Attraction – A General Overview

Posted on May 27, 2013 by


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It seems to me that there is a bit of a gaping hole in the Christian single community on this topic.  I don’t pretend to be an expert on attraction.  I want to start some discussion in a Christ-honoring way that might build up my sisters and brothers in Christ, encourage singles, give them real resources, ideas and practical suggestions.  This will take multiple posts.  That’s ok!  We’ll take all the time we need on this.  Because – after all – if Christian singles can’t get past the initial beginning a romantic relationship, all of the other things about preparing for marriage aren’t much help.

ATTRACTION HAS MULTIPLE COMPONENTS:

1. Physical/Sexual Attraction –    

Both sexes tend to be attracted to people who are in decent physical shape, and who have symmetry in their face – the more symmetry between the two sides of the face, the more attractive a person’s face is.  Women tend to be attracted to men who display physical features that reveal higher levels of testosterone – square jaw, broad shoulders with narrow waist, muscle definition.  Men tend to be attracted to women whose figures reveal plenty of estrogen at work – delicate features and a natural, curvy, hourglass figure.  Men tend to be attracted to the “softness” of women while women tend to be attracted to the “strength” of men.

Individual men and women also have particular physical characteristics that are uniquely attractive to them.

Part of physical/sexual attraction is innate, and is either there or not, but if some of the other aspects of attraction become more apparent in time, it is possible sometimes (I am not saying all the time) to grow into a physical/sexual attraction even if a surface level infatuation/chemistry was not present upon first meeting.

Part of physical attraction is just the fact that the greater the contrast between femininity and masculinity, the greater the potential attraction (quoting Mimi Tanner here – she is not a believer).  This is why when a woman appeals to a man visually with beautiful, feminine clothing, she puts herself on his radar screen.  A woman who is a disciple of  Christ will make sure that her clothing choices are modest, not extravagant – but still beautiful and feminine.  Also, for many men, long hair is particularly attractive on women.  I am not saying a girl must have long hair to be attractive to men, but many men do prefer long hair – that is something to consider.

David Platt, pastor, in “Biblical Manhood and Womanhood” said, “It is our differences that attract men and women to each other.”  That is so true!  It is the areas where we are most different as men and women that create the most attraction physically, emotionally and spiritually – I believe.

2. Emotional Attraction –   

This type of attraction is based on the art of conversation about specific topics, particularly certain emotional hooks.  In a way that I believe is similar to a man being very attracted visually to a woman, a woman can become very attracted emotionally to a man based on his use of words.  When a man shares certain stories from his childhood or his life that create empathy, or he shares a bit of vulnerability (not his deepest emotional wounds right in the beginning, but a taste of his history), a woman can easily build an emotional connection with him.   There is an art to conversation like this – that I hope to address in a future post.  But, holding a lot of eye contact, telling interesting, true stories, smiling, having a relaxed “back and forth” of the conversation with each person having a turn then listening while the other person shares something similar – is a great way to have an emotional connection through conversation.

I believe it is wise to have some of your more interesting stories ready to share in case you meet someone new. Some “icebreakers.”  Some humorous stories that give a bit of insight into your life and that help you begin to bridge a connection with the person.  I have some stories about being an identical twin that definitely work well for me if I am meeting someone new and the conversation stalls.

Part of the emotional connection will probably involve friendliness, gentle flirting and/or teasing.  As believers, I don’t believe it is wise to flirt in a sexual way or to use crude humor or innuendo.  We are called to wholesome speech that edifies our hearers (Eph 4:30).  We can learn these skills.  It may take some time and practice, but all of us can learn these things and become more comfortable with them with practice.  We will be talking about these topics in more detail, soon, as well.

3. A Shared Sense of Humor –

Part of chemistry is the ability to make each other laugh and smile.  There are many different kinds of humor.  Some people prefer one over the other.  My view is to avoid self-deprecating humor (when this type of humor is used continually, it can cause another person to pity the speaker, or feel sorry for them, or to try to boost his/her self esteem – but that is not often attractive), or humor that is based on sarcasm or complaining – because I don’t believe that honors God as wholesome speech.

It’s fine to have some interesting, clean jokes prepared to share with new people you are meeting.  You can even practice telling them ahead of time if you want to.

It is especially important, in my view, that the woman is able to laugh at the man’s jokes.  When that doesn’t happen, it doesn’t bode well for emotional connection.

5. Mental  Attraction –

Being able to talk on a similar plane of intelligence is important, being able to talk about current events, history, science, math, english – subjects of interest to both parties, is very helpful in creating attraction.  Shared interests can also be helpful in creating attraction.

5. Spiritual attraction –

Having the same Lord, the same passion for Christ, the same desire to do God’s will, the same level of spiritual submission to God, the same love for people, the same desire to reach the lost, the same heart to help the poor – these things go a long way to increasing and creating spiritual attraction.  Being able to pray together is HUGE for women to feel spiritual connection – whether it is by email or in person verbally.  The women may need to cut some men a bit of slack here.  It is often so easy for women to pray out loud in front of other people.  Some men have a very hard time with this – it is an extreme level of vulnerability, and trying to choose the right words can be difficult under pressure.  Just because a man is not immediately comfortable praying out loud does not mean he is not spiritual.  But he may need to feel more safe before he is able to share this part of himself.  Women can help this by being encouraging, supportive and not critical in this area.

THERE ARE SOME PARTS OF ATTRACTION WE CAN’T CONTROL AND SOME PARTS WE CAN

Some parts of creating attraction are a bit mysterious and seem to “just happen”.  Something about the way someone looks/acts may just capture our attention, imagination and sexual attraction without any purposeful effort on our part.  We can’t change these things.  Sometimes there just is or isn’t “chemistry” between a man and a woman.  Sometimes there is actually a feeling of repulsion.  That may be difficult to overcome – depending on what is causing it.

Other parts of creating attraction are areas that we have a lot of ability to influence.  That is the part I want to focus on the most.

I believe that there are concrete principles to creating attraction.  I believe they are based on God’s commands for men and women in marriage and also based on God’s design for femininity and masculinity.   I would like to see us discuss this as believers together for the benefit and blessing of individuals and the whole body of Christ.

ATTRACTION AND TIME

  • There is such a thing as “instant” physical/sexual attraction.  It seems to me that many men seem to know immediately if they are physically attracted to a specific woman.  That is often the first motivation for them to pursue someone.  There are also certainly times when women, also, have a very instant “chemistry” or “physical/sexual” attraction to a man.
  • There are also scenarios when attraction grows over time.  Sometimes one person has an instant physical attraction to the other, but the other person doesn’t immediately feel attracted.  It is possible for attraction to grow as the man and woman get to know each other more deeply emotionally and spiritually.  Or, both may just think of each other as friends initially, only to gradually realize over time that there is growing chemistry, physical/sexual and emotional or spiritual attraction.

SOME CIRCUMSTANCES AND CHARACTER/PERSONALITY TRAITS  THAT CAN SOMETIMES INCREASE ATTRACTION

  • working together often
  • living near each other and seeing each other/helping each other often
  • shared traumatic experience, ie: working in a high-stress job together
  • confiding in each other emotionally/spiritually – deep conversations
  • having common goals, dreams, aspirations
  • genuine agape love for others
  • joy
  • peace
  • gentleness
  • being Spirit filled
  • enthusiasm
  • respect
  • confidence in Christ
  • not feeling pressured
  • admiration
  • trust
  • genuine smiling
  • tactful compliments
  • flirting
  • a bit of mystery
  • good body posture – shows respect for self and confidence
  • specific body language – open body language, lots of eye contact, paying close attention to what the person is saying, mirroring the other person’s posture.

SOME ATTRACTION KILLERS

  • pressure almost always kills attraction – external pressure from other people can be difficult to overcome, or pressure of one person who is more attracted on the other one to try to force attraction
  • sin can easily kill attraction.  The most physically attractive person can lose his/her appeal when a sin-filled character is exposed: a volatile temper, selfishness, rude manners, addictions, idolatry, bitterness, unforgiveness, hatred, contempt, gossip, lust, etc.
  • feeling rushed
  • lack of initiative
  • freaking out/worry/anxiety about lots of things
  • poor hygiene
  • an aura of fear
  • extreme nervousness
  • a volatile temper
  • harshness
  • disrespect
  • jealousy
  • negativity
  • gossip about others (the person knows then that you will gossip about him/her, too)
  • controlling attitudes/behaviors
  • too much emotional intensity
  • closed body language – no eye contact, crossed arms, facing away from someone like you want to leave, looking at your watch often, paying more attention to everything else but the person
  • PRIDE
  • lecturing
  • scolding
  • criticism
  • blaming
  • bitterness/resentment about anything
  • being loud/obnoxious/overbearing
  • complaining
  • arguing
  • talking on and on about a subject or subjects the other person is not very interested in
  • sharing the details of your life story way too soon

Other people may have other opinions or ideas about this subject.  That is totally fine!  You are all welcome to share your thoughts.  The more different ideas, the better the discussion will be.

Feel free to add your constructive and edifying comments and resources about Christian attraction, godly masculinity and godly femininity on this topic! 🙂

HELPFUL RESOURCES

“For Women Only” by Shaunti Feldhahn (especially for married women – but helpful for single women, too) – this will give you a very good, basic understanding of how Christian husbands think, what they need, how they feel and how very differently they look at life from women.

“For Young Women Only” by Shuanti Feldhahn (especially for late teens and early twenties)

“For Men Only” by Jeff and Shaunti Feldhahn (especially for married men – but helpful for single men, too) – this will help you understand the basic wiring, desires, needs, feelings and perspective of Christian women in marriage.

“His Brain, Her Brain” by Dr. Walt Larimore MD.  A Christian neurologist takes a look at the differences in brain structure, chemistry and function between men and women and why God made us the way we did.  It gets a bit technical and medical – but you can skip the really medical parts to the practical sections.  VERY helpful info!

“Wild at Heart” by John Eldredge – for women to understand godly masculinity

“Radical Womanhood” by Carolyn McCulley – a historical account of feminism and how much it destroyed the definition of femininity, masculinity, marriage, romance, family, parenting and God-given authority in the home and the church.  It is pretty shocking how much we have all been affected by this.  And it is extremely upsetting to see that it is based on heresy – a very intentional undermining of the character of God, the Word of God, the authority structure of God in the church and in the family, and God’s definitions of masculinity, femininity, marriage, the importance of children, how to raise children and sexuality.  I wept as I read this book – seeing how Satan took a handful of women and very intentionally destroyed these critical concepts and twisted them beyond recognition into the wreckage we have today in our families, our churches and our relationships.

“Feminine Appeal” by Mahaney – is a book geared towards wives, teaching them to be Titus 2:2-5 women.  Much of it can be very beneficial for singles, as well.

“Lady in Waiting” by Jackie Kendall and Debbie Jones is my sister-in-law’s favorite resource for single Christian women on the topic of developing godly femininity.

Biblical Manhood and Womanhood by David Platt

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