Thursday, December 5, 2013

Handsome Pool Man and The Curse Of Attractive Men

Water is delicious, the way it eases hot skin on a summers day. Dipping into a cool pool brings all sorts of sensory delights to the body. Such was the heady condition I was in as I clocked up 20 laps one steamy December morning.

I like swimming when the pool is not crowded with rowdy school children  - it is a great thinking space. And when it is crowded with school children, well, it is a good lesson in mindfulness and focusing beyond ones circumstances ( I always need more practise at that !!)
Alone with my thoughts, I finished lap 8 and noticed the most handsome man entering the pool at the other end. Gosh, I have no idea what age he was (the older I get the more I seem to have a diminished capacity to pick peoples age brackets) but he looked like the proverbial Greek or Roman god. Tall, lean and very very fit. In my heightened state of swimming awareness, it was a fascination to observe how I reacted to this man’s presence at the pool.
I went from happily scooting along in my lane, smiling at people at the other end when I reached it, to total avoidance. I couldn’t look this man in the face. I pretended he didn’t exist. When I reached an end he was at, I would swing around immediately and start back without stopping to pause. I felt ashamed of being seen without make-up on, embarrassed by my pale, un-pool-goddess-like skin, and hair bedraggled by the water. I felt unnerved and distracted by his very presence at the pool.  It really was very strange.
Later that day when talking with my dear girlfriend and confidant Brooke, I mentioned this crazy episode and my most bizarre reaction. We shared a laugh, and the commonality that we both couldn’t quite cope with people we were attracted to appearance wise. That when we found ourselves very attracted to a good looking man, we bolted!
How sad this must be for the very handsome.
I’m serious.
Imagine people ignoring you, not smiling at you or not being friendly. You may never quite realise why and just assume most people are rude, and that the world is an aggressive place.
My girlfriend Brooke is a fine female example. A breathtakingly stunning woman, but of quite a humble and shy disposition, Brooke has never had many female friends, we assume for this very reason. Other women felt threatened by her beauty. It is only now, in her late 30’s that she is developing more quality female alliances, largely because by this age, women are (hopefully) developing the maturity to treasure people for their inner qualities, rather than seeing the beauty of others as a threat to themselves.
But back to my very handsome pool man and my need to bolt and avoid when I was attracted to someone. Do men behave this way over women? Somehow, I kind of doubt it.
Some time ago I met a man whom I thought was quite ‘spunky’ – to coin a lame phrase from my youth. In fact, he was just so attractive, for the first time in my life I experienced the weak at the knees phenomenon.  I had to lean against a nearby wall to keep from collapsing. Again, very strange. When did I start to become so physically affected by another human beings presence?
However, lucky for me I hadn’t long ended a rather unfortunate and short lived relationship. I was feeling quite strong, independent and free. This, to my great good fortune, enabled me to be relaxed and pretty much myself, despite my jelly knees. The first few times I bumped into Mr Uber Cool, I was my happy conversational best, and would usually come out of each encounter feeling like I held my intellectual own and, basically, glad I didn’t do anything embarrassing.  Falling to the floor in a jelly like mess would be a good example.
That was the first few encounters.
Unfortunately, as the encounters – and my interest in getting to know this person - increased, so did my sense of reclose and shutting down. My whole body language changed. I would sit hunched over my coffee – classic ‘please don’t hurt me, I’ve been hurt too much already’ defensiveness. I guarded my conversation more and more, and then beat myself up after each interaction, for what I perceived as ‘embarrassing statements’ that made me appear shallow or judgemental. I over analysed my appearance – and as I dress quite non contemporarily for a country community – more Brunswick Street, Fitzroy than Chadstone Shopping Centre - I developed some perceived ‘legitimate’ reasons a very cool person wouldn’t find me attractive. You can imagine that after months of this sort of rubbish, I had gone from being strong, independent and free to an insecure jellyfish, too caught up in my own head.  Is it any wonder Mr Uber Cool just wasn’t interested – Maybe I should have grabbed him and had a quick roll in the hay the first moment I met him, then pushed on to more freedom, independence and strength. I way over think everything.
Ugh! What to do? If I am unable to relax around guys I am attracted to, the odds of a future relationship are pretty low. 
Settle for men who are interested in me, but whom my heart doesn’t race for? No. I just don’t have that in me.
Prep my mind for a lifetime of loneliness. Hmmm, probably the more likely scenario, but not a very appealing one.
Learn the art of assertion so I can just grab an attractive man and go wild? Well, as a naturally bubbly, but introverted type, I just can’t see it happening. It’s not me. I just can’t be who I’m not, simply to stave off loneliness. Besides, after my marriage, in which I made the majority of relational and emotional effort, I kind of hope someone will find me attractive enough to ask me out on a date. I want a man who is the pursuer this time.
I honestly don’t think self esteem is the concern – I totally have the confidence to wear full 50’s or 60’s regalia whenever the mood strikes me, and with absolutely everyone else in the world, I am at ease…… it is only around men who I wish would desire me that everything flounders. And therein, I think, lies my answer.
I – like many many millions of women around the world – feel unworthy of an appealing man loving me. And after only one failed long term relationship, I am petrified, absolutely petrified, of stuffing things up again. Of burning myself out trying to be good enough, loving enough, beautiful enough, intelligent enough and on and on it goes.
So there you go, the reason is simple enough. Feeling unworthy of the men I desire, yet at the same time wishing for that great intimacy we all crave.
But what is the solution?
I need to retrain my brain to overcome this very debilitating and limiting belief. To become a woman who truly knows she is worthy of good things happening to her. Worthy of acceptance, of warmth, of being desired, of being known and appreciated and loved, just the way she is. It is a worthy goal.
And so begins my journey of brain changing affirmations to alter the way I think - about myself and about the relationships I deserve. Affirmations such as these:
“I am a wonderful person capable of love and great success”
“I am willing to release the need to be unworthy. I am worthy of the very best in life, and I now lovingly allow myself to accept it”
My strategy is to repeat these statements as many times as I need to throughout each day, until all unworthiness (misnamed by some as lack of confidence) is left behind.
Where this limiting belief has come from I really don’t know. Honestly, it could be something as insignificant as not receiving what I had asked for off Santa and therefore, concluding that I wasn’t worthy, or good enough, to get it. Or is could be the result of my past experiences with men. Who honestly knows? Bottom line is, the limiting belief has got to go, regardless of where it came from.
So, I do know where my beliefs are headed now. It may take days, weeks, months or years, but in the end I will be fully enabled to have a beautiful relationship – because it is what I deserve, and because it is what I will know deep down in my spirit that I deserve.
In the meantime, I chose to leave the pool man swimming his laps, enjoyed the handsome eye candy he brought into my day, and walked out of the swim centre into a new way of thinking. It is a new era. Bring on the ‘spunky’ men!


  1. Entertaining read! I think I felt the same as you when a stunning female showed up at band practice once.

    1. Ha ha - Thanks Wilbur. Terrific to have a male perspective on this. Must confess, it makes me glad to know its not just a female problem. What happened with the band practice chick? Cheers !


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