The Danger of Going On Attraction

Dear Karen,

I have been getting tons of matches on eHarmony and am enjoying the experience so far.  However, often when I look at the pictures a man has posted I know automatically I am not attracted to him, yet I feel guilty closing the match just on that reason…am I being shallow?  Should I meet him anyway, if I like everything else he’s written in his profile?  I’ve seen men who were drop-dead gorgeous, but as soon as I get to talking to them, I want to run, so I know it’s not all about looks, but is about connection/chemistry…so should I ignore that twinge of “Oh, I am just not attracted to him” when I see his picture, and meet him anyway? – Stacey, VT

Hi, Stacey,

Hooray for you that you’re getting lots of matches…that can be so much fun, can’t it?

I love your question.  I am so happy to be addressing it here, because, as I’m sure you know, you are not alone.  A huge percentage of people use the initial “chemistry/attraction” barometer to decide whether or not they’re going to pursue next steps with someone, or whether they’ll say “Next” and more on.

Before any of you readers get nervous too here, don’t worry – I am not going to say that you have to forget about ever having attraction/chemistry in your relationship.  It’s actually really important as a kind of “glue” to keep you connected.

The mistake people make is relying on that feeling of attraction to choose a mate, instead of the things they ought to be paying attention to, which are the real building blocks of a successful relationship: the core values, qualities and lifestyle choices that make (or break) a good partnership.

So Stacey, here’s my advice to you:

1)    Know very clearly the qualities you require in a man, in order to be able to choose him as your mate, and to know he’ll also be a fit for you over time – those basics about people don’t tend to change.
2)    Know the vision you have for your relationship and life; he may have all the qualities you require, but he may be off to Africa to work as a missionary for the next 10 years, while you’re hoping for a condo in Boston and a great social life with your friends.
3)    When you connect with a man, whether online or offline, focus first on whether or not he’s a fit for the qualities and vision that are essential to you, and not so much on whether or not you’re attracted to him.  Note: if when you see his picture (or meet him in person) you have a visceral reaction where you know that there’s no way you could EVER kiss this guy, then by all means, say “No, thanks” and move on.
4)    If you have decided to give him a chance, every time you have any interaction with him, you’re going to be discerning whether or not a) he continues to show you that he does meet your requirements, and b) there is any increase in your level of attraction to him.
5)    If he’s checking out well with the qualities, and he is also becoming more appealing to you, then keep advancing to the next level with him.
6)    If he’s checking out well with the qualities, but there is zero movement in your level of attraction to him, then say “No, thanks” and move on.

If you keep up with this program, what you’ll experience is dating that is way more likely to produce the relationship you can be happy with – both now, AND in the future.  Have fun!