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Dating Maze #340: Going for the “Look”
Dating Advice 340

Dating Maze #340: Going for the “Look”

Help! I'm only attracted to one type of "look" and can't get past it.

by

Dear Rosie & Sherry,

I have fallen into a dating pattern that is making me and everyone around me frustrated and crazy.

When a guy comes to pick me up for a date, before he even gets to open the door, I can immediately make my decision from taking a peek through the kitchen window. I have a "look" that I'm physically attracted to, and do not allow myself to get past that "look."

Yes, I realize that attraction comes in different forms. I know what it means to be attracted to guys emotionally and intellectually. But when it comes to dating for marriage, should I give up that "look" if this is the guy I will be spending the rest of my life with?

I’m getting a lot of pressure from my friends to change my attitude. Now I’d like to hear your opinion.

Esti

Dear Esti,

Your letter puts to words a feeling that a lot of daters have but never articulate. Most people have a picture in their mind about how they'd like the person they marry to look, and they are naturally attracted to someone who has that "look." Like you, they seek it out, and many times refuse to even consider someone who doesn't have it.

Yet in our experience, most people don't eventually marry someone who has the "look" they conceived of! We're going to explain why this is so, but first, we need to state clearly: Physical attraction is an important aspect of a relationship, and is definitely something you should expect to feel for the man you marry.

So while attraction is a vital element of a good relationship, whether or not someone has a certain "look" is not. That idealized "look" is a preference we develop through a combination of influences:

  • Cultural – movies, TV and magazines that promote standards that tell society what they should think is beautiful
  • Ethnic – we may prefer someone from our own ethnic group or another group we admire
  • Life experience – our initial exposures often establish our tastes
  • Innate preference – i.e. what stimulates our senses

It is normal to be inclined toward a particular type of look. However, when it becomes the main criterion for deciding whether or not to date someone, we actually end up cheating ourselves in two ways. The first is that we deemphasize all the other important criteria. The second is that by being so rigid, we don't wait to see if we can develop an attraction to this person. Many times, we can.

Often, physical attraction takes time to develop. Try to remember if you ever met someone - a classmate or co-worker, who seemed pretty average-looking to you at first. As you got to know them better, didn't they begin to appear more attractive? When you became comfortable with their personality and started to feel an emotional connection, you began to view them from a different perspective than you had at first.

Now recall someone who you thought was really good-looking, but who turned out to be a person whose inner qualities didn't appeal to you. Did your feeling about their looks change?

A similar thing can happen when we date. Someone who initially has your "look" may turn out to not have other key qualities. Conversely, someone who has the values, goals, character and personality that you appreciate can, over a short period of time, actually become attractive to you. This is because as you develop an interpersonal connection, you're able to let go of your idealized image and look at the other person through a fresh set of eyes.

This isn't something that only happens occasionally. It is so common that most of the happily-married couples we know had this experience.

Wrinkle-free Spouse?

There's another important aspect of physical attraction that bears mentioning. Ask yourself what would happen if you married someone primarily because of your attraction to him, and over time his looks changed. His face became fuller, his hair thinned, he put on a few extra pounds. Would you still be attracted to him? Would you still want to stay married to him?

If looks were the primary reason you married him, the answer would probably be "no." But if you also chose him because of his personal qualities, shared goals for the future, and overall compatibility, you'd adapt to his changing looks. You’ll still be attracted to him, even though he isn't as young, fit, or wrinkle-free as when you first met. Because his looks weren't the primary focus of your relationship, your attraction to him was based on a multitude of other factors and evolved as you built your lives together.

Of course, this principle applies not only to “women choosing men.” In fact, experience shows that this is even more relevant to “men choosing women.”

So our answer to your question is: Keep your mind open about men who don't necessarily have the “look” you like. If a man has many of the other qualities you're looking for, but you're not initially attracted to him, go out with him and tell yourself to give it some time. If you have a pleasant time on the first date, or even if you feel neutral about your time together, go out again. Give yourself three or four dates to see if you are starting to enjoy his company and are beginning to feel a connection. Then ask yourself if he looks better to you than he had at first. Have you noticed any features, like his smile, dimples or eyes that you're starting to like? Is his general appearance "growing" on you?

A "yes" answer means that your attraction to him is taking root and you're starting to appreciate his inner qualities as well.

Conversely, if those feelings haven't started to develop by the fourth or fifth date, there's a good chance they never will, and at that point you should probably stop dating him.

We wish you success in navigating the dating maze,

Rosie & Sherry

Published: August 20, 2011

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Visitor Comments: 12

(12) Ugochi, January 15, 2012 5:16 AM

Thank You!!

I just wanted to thank the founders of "aish.com" because of all the valuable information on love, relationship and a successful marriage. This website has brought me true insight in my relationship.

(11) Anonymous, September 6, 2011 1:01 AM

its intresting that this is finally a disscusion here because most people tell me im to picky when i felt it was important to be attracted to my date. it is very important to find him attractive. what you have to remember is that attractive doesnt mean the best looking just that you can look at him and not feel you have to look away. as for the certian look its probably a look that you see in family members or cousins that you were around a lot. so if you find him attractive like others were saying try him out but if you love his personality and still cant look at him he isnt for you because it is important

(10) Anonymous, August 26, 2011 11:39 PM

I would say if "The Look" is important to you, wait for it. Then when you find that certain man,start dating and gradually start to unravel him. You will then start to realize that he either has the look and otherqualities that are important to you or not. If you find that he is lacking in many other things, the look will no longer be an issue.If however, he has both, Mazal Tov, you're a winner. Usually there is a happy medium but I can quite understand how you feel about the look. I for one could never date a man who brags. Its a complete turnoff for me. He may have all the best qualities but this one thing would turn me right off.So I can see how you feel.If the look isn't there , no matter how nice he is, you'll never be happy.

(9) Anonymous, August 25, 2011 4:53 AM

so true

When I met my husband, I thought we weren't going to be a match right up front (I was just becoming religious, he had been for a while), so I didn't even pay attention to his looks...very unusual for me. My pals would tell me he was good-looking, and I would be surprised, not because he wasn't but because I'd ruled him out and didn't consider him a potential partner. After a short while, I was drawn in by his amazing personality (so compassionate, so funny, so dedicated to HaShem!). I looked at him one day and thought, "Oh! He really is attractive!" We've been married for over a decade, bli ayin hara, and I still think he looks great (especially after a haircut! ;) ).

(8) Anonymous, August 24, 2011 10:33 AM

How true!!

When I met my husband, I didn't think he was very good-looking - his looks were okay, he was well presented, but doesn't have "the look" that I was expecting to marry. (I'm remaining anonymous in case he reads this...) But now I think he's one of the best-looking men I know! And I know he went through the same thing - he had an idea of what his wife would look like, and I am very different from that "look", but I have no doubt now that he finds me attractive.

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