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So here’s the thing. I’m friends with this great guy. We have some mutual friends and get along really well with each other. Because of this, many of those friends have suggested (a number of times, in fact) that we date. The problem is, I’m not physically attracted to him. I feel terrible about it, I’ve tried to talk myself into it, but I’m just not crossing over. However, I’m wondering if attraction matters as it seems really sad to not date someone who is so great in so many other ways.
Belle (get it, like Belle from Beauty and the Beast?)
You are the worst person in the world. I mean really. Wow.
Oh come back, Belle. I’m kidding, you’re not the worst by any measure. In fact, I applaud your serious self-reflection, willingness to heed the advice of your community and desire to be a good friend to the Beast. Thanks for asking a question that will be helpful for a lot folks.
To that end …
First, you need to know a few bottom-line truths:
1. Attraction is important, and you should be physically attracted to someone you’re in a relationship with. (This will help in the event of marriage and sex and such.)
2. Your guilt over this is real (and I get it), but you you need to know you haven’t done a single thing wrong.
3. There is no right answer to your question. In fact, I’m going to be typing out of both sides of my mouth for this entire article. Hooray!
Let’s dig in.
Physical Attraction is More Than Meets the Eye
The moment we see someone, we make a snap judgement on his or her looks.
This is not to say that we are judgmental in the Christianese sense of the word (though we might be, and we should check that at the door). Rather, our brains determine—via some impressive synapsing—if someone is procreation worthy. It’s primal, really. If you want to know more, you should Ask Science Mike.
For now, though, just realize that we’re all cave-people trying to find someone to watch Netflix with. And we know in an instant if we want to be snuggled up with a person on a cave rock—or not.
Belle, your initial negative reaction, paired with many subsequent reactions, has given you pause—and that’s OK. There is nothing wrong with you. It’s the human condition to be attracted to some and not to others.
However, to think this initial reaction is all that determines someones attractiveness (in your eyes) is giving your brain and its Creator too little credit.
Attraction Can Be Won or Lost
There are times—many of them, in fact—when an initial reaction is different than subsequent reactions. In other words: things change.
You know this, don’t you? Of course you do. Let’s say, by way of example, that you meet a gentlemen who strikes you as dashing. I mean, he’s got it all, “A body like Arnold with a Denzel face.” Whatta man!
Now, let’s say this man begins talking to you and he’s just, to use the King James, a complete jerk. I mean really, he’s talking about how much he hates Mother Teresa and thinks Cecil the Lion had it coming. Would you still be into this chap? Would you look at him and still be flushed at the sight of his beauty? Probably not, because his heart revealed his true appearance.
Conversely, there are times when the initial attraction isn’t strong, but getting to know the person makes him or her somehow look better. It happens all the time, and it’s the basis of zillions of rom-coms, where the underdog gets the girl.
While those movies are exaggerated, there’s a modicum of truth there. A person can become more attractive as you get to know his inner beauty. Additionally, when you deeply love someone, attraction is superseded by a mystical connection, which makes beauty impossible to judge or understate.
But I fear I’ve gotten ahead of myself…
What Do You Do?
1. Settle down.
And if you read that as stern, please don’t. I wasn’t channeling Dr. Phil as much as I was Mr. Rogers, neighbor.
I want you to feel and know that this is not a “decision” or something you have to talk yourself into or out of. In fact, the only thing you should do is sit back, pray, pursue a friendship and see what happens. I assure you, there is no rush here. If it’s right, you won’t miss it.
2. Be careful with ‘the Beast.’
Because while I don’t know him, he sounds like a lovely fella, and he’s probably/absolutely interested in you. So be very ginger with how close you get.
As I’ve written before, I think there’s a limit to how friendly you can be without getting into murky waters.
3. Please don’t believe the lie that you’re going to miss the only person you could ever be happy with.
The truth is, there are endless people in the world with whom you could have a wonderful relationship. There is no “the one.” However, God knows the full arc of time. He makes marriages happen, and He has this situation under control. Your job isn’t to talk yourself into anything, it’s to let God move you and show you your next steps.
In closing (and speaking of God), attraction is a beautiful and multifaceted gift that was bestowed upon us by the Creator. Belle, you deserve to be attracted to your mate. If you know The Beast well, and you’ve given this some time and prayer, it’s OK to not date him. God’s got you, and God’s got him also. Trust that, and remove this burden from your heart.
Who Could Ever Learn to Love A Beast,
Have a question? Good! Send an email to [email protected]. All identifying information will be kept anonymous.
Eddie Kaufholz is a writer, speaker and podcaster and serves as a director of church mobilization for International Justice Mission. He also hosts and produces "The New Activist" podcast. You can find on Twitter @EdwardorEddie.