I once read somewhere that the reason men are constantly portrayed in movies and in books as observers is because women are so alluring to watch.
Some study completed some place by some group determined that men are captivated by women and more keen to watch their movements because yes, they are visual creatures, but also because women are constantly touching themselves. And no, I don’t mean like that (although, I’m sure the men may imagine that scenario a time or two), but us ladies are always doing something to attract the wondering eye of a guy.
We flip and run our fingers through our hair. We lick our lips. We straighten our clothes. We pick lent off our coats. We re-situate our intimate wear. We cross and uncross our legs. We apply gloss or balm. We make sure our skirt isn’t riding up. We zip up our boots. We take our feet in and out of our heels when they start to hurt. We tuck a single strand behind our ear.
I’m sure men do some of the same things, but the women just don’t seem to notice. I’d like to accredit it to the fact that we’re too busy with our own movements to get swept away by watching another person – and really, if we’re honest, men aren’t as pretty to gaze after.
I hadn’t really witnessed or believed this finding until a few days ago, as I was riding the train down to my job. I always feel my most beautiful in the mornings (or after a nice run or making incredible love) – so when I stomp my way to the subway at 7:15 each day, I feel powerful and stunning. As usual, there was no seat available on the downtrain train, so I was forced to stand. I removed my iPod (currently obsessed with “Firework” by Katy Perry, for the record), placed one hand on the rail, and started reading the paper in the other.
I become so engrossed with an article that I lost track of time and once I looked up to see I was one-stop away from my destination, I had to scurry to put up everything and prepare for the walk. As I placed my paper in my bag and went to put my buds back in my ears, I glanced up and saw four different men watching me. And not just the creepy dudes who you pray will stop gawking at you because you get uncomfortable- but men who were at least moderately attractive, within ten years of my age, and dressed nicely.
Embarrassed that I was being studied and nervously wondering if I had something on me, I cautiously looked down and attempted to hide the tiny grin that was making its way across my face. As soon as the train came to a stop, I rushed out and prayed my cheeks weren’t as red as the sweater dress I was sporting. I still felt incredibly flattered and taken aback as I walked the six blistering blocks to my job (damn you, New York winter, damn you!) and it made me think about this idea behind looking.
We’re told, as the members of the Single Women Army of the World, that when we stop looking – we will find love. When we are completely free of any obsession, any depression, any insecurity, and finally, beautifully, easily, just simpily happy with ourselves, we’ll find that man that we’ve dreamt of. Because if we’re not looking, if we’re not wondering or dreaming or hoping – he will magically appear out of the framework and become some surprising element in our lives. When we tell the story of how we met, apparently, we’ll say: “I wasn’t even looking for a boyfriend and here came Mr. Right, I didn’t even know what hit me!”
Well, maybe as women, we don’t gawk on the 1 train, but are we constantly emotionally searching? In the eyes of a stranger behind his classy Whiskey or Scotch? Or the man with the blue eyes who walks his dog at the same time each night that we return from the gym? Or what about the guy who gets his bagel from the same vendor, and we constantly cross paths as I walk back from Dunkin’ Donuts?
In the quest to find true love and our lifetime partner, do we ever really take off the binoculars and rest? Is there ever a moment when a glance doesn’t seem like a possibility or the sight of a reoccurring face that we start to recognize, become a sign of fate? Is it a reasonable request to call off the search team, raise our red flag of defeat (or just of pausing), and just let go of desiring happily ever after we meet our husbands?
Ask me three months ago and I would have easily debated this idea - but now, after reaching step 4 (and feeling close to step 5) and becoming more and more comfortable in my own two high-heeled feet – I really have stopped looking. I don’t lust after each attractive man who crosses my path. My future doesn’t reveal itself in the eyes of a stranger as he passes me, and if some dude works up the courage to hit on me, I don’t match my name with his last, and I certainly don’t feel rejected if he doesn’t pick up my bar tab.
Because instead of looking for a knight-in-shining-armor who will “rescue” me from my single life – I’m embracing it. And frankly, I’m starting to quite dig it. And instead of searching and pleading and enticing a man – I’m challenging myself to find who I am. Discover what it is that I need, that I want, that I deserve, what I’m capable of achieving. To believe without hesitation or reservation that anything and everything I desire will be mine, if I just believe in a simple and reassuring thing – myself.
So even though four men whom I will never see again (and I’m sure were amused by my embarrassment) were watching me, possibily undressing me with their eyes, or wondering what it would be like to share a dinner or a bed with me – my thoughts were far away from dreaming of a life with them. Instead, I was focused on going to my job, listening to my song, reading an article that interested me – and had I not of needed to exit the train – I would have never noticed them…noticing me.
Maybe when they, whoever “they” represents anyways, say the best things come to those who are not looking, really mean that the most amazing experiences are the result of not necessarily ceasing looking - but rather, gazing inwards. More about falling in love with yourself instead of an image you want to create in your mind or a box on a checklist you want to complete.
Not looking doesn’t mean you close your heart or close your eyes, it just means your priorities change. Instead of becoming a “we” the utmost goal to meet - loving the “me” you are becomes much more important. And if we’re honest, reaching self-love is an obstacle that’ll bring more happiness, more joy, and more peace than any man could ever deliver. No matter how long or how lovingly he looked our way.