Q&A with Dr. Neil Clark Warren on Physical Attractiveness
- Tuesday, December 17, 2002
Dear Dr. Warren: I've met a person on eharmony with great qualities, and he looks terrific on paper, but I'm not physically attracted to him. Am I being superficial when this person is such a kind, loving, and caring man? --Joan
As human beings, we are created capable of feeling physical attraction. It is one of our most powerful mate selection criteria. Much of my philosophy and writing regarding relationships has to do with placing physical attraction lower on our list of selection criteria, because when looking at "long-term" relationship success, physical attraction doesn't rank very high.
In other words, when talking to couples that have been successfully married for many years, they rarely list "physical attraction" as one of the core dimensions that has led to their marital success.
In addition, I think that in today's society people often use physical attraction as their "only" gauge of whether to pursue a relationship. This notion is reinforced constantly by our media and leads to large numbers of shallow, dysfunctional and ultimately failed relationships.
Having said all that, I do believe that physical attraction is germane to a healthy, successful relationship. I actively discourage relationships between two people who get along great, appear to be compatible, and yet have no "spark."
I believe that building a great marriage without the excitement and attraction that comes from passionate love is impossible.
Remember, a "great person" is not a "great person for you" unless they meet your needs and desires in a partner. You needn't feel guilty about your lack of physical chemistry with this person.
In fact, I believe you will be acting compassionately by letting this person find someone who does find him physically appealing.
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