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?