Once, I sipped a water in a cruise ship bar and made eyes with a cruise ship drummer.
A good looking cruise ship drummer.
Who wasn’t wearing a wedding band.
Whose eyes’ contact with mine resulted in warm and fuzzy feelings.
This, I think, is the coveted “love” at first sight (which, to clarify, isn’t actually love).
It is instantaneous, inexplicable attraction. It is why when I met the cruise ship drummer after his set, I didn’t care that he hardly could speak English. It is why I wasn’t embarrassed by my embarrassing opener: “I don’t speak Spanish.” Not much matters except for attraction when we think the existence of attraction is enough.
But attraction alone doesn’t matter much. It is neither warm feelings nor fuzzy ones that deem the pursuit of a relationship necessarily advisable. Which is why I am mildly alarmed by the frequency with which relationships are pursued based solely on warm and fuzzy feelings.
This is when we are self-focused daters. When we want what we want because it feels good, not because it is good. When we date someone because we are attracted to him or her.
This is not to say we should date people to whom we are not attracted. (Awkward!) It is to say that attraction is not enough (especially if it’s inexplicable).
It is never enough.
The outcomes of self-focused dating vary. Maybe you get lucky and wind up with somebody good. Maybe you fight to sustain or revive an irrational relationship. Maybe you marry a person who, outside the attraction, you don’t even like.
But I can’t even tell you how much this hurts my heart.
My hunch is, in a culture as distracted as ours, most of us are satisfied when looking at, being near, talking to, or sleeping with him or her feels good.
Which is why few people probably stop to consider the magnitude of the self-focused pursuit and maintenance of relationships; to consider what it means that we are more concerned with how good somebody makes us feel than with whether he or she is mature enough to be a spouse.
Than with whether we become better or worse people by being with each other.
Than with whether he or she would be a good parent.
Than with whether we are being fair to our future kids when our future kids will grow up and turn into one of us.
My attraction to you and yours to me doesn’t render us prepared to be spouses or parents. My attraction to you and yours to me is necessary but insufficient for a functional relationship.
“But it feels good.”
But “it feels good” isn’t enough.