May 19, 2014 / An Argument is the Opposite of Attraction
Don't mistake intensity for attraction.
Several years ago I went to a party and met a friend of a friend. She was cool and cute, and at one point in the conversation she told me she grew up in Connecticut. For those unfamiliar with the northeast US, you can literally bisect Connecticut between Yankees and Red Sox fans, so I asked her which team she rooted for. She told me she was a Red Sox fan. Then I told her I was a big Yankees fan, and so began what I thought would be a playful debate.
Normally I don’t worry about a woman having a rival sports allegiance, since women don’t follow sports nearly as seriously as men do anyway. But this girl was different, and when it came to baseball she knew her stuff. We discussed things like whether Roger Clemens was better than Curt Schilling, or whether Nomar Garciaparra was more overrated than Derek Jeter. A funny thing happened, though. I would have thought I would have been really into a cool and cute girl that was so into baseball, but at the end of the night I found myself oddly unattracted to her. Did I still think she was cute? Yes. Did I like that she knew a lot about baseball? Yes. So why was I unattracted?
Furthermore, I felt an identical vibe on her end. We didn’t exchange numbers or talk about hanging out another time. It’s like somehow all the baseball talk sucked all the sexuality out of the room. We just left the party with the friends we came with and that was that.
For a long time, I chalked that incident up to sports. I’d say “don’t talk about girls with sports,” since sports is an asexual topic that doesn’t segue well into building attraction. Except that wasn’t true. Almost every approach starts with small talk and discussing supposedly asexual topics (which where you should use identity statements), so why was talking about sports any different? Furthermore, I had lots of approaches with women where sports came up and it wasn’t a problem. So what happened with this girl?
It occurred to me much later on: the problem wasn’t talking about sports, the problem was arguing about sports. Which meant the problem really was…
An Argument is the Opposite of Attraction
You may think the opposite of attraction is indifference. In other words, you may think the spectrum of attraction looks something like this:
In this representation, attraction is a single dimension. At one end, the woman is wildly attracted to you and wants to jump your bones immediately. At the other end, she essentially doesn’t acknowledge your existence.
However, as I gave it more thought, I concluded that this was a more accurate representation:
Intensity is Not Attraction
It can be easy to mistake intensity and attraction as the same thing. When we think of synonyms for attraction, we think of words like “passion” and other aggressive-sounding emotions. But it’s possible to evoke intensity in a bad way, or at least an unattractive way. And this usually manifests as an argument.
So this is what happened with the Red Sox fan. We were arguing. It wasn’t a “bad” argument. We weren’t yelling and getting mad at each other. But we were definitely arguing. Which is why I felt so unattracted to her at the end of the night, and vice versa. The second diagram reflects how both attraction and argumentation are both intense emotions, but still polar opposites.
The Solution is Simple
It’s this easy: if you find yourself arguing with a woman, stop.
I’m not saying you should mindlessly agree with everything she says. If she says something you disagree with, you can try and correct her if you think she’s open to it. But if she says something like, “I’d never get my kid vaccinated, it causes autism,” what is the upside of having an argument about it? All an argument will accomplish is making you both less attracted to each other, and it’s definitely not going to change her mind.
Clearly she’s an idiot; you can conclude that her idiocy is a deal-breaker and stop talking to her, and in this example I wouldn’t blame you. But if you are going to keep talking to her, you shouldn’t try and correct her idiocy with an argument.
Instead, you can:
1. Neg Her
If you can, the best option is to try and turn the situation into a “neg.” Basically you’re stating her opinion disqualifies her from you being interested in her, and she has to prove otherwise. Again, it’s okay to state that you disagree. It’s just not okay to have a prolonged argument about why you disagree and why she needs to change her opinion.
2. Change the Subject
If you can’t think of a neg (and in some cases it won’t be easy to do so, like the “vaccines cause autism” example), then I advocate just changing the subject. Agree to disagree, and then move on to some other topic that both of you won’t argue about.
3. Discuss and stay calm
And if you really just can’t let it slide and need to litigate the issue, then at least try to argue in an open-ended manner. In the “vaccines cause autism” example, you could ask her why she thinks that, or tell her about your friend that got whooping cough and broke three ribs. It’s still unlikely she’ll change her mind, but at least this way you’ll avoid having the argument be too intense and reaching a “point of no return on the spectrum.”
Don’t Try to Jump the Gap
In the second diagram, see that gap in between both ends of the spectrum? It’s possible to “jump the gap” between argumentation and attraction, but it’s not easy. You’ve probably seen this in movies or TV, where two characters are getting in a heated argument and then they grab each other and then they start passionately kissing each other and fall into bed. This is what I mean by “jumping the gap.”
It is possible to generate so much intensity in an argument that you somehow have a paradigm shift into attraction. But this generally only happens with people that have a relationship that involves both ends of the spectrum already. This is why a lot of couples argue and then have makeup sex, but not too many strangers do.