Debra is a Licensed Professional Counselor, national speaker, relationship expert, and author of Choosing Marriage and True Love Dates, and Love In Every Season. She’s also the host of the hotline style Love + Relationships Podcast. Her popular relationship advice blog, TrueLoveDates.com, reaches millions of people with the message of healthy relationships. The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily represent those of BCNN1.
When I was single, I would often imagine what my future relationship was going to be like. I wondered about the kind of guy I’d end up dating and marrying. I’d try to picture who he would be and how he would look. I wondered if when I eventually had a picture of him, would I be proud to show it to my friends, or would I find myself with someone with an amazing heart whom I struggled to find attractive? I know I’m not alone in that worry because I hear from many people who express the same fears and concerns.
Finding someone to whom you are physically attracted is an important part of the equation of a healthy relationship. But it’s not the only part of the equation of attraction. It’s important for us to understand that attraction is multi-faceted. While attraction may start as physical, it’s fueled by other aspects of connection: emotional, mental, and spiritual.
I am thankful that I am married to a man that I find attractive. But I was surprised by my growing attraction to him because he was not my so-called “type.” Physical attraction is a legitimate need in a relationship, but it must be kept in proper perspective because just because you’re physically attracted to someone, doesn’t mean they’re good for you. Sometimes we’re physically attracted to people because something unhealthy in us, connects with something unhealthy in them. That’s why that initial physical attraction has to be kept in proper perspective. Sometimes it’s skewed by our own internal struggles, and other times, it’s skewed by what the world has led us to believe is “attractive”.
As you are looking at your relationship, it is important to make sure that physical attraction is part of the equation, but more importantly, that you are coming to the table with appropriate expectations. It’s important to remember that expectations of physical perfection or the fulfillment of selfish fantasy are not realistic. Real people have real bodies, and our expectations must be real as well. This is not about finding a supermodel wife or waiting to marry Mr. Universe.
That might sound like a no-brainer to you, but we live in a culture in which the concepts of sexual chemistry and physical attraction have become totally, completely, and irreversibly skewed. The entertainment industry and the pornography culture have completely ravaged our understanding of beauty, and namely, the beauty of a real woman. And this distorted mentality is starting to seep into the church in a truly concerning way. I know, because I hear from Millenials all the time who are battling unrealistic expectations of physical attraction. A young man afraid to marry an incredible woman because her arms were too big. A young woman hesitating to commit to a godly man because he’s shorter than she had hoped. Before we start judging, let’s consider the ways we all come to the table with an unrealistic perspective.
Our concept of beauty and sex appeal has been completely hijacked over the years to the point where our expectations are unrealistic. We won’t even consider seeing someone as attractive if they don’t measure up to the standard that Hollywood has laid out for us, or to the filters that Instagram has convinced us are real life. But we’ve got to open our eyes to the fact that the standard we’ve been fed is so far from reality.
Beauty is fluid. And our desires, as well as the people we will find attractive, are morphed and changed based on the things we allow ourselves to be exposed to. In that regard, we actually have some sort of control over the things we define as attractive and beautiful.
In a culture that is infiltrated with pornography, airbrushed billboards and magazines, plastic surgery, and Instagram filters, our standard of “beauty” has moved so far from the truth that it is causing some major damage to our relational expectations—for both men and women. The more unrealistic images we take in, the more skewed our concept of beauty will be. Single or married, you can expose yourself to so much “fantasy” that real women and real men begin to lose their luster.
Source: Church Leaders