One of the things I’ve heard from several people when it comes to dating is the words, “I think my picker is broken.” In other words, “I keep picking the wrong people to be with.”
There can be a lot of reasons for this and a lot of different results. We can can keep getting into relationships with people that we shouldn’t or keep chasing people that we can’t seem to “get”. Some of it might be self sabotage for various reasons. But a lot of it has to do with misunderstanding and/or mismanaging attraction.
As I’ve said a lot, attraction is not a conscious in the moment choice. But it matters and in a big time way. I believe its not so much that our picker is broken as it is that our attraction meter is broken. I mean this in several ways.
For starters we need to understand that our attraction scale is skewed. This is true for both how we see the opposite sex and typically in how we see ourselves. Let me explain.
Let’s say there is an attraction scale from 1-10. 1 would be extremely unattractive. 10 would be extremely attractive. This is maybe more straightforward for how guys see women because it’s more a physical thing, but the scale works for women as well, just in a different way.
I think there are very very few 1s and 2s and also very very few 9s and 10s. Most people fall in between. In fact it is my contention that most people fall between 4 and 7 but maybe I’m just an optimist. There is a lot of good news in this. For one, it can be subjective. While it might be true that a 10 is a 10 to just about anyone, one persons 5 could for sure be another persons 7. Second we can do things to move up or down in that scale. Maybe a six can’t be a 10, but presentation can sure make them a 7. You get what I’m saying.
But the bad news is that this scale is not only subjective, it’s also based on context to some extent. Here’s what I mean by that. 100 years ago if you lived in say St. Joseph Missouri (a town of about 70,000 people) you would only meet people from there. So your context of 1-10 was sort of dictated by that. But then came ease of travel – specifically highways and airplanes. Now I could view people from everywhere. This skews the scale. As a female friend of mine once said, “the great thing about it is, in California I’d be a 6 or 7 but in St. Joseph I’m a 10”. I remember laughing about that – there was some truth to it.
But now we have a bigger problem. We have hundreds of channels and of course the internet. So now the context is the world – every picture, book, story, movie and perversion. We even have what I call the off the scale 15. The 15 is the touched up model or the movie star guy. It’s not real, and yet we’ve spent our whole life viewing that as the 10, when really it’s the 15 – it’s not even actually on the scale. So our scale is skewed and we need to begin to figure that out.
This leads us to the second problem. We have this idea that in order to marry someone, we need to be “perfectly attracted”. We need our “soulmate” so to speak. Not only should I be 100% attracted, but I should always feel that way.
This makes us eliminate good people that we are actually pretty dang attracted to. Remember most of us are not a 9 or 10 and we are certainly not a 15. And yet that has become the prerequisite for marriage.
This is seriously frustrating for many of us. We meet people that have the qualities that we are looking for, but we rule them out because we aren’t attracted enough (read perfectly attracted). Notice I didn’t say not attracted at all. We are at least somewhat attracted to all sorts of people. We need to own this! While it might be fine to say I don’t want to marry someone I’m not attracted to, it’s not the same thing to say I don’t want to marry someone I’m not 100% attracted to 100% of the time.
This is where it comes back to the picker problem. When we keep looking for the perfect attraction, when we do feel that way, all else flies out the window. This is part of why so many women end up with the guy who has none of the qualities they are looking for. They are attracted so it’s now time to rationalize everything else. Or it leads to the guy chasing the girl who won’t ever say yes, but dang it, he’s 100% attracted to her, so he has to keep acting on it. And for many Christians it means just picking no one. I’m attracted to the wrong people so I just won’t be with anyone. While better than being married to the wrong person, it’s not a good long term solution.
So what do we do? How do we manage attraction? I’ll say more about this soon.
By the way, this doesn’t even take into consideration that most men don’t even realize what women are attracted to at all (nor do a lot of women).
But I really believe the first step is asking some hard questions. What is your attraction scale? What type of decisions do you make out of that? Where do you see yourself on your scale? How do you know where you are? How attracted do you need to be to act on it? To stay with it?