The problem starts with brain chemistry. “When you see an attractive person, the left ventral tegmental area of the brain becomes active and will pump out dopamine,” says Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist who studies attraction at the Kinsey Institute. “Dopamine is a stimulant to the brain, so some people might react with surprise or awkwardness.” That feeling is the weak-kneed giddiness that very attractive people can inspire, which can leave you fumbling for words and feeling off balance, even though a dopamine rush is a fundamentally pleasurable experience.
And so now we can explain what we feel when we meet extremely handsome men. We get pumped up with dopamine and then we freak out. Who knew that attractive men can stress us out? I have often wondered how I would react if I'd meet, let's say, one of my favorite porn stars, or maybe a famous actor. I'd like to think I'd act 'normal' and just be my usual self. I'd probably just follow the predictable path and get tongue tied and crumble inside.
We all ogle the beautiful men we find attractive, but one thing is to look at them from afar, on print or online and another one actually having them in front of us. I have known some very attractive men and I have to tell you, pretty people ARE different. Or at least they make us act slightly off. We become aware of our own physicality and suddenly we want to present ourselves as well as we can. I imagine it's a common reaction, even if we know the man in front of us is not available or not interested.
I can tell you that dating a very attractive man can be exhausting. I remember how it was with William, whom I dated for about six months many moons ago. William was basically stunning. Beautiful everything: hair, eyes, skin, smile, body. His shoulder-waist ratio. His long legs. His fucking toes were yummy. Every fucking thing. The first time he kissed me (behind a football field) I thought I stopped breathing. Seriously. I forgot to breathe because I was so stunned. The first time we had sex I fucked it up because I basically did not know how to act. Really. I wanted everything to be perfect (and we all know how sex can get) so I was basically paralyzed and overthinking my every move. I bombed. That poor man was brandishing that erection for what seemed hours while I got a hold of myself.
It got easier as we kept going out, but then other problems surfaced: everybody wanted a piece of him: old ladies in supermarkets, bank tellers, taxi drivers, bar patrons, some of my friends. Everybody. It was literally exhausting. He didn't mind the attention, I guess attractive men are used to it. He was super sweet, though, and got me into New Wave and Bonsai. He had a contagious laugh and gave the best backrubs in the world. He also had a penchant for loose-fitting crumpled cotton shirts and Birkenstocks. He was... normal? We ended up breaking up and lost contact. Years later I found out he had married a girl who went to college with us. It didn't surprise me at all. Told you he could charm anybody.
So the next time you feel all flustered and tongue tied when you're in front of a very attractive man, don't worry. it's just your brain -and cortisol- playing tricks on you. Just try to get over the conditioning you've been submitted to that tells you that physical beauty is somehow a marker of superiority and just enjoy his company. I know, it's hard. And remember, even with all that sex appeal, the man still needs to be able to carry out a conversation and have table manners. That Adonis front will mean very little if he has the personality of a wet tent.