“That’s not what I am asking: I’m asking, do you like him?” My friend’s level gaze cornered me by my kitchen stove. I couldn’t hide. I had to answer.

“I do, I’m just not attracted to him. I just don’t know if that is necessary though, you know? Maybe I’ll learn to find him attractive. All I know is he is my best friend. I guess I just have to wait and see.”

That was me, two months before Josh asked to date me officially. And even then, he wasn’t my type, and I wasn’t his. In fact, neither of us found the other exceedingly ‘attractive’: I had an afro, and he wore green plaid shorts.

I receive emails from ladies worldwide and one question I received earlier this month brought back the memory I depicted above:

“I was just curious as to how long it took for you to really be attracted to Josh?… because I [know a guy who would] probably be a very good husband, provider, and father, and love me unconditionally like you mentioned… maybe I would be more attracted to him the more we got to know each other.”

I smiled when she wrote me because I know the feeling.

Rainbows and butterflies: That’s what love looks like in today’s society. We should be smitten, bowled over, blown AWAY by this man who walks in ‘just like the movies’. But let’s look at reality: movies have been around for approximately a century now. Before movies, before pop culture – what did love look like? In today’s terms, kind of boring.

Before the Roaring Twenties, courtship and marriage was very structured and intentional. Many times it was not based on attraction but on financial or social obligation, both for the rich and for the poor. Marrying for love, as the world defines it, was not as common as marrying for necessity and the common good. You either learned to love the person you were with, or the marriage struggled – albeit behind closed doors.  Interestingly, the rate of successful marriages was higher in the former days than it is now, in an age of marrying for “love” and physical attraction.  Judging by the bill of goods we are sold today, you would think this would be the reverse.

While Meg Ryan movies may have us think otherwise, attraction is not the starting point of all relationships.  Instead, attraction is the product of mutual respect and selfless love within a relationship.

When my dad met my mom, she was standing in the book line at their community college. “The first time I saw her I thought she was so classy,” he told me and my siblings. “She was different from the rest.” Mom was not so convinced. In government class Dad was the guy in the back arguing with the professor, his black jacket half off his shoulders because “completely on was too hot and completely off was too cold”. My mom’s description: “He looked like the Fonz.” It wasn’t until she saw how hardworking he was, how teachable he was, and how dedicated he was to knowing God that her heart changed – and she found him really, really cute.

We’ve been sold yet another lie. God doesn’t design relationships around our type. We like to tell God the incidentals – “I’d like 6’2″, dark, outdoorsy lumberjack man with a Mumford & Sons flair, please” – as if our future is listed on a Starbucks menu. God gives us freedom to choose from many believers when deciding who to marry, but when we base that choice only on physical attraction, we can end up single longer than necessary – or overlooking perfectly godly candidates because they weren’t the “type” we wanted.

Interestingly, when Josh and I took a personality test for our premarital counseling, we discovered our highest points of agreement were spiritual beliefs, parenting and children, finances, and family relationships. Our lowest point?

Leisure activities.

We came to love each other not because we both love to hike. We didn’t meet at a concert, in the gym, or bowling. We came together because of shared values, not shared hobbies or stunning looks. Somehow, our marriage still works! But it doesn’t work because we’re both just so great  or we followed some five-step plan to successful dating. We have many flaws. It works because we have to work at it, and we’ll be working at it for the rest of our lives, just like my parents and possibly your parents and the many married couples around you and me.

Does this mean you can’t, won’t, or shouldn’t meet someone who shares your hobbies, or that it is wrong to be initially attracted to your future spouse? Not at all! But those things should not be the lens through which you view potential dates. Look for a man whose heart is focused on God, whose will is ready to learn, and whose hands are ready to work. You can always develop hobbies. You can improve appearances. And when a man loves you, there will be no more attractive man in the entire world.

So ask yourself, like the girl who emailed me – does this man have character of eternal quality? Does he love you for who you are? Does he value and respect you? These are the things that make a man attractive.

I can’t help but think of one of my family’s favorite movies, Captain America. In the movie, a scrawny private in the military is chosen to test a new process that will make him exponentially stronger than anyone else. The inventor explains to him that this process takes whatever is good in you and makes it better; but whatever is bad becomes worse. Thus they choose this weak little private for the process, because his heart is full of integrity and courage. It is his heart that makes him strong and attractive, and eventually, when he steps out of the machine three times more muscular, his physique catches up. But without his character, Captain America would be just another good-looking jerk. Good character is the greatest beautifier.

When a good man loves you, protects you, and honors you, he will be unbelievably attractive. It doesn’t have to happen right away, or even in the first few weeks or months. It will happen with time as love deepens and grows. He might be awkward, shy, or frumpy when you meet him, but if his heart is dedicated first to God and then to you, his actions and appearance will catch up with his genuine, humble heart.

So don’t limit yourself by only dating your “type”. Give godly guys a chance. Be open to good character – not just good looks. And who knows? You might not marry your type – like me. Or maybe you will, but you’ll come to that relationship with a better perspective and respect for the things that matter.

 

For a guy’s perspective, check out this post: Should I Date a Godly Woman I’m Not Attracted To?