There are many differences, of course, but here’s one:
I used to see attractive women and be overcome with a combination of regret and resentment: I wanted, but I couldn’t have what I wanted. Not because of prohibition (though there was that), but because, simply stated, I didn’t understand that I was, or could be, desirable. And of course, the nature of that belief – that I was objectively undesirable – was that it was self-fulfilling.
Today, I know a different truth, one that opens up a far more expensive set of possibilities. Sure, there remains a vast number of women to whom I’m not desirable – physically, situationally, otherwise – but I’ve learned that there are other women – beautiful, adventurous, sexual women – who do find me desirable, and better, who desire me. Actively.
When I see an attractive woman today, it is from this vantage point, of confidence, of relative self-assurance, that I respond to her beauty. I can appreciate it, can appreciate her, without experiencing her as a rebuke to my sense of self, but rather, as a reminder of the beauty of the universe.