Attraction. The rationale behind this complex emotion sits somewhere in the jumbled tangle of science, habit and the unexplainable “it” factor that makes two people click. But, like love at first sight, it isn’t always instantaneous.
When assigned to discuss the issue of whether (or not) someone should go out with someone they aren’t attracted to, I knew this would be a hot-button issue. After all, every member of the animal species tries hard to drive up his or her “attraction level” to the opposite sex. Why should we, kings of the animal species, be any different? Wasn’t going out with someone you weren’t attracted to (physically, anyway) tantamount to going against what nature intended?
Why You Should Go For It … Cautiously
It turns out, I’m wrong. Or at least I’ve been told I am. Sort of.
At its core, attraction is an issue that cannot be faked – you either are, or you aren’t. But initial attraction – a first impression, or, say, gut feeling, can be misleading. After all, he might not be your “type,” – too short, too tall, too blonde or too loud.
If you wait to find someone to date because they fit a certain profile, you’re almost sure to end up lonely, says Ellen Lubin-Sherman, author of The Essentials of Fabulous: Because Whatever Doesn't Work Here Anymore.
Sarah, a mother and founder of charity football league Blondes vs. Brunettes, says that “If you know you're not interested and never will be, then [say no]. [But] if it's just a date, why not? You never know who your date might introduce you to…in my case, it was how I met my husband!”
Of course, you’ll want to size the person up on more than just a physical level. Consider if the person is someone you’d want to spend an hour, a day, or a week with.
Read his body language. Notice how he treats the waiter. At the end of the day, those things will matter a lot more than someone who is classically attractive.
After all, you’ll be living with him ‘till death do us part’ if all goes well. Oh, and that in sickness and in health part can sure include some ugly moments … even for the world’s most attractive people.
Consider Your Own Priorities
“If he’s not the Hunchback of Notre Dame … say yes,” says Lubin-Sherman. Really? Well, yes. “If you can get past your own anxiety of ‘I need arm candy or I need a trophy boyfriend,’ and look at what the person is behaving like, you might be surprised.”
Constance Dunn, author of Practical Glamour: Presenting Your Most Beautiful & Polished Self to the World, says that this philosophy works in the reverse as well.“Have you ever gone out with a smashingly good-looking man only to discover that he’s a total schmoe by the time the bruschetta was brought around?”
Of course we have. And we’ve met great people that, for, whatever reason, just aren’t going to be “the one.” There’s an may be an “it” factor, but we can mitigate continually choosing the wrong people when we begin to dissect the science of why we find ourselves attracted to others.
“I think that women all want the same thing when it comes to a man: a nice guy who treats us well and makes us happy. However, the confusing part comes when biology, psychology and our personal histories collide with this desire, and can make us strongly and mysteriously attracted to horrible men who make misery of our lives--and compel us to keep going back for more,” says Dunn.
To combat potential repeat problems, try to pinpoint what draws you to men, and why. How much influence do variables like looks, finance and age have over your choices? Nobody is perfect, but no one should compromise their core values simply to find a mate, either.
A side note, says Dunn. “If you find a man appealing in many ways but he doesn’t attract you physically, lean in for a sniff before you bid him adieu. Evolutionary biology tells us that a way we women evaluate men is with the nose.”
When To Just Say No
Of course, this street goes both ways. Cassandra, a consultant, says that she won’t date someone she’s not attracted to because she fears hurting his feelings or leading him on.
It seems a good rule: If you’re just not attracted after a date or two, get out.
Kristin, a law student, puts it succinctly. “A relationship without attraction/chemistry = friendship.”
Some people simply “know” when there isn’t going to be a spark. Taylor, a graduate student, says that while she acknowledges that chemistry between two people can grow, if there isn’t a spark at the beginning, there isn’t much hope for one down the road, particularly when the first blush of newness wears off.
At the end of the day, there’s no clear-cut answer. It appears that going with your gut, as inconclusive as that may sound, is the only way to go.
So, what's the deal? Would you go out with someone you're not attracted to? Have you? Leave us a comment!