Q and A: What should we do when we’re attracted to each other?

The Q: What advice would you give to a young Christian woman when she’s attracted to a guy? And what advice would you give her when a guy has asked her on a date?

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The A: The short version? READ MY BOOK. 😉 Keep reading for the long version:

When a woman is attracted to a man, the words of advice that come to mind are as follows (And — for the record — I’d say the same stuff to a guy):

While physical attraction, according to Edward Sri, “orients us toward another,” which is a step toward authentic love, physical attraction is not a substantial reason to pursue a relationship. Attraction is necessary, but not sufficient. It doesn’t obligate us to commit to a dating relationship, and it’s probably for the best that we don’t until we know there’s more that connects us.

And as for when a guy asks a girl on a date: Are you interested in him? Say yes! But if you already know you’re not, it’s ok — and probably for the best — to say no.

No woman is obligated to let a dude take her out. Even if he’s nice. Even if he’s a good person. Even if he loves Jesus. (Don’t worry, men: you aren’t obligated to ask a woman out, either.) If you aren’t excited about or attracted to him, odds are bad that that will change because he pays for your passion tea lemonade at Starbucks.

No husband or wife wants his or her spouse to look back and be able to say “I was so lukewarm about you while we dated!” When you know you aren’t into him, act accordingly. Turning a date down because you want to is a far fairer way to treat a man than accepting his invitation without actual interest.

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  • Val

    For the first time ever I don’t entirely agree with you, I agree that we shouldn’t date a guy just because it’s a good guy and a christian, but I think that before turning a guy down we should think about giving him a chance (unless we are 100% sure that we don’t like him that way): just one date, just to see how he is in a one-to-one setting; you could be surprised. After that date if you still don’t like him, you could say something like “I think that you are a good guy and I really appreciated how you treated me the other night (or day) but I don’t like you this way”. Just my opinion. Baci

    • Arleen Spenceley

      I certainly believe it’s possible for one person to grow on another over time, but I also think we don’t listen to our guts enough. Lots of ladies (including I) have agreed to go out with a guy she deep down knows she doesn’t like. In the past, I’ve justified the decision to do that by telling myself that “I’m not sure if I like him” but I think in most cases, we’re more sure than we’re willing/able to admit. I think we wanna old out hope, ’cause admitting that “I’m just not that into him” means “so I’m STILL single.” But if I’m not that into him before he asks me out, to quote this post, “odds are bad that that will change because he pays for (my) passion tea lemonade at Starbucks.”

      My hope for this post is not to get ladies to turn down dates with every dude who doesn’t immediately strike them as awesome, but to encourage them to listen to their guts!

      • Val

        I see your point, I’ve done that too!

  • pastordavidrn

    Attraction happens before weddings and after them, and though it may be a good basis for friendship, it’s not necessarily a solid one for marriage. Basically fickle, flighty and vacillating, attraction can follow “good feelings” more than sound reason.

    As I do in my DANCE OF THE SEXES talk, I always suggest engaging the intellect to analyze the “why?” of an emotional attraction. God’s purpose in it, I believe, is more for learning about ourselves than for forming long-term relationships. What in our chemistry—our personal make-up—causes this person to be a “10” or an “8” or even a “5” on the attraction scale? Viewed from a variety of areas (among them disposion, habits, interests, communication skills, and, oh yes, embodiment features) this analysis can teach us much more than we realize about ourselves.

    With the brain engaged, sound reason realizes that attractions come and go, just as they always have in the past. The basis for a marital choice lies in the “character” exhibited by prospective mates, which should raise such questions as “Are they caring, hard-working, morally conscientious (etc.)? Would they make good parents and loyal spouses?” This is where chastity (loyalty to future or present mates) plays large in the picture, because unchaste habits cannot be magically erased by marriage itself. It takes moral cleansing and reform.

    In my talk, I promote an old B&W movie that I saw as a preteen: GREEN DOLPHIN STREET (1947), based on a book by Elizabeth Goudge, a strong Catholic. Its impact molded my thinking about the inadequacy of our culture’s attraction-dating-romance habits. It gave me insight into the effectiveness of the “arranged marriage” as biblically portrayed, because the plot multiple times draws a dividing line between romantic attraction and love as a choice. This film was the seed that grew into my DANCE OF THE SEXES talk.

    So, I have to disagree that degrees of attraction should guide dating. Guidance itself—providential, circumstantial, rational, prayerful—should determine the time spent 1:1 with people beyond normal routines. And let’s discard that sexually-loaded word “dating” for the better description of “spending some time together.” That terminology allows you to dance on the public dance-floor with any member of the opposite sex, while still maintaining chaste loyalty to a future or present mate. It frees me to spend time with a hospital co-worker at an art class she’s asked me to attend, since we share that interest. I can enjoy her friendship without the sexual-emotional bonding expected by our sex-focused culture. This freedom from bonding is the key to chastity in spending time with members of the opposite sex both before and after matrimony, because the dance-floor is everywhere, and it doesn’t go away.

  • This is one of the most concise descriptions of the dating stalemate that I’ve ever seen. Plenty of people will argue in circles about whether a single woman should accept every date invitation (if she gets any), but not many people will point out that a single man also doesn’t have to ask out every single woman he meets.

    Basically, physical attraction alone is not a good enough reason to date someone, but *lack* of attraction might be a good enough reason *not* to date someone. That’s not a message we hear often, and I think we ought to hear it more.