Attraction Is Not A Choice

In Christianity we are pretty good about telling people how to work in a relationship and marriage.  This is a great thing.  We know how to help you when you are married or considering it.  Now that doesn’t guarantee success, but at least we know what to tell you once you are there.

But we are terrible about helping you get from single to dating.  We say that we want everyone to be married, but we don’t help anyone figure out how to get there.

Here’s the truth, you could learn more about attraction from one online seminar by a secular dating “expert” than you could from 20 years of attending church, reading Christian authors and being in small group. Worse, half of what you would learn in those 20 years would be ineffective.  I know, because I lived it.

The first thing we have to understand is this:  Attraction is not a choice.

I can see the red flags rising.  But it’s true and we know it.  What I mean is that initially you don’t choose to be attracted.  You either are or you aren’t.  As David DeAngelo (secular guy – look out!) writes, “A woman doesn’t start talking to a man and say to herself, ‘wow, this guy seems very smart and funny. . . just the type of guy that I’ve been looking for. . . I think I’ll feel attracted to him.”

Attraction is much more basic than that.  It kind of just happens.  Now a couple of caveats just to calm everyone down.  No you will not always be attracted your spouse – I get it. We’ve heard you, ultra wise Christian married person.  And that is really, really important. Marriage is about love and commitment.  However getting a date in the first place is about attraction.

I’m not even talking about being perfectly attracted or attractive.  That’s not realistic.  What I’m saying is that when you meet or approach someone, initial attraction is key and one of the problems a lot of us singles have (especially men) is that we don’t understand attraction, or why we are, or are not, attractive.

Now, all sorts of things can affect attraction – on both ends.  In other words things in my life can make me more or less attractive, and can affect how attracted I am to certain people. But we have to begin to understand this and work on being attractive and attracted in the right way.  Attraction is not a choice – but what we do with it, how we handle it, amplify it, or crush it is.  But we can’t do any of that if we refuse to deal with the reality that it matters – immensely.

This is where we have to toss aside our excuses, hiding places, and “help me sleep at night theology”.  What do I mean?  Things like:

“I just want someone to like me for me.”  To some degree this is actually true.  What we really mean is, “I want someone who I’m attracted to who will like me for me.”  So we have to watch the double standard.  Also we have to be careful not to use this as an excuse to not become a better person.  The best me is yet to come.  Thank goodness.

“If God wants it to happen it will.”  This just drives me crazy – and I used to say it.  It sounds holy.  But the problem is that we don’t do it for any other area of life.  “If God wants me to lose 10 pounds then I will.”  Yeah, no need to work out or change your diet.  Yikes. At the very least spin this into fearlessness instead of laziness.  Go ask out everybody. Why not?  God won’t let you end up with the wrong person right?.  Go in full confidence.

“I have this friend who wasn’t attracted at all to her spouse but she eventually became attracted and they now have a great marriage, 100 children who are all missionaries etc.”. Two thoughts.  First was she really not attracted or was other stuff in the way?  I once dated a girl who was always talking about this other guy she was not “romantically” attracted to.  Then she married him instead of me.  Secondly, this sort of thing can happen.  And my Missouri Tigers can win a football conference title.  It’s happened before, as recently as 1969.

The truth is, we are afraid we aren’t attractive or that we can’t attract the right person.  But that’s a lie.  That’s not from God.  However, we have to engage this to fight through the lie. What is attractive?  What about me is attractive?  How do I lead with that and lean on that? How do I create attraction?  How do I handle myself when I’m extremely attracted?  How do I build on initial attraction?

Lots more to talk about here and we will.

How do you view attraction?  Your attractiveness?  Your ability to create it?

23 thoughts on “Attraction Is Not A Choice

  1. “If God wants it to happen it will.” This just drives me crazy – and I used to say it. It sounds holy. But the problem is that we don’t do it for any other area of life. ”If God wants me to lose 10 pounds then I will.” Yeah, no need to work out or change your diet. Yikes. At the very least spin this into fearlessness instead of laziness. Go ask out everybody. Why not? God won’t let you end up with the wrong person right?. Go in full confidence.

    I think this is one of the best pieces of writing you’v ever posted, man. I really enjoyed this read and feel like you are speaking hard earned experience into something that not a lot of people are talking about. Thanks.

  2. Thank-you for this. Very well-written and precise. I am a young women in my mid-twenties, who has just moved back to the US after a few years in Western Europe, and I’ve taken about a year to mentally/emotionally recover from a husband who decided he didn’t want to be married anymore. Long story short, it took me 6-months to realize that there is another young person, a young man, in my very small home church. I feel no physical attraction to him, but I’ve seen and heard about many great godly characteristics in his life. I felt like God was calling me to him, to at least introduce myself which I just did (since I was sadly absorbed in my own world for several months). I suppose if anything happens next, it is up to this young man to be overt in his intentions, nonetheless, I’m glad that there are posts like these from the Christian community that deal with attraction, since attraction had played a huge role in my prior marriage. I’m trying to see where God leads me now without initial attraction and I found your post to be inspiring. Again, great-writing!

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  8. Actually I disagree that’s its men who find it more difficult to understand attraction. Women have been conditioned to believe that they are naturally monogamous so when they are attracted to another man outside their relationship they are more likely to see it as ‘true love’ and think they must be with the wrong person (as they are by nature monogamous why would they be attracted to someone else). As such women’s feelings and relations are much more likely to deteriorate when they feel attracted to someone else. Men know that such attraction is infatuation, not love. Men understand that they will continue to be attracted to others but see it for what it is. Of course some men will choose to be unfaithful perhaps, especially if their partner or wife as lost all interest in being close and intimate. When a women likes another guy she goes off her current partner quickly and even if it never becomes physical gives her heart to the other, destroying or at least severely damaging the primary relationship.

    • Women feel exactly the same as men and also know it’s just infatuation when they are attracted to other men outside marriage. It is important to communicate and meet each other’s emotional needs and respect each other otherwise any relationship will break down. Men are not the only ones that suffer from physical attraction.

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