Why do I only like someone if there’s competition for them?

william-stitt-162611

Whereabouts_Unknown_ asks:

Why is it I can only like someone if there’s perceived competition for them?


Demetrius says:

I love this question! Really, I do, because it speaks to something that I find interesting, relative attraction.

Relative attractiveness comes down to preferences, and they’re very different from objective attractiveness. You might not think Idris Elba is your type per se, but the man is arguably handsome. Personal tastes aside, you have to admit that Sade is absolutely stunning. Now, obviously not everyone in the world wouldn’t date these people, because while they may both be objectively attractive, their relative attraction is what really determines who does and does not find them desirable.

For most people, who they are attracted to and how they are attracted to them, is based on things that have relative value. Perceived competition can be one of those factors. Another one of those factors can be education, or income, or where they live.There’s also a ton of other factors like their family background, their standing in their social circles, or even how witty they are. There are dozens of ways in which someone’s attractiveness is determined, and it varies from person to person. So, it’s completely normal that you value the perceived competition for a potential partner. But I’m guessing you’d like to know WHY it’s so important to you.

Well, the general answer is: because attraction is relative and multi-factoral and the factor you consider as being a large factor is their relative worth, which you determine by gauging the perceived competition for them. But I’m guessing you’re looking more for an answer deeper than that. Quick caveat, I’m not a mental health professional, so this isn’t a diagnosis or anything, just an informed opinion. I think the reason that you only like someone if there’s perceived competition for them is that you determine your potential partner’s worth and attractiveness largely by their social standing. The way that you determine their social standing is by how desirable they are to other people, by ascertaining if you would have romantic competition if you pursued them. What’s most important to you is social status, and the best indicator of status for you is their desirability. I’m not a fan of this approach, but it makes sense to me. It makes sense that you would view romantic competition as a sign that the person you’re attracted to is high value, because we generally associate physical attractiveness with a higher social status.

Now, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being attracted to someone primarily because you’d have competition if you wanted to woo them, but I don’t think it should be the primary reason. There are plenty of people out there who probably have a ton of romantic interest, but aren’t necessarily good for you to date. Women were obsessed with Ted Bundy. Athletes are still lining up to date Khloe Kardashian as if they don’t know that dating a Kardashian/Jenner never works out well for athletes. I’m just saying, maybe factor more into a person’s attractiveness then whether or not other people want to date and/or bone them.

Better rule: Never let just one aspect of someone’s social status be the determining factor for your attraction to them. It’s okay to want to date someone financially successful, but don’t date someone who is going to treat you like shit because they clear a million dollars a year. It’s okay to want to date someone beautiful, but beauty should never excuse cheating. It’s okay to want to date someone who is educated, but that doesn’t mean that they get to talk down to you. However you decide attractiveness and worth is completely up to you, just make sure you’re considering more than whether or not other people want to date the person you’re dating.

Good Luck Out There.

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