I recently received the following question from a member of my community:
I have attracted into my life a good quality man who treats me well, but I do not feel he is physically attractive. I’m not sure if I am being too superficial but attraction is so important to chemistry. Then again, the way he treats me makes me feel some chemistry, but I wish the whole package was complete.
This one is tricky, because physical attraction and chemistry are not absolute, black-or-white qualities. I find that they tend to be part of a continuum.
For example, you may have had the experiece of being with someone you were head-over-heels physically attracted to – the sex was out of this world, you were constantly lusting after each other – but in the end there wasn’t enough commonality in other areas for a long-term relationship.
On the other end of the spectrum is someone you truly feel is like a brother or sister – you wouldn’t dream of even kissing them, maybe not even holding their hand. Might be good for some warm hugs.
The ideal is somewhere in between these two extremes, and exactly how far in one direction or the other depends on the other factors in the relationship.
For instance, if the two of you have extreme compatibility – share the same taste and interests and similar life goals and lifestyles – you may want to accept slightly less physical attraction than your ideal. Or if there are other qualities that are important to you, such as being from the same faith, or your partner’s financial stability, that might persuade you to accept less than ideal in the attraction area.
Famed marriage therapist Esther Perel’s sex research has shown that unfamiliarity and novelty cause the greatest amount of chemistry, which is why the passion tends to calm down in even the hottest marriages over time. That’s why chemistry is not the best indicator of the sustainability of a relationship, so you have to determine how little or how much physical attraction you can live with.
You mention that the way he treats you makes you feel some chemistry. I wonder if the chemistry you feel might increase the more you made yourself open and receptive to him? Sometimes it is possible that our thinking blocks our heart from opening, and if you are in love with a Phantom Relationship (the ideal I wrote about in this blog article), it could block you from a possible soulmate relationship. This is where your Shadow work becomes important.
I recently came across Sternberg’s Triangular Theory of Love, which says that there are three components of Love: Intimacy or how much we like and feel close to the other, Passion or our level of physical or emotional arousal in response to the other, and Commitment which is the conscious decision to stick together.
Sternberg says “The amount of love one experiences depends on the absolute strength of these three components, and the type of love one experiences depends on their strengths relative to each other.” Different stages and types of love can be explained as different combinations of these three elements; for example, each component changes over time as an adult romantic relationship develops. A relationship based on a single element is less likely to survive than one based on two or three elements.
In the above diagram, you can see that if two people like each other and decide to commit to each other, it may feel more like they are companions if there is no or little passion. If there is passion and commitment, the relationship can feel more like empty infatuation. And if there is intimacy (liking) and passion, that is a romantic relationship.
Surprisingly, there are plenty of married couples who are happy to be together out of practicality and don’t necessarily need passion or romance. That is the type of Love Style known as “Pragma” (learn more about Love Styles here). It is a totally individual choice.
So in conclusion, the most important thing is to know what makes your heart sing, what considerations you would feel happiest about, and what choice for your life is yours alone and not somebody else’s or society’s ideals about what marriage and long-term relationship should be all about.
And sometimes you have to “kiss a lot of frogs” until you find out what your body and soul and heart are REALLY happy with, as opposed to what your mind might be imagining an ideal partnership should be like. I’ve heard plenty of happily married folks tell me their partner isn’t anything they thought they’d end up with!
I hope this helped you. Let me know by leaving a comment below or on my Facebook page here.
Also, don’t forget to keep sending me your questions! I love hearing from you!