The Myth of Attraction

iStock_000001483451SmallBefore movies and magazines proliferated our society, one’s perception of attraction was limited to the real people they new in their community. Thus, normal, average people were often seen as beautiful in a variety of ways, and the occasionally striking were allowed to be seen as less so as they aged. This encouraged realistic expectations that did not associate exceptional beauty as the defining quality that makes someone lovable. Relationships were based on more conventional and healthy expectations.

These days movies, magazines, and commercials immortalize the young and photographically altered, creating a myth that exceptionally beautiful people are more abundantly available than is the reality. This misperception leaves singles with the belief that if they wait, they’ll eventually date someone similar to the ideal they desire (independent of their level of attractiveness or relationship skills). If their current partner does not fit this ideal, they need not commit. They can find someone better.

Thus, unrealistic expectations of attraction become a distraction from singles’ deeper issues, thinking errors, and fears. A superior partner is a measure of their success, a personal reflection on themselves, and a statement of their lovability.

However, if being with an attractive partner was the solution then why do so many singles walk away from relationships with highly desirable partners, stating that they simply don’t feel a connection?

The real solution

As a dating and relationship coach, I know that both genders equally engage in this dance. Men may be more motivated by physical appearance, but women also have high standards of what defines male attractiveness (or worthiness) and can be equally as critical.

Singles overemphasis on waiting for an enviable partner as a solution to their motivation, investment, and commitment problems has become prevalent. They often use a lack of attraction (or other criticisms) as justification for their difficulty in developing deep emotional connections and secure attachments, but in fact, they are often either deficit in these skills or reluctant to use them until they meet a worthy partner. This, paired with their anxiety and fear of failure, drives them to forestall commitment. And so they remain single well into their 30s and even 40s.

Anxiety unwittingly plays a driving role in this pattern, locking singles in on a particular physical or personality trait, compelling them to check and recheck their thoughts and feelings, and reducing the strength of their confidence and attachment (learn about Relationship OCD).

Singles can work past their over-dependence on attraction and achieve deep attachments if they confront their thinking errors, address their anxieties and fears, communicate their feelings and needs, become vulnerable and honest, and engage fully in their relationship. Only then can they truly measure the wisdom of their relationship. It is doing these things that create and maintain emotional connections, love, and attachment, not attraction.

I’ve outlined these issues and solutions in a variety of articles:

Chemistry versus attraction

Although attraction is neither the problem nor solution that singles believe it to be, chemistry is important and plays a critical role in happy marriages. Fortunately, independent of our God-given physical strengths and weaknesses, we can all find sexual satisfaction in marriage.

The body functions much like a computer. Press the right buttons and a computer runs its default programming. Similarly, stimulate the body and mind in specific ways and it becomes aroused. Once in an aroused state, attraction becomes less essential and even less distinguishable. Add the endorphins and dopamine released during marital intimacy with a loving partner, and you develop an enduring chemistry that will last a lifetime.

So the question becomes, how much attraction and/or chemistry is necessary during dating to reasonably assume you’ll have enough chemistry for a satisfying marriage? To answer this question, ask yourself:

  • Do I frequently respond to their touch?
  • Does being with them comfort, soothe, and consistently feel good?
  • Do I often enjoy holding hands, cuddling, kissing, and being playful?
  • When in their presence, do I typically feel a desire to be affectionate with them?
  • Am I interested in their happiness and motivated to make them feel loved?
  • When I choose to accept or give affection, even when I’m not feeling it at the time, do I tend to enjoy it nonetheless?

If you answered yes to many of these questions, then you probably have sufficient chemistry. The definition of chemistry above is very different from that promoted by our society, love songs, and movies. The romantic notions of love that our culture promotes may seem more intense and exciting, but the resulting infatuation is typically congruent with an insecure attachment rather than a secure one. Not surprisingly, the world’s promotion of early sexual contact also triggers insecure attachments. Thus, the best way to determine real chemistry is through engaging in appropriate affection, while focusing on the mutual happiness of both partners. Those who struggle to make this transition, from infatuation to healthy chemistry, often feel a strong desire to leave when normal issues arise. When emotions fade, those who aren’t committed to making real sacrifices in relationships find it easier to abandon relationships.

The definition of chemistry above is very different from that promoted by our society, love songs, and movies. The romantic notions of love that our culture promotes may seem more intense and exciting, but the resulting infatuation is typically congruent with an insecure attachment rather than a secure one. Not surprisingly, the world’s promotion of early sexual contact also triggers insecure attachments. Thus, the best way to determine real chemistry is through engaging in appropriate affection, while focusing on the mutual happiness of both partners. Those who struggle to make this transition, from infatuation to healthy chemistry, often feel a strong desire to leave when normal issues arise. When emotions fade, and real sacrifices are required, it’s easier to believe your partner is the problem rather than

Thus, the best way to determine real chemistry is through engaging in appropriate affection, while focusing on the mutual happiness of both partners. Those who struggle to make this transition, from infatuation to healthy chemistry, often feel a strong desire to leave when normal issues arise. When emotions fade, and real sacrifices are required, it’s easier to believe their partner is the problem. Lasting love requires that they have the skills to choose their love and love their choice.

Lasting love requires more than attraction. Singles need the skills to choose their love and love their choice.

Choose your love and love your choice

Real love, versus infatuation, results from our choices and behaviors in relationships. The more deeply we sacrifice, the more deeply we love. By contrast, the common theories on love and infatuation focus on attraction, desire, lust, and need as the driving force for our actions in relationships.

Provided below is a handout I often use (with accompanying scriptural references). It demonstrates the pattern of God, truth, and love versus the pattern of the world, deception, or Satan.

truth-and-error Click here to print the image above.

God’s design depends upon us acting on true and lasting principles first. Doing so brings His emotions of peace, joy, love, self-respect, confidence, happiness, fulfillment, and even lasting passion.

By contrast, the world’s pattern, of using compelling emotions as the motivating force for driving our behavior, rarely requires deep sacrifice. It’s built on immediate gratification and self-interest, leaving the person never satisfied. This is why pornography and meaningless sexual experiences are so empty and relationships that don’t require effort become short-lived and superficial.

God’s pattern ensures that if you make a choice to love someone, engage fully in the relationship, and feed your chemistry and connection, you can have the power and skills you need to experience a full, loving, and passionate marriage (provided you and your partner both choose these skills). If this were not the case, we all would be doomed to marital and sexual dissatisfaction as attraction fades (due to having children, experiencing unwanted body changes, and aging).

Considering ending a relationship?

If you’re thinking of ending a good relationship in the hopes of finding a more attractive (or worthy) partner, I hope you will first consider the truth that:

  • your partner is probably as attractive as you are (people rarely date those who are significantly more or less attractive than themselves)
  • attraction is not as essential for happiness as chemistry
  • your ability to love deeply depends more on how much you’re willing to sacrifice than it does on the partner you’re with

Before ending your relationship, explore the links above. The solutions you find there might make all the difference in making the connections you’re really missing.

free-consult-3Alisa Goodwin Snell spent 17 years as a marriage and family therapist before becoming a dating and relationship coach. She’s written several books for singles, been on over 100 TV and radio programs nationwide, and is a sought out public speaker. To learn more visit LastingLoveAcademy.com.

20 Reasons Why You’re Amazing and Still Single (and what you can do about it)

As a dating coach I often have to level with people about why they aren’t dating the people they really want to date and what it’s going to take to get the relationships they want.

10 reasons why you’re not dating the people you want to date

Provided below are 10 common reasons singles aren’t dating the people they want to date. The links below are provided for Lasting Love Academy members to learn how to break these patterns. Log in or join today.

get-started-today

1. You’re NOT pursuing the people you really want to date. Instead of taking action and flirting or pursuing a conversation or telephone number you’re letting your fears get in the way and stop you.

2. You lack knowledge about what to do or say to get more attention and dates.

3. You’re not taking action or going where other singles are.

4. You’re acting passive in dating so the relationships you get into you’re not passionate about and while in them you feel consumed with doubts or worries about settling.

5. You’re waiting for the best option to appear and acting like a window shopper or a browser in your relationships (instead of a buyer). This leaves you wandering from one shop (or relationship) to another worrying about missing something better. In the end you never buy (or love deeply), you just keep shopping (and losing love).

6. You’re trying to date people who are more attractive and accomplished than you are so you’re experiencing frequent rejection.

7. You’re making excuses and engaging in thinking errors that are driving others away.

8. You feel inadequate or insecure and so you doubt that you can get or deserve more from your relationships.

9. You keep dating the bad boy or toxic girl or wasting your time giving the best of you to those who don’t invest in you.

10. You don’t realize that you’re misreading social interaction and as such triggering rejection.

If you are successful in getting the first date but not second dates, you’ll be interested in discovering Why Men Back Off and Why Women Reject Men.

To use the links above you need to get access into the Lasting Love Academy. Log in or join today.

get-started-today

10 reasons you’re not sustaining relationships or feeling strong emotional connections

unhappy couple small

As a dating coach I often have to level with people about why they keep cycling through relationships.

The links below are provided for Lasting Love Academy members to learn how to break these patterns. Log in or join today.

get-started-today

1. You struggle with an anxious or avoidant attachment style that causes you to get attached quickly, become anxious about the relationship, and then act in a way that creates pressure on the relationship or that causes you to feel disconnected, pressure, and indifferent about the relationship so you jump quickly out of the relationship.

2. You engage in common thinking errors that feed anxiety, doubt, disconnection, avoidance behavior, indiference, and passiveness.

3. You are excessively available, accomodating, or too nice, which keeps your partner from investing and sacrificing so they take you for granted, feel less respect for you, and question the strength of their attraction to you.

4. You aren’t communicating your feelings and needs and so you suffer in silence rather than confronting issues. In time your anxiety becomes unbearable and you either start nagging or threaten to break up.

5. The relationship has become something you think you should maintain rather than being something you want. You start doing the bare minimum in the relationship not realizing that doing things because you should makes the relationship less attractive and keeps you from taking responsibility and being active in the relationship. Until you get in touch with what you want and value or what is a priority and important to you, you will remain passive and struggle with committing.

6. You see feelings as only being real when they happen naturally and aren’t forced. You see a lack of passion, love, connection, excitement, or attraction as a sign that the relationship is wrong rather than realizing anxiety, pressure, overanalyzing and being passive impair your ability to experience positive, spontaneous emotions. Until you learn to address these underlying issues your emotions will continue to be impaired.

7. You struggle with doubts about your attraction to your partner or fear that you could do better. Thus, you worry (when you find others attractive, think about your ex, or see unattractive qualities in your partner) that you won’t be able to feel satisfied in the relationship.

8. You keep dating the wrong kinds of people, because these relationships feel more emotionally intense and connected. You don’t understand the difference between healthy chemisty and addictive chemistry.

9. You don’t know how to identify the early warning signs and so you get attached and then later discover that the person is abusive, manipulative, dishonest, or addicted.

10. You aren’t being vulnerable enough to deepen the emotional connection and/or you’re not being available, responsive, and emotionally engaged enough to create and maintain a secure attachment.

All this advice is just a drop in the bucket of what I have available for you in the Lasting Love Academy.  

get-started-today

4 ways to learn more

  • Schedule a free 30-minute consultation

    Alisa Goodwin Snell is a dating and relationship coach who spent 17 years as a marriage and family therapist. She’s written 7 books for singles, created numerous audios, videos, and articles, is a popular public speaker, and has been on over 100 TV and radio programs nationwide. Learn more.

  • Get Stage 0, which will lay a foundation for you to move forward

  • Get the Relationship Package (if you are already in a relationship) so you can lay a more solid foundation while also learning how to enhance your current relationship
  • Get Everything, because you are not currently in a relationship and need to learn how to lay a solid foundation and navigate all 5 stages of the dating process.

10 reasons why you’re NOT dating the people you want to date

As a dating coach I often have to level with people about why they aren’t dating the people they really want to date and what it’s going to take to get the relationships they want.

10 reasons why you’re not dating the people you want to date

Provided below are 10 common reasons singles aren’t dating the people they want to date. The links below are provided for Lasting Love Academy members to learn how to break these patterns. Log in or join today.

get-started-today

1. You’re NOT pursuing the people you really want to date. Instead of taking action and flirting or pursuing a conversation or telephone number you’re letting your fears get in the way and stop you.

2. You lack knowledge about what to do or say to get more attention and dates.

3. You’re not taking action or going where other singles are.

4. You’re acting passive in dating so the relationships you get into you’re not passionate about and while in them you feel consumed with doubts or worries about settling.

5. You’re waiting for the best option to appear and acting like a window shopper or a browser in your relationships (instead of a buyer). This leaves you wandering from one shop (or relationship) to another worrying about missing something better. In the end you never buy (or love deeply), you just keep shopping (and losing love).

6. You’re trying to date people who are more attractive and accomplished than you are so you’re experiencing frequent rejection.

7. You’re making excuses and engaging in thinking errors that are driving others away.

8. You feel inadequate or insecure and so you doubt that you can get or deserve more from your relationships.

9. You keep dating the bad boy or toxic girl or wasting your time giving the best of you to those who don’t invest in you.

10. You don’t realize that you’re misreading social interaction and as such triggering rejection.

If you are successful in getting the first date but not second dates, you’ll be interested in discovering Why Men Back Off and Why Women Reject Men.

To use the links above you need to get access into the Lasting Love Academy. Log in or join today.

get-started-today

4 ways to learn more

  • Schedule a free 30-minute consultation

    Alisa Goodwin Snell is a dating and relationship coach who spent 17 years as a marriage and family therapist. She’s written 7 books for singles, created numerous audios, videos, and articles, is a popular public speaker, and has been on over 100 TV and radio programs nationwide. Learn more.

  • Get Stage 0, which will lay a foundation for you to move forward

  • Get the Relationship Package (if you are already in a relationship) so you can lay a more solid foundation while also learning how to enhance your current relationship
  • Get Everything, because you are not currently in a relationship and need to learn how to lay a solid foundation and navigate all 5 stages of the dating process.