Wednesday, February 10, 2016

When Your Type Has A Type, And It’s Not You

When I first moved to Virginia and got a house, I was thrilled that I suddenly had lots of dirt to decorate with whatever flowering thing I found at stores. Eagerly I glided with my cart through Grocery stores, Home Depot, Gardening centers, etc, piling high the shopping carts with all my earthy joys. I planted to my heart’s content.

By the end of the second summer I had ripped out everything the previous owner had planted in my yard (Beach theme? SO overdone here) and replaced them with all the delightful stuff I’d found. Exciting colors, amazing textures and anything that struck my fancy. If I thought it was cool or pretty, I bought it and stuck it in the dirt around my house.

By the time the fourth summer rolled around it occurred to me my yard looked like a floral experiment: exotic tropical flowers, whimsical wild field flowers, traditional English garden flowers: all crammed into a 20 foot by 50 foot space. It kinda worked. If nothing else it was a lot to take in and sometimes people would slow down when they drove by my house, just to look. I was proud of it.

But while shopping and planting, I had paid no attention to what each plant needed for shade, spacing, watering or their growing season. 

And I realized I had goals for my yard that I hadn’t considered when I started decorating it. I wanted beauty, of course. But I also wanted something manageable (something it had gone WAY beyond being). And most of all, I wanted a yard that attracted butterflies and humming birds.

Instead I had plants that needed a ton of watering right next to flowers that die with over-watering. I had heedlessly planted bulbs that need a frost each winter, next to hothouse succulents that die with even mildly chilly temperatures. There were flowering vines of all kinds growing everywhere that required clipping every couple days. Trumpet flowers pressing over climbing roses, each reaching for the sky in competition for the sun.

But worst of all I had wasps, hornets and flies stubbornly making their home in my yard all year long. In addition to my being allergic to their stingers, I wasn’t getting many of the butterflies I had hoped for and not a single hummingbird.

I knew I had made mistakes, but I wasn’t sure how to get my desired results.   

A Google search easily told me a long list of flowering plants that attract butterflies and hummingbirds. And I discovered a number of the plants I thought were pretty were attracting the wasps and flies as their pollinators. Who knew that I was thoughtlessly interfering with the sex lives of plants and insects by thinking I could have whatever I wanted!

I had to accept that nature would do its thing whether I thought it was fair or not. But, if I followed the rules of attraction for bugs I could get at least mostly what I wanted and avoid a messy, half-baked yard that needed constant upkeep. Once I accepted this method, it was a simple thing to choose my favorites of flowers that attract the bugs I like and let go of the plants that attracted the bugs I didn’t like. By the following summer, my yard had radically changed once again; this time to the fairy garden feel I wanted.

It turns out many things in life are like this: 
Including attracting the right mate.
Aside from the random celebrity that fits a somewhat different mold, I have come to realize I have a guy type. There is a collection of features that I have been consistently attracted to since I was a little girl watching Western movies with my grandpa. Dark haired, light colored eyes, oval face, straight nose, fuller lips with a lean, muscular build. Skin can be a shade lighter or darker but those other traits remain constant. This is my butterfly and hummingbird garden combination in a man.

One day about a year ago while kneeling in the dirt admiring my now successful garden, it occurred to me that I might need to evaluate what I was or was not doing to attract that kind of guy, just like I was now planting the right flowers to attract the right creatures.

Unfortunately there wasn’t an easy Google search with a list of proven things to tell me how to catch a man like that. But I decided I could look at other women who were attracting them and see what they had going for them. Any time I saw a guy who had my favorite feature package, I would see if he had a woman and size her up.

It turns out the height and body size of the women catching the men I like, isn’t too far off what I already am. Close to average female height, a slender somewhat athletic build, with at least average attractiveness. Their face shapes and eye colors all varied quite a bit and their skin tone could also be a shade lighter or darker.

From what I could see the only consistent factor was their hair. Curly or straight, long or short, the length and texture was less important that the color. The guys I like: like blondes. My hair is brown.

Most of them were not even natural blondes. Some had only streaks of blonde. Other girls had colors ranging from white to honey golden, to strawberry or dirty blonde and every shade in between. A few were bleached platinum. But 90% of the guys who made my heart flutter, had their arm around a light-haired chick. 

Now I could have gotten mad. I could have fought it and decided that any man who needed me to color my hair to love me, wasn't worthy of my love. 

But, didn't I have a preferred type too? Wasn't I guilty of overlooking certain blonde or red haired guys because a dark haired guy next to him caught my eye first? Did I consider myself a hypocrite or was I just attracted to what I liked? Could I blame anyone else for feeling the same way?

I decided I could shake my fist at the waspy women invading the garden I wanted for myself, complaining it's unjust. Or I could acknowledge that attraction is attraction- my opinions be dammed- and just become the delectable nectar that would bring me the results I wanted.

I poured over the pictures I had taken of myself over the years and realized with a shock that the two times I’d gotten boyfriends with my heart-throb combination, I had also been hitting the gym and highlighting my hair.  And around the time the relationships fizzled out, I had gotten a bit complacent with my fitness routine and grown out my natural reddish-brown hair color. Damn. 

Just for an extra test I threw up a couple slightly younger pictures of myself, more toned and with blonder tresses on my online dating profiles. In the hours and days that followed, in poured the “likes” and messages from guys who fit my boyfriend-worthy bill.

I was stunned. And I then I knocked out an hour long workout and made an appointment to get my hair colored. Somehow I was in denial. Was there a formula for attracting my preferred man, just like a formula for my ideal garden? 

 This was my garden card of attraction rules: Be fitter and be blonder? Was it really that easy? Was this what it was to work with biological urges, instead of fight them and insist that rules were made to be broken and a man should love me for my personality and heart and not my hair color or hip-to-waist ratio? I believe so.

I can’t tell other people what to plant in their yards, how to wear their hair, what size they should be or how they should model their lives. But as for myself, I am going to get the results I want by doing what I discover works. Luckily for me this doesn’t involve moving to another planting zone, having plastic surgery or wishing I could change my nationality (although I won’t say I’ve never considered all those options.) 

But I will say that if a little effort and sacrifice gets me the joy I want for a lovely garden and a partner who’s as attracted to me as I am to them- isn’t that worth it?  


Mike said...

Do you think it was the change to blonde or being more fit that got you more attention from guys you like? The scientist in me wants you to repeat this experiment with only one variable in play at a time:)

Jaclyn said...

It is definitely the hair color. The fitness level was barely a 5 pound difference. It is literally a difference between my wearing a size 2 or a size 3, (an inch one way or another in my waist and bust line) both sizes are still considered XS in all clothing stores. I added the fitness aspect to the article for a couple reasons. 1. I know when I regularly work out I dress and walk with more confidence even if my body size hasn't changed and even with brown hair that gets me more attention 2. I am constantly encouraging other women to be more mindful of their fitness level. A dramatic body size change would certainly account for more attention but not in this case. If I were a plus sized girl, staying a plus sized girl and just changing my hair color wouldn't make me significantly more appealing. However all things being equal with body size/ type, age, facial attractivness, in exteriments people have found that girls wearing blond wigs (and nothing else different about them) got more help and attention than when they took the wig off and had brunette hair. I've seen this in a number of YouTube video experiments. While people like to say that "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" time again we see the same patterns of preference. Younger, fitter, light skinned girls with symmetrical facial features and medium to long blonde hair are the top pick in nearly every culture, race and demographic. I was just surprised to realize I've actually experience it first hand.

Mike said...

That's interesting. I wonder why that is. Maybe it has something to do with how there are very few natural blondes like you said. Maybe they are just tricking us into thinking they are a rare and valuable commodity. I'd like to think I don't have a "type" at least outwardly but maybe its in my subconscious. When I was dating, it was a mixture of darker and lighter hair colors, but with more on the darker side. I feel better now that I'm not the only one who has done social experiments to see what traits get more hits online. Sadly, the trait that had the most dramatic effect on number of visitors and messages received was something a guy can't change: height. 6' seems to be the sweet spot that women are looking for, at least by the number of "likes" and messages I received. I even put up some fake salaries but that didn't have any effect surprisingly to me. I think it's pretty lame to post your salary on a dating website, but I thought maybe some women would like it. I was relieved no one seemed to be impressed by that.