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Alright, this is going to sound perhaps a bit stupid, but just as a consideration . . . turn the light off and close your eyes? Maybe if you just aren’t focusing on what she looks like and instead focusing on who she is and just going with that thought and feeling things from her physically as it happens, it could function better? If that works decently enough for a while, maybe, just maybe, after a time you’ll get used to associating her with good sexual experiences and gradually may find her physical form just for it being her physical form, that of the person you love and which can and has given you plenty of sexual pleasure which you, to be sexually appealing. Just a thought, but if you’ve gotten used to one pretty solid message about what is put forth out there as, “This is what sexy looks like,” and not seeing less than that put forward as something to consider sexually, plus then on top of that you had been with women sexually who did fit that image from the start and only women like that, maybe it could just be gradually shifting the association which is all you need. Maybe if need be to help things at first while in the dark with your eyes closed you could try imagining her looking a little differently? I know plenty of people do engage in various types of fantasy during sex, so such a thing wouldn’t be anything unprecedented or even unusual. Then maybe you could get used to the idea that it really is her who doesn’t look like the fantasy doing those various things, so while still not looking for a while, you don’t really need the fantasy anymore. Well, then if all else fails, as a desperate last resort, maybe if you just really can’t get adjusted to things after a long time and she wants to stay with you and do whatever the hell it takes to make things work, maybe consider some plastic surgery? ^^;

Also as a small side note, I don’t get the people who seem to think the only difference between friends and lovers is if you find them hot. I’m very certain there is a different quality to the kinds of feelings one has toward friends than the feelings one has toward lovers, and it isn’t just about how you’d rate their physical looks.

EDIT: And can we please cut the discussion about what beauty is out of this thread perhaps, please? We have another thread where this discussion has taken place before. Use it if you want to discuss that because otherwise I think we're just going to distract and confuse this guy possibly going off on tangents and drowning out addressing his actual question about if such preferences can be changed, not if they are good or not.

Edited by bluecherry
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Okay, I skimmed the posts and no one has mentioned this I don't think, but...

How often do you look at pornography/masturbate?

(Note: This is rhetorical, I don't actually want to know lol)

I noticed that your original post references passed girlfriends, so this may not at all apply to you, but just in case:

The reason I ask is that what you have described is not hugely uncommon and is often a consequence of prolonged exposure to pornography. I was reading about this in a book on Neuroplasticity, but I can't presently recall the name of it.

Anyway, pornography is quite able to become an addiction because it creates a kind of feedback loop. You watch porn, you get excited, the excitement results in self-gratification, and that gratification acts as neurological reinforcement for the activity. As with all addictions, they tend to escalate, that is to say, that what was once sufficiently exciting becomes boring and you require some more 'risqué' to achieve the same excitement.

After a while, you get to a point where real-world woman aren't enough to excite you sexually.

Like I said, I can't pretend to know if this is in anyway relevant to your situation personally, but if it is, try abstaining completely from porn and masturbation and see if that has any effect.

---

There are two other possibilities.

I remember I was quite attracted to a friend of mine at one point, at first I wasn't really aware of it, but I remember distinctly that I noticed a physical trait they had which I found kinda repulsive. Within a couple of weeks, I had become really very fond of it. lol Perhaps this will happen to you as well if you give it time.

The second is that whatever it is that is making you cringe might be something buried pretty deep in your subconscious and not subject to conscious will. For example, to flip the coin, some women would find hairy guys repulsive, others would love it. In some cases, you grow used to and fond of the 'repulsive' trait, in other cases you just can't for whatever reason.

Can I inquire what it is that initially prompted you to pursue a relationship?

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In reply to the original question, here's the experience I had with my partner going on six years now.

I loved his personality, I loved his values, I loved his sense of life and fun and the things he was interested in and the breadth of his experience. I came to love everything about him, and he fell in love with me quickly. I will speak frankly, my partner is a very unique looking individual, and he is not 'ugly' or 'bad looking', however he is no 'model of physical greatness'. His hair has receded and now he just has wisps on the top of his head, he's rotund, he has man-boobs, and when I first saw him I was literally shocked. I didn't know what to make of him, I didn't even know if I was attracted to him. Me? Everyone has always told me how above average attractive I am, not necessarily stunning, but I have a great smile, a nice round face, and I'm averagely lean and thin... so this wasn't 'unattractive meet unattractive'. I probably could have netted much more different looking men, who were initially much more attractive to me, I just didn't for reasons I'll explain in a different post.

The whole point of this is: I was in love with a man I wasn't necessarily super attracted too, and never imagined I would have physically fallen for to be honest. I approached it this way, I knew this man met all my requirements of the values I was looking for in a man, and I knew that our relationship needed to turn sexual eventually. We just made it easy, laid back, and didn't expect things from each other that we couldn't do. We moved slowly from being in the same room enjoying ourselves (I'm using vague language instead of graphic detail, so try to follow me) to being closer, to snuggling and smooching in a more sexual way, to etc.

I built it up, and now, I'm physically attracted to him enough to be sexual. Whether that's a result of love or re-programming or what I don't know but it worked, and I'm glad it worked! Love without sex is not really love, it's extreme closeness.

If you feel even unable to do this, and I'm afraid you might given that you 'cringe when she gets out of the shower'... then get out of the relationship now because Sophia is right:

(Sorry if the quote formatting is wrong)

"Perhaps you don't know what love is because from what you describe you are not in love. You want to be this guy who can love this girl but you are not. As a result you are being cruel to this woman. It is probably the most hurtful thing in a romantic context"

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The only thing more damagingly hypocritical than demanding an intensely attractive mate while not being intensely attractive oneself, is to be intensely attractive yet regard it is unimportant or valueless, to profess a love for human greatness yet snide at its physical manifestation, to profess to love the exceptional yet hold the "average" to be "normal." That is why "mere looks" are so important, because that's the whole point of the thing; you're romantic partner should be a concrete symbol for your own love for your own sense of life and of values. If they don't "look the part" they can hardly adequately serve that purpose, at least not consistently and without contradiction.

I'm not going to debate what is beautiful on here, but I have to comment on this as it pertains to the advice this guy is giving. It's 'damagingly hypocritical' to be intensively attractive and yet regard it as unimportant or valueless? As I said in a previous post, many people have told me I'm pretty attractive as a physical package (not necessarily 'hot' by today's standards), but I place little value on it in the long run. It's nice and a perk of my existence that this is so, but what 'value' does it really give me? It's an accident of my birth.

I can understand more if you're speaking of say, exercising, or eating healthy, and trying to be slimmer and healthier looking as best you can (let's face it, not everyone in the world can lose 100 lbs, it's just the way it is), but to say that anyone who professes love for the exceptional yet holds a place for realism is hypocritical is... really questionable.

This man talks of 'top spots' of value... and as an Objectivist I have to speak up. These are MY top spots for value: honesty (someone who always adheres to the truth even if they don't like it), rationality (they are consistent and deal with reality), integrity (they will do the right thing), and pride (they are proud of being true). ANYONE who has those qualities is a potential mate to me, and to me THAT is a love of the exceptional, the bright, and the glorious in humanity. Whether I'm attracted to something physical on somebody comes later and is purely a preference, not derived from evolution, society, or biology.

To me THAT is greatness, and I wish I could impart that kind of attitude on our original poster, and on IAmMetaphysical.

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This man talks of 'top spots' of value... and as an Objectivist I have to speak up. These are MY top spots for value: honesty (someone who always adheres to the truth even if they don't like it), rationality (they are consistent and deal with reality), integrity (they will do the right thing), and pride (they are proud of being true). ANYONE who has those qualities is a potential mate to me, and to me THAT is a love of the exceptional, the bright, and the glorious in humanity. Whether I'm attracted to something physical on somebody comes later and is purely a preference, not derived from evolution, society, or biology.

To me THAT is greatness, and I wish I could impart that kind of attitude on our original poster, and on IAmMetaphysical.

"ANYONE" includes morbidly obese, 84 year old men. Not necessarily a problem but if your a straight 23 year old male, his integrity might not be enough to get you to the alter...I'm just sayin'.

I agree with Sophia and IAMMETA, in that attraction is the first hurdle of a romantic relationship. There is some baseline of attraction that simply must be met before the whole Virtue-as-beauty-enhancement thing comes into any effect at all. This isn't to say that the virtues are not as important, just that they aren't really relevant in this context until attraction exists.

Regarding the OP, I'm a little doubtful that you could change your feelings about her. If you had said that you are not as attracted as you would like to be, that would be one thing, but your description sounds like she's not even close to your line. The only things that occur to me would be if she were to change her diet and exercise habits to become closer(close enough) to your ideal or if there were some behaviorally conditioned notions that you have internalized, like the porn habit mentioned by a previous poster. The first assumes that a) she'd be willing to change her life dramatically and b ) that was enough to satisfy you. The second assumes that you have some strongly affective, negative habits which she is worth trading them for.

Edited by aequalsa
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This doesn't add up. Men do respond to character, virtues, and ability in a woman, even if she isn't glamorus.

Here's a suggestion: go ahead and lie together. Do a Heinlien and just lie with her, naked, under a sheet, and talk. Don't plan to have sex, and don't try to. Do this several times.

The other is assess who is more "in love" with whom. Is she more in love with you, or do you, deep-down, think she is? Have your earlier relationships been of the pattern that you went after a girl who had to be "won?" If so, you may find a woman who doesn't have to be "won over" nothing to get excited about (forgive the pun.)

What makes you desirable? Your looks, and professional success, it seems, what else? Do you find in her what you truly value in yourself? If you don't, principally, value character and virtue in yourself, her chracter and virtues will leave you cold. You appreciate her intellectually, but not as reflecting the essential "you." If she doesn't give you powerful psychological visibility, you won't fall in love with her. This is the most probable scenario, given the little you've related.

Assuming you want to be the man who does fall in love with her, you might have to practice tough-love on yourself, and review and re-assess your true values. One way to do that is to take the best characteristics about yourself, one at a time, and identify a handfull of people who share it. Don't jerry-mander the group, include people you dislike, if they share that characteristic. What strikes you about that group of people, as a type of person? Would you like to live your life in the company of such people?

Do the same thing for her. Do you fit in those groups, would you like to live your life around those people?

Obviously, I've not tried to spare your feelings. I do admire your effort to work this out, and wish you all the best.

-- Mindy

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"ANYONE" includes morbidly obese, 84 year old men. Not necessarily a problem but if your a straight 23 year old male, his integrity might not be enough to get you to the alter...I'm just sayin'.

Your observation is very astute. There are reasonable limitations, I'm not saying everyone should be bisexual and throw a blind eye to age, or what might *really* turn them off. After all I said that even *I* had preferences. However, if that 84 year old morbidly obese man had those virtues I mentioned, I would still find him a great friend and person to value... just maybe not have sex with.

If THAT'S what IAmMetaphysical is saying... then I don't have much a problem, but I don't think it is.

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If THAT'S what IAmMetaphysical is saying... then I don't have much a problem, but I don't think it is.

I reduced your comment to absurdity but just to make the point that there must exist some level of attraction. Different people, properly, draw that line at different levels...or hair colors...or races for that matter.

You might draw the line at female with a bmi of 23. Someone else might draw the line at blond females with a bmi of 22 who have disproportionately long thigh to calf ratios.

The only time when I think a strong argument could be made against these physical standards would be if the standards were so precise that the precluded any realistic possibility of being fulfilled, in which case the overly high standards exist as some kind of defense mechanism to protect the individual from a relationship which they couldn't handle. In this case, because the op's standards are based on real women he has dated, this circumstance would seem inapplicable.

Edited by aequalsa
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I have a question for you, aequalsa:

If it is tribalistic and collectivistic to make judgments on a person based on accidentals (the color of their skin) over which they have no direct control (DNA, inherited skin color, facial features) , versus judging them on their virtues and the contents of their minds in terms of jobs, justice, rights, etc ...

Then why is it different when one makes a judgment of the same caliber in the realm of romantic attraction? Shouldn't rational values versus accidental values take even more precedent here?

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The only time when I think a strong argument could be made against these physical standards would be if the standards were so precise that the precluded any realistic possibility of being fulfilled, in which case the overly high standards exist as some kind of defense mechanism to protect the individual from a relationship which they couldn't handle. In this case, because the op's standards are based on real women he has dated, this circumstance would seem inapplicable.

Note, I am a man. I do respond to qualities of character more than physical appearance. I suppose I am in the minority in your opinion, but that's no matter.

I am talking about standards that are so precise they preclude any realistic possibility of being fulfilled, but I'm also talking about not being able to be flexible at all. To be honest, for somebody to say, my partner has to be this perfect way or ratio or whatever for enough things to rule out most of the realistic population, they are only defeating themselves. I could easily say I want a tall hispanic with green eyes, who had to have abs of steel, and a certain length appendage... and I'd probably be disappointed for a long time when I couldn't find a good match that met not only my character qualities but those physical qualities as well. Personally, and yes this is personal advice, I'd rather be happier being a little more flexible about the things that don't matter as much. If having perfect abs is more important to someone than honesty or integrity... then that's a problem of priorities. The fact is the op's standards are so precise in this situation [he says many others would find her beautiful] it is blocking him from having a possibly fulfilling relationship (a defense mechanism to protect the individual from a relationship which they couldn't handle? I don't get this...). This is just my opinion, and I don't really see any more advice coming from me and my position that others are finding useful here. In that light, I'm leaving the discussion disappointed once again in my male Objectivist counterparts.

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If it is tribalistic and collectivistic to make judgments on a person based on accidentals (the color of their skin) over which they have no direct control (DNA, inherited skin color, facial features) , versus judging them on their virtues and the contents of their minds in terms of jobs, justice, rights, etc ...

Then why is it different when one makes a judgment of the same caliber in the realm of romantic attraction? Shouldn't rational values versus accidental values take even more precedent here?

This is because, to a point, you have no direct control over what you find physically attractive; you can't force arousal. On the other hand, you can force yourself to ignore your established racism and deal with another person man-to-man. Eventually that will become your new habit. Perhaps there is something similar with physical attraction, but to my knowledge there is not.

I am talking about standards that are so precise they preclude any realistic possibility of being fulfilled, but I'm also talking about not being able to be flexible at all. To be honest, for somebody to say, my partner has to be this perfect way or ratio or whatever for enough things to rule out most of the realistic population, they are only defeating themselves. I could easily say I want a tall hispanic with green eyes, who had to have abs of steel, and a certain length appendage... and I'd probably be disappointed for a long time when I couldn't find a good match that met not only my character qualities but those physical qualities as well. Personally, and yes this is personal advice, I'd rather be happier being a little more flexible about the things that don't matter as much. If having perfect abs is more important to someone than honesty or integrity... then that's a problem of priorities. The fact is the op's standards are so precise in this situation [he says many others would find her beautiful] it is blocking him from having a possibly fulfilling relationship (a defense mechanism to protect the individual from a relationship which they couldn't handle? I don't get this...). This is just my opinion, and I don't really see any more advice coming from me and my position that others are finding useful here. In that light, I'm leaving the discussion disappointed once again in my male Objectivist counterparts.

I can't see how you find this surprising enough to be disappointed. People are attracted to what they are attracted to, and there isn't much known explanation to it. Sometimes it can be looked past, but sometimes it can't; everyone has his own set of standards for that. As you said, even you have physical standards, they are just more universal than some. Why is it disappointing that others' standards are different from your own? Are you prepared to explain the foundation for physical attraction, so that you may justify your disappointment, why your standards are better(/more moral)? As in, "This physical attraction is because of this reason"? To my knowledge no such explanations are known.

Concerning the defense mechanism, I think aequalsa means that one would create walls (the extremely precise/actually unattainable standards) as a way to excuse himself from pursuing a relationship he, deep down, believes he is not prepared to pursue for one reason or another. Since the OP has already been in relationships that met his physical standards, that would probably not be what is happening in his case.

Also, the "perfect abs vs. spiritual values" comment is a false alternative. There's no "body vs. mind" legitimate approach with sexual attraction, as IAmMetaphysical pointed out. Not to mention, perfect abs mean different things to different people.

Edited by JASKN
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My defense of the value of physical attractiveness is not a defense IN OPPOSITION to spiritual values, but as their concrete symbols. It should not be assumed that since I place physical attractiveness high on my list of traits desired in a partner that that means that I do not put things like honesty, integrity, and pride up there as well. Its an unfortunate symptom of the world we live in that most people do not measure up well on either the spiritual realm or the physical, and tend to choose (if they do choose to develop themselves) only one or the other. So you end up with airheads and jocks on one side, and nerds and geeks on the other, i.e. rationalists and empiricists, mystics of spirit and muscle, advocates of the value of the mind as independent of the body and advocates for the reciprocal.

Man does not live outside of a body. He is not a floating will that chooses virtue or vice, never having to relate his choices to material matters. Neither is he simply the material application of floating and disconnected virtues of health and hygiene. He is an integrated whole of matter and spirit where both realms are equally as important, and equally as meaningless without the other.

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Another response by Dr. Peikoff which might be helpful with respect to this discussion: Podcast 91 @ 00:44

In response to the question, "What do you as a philosopher have to say about a female who responds negatively to pre-mature ejaculation?," Dr. Peikoff responded, in part, "Love is not just love of the soul."

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Note, I am a man. I do respond to qualities of character more than physical appearance. I suppose I am in the minority in your opinion, but that's no matter.

For me, the physical response does arise from the qualities of character more than anything else. I think that is true for a lot of women. Among men, you are the minority.

It is almost the opposite: if the physical attraction is there, men can go lower on the virtue scale and they will make all kinds of rationalizations for their choice (in some cases they almost don't see it as if blinded).

Edited by ~Sophia~
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My defense of the value of physical attractiveness is not a defense IN OPPOSITION to spiritual values, but as their concrete symbols. It should not be assumed that since I place physical attractiveness high on my list of traits desired in a partner that that means that I do not put things like honesty, integrity, and pride up there as well. Its an unfortunate symptom of the world we live in that most people do not measure up well on either the spiritual realm or the physical, and tend to choose (if they do choose to develop themselves) only one or the other. So you end up with airheads and jocks on one side, and nerds and geeks on the other, i.e. rationalists and empiricists, mystics of spirit and muscle, advocates of the value of the mind as independent of the body and advocates for the reciprocal.

Man does not live outside of a body. He is not a floating will that chooses virtue or vice, never having to relate his choices to material matters. Neither is he simply the material application of floating and disconnected virtues of health and hygiene. He is an integrated whole of matter and spirit where both realms are equally as important, and equally as meaningless without the other.

Fine, true, physical attributes can be *symbols* of spiritual values, but you have just refuted your own point by saying this. Let's take someone who is extremely confident, independent, and rational. You might think: he should be 6 feet tall with well-defined features. But he turns out to be 5'8" with pudgy features. The simple fact is: to a large degree, physical features are *not* determined by spiritual ones. To a very large extent, your height, ultimate body weight and size, capacity for muscularity, hair color, eye color, skin tone, susceptibility for diseases or conditions is ALL determined by genetics. I.e. it is completely and utterly out of your control. Now, you can exercise but that won't change your capacity for muscularity. Not everyone can be a bodybuilder. Nor will it eliminate congenital diseases. If your father and his father and his father all had heart attacks at a certain age despite their health, you are likely to get one despite your health. Your hair color and eye color are strictly determined by genetics and the only thing you can do there is dye it or use colored contacts. You can't change the type of hair you have either. Nor the type of nose, mouth, ears, cheeks, etc. You can eat well and exercise but your height is largely determined by genetics. I ate well and exercised my entire life, but I'm 5'8". It's impossible for me to change and it's outside the bounds of morality, so I don't care about it.

To sum up, physical attributes can indeed be symbols or representations of values, but they are only that: representations. Not actualities. A tall man is not necessarily confident. A short man is not necessarily meek. A busty woman is not necessarily sexy (sexy is primarily a mental attribute), just as a flat-chested woman is not necessarily totally devoid of sexiness. To say otherwise is discrimination based on non-essential attributes, i.e. racism. It is also broad generalization from perhaps one specific instance in your life to all people. E.g. "I knew a tall, confident man once, so all tall men must be confident." Again, tall is totally irrelevant to determining the character of a man. Sure, if you want to concretize confidence in a *FICTIONAL CHARACTER* you make he or she tall. But that's fiction, that's the point of fiction. In reality physical attributes are nothing more than representations of values, not actualizations. A tall beautiful fashion model may be a complete idiot with the simplistic emotions of a little girl. She may just as easily be brilliant or at least of average intelligence. But not necessarily. She is not necessarily anything just because she's tall and beautiful.

Also, while it may be true that you can't directly control what you find attractive, you can nonetheless control it. Because what we're attracted to is NOT some great, unsolvable mystery. Nothing is. What you're attracted to is the logical outcome of your values, whether you consciously recognize them or not, and of all the associations you have made throughout life. When you were 5 you saw an actress and loved her silky black hair. When you were 10 you looked at your first Playboy and you liked the look of some women's breasts. When you were 15 you saw a girl at school and loved the way she swung her hips as she walked. You never stop making such associations, and you are always in control of which ones you make. You can stop yourself and say that something is wrong, and why. You can go back and de-associate things. Yes you can change these things. To tie this in with my previous point, you may be attracted to the look of certain fashion models but that's all it is, an attraction based on appearances and what your associations have you led you to believe those physical attributes mean. But as an adult human being you *must* learn to separate the two, to understand that just because some woman is tall, thin, with long silky hair and a perfect figure doesn't mean she's sexy, confident, intelligent or anything at all. She could just as easily be utterly ashamed of her sexuality, a complete idiot, and totally lacking in all self-confidence whatsoever. At that point, a rational person would no longer be attracted to her and incapable of being sexually attracted to her. At least in my own personal experience.

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I would like to add that a very important part of sexiness is how you handle your body, not what it looks like.

Is a lean, muscular man sexy? To some women, yes, but not to all. Would he still be sexy if he were completely narcissistic and self-absorbed? If he spent every waking hour in the gym and had no time for you? If he cared more about his body than yours? Sure, he might still be attractive, but only to a women without any self-esteem.

Is a voluptuous woman attractive? To some men, yes, but not to all. Would she still be sexy if all she ever did was preen herself? If her head were filled with nothing but fashion and makeup? If she stared at herself all day in the mirror and never paid any attention to your body? Or what if she hated her breasts and hips? What if she despised her body and its capacity to attract men? Would she still be sexy? Sure, she might still be attractive, but only to a man without any self-esteem.

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What about a man who is tall, muscular, tanned with a perfect smile. A man who has confidence, integrity and competence, and who cares deeply about his woman?

Or, a woman with a perfect hour-glass shape, who takes great care to look her best, but is still strong, intelligent, elegant, benevolent and caring?

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I have a question for you, aequalsa:

If it is tribalistic and collectivistic to make judgments on a person based on accidentals (the color of their skin) over which they have no direct control (DNA, inherited skin color, facial features) , versus judging them on their virtues and the contents of their minds in terms of jobs, justice, rights, etc ...

Then why is it different when one makes a judgment of the same caliber in the realm of romantic attraction? Shouldn't rational values versus accidental values take even more precedent here?

I agree with JASKN's response to you and would also agree with IAMMETA's assessment of aesthetics as applied to people, but would clarify that accidental features can be values as much as any chosen virtues. A women who is 6' tall and who enjoys the feeling of femininity, might properly value a lover's 6'6" height. It would be a mistake for her to disregard his other more volitionally based characteristics, but not to take into consideration both types of values.

I would go still further and include non-volitional characteristics in other relationships than romantic. In business and elsewhere it is easy to come up with any number of examples where some people are preferable for reasons other than their chosen values. I might hire a large, strong dumb man over a small, intelligent woman for certain types of jobs. Particularly those that require a lot of heavy lifting. In judging people for a particular purpose it is worthwhile to consider as many essential facts as possible and the unchosen can still be essential to one's purpose.

So for me, purpose determines value, and my purpose in a romantic relationship includes(but is not limited to)enjoying a woman's body. The sensorial experience of enjoyment includes how she looks, in addition to how she feels, smells, and sounds.

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I'm starting to think there is a very important issue here.

Consider that aesthetic values are attractive in their own right. Beautiful women are aesthetically attractive. So, for example, women can admire another woman's beauty, and men who already know the beauty has a nasty temper and a foul mouth can still admire her beauty. Note that the aesthetic dimension includes the symbolic significance of taking beauty to mean health, virtue, etc.

Sexual attraction does not require aesthetic beauty, though it adds its part to the overall attractiveness of one's partner. Since it is not nature that makes aesthetics a prerequisite to sexual attraction, what else could?

As with so many other issues, man's conceptual nature introduces degrees of freedom into the formula of sexual response. Sexual sadism and pedophilia are examples of sexual response being "programmed," learned, by early experience into unnatural forms. Sexual fetishes, such, famously, as the sexual attraction to women's feet, are more benign versions of the same thing.

You see my line of thinking--I think that physical beauty has become a fetish to our OP, and, probably, a very large section of younger adults in our society. This may seem shocking, and I don't mean to accuse anyone of psychopathology, but I think this may be correct.

All of us grew up in a media-saturated environment, and that means an advertisement-saturated environment, and that means seeing beauty and sexuality being used to sell everything from shoes to cars. Now, the human values, character, and virtues that actually underlie sexual attraction cannot easily be portrayed in a commercial. Beauty, however, can. So beauty becomes the stand-in for "sexy." As demand for product outpaces supply of creativity in the advertising industry, the formula of beauty/sexy becomes the standard and formulary for the industry. It is seen everywhere, learned by children, and reinforced in adults, becoming cultural orthodoxy.

Where does that leave people like our dear OP? It means that physical beauty is a learned association that has programmed him to need a strong asethetic response to a woman before he can feel sexually stimulated. Even when he finds someone he respects and admires to a high degree, he does not respond to her sexually. He cannot respond unless his fetish is present.

If this is true, we want to ask, can a person dissipate it? And, how can it be done? If there is any interest in following my theory, I will try to work out something on those issues.

Please do not imagine any malevolence in this.

-- Mindy

Edited by Mindy
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Hopeful Romantic, if you're interested, there are three (at least) places in his podcasts in which Dr. Peikoff has addressed questions similar to or related to your own. Perhaps you'll find his comments to be of some help to you.

Episode 21 -- July 14, 2008 @ 04:32 "I love a man, but I am not physically attracted to him though I really want to be. Is it possible to learn to desire someone, to create a desire from love when it does not come spontaneously?"

Episode 69 -- July 06, 2009 @ 09:44 "How important should physical attractiveness be? Some women share my values, but some who do so only to a lessor extent are more physically attractive to me. How important should this physical attractiveness be?"

Episode 101 -- March 1, 2010 @ 11:52 "'To what extent should physical attractions, as distinct from brains, be favored into the selection of a wife?' and he says earlier that of course brains are important."

Trebor - Unless you are Rain Man, there is no way that you were able to just remember those episodes off the top of your head. Thus, I am guessing that you actually dug them up. That is really cool of you. Thanks a bazillion for doing that. I recommend that ANYONE interested in this topic check those out. Ol' Lenny P. was really on point, and I think that the three discussions go really well with each other. So, everyone check them out. Thanks again, Trebor. I super dooper appreciate it!

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Okay, I skimmed the posts and no one has mentioned this I don't think, but...

How often do you look at pornography/masturbate?

(Note: This is rhetorical, I don't actually want to know lol)

I noticed that your original post references passed girlfriends, so this may not at all apply to you, but just in case:

The reason I ask is that what you have described is not hugely uncommon and is often a consequence of prolonged exposure to pornography. I was reading about this in a book on Neuroplasticity, but I can't presently recall the name of it.

Anyway, pornography is quite able to become an addiction because it creates a kind of feedback loop. You watch porn, you get excited, the excitement results in self-gratification, and that gratification acts as neurological reinforcement for the activity. As with all addictions, they tend to escalate, that is to say, that what was once sufficiently exciting becomes boring and you require some more 'risqué' to achieve the same excitement.

After a while, you get to a point where real-world woman aren't enough to excite you sexually.

Like I said, I can't pretend to know if this is in anyway relevant to your situation personally, but if it is, try abstaining completely from porn and masturbation and see if that has any effect.

---

There are two other possibilities.

I remember I was quite attracted to a friend of mine at one point, at first I wasn't really aware of it, but I remember distinctly that I noticed a physical trait they had which I found kinda repulsive. Within a couple of weeks, I had become really very fond of it. lol Perhaps this will happen to you as well if you give it time.

The second is that whatever it is that is making you cringe might be something buried pretty deep in your subconscious and not subject to conscious will. For example, to flip the coin, some women would find hairy guys repulsive, others would love it. In some cases, you grow used to and fond of the 'repulsive' trait, in other cases you just can't for whatever reason.

Can I inquire what it is that initially prompted you to pursue a relationship?

This isn't a porn issue, but I can see where it might be for some. It is about my past experiences. Thanks for chiming in with that, though.

It wasn't something I set out to pursue. We were old friends who just kind of touched base a couple years ago. We had such a great conversation that we started having great conversations every day. Then we fell in love. That's how it went down (as far as I can tell)! Just happened.

Edited by Hopeful romantic
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I think you might have something there, Mindy. Confounding the "beauty fetish" may be the fact that beauty is a very great value (hence its prevalence in marketing). I'm not sure the lines can be redrawn (much) concerning sexual attraction once they are set, but if you're willing to take the time to come up with some thoughts, I'm interested.

Hopeful romantic: Trebor text-searched the podcast index's whole print version (which is a task itself to do anyway); you can on other areas of interest, too.

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