Let me tell a personal story without any particular point to it.
Many people, when they first discover they are ace, have a lot of anxiety over perceived difference between themselves and the rest of the ace community. Does this one difference mean that I don’t fit in? For me, I felt that way about aesthetic attraction.
I didn’t experience aesthetic attraction at all. For some reason, I perceived that almost everyone else in the community did. Not sure where I got that idea, and not sure why I was anxious about it. It sure seems unreasonable in retrospect. I think people who didn’t experience aesthetic attraction just didn’t talk about it much, a bit like how people who are repulsed tend not to talk about it.
Anyway, I was more or less unable to determine when people looked attractive. The idea had no meaning to me, except in reference to what other people think looks attractive. When I was experiencing doubt, it often took the form of scanning people in the street to see if I could see anything that looked attractive to me. At first I scanned women; later I gave up and scanned men. This was a major component of my asexual experience, so perhaps that’s why I was bothered by all the other asexuals experiencing aesthetic attraction, even though that’s clearly allowable within the definition.
The weird thing is, after months and months of crowd-scanning, I found what I was looking for. Sometimes I experience aesthetic attraction. I don’t think I used to, but I do now. I honestly believe that I experienced fluidity, changing attraction over time. It started as a mere glimmer, and became more and more unmistakeable. But even now, it seems like my aesthetic attraction comes and goes over periods of weeks. Or maybe it has to do with how much I’m paying attention that particular week, I’m not sure.
It turned out that my lack of aesthetic attraction wasn’t that essential to my asexual experience after all. Experiencing aesthetic attraction doesn’t really change things for me. Mostly, aesthetic attraction is just bizarre. It doesn’t seem to lead to anything. It doesn’t make me want to meet any of these people. It just highlights some people in a crowd. These people here! These people are… well they don’t seem to be anything in particular. But look!
It follows some predictable patterns. It’s usually conventionally attractive young men with a bit of facial hair. Except that apparently I have a “thing” for men who are a little overweight. And maybe medium-dark skin (eg Middle Eastern, Filipino).
Remarkably, there is absolutely no overlap between the targets of my aesthetic attraction, and the targets of any other thing resembling attraction. There isn’t even any overlap between aesthetic attraction and friendship. In the few cases where I later get to know the person, the aesthetic attraction invariably evaporates. I have never been aesthetically attracted to my boyfriend, or to any of my ex-boyfriends, even though some of their physical characteristics match my “type”.
What is the point of this thing, this aesthetic attraction? I’ve concluded that there is no point. It is useless and absurd, although occasionally entertaining.
Have you ever experienced a pattern of attraction that was just strange and pointless?