My own inspiration was Alain de Botton's How To Think More About Sex, which talks rather candidly about sexual rejection, adultery, pornography, impotence and other sex-related issues, examined in psychological light. It turns out, it is possible to talk about sex in a non-vulgar, detached, rational way as we would about Danish architecture or gentoo penguins.
Personally, the aspect I found fascinating is what determines sexual attraction from a purely physical standpoint. In other words, whom do you find sexy? Elementary speaking, the answer lies in evolutionary biology since humans are genetically programmed to reproduce and are therefore attracted to potential partners who appear to be healthy and capable of bringing up children. But that's not particularly exciting, is it? I mean whoever was flirting the night away, thinking of a healthy-looking, responsible parent-to-be?
Referring to an essay entitled "Abstraction and Empathy" published in 1907 by a German art historian Wilhelm Worringer, de Botton explains how our taste in art is shaped by our environment and upbringing. "We crave in art those qualities that are missing in our lives. We call a work 'beautiful' when it supplies the missing dose of our psychological virtues, and we dismiss as 'ugly' one that forces on us moods or motifs that we feel either threatened or already overwhelmed by." Cautious and rule-abinding people may be drawn to dramatic art; enthusiastic, easily excited folks may prefer minimalistic works.
He then goes further and explains the law of human attraction via particular physical characteristics which signal to us our deepest cravings and subconscious deficiencies. Our adult imbalances will attract us to people capable of compensating qualifies we lack. De Botton chooses Scarlett Johansson and Natalie Portman as an example. Scarlett's full lips and cheekbones would appeal to those of solemn upbringing or serious types, whilst Natalie, with her sharper chin, open forehead and smaller mouth indicating practical resolve and determination, would attract flamboyant types or those traumatised by unreliable parents.
"The specifics of what we find 'beautiful' and what we find 'sexy' are indications of what we most deeply crave in order to rebalance ourselves."
This explanation of sexual attraction helps to come in terms with rejections we all have encountered. There is no need to over-analyse why he or she was 'just not into you' when you can see that your attributes simply did not address his or her inner needs. But it's also interesting to look at your partner differently and be newly grateful for their acceptance of who you are and helping you feel more balanced being together.
On a lighter note, Scarlett or Natalie? Let me know!