What even is attraction? Is it only physical, sexual, and romantic? Or is it something more? Something that can be platonic yet intimate, something more nuanced and layered?

Join Tom, Ryan, and Jacob for a discussion on attraction: the varying types of attraction, the difference between physical and sexual attraction, and whether it’s okay to experience attraction – even romantic – for your friends.

We hope you enjoy our latest episode below: ATTRACTION.

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Enjoy our ATTRACTION episode! And don’t forget to comment below. We’d love to hear from you. We’re with you.

How do you define attraction? Do you experience any form of attraction for your friends, and if so how do you maintain proper boundaries or communication about said attraction with them?

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  • Oh dang. If y’all wanna do a part two on this one I’d join in a heartbeat. Welcome to my life. I felt wrong about my attractions most all my life, now I feel like I have been able to seperate my attractions better than ever before.
    Jacob I really related to what you were saying about the attraction “going away.” There are friends I have had falling outs with where they I have found myself being repulsed by them physically to the point of just being super judgemental… but that might just be because of how judgy I am.
    I feel like for me, I have three very distinct relationships that have helped me understand attraction.
    The first is my closest brother, Jonathan. Interestingly, he is truly the “type” I used to look up in porn, but from the moment that I met him, I had a very different kind of attraction towards him. I do believe it was and is a romantic attraction. It’s lying beside him under the stars in the desert. It’s going to the movies and holding hands the whole time. It’s cuddling until he falls asleep and jumping on him when he wakes up. It’s running around the city chasing each other around and linked hand in hand. It’s sitting and staring into each other’s eyes for hours, touching each other’s faces, and talking until the sun comes up. It’s a very “romantic” relationship, and my whole spirit is attracted to him, and like I said, I like what the kid looks like too, but what it feels like is so unbelievably settled and unlike the way I’m attracted to a hunky dude that comes into work. It feels like when you were a kid and you’d just cling to someone without thinking about it. That’s how it feels. So yes I feel more attracted to him than pretty much anyone in my life, but I would say the sexual attraction is less there than any other relationship. To think sexually about him would be to sexualize my own family, or my own self (which, albeit sometimes I think I’m all that and a bag of chips to that’s why I say it’s “less there,” and not just completely absent.) Second to my wife, this boy is the person I am the closest to. I feel a strange oneness with him that I didn’t think was possible outside of the context of marriage and sex. The first time I truly felt this was when he had a panic attack and I just had to lay on top of him for about two hours and steady my breathing until he matched it. We still have boundaries because of my past, but it’s so interesting how it almost feels unnecessary with him even though there is this intense level of attraction between us. I hold to that it is romantic though. And unlike some other friendships, my wife feels no pangs of jealousy when I am with him. She has said she just feels warmth when she sees us fall asleep on the couch… which is more of a blessing than I could have ever asked for.
    The second (second because I feel like this group would generally want to hear about Jonathan first) is my wife. I was not first drawn physically to her, but her vibe and her spirit drew me intensely, and (Jacob) her intellect. We discussed books, dreams, the enneagram, far before we confessed our attraction for each other. The physical followed quickly after. I was drawn to everything that she was. Then I remember sitting down at our first date and I was overwhelmed by how much I wanted to be physically one with her. That had never happened before. It was so much deeper than just being horny. It was an all encompassing need. It truly is a marriage of identity. It is a giving up of who I am in favor of unity with her. To this day it is a feeling I cannot imagine having with anyone else. So I very much relate to what Jacob was saying about needing all the things to match up to be attracted to someone. When I experience simply a sexual attraction I can usually isolate it as that and it usually comes down to my years of pornography experience. But the emotional and spiritual attractions to me run sooo much deeper, and I seem to be surrounded by people that have all three of those to me. rarely is someone in my close circle that I feel this level of attraction to not physically, emotionally, and spiritually attractive to me, and if one of those is missing, unfortunately I do truly struggle with allowing them in as much, though there have been many exceptions to this.
    The third is my friend. When we became friends we both felt a very strong attraction in the traditional sense to each other. I was drawn emotionally and physically, and I was watching his spiritual side grow, which is also something that is very attractive to me. I love growth. I was attracted to the way he cared. He gave affection, especially physically, in the same exact way I did, so I felt completely loved by him because he loved me the way I love others. It felt much more like a traditional romance than Jonathan. Interestingly, that heavy and steamy attraction did fade often. There were seasons where it went away completely and friendship with him felt more like it did with Jonathan. And I will say, though he is extremely attractive to me, I didn’t want sex with him. Until we crossed lines physically… Then everything was awakened and it all changed. Something was broken in the friendship then and hasn’t been able to be mended. But even though we eventually got to a wrong place, I don’t believe it was the attraction that led us there. I still love him very much and even though we aren’t talking my heart swells when I catch even just a glimpse of him. I believe this is right and good, but also dangerous. I was gluttonous in my affections, as was he, and that is what wrecked it all. So I believe we need to be honest about these attractions, but also honest with how easy it is for them to lead to a wrong place. For me I think it turned into idolization of some sort. I don’t think what happened was “inevitable” we always talked about it being something we had to be careful of, I just wish we had been even more careful because I do believe we could have kept the friendship in a similar place to where me and Jonathan were had we both not needed so much from each other.
    All that having been said, truly, I believe attraction by whatever definition is completely natural and good. I think we, especially men, especially men who struggle with porn and SSA, tend to cross the wires of sexual attraction and platonic attraction, and my honest belief, at least at this point in my personal journey, is that on a natural level, without any kind of sexual/emotional sabotage (Porn, abuse, cultural shame etc.), that sexual attraction to men is not what any of us are truly yearning for. I only say this because I thought that I was until meeting Jonathan. The oneness I feel with him, and the complete and separate oneness I feel with my wife, are both equally intimate and deep and fulfilling, but they are extremely different. Like two different swimming pools with the same level of depth, but different waters. My friend is where I crossed the wires, and now that I see that I feel more confident walking into new relationships because I know my own boundaries better.
    I spent far too long making myself feel ashamed for feeling these attractions. I will do this no longer. My brother relationships are a fire , and fire must be contained, but the fire is not evil. The fire brings warmth and life, I just can’t throw myself fully on the fire or I will burn. My love for my wife is an ocean, it is that feeling of running out into the water and jumping into the waves, becoming one with the endless and deep expanse of water, and the only way to fully satisfy that desire is my complete oneness being lost in the waters.
    … alright… tirade over… I’ll write a blog about it soon. HAH. Love you gentlemen, Jacob and Ryan I cannot wait to meet you guys some day. I have silently grown such a fondness for you two. Tom, LOVE you my brother.
    -Christopher

    • Now THAT’S what I call a podcast comment. Between this and our three voicemails this episode, what a week for feedback! Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts, Chris. Looking forward to learning more of your story and friendships in your blogs to come. And who knows maybe you will find your way to the podcast studio one of these days!

  • There are a lot of guys in the street that may turn my head in terms of sexual or physical attraction. But I’ve had this sort of emotional attraction to men for the longest time, ever since I was at least four. And this is a feeling that never felt strictly gay to me, and it still doesn’t. It feels natural, like something all boys experience. Just a longing for a close relationship with another guy like that of a brother. This feeling runs way deeper than my sexual attractions.
    For example, there was this one guy who came into my work the other day. He was attractive but also had this very personable “dude bro” type of vibe going on with his personality. Weirdly he was ordering a birthday cake for himself. He even decided to get a personalized plaque on top for himself. Strange, but still. I presented the cake to him and he’s all like “aww dude that looks so awesome, thanks so much bro.” I assume he’s straight but he was super nice, not the usual coldness I associate with straight guys. But my interaction with him both warmed and broke my heart at the same time. He’s a customer I’ll probably never see again but he had this feeling of a best friend I had never had growing up. Its a weird complex feeling.
    I feel like a broken record saying this, but I feel homosexuality/SSA runs so much deeper than just “dudes wanting to boink other dudes and marry them” narrative we often get fed. There are so many deeper layers and nuances to it.

    • Thanks for sharing, Eugene. I feel similar vibes for a lot of coffee shop baristas here in town. Physically attractive, yes, but also very personable. That may just be part of the job description as folks working in customer service, but I think it’s something deeper about who they are too. I find myself often wanting to pursue friendships with these types of guys, finding them attractive far beyond the physical, even though I know nothing about them.

  • Ryan, it’s funny because apparently we have some similar aspects to our stories. I also attended Cru’s Winter Conference my freshman year and had a really pivotal moment there. Up until then I had never confronted the fact that I was SSA head on, but at the Saturday night message the speaker invited us to “drop our nets” and let go of the things in the past that were keeping us from truly following Jesus. I realized that by not confronting and dealing with this side of me, I wasn’t allowing myself to accept God fully into my life. So the next morning I sought out my discipler (and good friend), and told him everything. It was the first time I said the words aloud to someone else or even myself (not even in writing). There was lots of crying and it was a really cool emotional moment. In the months following, my relationship with Jesus blossomed and, like you, I have enjoyed the community of Cru for my 4.5 years in college.

  • “Intellectual attraction – it’s like emotional attraction for people without feelings.” sooo, enneagram 5s? I feel seen. Loved this podcast. One of my favorites.

    • I definitely thought about any Fives listening when I made that comment. Hahaha. Glad it helped you feel seen, and apologies to anyone if you were offended by my sorta-joke! Glad you enjoyed this episode, Matt. I did too.

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