The Four Stages of Attraction

  1. Cute – /kyo͞ot/

Third graders don’t know anything about crushes and love, but that didn’t stop you from running headfirst into them — or namely, him. All the girls had a crush on him at one point, and who wouldn’t? He was everything you said you wanted: he’s smart, cute, athletic and funny. Warm brown eyes. A hint of an Australian accent that he brought over when he immigrated here to Canada. The rare smile he occasionally gave you, which you took pains to carefully preserve in your mind. He ticked every box on your imaginary checklist. It was like Santa designed a “perfect boy” and delivered him to you with a big red bow.

Looking back, you wonder from where you got these ideas about the “perfect boy”. Books? TV shows? Movies? It’s hard to figure out what you were thinking back then. Did you even do much thinking, or were you acting based on feelings alone?

It doesn’t matter. Just as children grow up and realize that Santa doesn’t exist, they also realize that first crushes don’t last forever.

The Four Stages of Attraction

  1. Attractive – /əˈtraktiv/

   “I heard she kissed a guy back in grade one!” 

   “I heard she held hands with another guy in grade three!”

Rumours about her flew in a vicious whirlwind, and your classmates let themselves get caught up in the storm with giddy fear. Actually, it was me who had the guts to grab his hand after the track-and-meet tournament, is what you almost say. You don’t because you see her getting teased for it by everyone in the class, and you decide that sometimes honesty isn’t the best policy. But this scandal (or as much of a scandal this could be back in grade three) does nothing but boost her popularity. That’s how she became an object of rumour and attraction, and you became…well, you stayed an extra in the story.

At first, you don’t get why all the other boys are smitten with her. She’s not that pretty, you tell yourself. I’m just as smart as she is; even smarter! I’ve got a wicked sense of humour, and I’m charming, or so I’ve been told. 

No one stops to notice you as they chase after her. At school, you roll your eyes at the boys’ antics. At home, you tell your parents you want to grow out your hair so you can look a little bit more like her. 

She doesn’t notice your jealousy; you’ve concealed it well. As she gets closer to you, you think, she’s not that bad. Why weren’t we friends sooner? And then the thoughts, those dangerous thoughts, start creeping in. You wonder what it would be like to hold her closer when she rests her head on your shoulder during a bus ride. You wonder what it would be like to hold her hand, not some other boy’s hand. You wonder whether the tenderness in your heart could be something more than just sisterly love.

You push your thoughts about her aside and claim it was nothing more than a passing fascination. You ignore the way your eyes naturally gravitate towards her whenever she steps into the room, and you tell your friends you aren’t interested in anyone at your school. 

The Four Stages of Attraction

  1. Gorgeous – /ˈɡôrjəs/

It seems rather ironic that you met her through your Catholic high school’s religion class. Studying for tests becomes nearly impossible when you’re too busy secretly studying your deskmate. You listen to every word she preaches, and you think that the Evangelists should be chronicling her stories instead. Her body is baptized with the chlorine of pool water and the fruity scent of her shampoo, perhaps? You’re not sure. You’re never close enough to tell. 

You seek sanctuary on the slope of her shoulder and although you’re not religious, you pray for repentance for the unholy thoughts you’ve had about her.

The Four Stages of Attraction

  1. Beautiful – /ˈbyo͞odəfəl/

Although the signs seemed obvious at the time and there were rainbow flags everywhere, you didn’t realize you were in love with her until a year later. She made the fateful decision to sit next to you on the school bus, which led to the two of you talking about your favourite books, movies and songs… 

Which led to her getting you hooked to the first song on the Hamilton cast recording…

Which led to her sharing her number with you, because she insisted that you text her when you finished listening to the entire album… 

Which led to you staying up late texting her and only realizing you’ve been talking to her for over two hours when she insists on going to sleep… 

Which led to you both becoming inseparable lab partners in science class…

Which led to her calling you when she lost that debate tournament because you were the one she wanted to be comforted by… 

Which led to you joining the debate because you wanted to share another part of your life with her (as if sharing three classes with her in that year wasn’t enough) before realizing that debate was not for you (at least you tried)… 

Which led to you telling her about your insecurities because you trusted that she would be kind and understanding… 

Which led to one pizza date on Main Street… 

Which led to another pizza date downtown one year later (you’re hoping this becomes an annual tradition).

Who knows where else this relationship will lead you to, but as long as she’s there, you’re more than willing to follow.

If you revisit the arbitrary checklist you once made as a child, you realize that she checks every box and more. She is beyond your cardboard construction of an ideal partner. You can talk to her about anything for hours on end without feeling bored. You feel safe enough to show her your scars and bruises. She doesn’t promise to heal them, but she offers to hold your hand and help you get back on your feet. She makes you feel proud to bleed pink, purple and blue, and although you don’t believe in a god, you thank whomever is in charge of destiny for bringing the two of you together.

She is attractive in so many ways, but the most gorgeous thing about her is that she makes your world beautiful.

The Four Stages of Attraction

Why I Wrote This Piece

This submission is part of the “Write to Discover” program. In this piece, I wanted to explore how my understanding of love, attraction and relationships has evolved over the years. 


  • Vivian Zhi

    Vivian is a student at the University of Toronto, double majoring in English and Book & Media Studies.

    View all posts Markham
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