(I think my report would go like this: nobody has ever loved you, [very short list] have been somewhat interested in you, [slightly longer list] have been physically attracted to you. So it's just as well the machine doesn't exist.)
This is a question that I’ve asked before when I’m bored and want to discuss silly random things:
Let’s say there existed a machine that would spit out the names of everybody who has ever been attracted to you. Would you use it? Would you want to know?
The follow up questions always come: does it tell you the degree of attraction? does it tell you whether the attraction is past or present? does it include passing-by strangers who only thought “I’d hit that”? and so on and so forth, my answer to which is, set the specifics however you like. That’s not the important part.
The important part is this: The machine will tell you everybody who’s ever been attracted to you. No exceptions. Meaning that if someone is NOT on that list, they have never been attracted to you. That’s the bit that’s easy to forget. Sure, pretty much everyone would be curious who’s on the list. But how much would it matter who’s not?
You could find out that the creep who works down the hall has been secretly lusting after you.
You could find out that your partner of many years has never loved you.
You could find out that your ninth grade crush liked you back after all – dammit!
You could find out that the promotion you got at work may have been because of your boss’s feelings for you and not because of your abilities.
You could find out that the cutie you’re too shy to ask out thinks you’re pretty cute too.
Your list could be empty.
Oh yes, you could find out that nobody has ever wanted you.
Do you have a friend who claims that nobody has ever wanted them? I think we all know someone like that. Sometimes they’re just down on themselves after tiring of the single life, sometimes they’re fishing for reassurance, sometimes they’re… are they ever right? Are there people out there who, honestly, nobody wants? If you pointed that friend to the Attraction Machine, would they use it to try to prove themselves wrong? Would they refuse it out of fear of proving themselves right?
Have I answered the question myself? Would I use the machine? I think, some time ago, I answered it with a tentative yes. A pretty typical sort of “I would be curious and also a bit afraid of disappointment, but the curiosity would be stronger”. The answer of someone who is pretty sure that someone, somewhere has been attracted to them, hoping for a longer list than expected and apprehensive of a shorter one, feeling that knowing what’s happening is more productive than hoping for things that will never happen.
Now I’d answer it with a definite yes. For different reasons.
One time, years back, I went to a casino. I’m not much of a gambler, so I just played a slot machine. Fed it quarters until I was out of quarters, and no jackpot. For a moment, felt compelled to get some more quarters and try some more, because who knows, maybe one of those quarters would do it. I didn’t, but I wanted to. Left the casino, and decided that I didn’t much like casinos. Not because the slot machine devoured my quarters without so much as a hearty belch of thanks, but because I was mildly creeped out by the whole gambling scene in general.
Another from our group fed a slot machine some quarters and won a hundred bucks. Would I have felt differently if that was me?
I never went back to a casino. Nor do I ever feel the urge to go to a casino. Nor do I feel like my life is missing something because I haven’t yet coaxed a jackpot out of a slot machine. Sure, a jackpot would be nice, but I know the machine would almost definitely eat my quarters, so I know better than to play.
I know better than to play.
An empty list would remind me not to play.
Do you have a friend who’s the flip side of the Nobody Wants Me friend? The friend who thinks that everybody wants them, and shamelessly flirts accordingly? I don’t want to be that person. I’m not that person. But I don’t even want to be the slightest shadow of that person. I don’t want to delude myself into playing a game that I’m not equipped for. If it’s not my game, I’ll willingly go and sit on the sidelines and eat popcorn and watch. But I need to know. I need the empty list reminding me that I can’t play. Or the full one calling me back out onto the field. But I don’t even want to play. But-
… but the machine doesn’t exist, so it’s a moot point. If it did, would you use it?