack me" is the absolutely worst response and it's a terrible thing to suggest to a victim. It's good to attempt to recognize and mitigate risk increasing scenarios, but failing to do so enough does not make one morally responsible for the results of that. The intentions of this person were irrelevant, the only thing that matters are the results of his actions, and that was an assault. I hope that poster is fortunate to have far distanced herself from that scumbag and that he has suffered some serious painful debilitating consequences.

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A person of low self-esteem is attracted to similar people, but if such a person raises their self-esteem by living virtuously will they cease to be attracted to mindless sluts and start to feel sexual attraction to good people?

"Living virtuously" will not achieve anything unless you see living so as your self-interest - as something that gives you a way to pursue your own values and pleasure. Actions should follow recognition that a certain course of action is good for you - both emotionally and rationally.

Second thing - why do you assume that you have low self esteem? Just because you are attracted to "bad girls"? It's not enough to conclude that. There could be a different reason than that for being attracted to that type, like: you subconsciously find them virtuous, because they are openly sexual.

So if you have other reasons for feeling problem with your self esteem, you need to break the feeling down until you understand what you are judging yourself badly for. Then examine if the judgement is based on the right premises or not. In any case, the "cure" is not to immediately cease all bad behavior. The only "cure" is to revisit those premises that make you want the things you do - to think about them consciously, and then, over time, if you were wrong, those desires will change. But only if you fully understand them.

Lastly - the reason I posted all of this is because I respect your willingness to introspect and your desire to change for better, when you think you have a problem. It's something Ayn Rand considered crucial for a moral person (and for self esteem).

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You are welcome, but at this point, since you have the conflicts and you are trying to fight them, you might want to seek psychotherapy. It's nothing to be ashamed of, as it gives you someone to talk to about these problems who can help you to identify your conflicts more consciously so you can better deal with them.

I may do that in the future, but to be honest I find talking about this sort of thing embarrassing even though I know there’s no reason to. I’ve got an action plan which involves reading more about Objectivism and psychology and then putting what I’ve learned into action; and this working for me at the moment, and this should at least give me the confidence to seek help if I need to.

By the way, you misinterpreted what I was getting at in the thread I alluded to.

My mistake. I read a little of that thread and I’m surprised how some people will spend so much time, money and effort to be assholes.

"Living virtuously" will not achieve anything unless you see living so as your self-interest - as something that gives you a way to pursue your own values and pleasure. Actions should follow recognition that a certain course of action is good for you - both emotionally and rationally.

I meant Objectivist virtues like Rationality and its derivatives. For example, I work hard where before I was lazy (Productiveness); I’m more open about myself and what I think (Honesty); I try not to evade and rationalise my errors and those of others, and to address them (Justice). All of which I know to be for my own good from experience.

Second thing - why do you assume that you have low self esteem? Just because you are attracted to "bad girls"? It's not enough to conclude that.

I believe that my self-esteem is low because of my upbringing. I, and I guess most people, could talk for hours about how their parents and school screwed them up, but in essence I learned that evasion was the only way to cope with life in an unknowable world where everyone seemed to know what they were doing except me. Obviously reason is man’s means of survival and evasion is not, so it was logical that I felt more “I’m a stranger and afraid in a world I never made” rather than “I am the master of my fate, the captain of my soul”.

I developed social anxiety (see Wikipedia for details) as a result of these bad assumptions and negative underlying beliefs. I used ‘safety behaviours’ to avoid things and was very self-conscious, nervous and shy. I didn’t have confidence in my ability or my worth as a person despite what people told me and evidence to the contrary. I’m happy to say that I’ve broken most of those vicious circles and I have relatively higher self-esteem. Anyway, before I go completely off topic, I think that my attraction to mindless sluts (for want of a better term) and inability to value women I see as good is a symptom of this lack of self-worth.

There could be a different reason than that for being attracted to that type, like: you subconsciously find them virtuous, because they are openly sexual.

That’s a good point and I’ll certainly think about it. I think I may take Thomas’s advice on seeing a therapist after all because I feel out of my depth in this area! On the other hand maybe I just need to relax and get more experience with dating to see what my ‘type’ is!

Thanks once again for your input and kind words. I’m tired from all this introspection but I’m feeling a little wiser and clear now. As you said Ifatart, introspection is good, but sometimes without a fresh perspective it's easy to go around in circles.

Edited by James I
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I think I might owe 4Reason an apology for bringing up that topic of the stalkers in this thread. It is not something I wanted to rub in her face, but rather the aggravation I have had trying to find out who these guys were and what they were up to. I may never find out, and that is frustrating, and I have been advised to move on and make the most of the rest of my life. It's just that when such a grave injustice was done to me I hate to just brush it off and move on without resolving the conflict -- i.e. finding the perpetrators and having them thrown in jail, or at least sue them for damages. And doing any of that requires me to find them and bring them to justice. I have offered several times for them to contact me, since, as I have said, I seem to get replies from them via email or shouting outside my apartment. Several of my friends have even recommended getting a gun and shooting them, but one reason I didn't do that at the time it was happening is not having a clear target and not knowing who all was involved, and I don't want to shoot innocent by-standers. Besides, I'd rather have the law handle it, since they have the capability of following leads better than I do.

Anyhow, the event was only associatively connected to sex and romance, since I was in the process of romancing a girl when this all happened -- or at least they led me to believe that was what was going on given their replies and other stuff happening at that same time.

So, be careful out there. Don't take any foolish risks. If it seems like it may be too good to be true -- i.e. someone helping me with my romance problems -- then it probably is. And I think they suckered me big time in that regard.

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  • 3 weeks later...
Several of my friends have even recommended getting a gun and shooting them, but one reason I didn't do that at the time it was happening is not having a clear target and not knowing who all was involved, and I don't want to shoot innocent by-standers. Besides, I'd rather have the law handle it, since they have the capability of following leads better than I do.

This has been bothering me since I said it. I do not want to recommend shooting people, except for immediate emergencies and in clear self-defense. I think someone has the right to keep intruders out of their lives -- which is the right of association -- but as to how far to go in forcing them out depends on the context. Clearly, one is using force if one goes to the police, but it is a deferred use of force, letting the legal authorities handle it, which is best for non-emergency situations. As an adult living in civilization, one is not supposed to escalate things to the point of violence; even though the perpetrators are initiating force against you by stalking and harassing you. Clearly one has the right to self-defense, but the police would rather you not take things into your own hands -- unless it is clear self-defense. This is what prevented me from taking direct personal action against them at the time, and as I've said before, I should have gotten the police involved earlier.

I just wanted to clarify my position.

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