“I do, I’m just not attracted to him. I just don’t know if that is necessary though, you know? Maybe I’ll learn to find him attractive. All I know is he is my best friend. I guess I just have to wait and see.”
That was me, two months before Mr. M asked to date me officially. And even then, he wasn’t my type, and I wasn’t his. In fact, neither of us found the other exceedingly ‘attractive’: I had an afro, and he wore green plaid shorts.
I receive emails from ladies worldwide and one question I received earlier this month brought back the memory I depicted above:
“I was just curious as to how long it took for you to really be attracted to Mr.M?… because I [know a guy who would] probably be a very good husband, provider, and father, and love me unconditionally like you mentioned… maybe I would be more attracted to him the more we got to know each other.”
I smiled when she wrote me because I know the feeling.
Rainbows and butterflies: that’s what love looks like in today’s society. We should be smitten, bowled over, blown AWAY by this man who walks in ‘just like the movies’. But let’s look at reality: movies have been around for approximately a century now. Before movies, before pop culture – what did love look like? In today’s terms: kind of boring.
Before the Roaring Twenties, courtship and marriage was very structured and intentional. Many times it was not based on attraction but on financial or social obligation, both for the rich and for the poor. Marrying for ‘love’ (as the world defines it) was not as common as marrying for necessity, for common good and mutual upbuilding, and you either learned to love the person you were with, or the marriage failed. Interestingly, the rate of successful marriages was higher in the former days than it is now, in an age of marrying for ‘love’. Judging by the bill of goods we are sold today, you would think it would be the reverse.
While Meg Ryan movies may have us think otherwise, attraction is not necessary for a successful relationship. Instead, attraction is the product of mutual respect and selfless love within a successful relationship.
When my dad met my mom, she was standing in the book line at their community college. “The first time I saw her I thought she was so classy,” he told me and my siblings. “She was different from the rest.” Mom was not so convinced. In government class Dad was the guy in the back arguing with the professor, his black jacket half off his shoulders because ‘completely on was too hot and completely off was too cold’. Mom’s description: “He looked like the Fonz.” It wasn’t until she saw how hard working he was, how teachable he was, and how dedicated he was to knowing God that her heart changed.
I could tell many stories like this because I’ve heard this same type of scenario over and over again. We’ve been sold yet another lie, ladies. God doesn’t design relationships around our ‘type’. We like to tell God the incidentals – “I’d like 6’2″, dark, outdoorsy lumberjack man with a Mumford & Sons flair, please” – as if our future is listed on a Starbucks menu. God knows what is best for us regardless of our preferences, and His surprises are so worth it.
Interestingly, when Mr. M and I took a personality test for our premarital counseling, we discovered that our highest points of agreement were spiritual beliefs, parenting and children, finances, and family relationships. Our lowest point?
We came to love each other not because we both love to hike. We didn’t meet at a concert, in the gym, or bowling. We came together because of shared values, not shared hobbies or stunning looks. And it works! But it doesn’t work because we’re both just so great or we followed some five-step plan to successful dating. We have many flaws! It works because we have to work at it, and we’ll be working at it for the rest of our lives, just like my parents and possibly your parents and the many married couples around you and me.
Does this mean you can’t, won’t, or shouldn’t meet someone who shares your hobbies, or that it is wrong to be initially attracted to your future spouse? Not at all! I’m writing to my single ladies right now. I’m writing to tell you that those things are not necessary. Don’t look for them, because they are incidental. Look for a man whose heart is focused on God, whose will is ready to learn, and whose hands are ready to work. You can always develop hobbies, and you both can improve appearances, and most of all – when he loves you, there will be no more attractive man in the entire world.
So ask yourself, like the young lady who emailed me: would this man be a good husband, provider, and father? Does he love you for who you are? Does he value and respect you? These are the things that make a man attractive.
I can’t help but think of one of my family’s favorite movies, Captain America. In the movie, a scrawny private in the military is chosen to test a new process that will make him exponentially stronger than anyone else. The inventor explains to him that this process takes whatever is good in you and makes it better; but whatever is bad becomes worse. Thus they chose this weak little private for the process, because his heart was full of integrity and courage. It was his heart that made him strong and attractive; and eventually, when he stepped out of the machine three times more muscular, his physique caught up.
When a good man loves you, protects you, and honors you, he will be unbelievably attractive. It doesn’t have to happen right away, or even in the first few weeks or months. It will happen with time as love deepens and grows. He might be awkward, shy, or frumpy when you meet him, but if his heart is dedicated first to God and then to you, his actions and appearance will catch up with his genuine, humble heart. Isn’t that encouraging?