attraction

Is attraction a choice? (Part 1)

attractionCan you choose who you are attracted to?

Is this a matter of nature?

Or nurture?

Maybe both?

Is attraction something that you can shape?

That grows or wanes depending on other factors?

I grew up in a traditional Christian background that accurately, perhaps for misguided reasons, promoted attractions as more than just something physical. In other words, you should not choose to go for someone just because they were physically or chemically attractive to you. Instead you should go deeper and look at their character, their pursuits, and their whole person.

I say misguided for one reason. Much of Christian dating advice has focused so exclusively on being a “good Godly biblical” person that they have totally missed key elements of psychology, relationship building, and friendship which are absolutely necessary for a healthy relationship. Following God properly does not excuse you from the hard work of building a relationship. Following God does not give you a free ticket to the perfect relationship.

Other less religious groups (current entertainment media for example) have created this popular mindset that beauty comes from within (which trust me I do agree) but almost to the point that they ignore the fact that it also comes from without. If it solely came from within couldn’t you find the most well rounded person for you and then simply make the logical choice to be in a relationship with them?

We all know it doesn’t work this way.

So to answer my question in a straightforward manner, I would say:

“Ultimately attraction is NOT a choice.

There are certain things we can do to direct our attraction or things that will increase attraction with time. But the initial spark that causes you to pursue romance with another person is not something you consciously choose to do.

Author: Jesse Leake

Questions? Need advice or want to share your story? thelovemanifesto@gmail.com

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30 thoughts on “Is attraction a choice? (Part 1)

  1. I totally agree, I think an initial attraction is physical. I think everything comes with time and working trough issues and celebrating victories together. Through all of these things you find inner beauty within someone. On the flip side of that it also aides in fining what you don’t want I. A relationship even if so robe is outwardly handsome or beautiful. But initially I agree attraction is not a choice. Well said sir:).

  2. I wholeheartedly agree with you on this subject. I’ve been dating a few men lately and there was one I was just not attracted to in any way, he is a nice guy, perfect gentleman and would make an excellent husband. But despite these factors I still cannot bring myself to be attracted to him in any way. Trying to force attraction would lead to resentments and that is not a good way to start a relationship.

    1. In the original Christian University I attended there were numerous people who truly thought you could have a great relationship just by being spiritually compatible even if you weren’t attracted. So sad. These are the people who end up divorced unfortunately.

  3. Very well said! One must be attracted to both the inside, what makes a person, the person they and and the outside, the physical beauty. It takes time to grow this kind of deep love that will last for the long haul, for the duration on their lives together. This kind of love carries the couple through the heartbreak of learning one of them has a terminal disease and will possibly die. This kind of love is something to cherished if it is ever acquired in one life time.

  4. I don’t think we can choose who we are attracted to – it’s mostly a social construct. I think attraction is not a choice, but love is. Thought-provoking… Good post!

  5. Yup. I agree. Anyone who thinks that just by loving God you’ll have the perfect relationship is silly. Or, if you think looks are the only thing that are important, you’re also silly. We’re all drawn to different people. That’s *why* God made us different. Great post.

    1. Yes that is a good point. Everyone is attracted to different types of people and I guess the point of the blog post is that we often can’t think of a good reason why we feel that initial attraction. Because so many times it is not just physical.

      1. That, and often our initial attraction (which is, of course mostly physical) to people changes as we get to know them better. People can become more or less attractive to us the more we get to know them.

  6. I think that it really depends. It is both. If there is no physical attraction, then you will love that person, love who they are, love who they are on the inside. But that person is a friend.

    An interesting concept is the internet. Where people have (I have heard) fallen in love on the internet. When i studied counselling, there was a book by John Cleese http://www.amazon.co.uk/Families-Survive-Them-Cedar-Books/dp/0749314109 I read for a book review. He thought that we are all pretty messed up, but attraction and people that we choose to be with, were those that were raised in families that held the same values. he described it, as ‘what part of us, we choose to show to the world’ and ‘what part we hide behind the curtain’

    People with similar values, about what they chose to disclose, and what they chose to hide behind the curtain, were attracted to each other. I don’t know if I am explaining it very well. But it makes sense to me.

    1. Yes there needs to be physical attraction – or it would just be a friend
    2. It would depend on family and upbringing – and what the family chose was appropriate to show behind the curtain, and whether the two were compatible.

    But alas, I am not as good a writer as John Cleese to explain it 🙂

  7. I love this post so much! I especially like the part about Christians taking nature for granted and being lazy. YES YES YES! Thank you for saying that! I am speaking as a Christian and this is something I have noticed.

  8. Interesting. i kind of assumed that in a Christian mindset… if God pushes you towards someone or directs you and you *aren’t* super attracted to them right away, you will be. Close male/female friendships isn’t common throughout history. Arranged marriages were common (still are) yet many, many marriages were fruitful and lasted. I dunno. I dunno how I feel about love or romance but thanks for the read. 🙂 I’ve heard someone say, “You can have chemistry with a total stranger who doesn’t speak the same language so don’t base a relationship off chemistry”. And I have found myself attracted to guy friends after a long period of not being attracted to them. Something just changes. So I can’t see it as something consistent. What if you stop being attracted to them after you get married? Does that give you permission to divorce them and marry someone you *are* attracted to? Is that an unreasonable response to this blog?

    1. Let’s see if I can give you a good response. Thanks for the comment first of all.

      1). About God “pushing you or directing you”. Read Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God’s Will (http://amzn.to/YpFECO) and Decision Making and the Will of God: A Biblical Alternative to the Traditional View (http://amzn.to/16aXadw). Basically, the way I read the Bible, God’s will is directed through Scripture. There is not really a spiritual “leading” or “directing” that couldn’t be otherwise found directly from the Word.

      2). Close friendships haven’t been found, but was that a good thing? Women have been oppressed for most of history. So does that make it good? Slavery was common throughout history. Etc.

      3). This article was never meant to give the idea that relationships should be based off attraction. But ultimately I don’t think hardly anyone would make a move on someone else if there wasn’t any chemistry involved.

      4). Once again, because a relationship isn’t based on chemistry, you wouldn’t leave someone because that chemistry dwindled. Hopefully if you both care about each other you would find ways to rekindle it.

  9. When I first laid eyes on my first husband, before I met him, before I even knew his name, I said, out loud, “that is the man I’m going to marry!” how did I know? I don’t know? He was the love of my life. And even though we’re not together, I will always compnsider him the love of my life. When I met husband #2, I instantly had a distaste for him. I should’ve followed my instincts!

  10. I was married for 13 years to a Christian man I met at age 39, single mom of 3 children, he had 3. We were encouraged not to have open mouth kissing, not to use any physical moves on each other and wait to get married. We found out on our honeymoon that we were not attracted or had a connection. Only after trying all kinds of things did we decide to live as friends. I was so relieved when he “gave up” first! I am single, live alone yet have a wonderful social life. I hope to meet someone that we both have sparks! I have been looking for almost 7 years!

    1. Wow. That is an incredible story. Thank you for sharing. I think that many people fail to realize there are 2 sides to the story. I appreciate you having the courage to share yours especially when many people and our culture are hostile toward the idea that their views maybe wrong. I hope you find the right person soon. Keep writing and sharing. Thanks.

  11. Lies!! Attraction is a choice. I was friends with a girl for 4 years before I ever considered her attractive. And that only came at the insistence of a mutual friend of ours. I used to be totally grossed out by one of her eyes. Maybe I should read the rest of the series to see where you are going before jumping to conclusions and starting an argument. I just think if attraction weren’t a choice it would be so much more hollow and empty. “I like you because something physiological inside me makes me like you and i can’t help it, I have to like you.” versus “I choose to like you because I think you are worth the effort and I think both our lives will be enriched if we choose to share this together.” I think I tend to try to err on the side of personal responsibility in all areas. I think all thoughts and actions, conscious or subconscious ultimately come from conscious decisions. We just don’t realize it. Everyone decides who they will be and what their personality will be like. With proper focus and attention to everything you do, you can change who you are. There is no excuse. Everyone is who they choose to be and everyone is attracted to whomever they choose.

    1. Good points but I will stick to my original statement. Attraction is what pulls you toward something. I would assume you are mixing love or care with attraction while I am saying they are very separate. And just because something is merely physiological does that make it less significant? Why is the mental or emotional elevated? Love I believe is a choice for sure. But u can love someone you are not attracted to and be attracted to someone you don’t love.

  12. I’ve been doing a lot of research on this subject for an in depth report for school, and I found this really interesting. I agree whole-heartedly, and find that a lot of the time people discount the importance of physical attraction. Our physical attraction to someone is the force that pushes us to pursue the object of our affection. Without a physical attraction to push us, we would have a hard time developing an emotional attraction to someone. Our physical desire for someone should not be discounted, as it is the basis of attraction.

    1. I think that romance is over rated in the United States. Particularly because of Hollywood. However I do not think it is smart to marry someone that you do not have sexual chemistry with. Some people would equate that with romance. I would suggest they are different. Some people are simply not romantic. And never will be.

  13. I agree that initial attraction is not a choice. I think though when you are in a long term relationship and your spouses body changes that is where the choice comes in. You can choose to overlook the flaws they have accumulated or not to a certain extant. As a man I think we have to a bit forgiving if our wife gains some weight, but there are limits. If you wife was 150 lbs when you met and were initially attracted to her and eventually grows to a weight of 275 lbs you cannot force yourself to be attracted any more. You need to talk about it. I agree that what is on the outside is not the only thing by which we should find someone attractive, but the outside does matter in combination with other internal factors. Great site.

  14. Reblogged this on Biblical Gender Roles and commented:
    I agree that initial attraction is not a choice. I think though when you are in a long term relationship and your spouses body changes that is where the choice comes in. You can choose to overlook the flaws they have accumulated or not to a certain extant. As a man I think we have to a bit forgiving if our wife gains some weight, but there are limits. If you wife was 150 lbs when you met and were initially attracted to her and eventually grows to a weight of 275 lbs you cannot force yourself to be attracted any more. You need to talk about it. I agree that what is on the outside is not the only thing by which we should find someone attractive, but the outside does matter in combination with other internal factors. Great site.

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