Is attraction voluntary? | INFJ Forum

Is attraction voluntary?

Discussion in 'Relationships and Sociology' started by slant, Jun 30, 2009.

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  1. slant

    slant Sedated slanty

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    I was recently into a discussion with one of my friends about him seeing one of his close female friends nude. He told me that it wasn't odd or awkward and he had felt no sexual attraction because she was 'a friend'. I proceeded to think about this in further depth, and came to the conclusion that if he was able to not experience sexual attraction to his female friends, his attractions were controlled, therefore making attraction voluntary.

    When reaching this point in my though process, it made the idea of homosexuality very invalid. If attraction is voluntary, that would mean that a person could pick and choose their attractions. Woul this make a person pansexual, asexual, heterosexual, bisexual or homosexual at default? The answer is none; there would be no default sexuality, and sexuality labels would be invalid since the person randomly selected whoever they wanted to be attracted to--perhaps on the premises of gender, and perhaps not.

    The question is:

    Is attraction voluntary?

    I require opposing and affirming views.
     
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  2. bamf

    bamf Is Watching You
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    Personally I think your friend was full of BS but that's only coming from what I've experienced. I find many of my platonic female friends to be very attractive. This doesn't mean I'd pursue anything with them, but I do notice them for their feminine characteristics.
     
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  3. Faye

    Faye ^_^
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    No its definitely not voluntary. It is malleable, but its not voluntary. That means there are parameters. You might be able to find someone more attractive or less attractive, but you can't change your fundamental orientation. If you are attracted, it is involuntary.
     
  4. Puck

    Puck Perilous Pixie
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    Of course not all attraction is merely physical, although it is a strong element, and the scenario was based on visual stimuli. With that in mind, maybe he just wasn't attracted to that particular friend. Not all people are equally physically attractive, and/or people develop tastes for certain looks, so perhaps the friend he saw nude didn't meet his standards. Or he could have been lying about not finding her attractive, for any number of reasons, noble or otherwise.

    Is attraction voluntary? I think there are degrees to which it can be controlled, but overall, no, I think it's below the level of the conscious thought process. An animal instinct if you will, the energy of which can be chanelled for other means, but not entirely overidden.
     
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  5. corvidae

    corvidae ohai internets
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    I don't think attraction is very malleable. What actions one pursues from the attraction is another thing altogether.

    Also, one can "redefine" what they're feeling to a certain extent. Saying you love someone requires a context of what is expected of "love" in a culture.
     
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  6. Tamagochi

    Tamagochi Sushi Destroyer
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    At some level attraction can be controlled, just as unconscious part of the mind can be accessed and influenced by using certain psychological techniques. There's a community of ex-gay people for example, who confirm this.

    For most people it just "happens" though and they feel very little control.
     
  7. Satya

    Satya C'est la vie
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    Physical attraction can be limited by factors like imprinting. I remember back in my adolescent days that age old question guys asked their pals once they found out they had an older sister.

    "Is your sister hot?"

    Of course, no normal guy could answer that their sister is attractive, and few would find their sibling physically attractive even if they were hot by mainstream standards.

    The reason siblings are not attracted to one another is due to the Westermarck effect. People who live in close proximity to one another in early life become desensitized to sexual attraction later in life. People can also be desensitized to friends in the same way. If your male friend grew up with his female friend from early childhood then this could be the case.

    However, there is also the simple possiblity that your friend is suppressing his sexual attraction.

    Of course there is a simple way to test your hypothesis that sexual attraction is voluntary. Find someone you would consider unattractive and make yourself become attracted to them. If you can do it then you prove your case, if not, then you might want to rethink your hypothesis.
     
    #7 Satya, Jun 30, 2009
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2009
  8. Nausus

    Nausus Community Member

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    I don't think attraction is voluntary. Whether you act upon that attraction is what's voluntary.

    Basically, attraction to the opposite sex (or same sex, depends on your preference :D) is down to the individual's appeal and whether that actually appeal to you. And lets face it, it's also down to sexual attraction. These forms of attraction (sorry to repeat myself) is down to the other person's phisique, character and emotional appeal. It's only natural ;D
     
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  9. OP
    slant

    slant Sedated slanty

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    I am not attracted to anyone, so the test fails.
     
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  10. sassafras

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    Attraction is yet another one of those sticky subjects that's a mix of factors. Mostly biological, I would think, but also operates within a certain psychological and societal framework as well. You may be attracted to someone, but you subdue it for the sake of propriety (or, as the case sometimes may be, your own sanity) but if the opportunity came about, and you change your frame of reference to that person, that attraction would come to the forefront.

    Where homosexuality is concerned, there's validity on both sides of the nature/nurture argument. On the biological level, it's been attributed to a hormone variance or even a specific gene that contributes to such variation, or even the food and environment that we're living in now that can plausibly affect a person's biochemistry. Nurture-wise, its possible that its a learned behavior-pattern turned intrinsic belief powerful enough to override biological chemistry. Whatever the case may be, it's more of a societal and human rights issue: if its two consenting adults, is there any real reason why they shouldn't be with whom they want to be with?
     
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  11. OP
    slant

    slant Sedated slanty

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    I have no objection to homosexuality. It just seems that the arguments are heavily based on the assumption that sexuality is involuntary; they'd have a lot less ground if this was proven to be false. But if it was proven to be false, I think we'd have more problems then we could handle as a result of this discovery.
     
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  12. CoffeeShopDiva

    CoffeeShopDiva Community Member

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    I don't think that the fact that you are not attracted to anyone makes the conclusions invalid. If you could MAKE yourself be attracted to someone, then it would prove it is a voluntary process.
     
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  13. Milon

    Milon Director of Glomps
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    Maybe you're repressing your sexuality?
     
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  14. OP
    slant

    slant Sedated slanty

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    What I am telling you is that I have attempted and have failed; if the theory is correct, it doesn't apply to me.
     
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  15. sassafras

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    To clarify, I never implied you had an objection to homosexuality. Just tooting my own horn here. :)

    And why would there be more problems than we can handle? In the event that it was discovered, beyond a reason of a doubt, that homosexuality was voluntary, what do you anticipate people would say?
     
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    #15 sassafras, Jun 30, 2009
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2009
  16. OP
    slant

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    If it was discovered that sexuality, in general, was voluntary, the religious fanatics would take that and use it as an argument against homosexuality. Everyone who believes in tradition male/female relationships would have a heart attack since it is now proven that there is no human default sexuality, that it's just whatever you want it to be. I can't even hypothesize what a world would be like if attraction was voluntary, and if that would have an effect on most society's current gender roles.
     
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  17. poetrygirl

    poetrygirl Community Member

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    I think what's really going on is that he never thought of her in the context of her sex and seeing her would have been the equivilent to his sister. Also a lot of guys who have been friends with a girl for along time begin to think of them as "one of the guys". But then it's also possible he's just saying that because he wants to play down the situation. I mean if you were that girl who accidently got seen nude you wouldn't want the feedback from a guy you just thought of as a "friend" to say he was attracted. Because then it really would be akward. "It's no big deal I was never attracted to her." :m187:
     
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  18. sassafras

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    *grin* Well, of course we'd get the religious fanatics in there. That's a given. But besides the whole "God hates Gays" argument, I'm actually more interested in what the rational arguments against it might be.

    In the spirit of debate, anyone want to take a shot?
     
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  19. OP
    slant

    slant Sedated slanty

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    You can't really, in my opinion, argue sexuality unless you know the function of sexuality. If the function of sexuality is reproduction, to continue the human race, homosexuality is a defect in that system and therefore ineffective. But different rules apply if the purpose of sexuality is something different.
     
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  20. CoffeeShopDiva

    CoffeeShopDiva Community Member

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    Many religious people view homosexuality as a choice that one can make. Therefore they can be "fixed".
     
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