My Picker Is Broken

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?

13 thoughts on “My Picker Is Broken

  1. Great article to think about. I for one would say I’m a “5” on the scale of 1-10. I’m no chiseled in stone, outwardly ‘perfect’ muscular athlete. Nor am I the completely physically distorted, out of shape, unkempt individual either, so I guess I fall in the middle.

    But that begs the question, just what does define a 10, a 6, a 1?? Those ratings are entirely subjective to which you mentioned in the post. In all honesty with such a wide range of subjective reasoning for each number, I could say I’m a 4-8 depending on which lady looks at me, her own expectations of ‘attraction’, etc. Thus that scale at best falls into a simplistic and subjective category of “unattractive, partially attractive, very attractive” based on each persons definition of those words. Are those for physical outward traits, inward characteristics such as integrity?

    The one thing that has been the greatest concern for me is how to find or know if a lady has an attraction of sorts for me after I know I already have an attraction of sorts for her so I can put effort into pursuing her without it being a waste of time when I know she has no return attraction.

    Personally I’m attracted to women of different hair styles, heights, varying weights, ethnicity, along with always being women of integrity, great character, etc. But my attraction to such a lady is fruitless if she isn’t at least willing to be open to some attraction towards me in return

    Justin, any thoughts on knowing or understanding a lady’s return attraction in order to see if there even a possibility of pursuing?

    • Hey BW

      It can be tough to know. I always say if a woman is around you a lot and smiling that is a good sign. I always pretty much just went for it if I liked them and they would talk to me. Haha. I mean it’s not good to chase, but it’s usually ok to approach and feel it out. I’ll think more about that. I have a quite a bit more on attraction coming.

      One thing to think about with your scale, is that for women it’s not as much about the physical – not that it doesn’t count. But a guy’s looks are only part of the initial attraction for a lady. It carries much more weight with us than it does for them.

      • Justin. Hmmmmm……you mentioned here that a guy’s looks are only a part of the initial attraction for a lady. This is a trend that is changing quickly….maybe for a Christian woman it still stands, but I don’t know. In the past twenty years with men now getting “fake abs” the huge boom in men getting plastic surgery. The fashions and trends today with mens’ clothing (Macy’s now having WHOLE stores dedicated to men)…..the hotness scales in countless chick magazines……I don’t know……..and with the secular world, it does creep into the church. I have seen this myself. Not trying to argue with you, but what you mentioned isn’t 100%

      • Oh I think it matters for sure. And it matters more to more women today than ever before. I just don’t think it is a dominate a thing for most women as it is for most men. But you bring up a great point. There is a lot more conditioning of women (advertising etc) in this direction. It for sure has an effect. No doubt about it.

  2. Just wanted to chime in, too, to say thanks for the food for thought here. As a woman who isn’t a 10 (or at least, I don’t see myself as one), I’ve found it kind of disheartening to be in the same market as the mythical 15s, particularly in doing online dating. Also, nice St. Joseph reference! I’m a St. Joe reader. 🙂

  3. I’m not sure what all the avenues are you plan to pursue with this topic, but I would add the analogy that just because you decide to stop shopping in the $30,000s for a car when you only have $5,000 doesn’t mean there’s going to be a serviceable vehicle in your price range.

  4. We live in a world today where the “entitlement” thing has crept into most areas of life. The words of “I expect” and “I deserve” and “I can have it all” have taken deep roots, even in the church so to speak.

    This has left people more miserable, and feeling unfulfilled in this part of life, that is concerning dating, marriage, and just good ol’ fashioned love. The notion that always something or someone better is out there, just waiting for us to “pursue” it, take it and “go for it”

    This is not to say that you should date or marry someone you don’t want to, but because of what Justin mentioned above……this has crippled so many of not doing anything. This is an issue even outside the church. The classic phrase of “men won’t grow up” and the one about women having such “sky high expectations, only Christ Himself can fulfill them” is not helping anyone.

    Perhaps I am wrong, but it comes down to what our meanings of words and how we apply them. We don’t live in a culture like at the time of Christ when just about all marriages were arranged.

    A date is not a marriage proposal. Too many men have indeed “given up” so to speak because a constant “I don’t feel a spark” answer or ones similar to it have just turned many Godly men away from pursuing women. It’s just easier to serve, and to grow in other ways. He asked you on a date. Just go. It isn’t a marriage proposal.

    A date is not a marriage proposal. He sits at home waiting. He’s involved in church, he has The Blood. He bears good fruit, but he just doesn’t know what or how to ask the gal in church out for coffee, or a walk. He runs every scenario over, and over in his mind. He thinks he somehow isn’t good enough for her. He ends up doing nothing. Ask her out on the date. It isn’t a marriage proposal.

    In Christian circles we “tend” to think that if you ask someone out and they accept, you are getting married in a few months. It’s just a date. Not a marriage proposal.

    As for me? I’m about a 5 (where the majority of us are).

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