Working With Attraction


by Kevin Smith

One of the paradoxical effects of skillful boundary practice is that boundaries allow us to be more fully open to each other. The ability to say “no” and the ability to say “yes” are closely linked.

Once we master the skill of “please don’t cross this line,” understanding our power to protect and defend our own boundaries, it is not uncommon that we experience both the desire and the ability to be closer to other men. I suspect this is because as we begin to feel safe, we stop feeling the need to keep ourselves so heavily shielded, and we begin to open to others around us. Sensing our openness, others are attracted, and move closer.

Living in such a way that we hold ourselves open to each other has consequences, some of them rather surprising.  One consequence is that we become more susceptible to the energy of infatuation (an intense but often relatively short-lived liking for another person.) Infatuation is the quick, hot energy of “falling in love” as opposed to the slower, deeper energy of “growing in love” which emerges over time in mature relationships.

Other ways of thinking about infatuation include the energy of having a “crush” on someone, or what some people refer to as “puppy love.” It is the kind of love we first experience as adolescents and so associate with teenage years, but it can be accessed at any age if we are open to it. The recently coined and celebrated word “bromance” refers to a type of infatuation energy, an intense admiration and desire for closeness between two men. Infatuation energy often arises during touch practice, and it is one of the many energetic qualities we learn to sit with in each other.

Working with “crush” energy skillfully takes most of us many years to figure out. One of the places the energy of infatuation can commonly drive us is towards sex. We sometimes describe infatuation that leads to sex as a “fling,” a passionate but short-lived liaison. The energy grounds out a little bit like a lightening strike–fast, bright, hot, furious, but over in the blink of an eye.

Putting boundaries around the energy of infatuation so that it does not quickly turn into sex can sometimes harness a longer-lasting, steadier form of energetic connection that pulls two people together quite deeply, more slowly, over a longer period of time.

Infatuation is a little bit like a tidal wave; how it impacts you depends on how you orient yourself towards it.

If you’re oblivious, infatuation can hit you broadside and swamp your boat, leaving you feeling overwhelmed and flooded.  You can get deeply invested in a relationship which seems to be over before it even got off the ground. Another orientation is to turn your boat head first into the wave as it approaches, and hope it will simply pass you by, affecting you as little as possible.

But here’s my favorite technique: hop on your surfboard, catch the wave, and ride it out, allowing the energy to carry you as fast and as far as you can go. Trust that the wave itself will eventually peter out–all waves do.  But before it does, it may well carry you far enough into a new relationship to build something deep and lasting, whether that relationship be a friendship, a “bromance,” or a partnership between lovers. Instead of allowing the energy of infatuation to just hit you, try engaging it consciously, mindfully, with curiosity and awareness. Form a working partnership with it the way a surfer does with a wave, and ride the wave as far as it takes you.