How important is it to be physically attracted to your partner? I’ve been asked this question so many times over the last decade. A current client articulated really well the dilemma of liking someone but not being attracted to them when she said: “He really gets me. Our wavelengths match perfectly. But I am not at all attracted to him. Even holding hands is uncomfortable. A part of me says mental compatibility is all that one really needs; it will make the relationship last. So why don’t I feel like he’s the one for me?”

As a culture, we rarely talk about physical attraction. When we look for a good match, the key metrics are education, wealth, family background. The current generation of singles does look for compatibility. But when it comes to matchmaking, even they hesitate to tell it like it is.

I know of cases where a prospective match was declined, and the young person would rather latch onto anything else than discuss not being attracted to the prospective mate. For those that do gather the courage to tell a parent there is no physical chemistry with the suitor, the results are disheartening. Usually, they are informed that the attraction “will happen over time”.

I’m not sure why we are so ready to wed our children to people they don’t want to physically be with.

I’m not sure why this is; why we are so ready to wed our children to people they don’t want to physically be with. When did we become such a sexually repressed community? It certainly hasn’t been our tradition, as one look at our ancient arts and literature will testify. Yes, desire was expected to be tempered as needed, tamed so as not to disrupt the life of the individual, family or community. But it was celebrated in all its forms, or so it would seem from the evidence left behind.

Then, for centuries, we turned our backs on desire altogether, acted like it had no relevance in matters of society, and even marriage. Acted, in fact, like these factors didn’t even exist.

At least now, in the 21st century, let’s acknowledge that it is becoming harder and harder to keep a couple and a family strong and intact if they start out with this kind of handicap.

In my opinion, if you are compatible only at a mental level, it is a friendship. If the connection is based only on physical attraction, it is lust. When you are compatible on both counts, you’ve got yourself a winning combination upon which a solid relationship can be built. Making that relationship work will be hard enough; it’s best not to start out without a key element.

So if you are still looking for a partner, consider the above if it appeals to you. If you are already in a relationship that is without physical attraction, then I’d recommend that you ask yourself two questions: Do you want to stay in it? Is what you feel an absence of attraction, or a sense of repulsion? If you answer yes to the first options in both, then I believe attraction could form over time. If you start out with affection, even the slightest appeal can ignite a spark.

If you start out with repulsion, and feel compelled to continue, I wish you luck. Because the buffeting tides that hit every relationship will likely hit yours even harder. And one of those currents could end up being the pull of someone you are physically attracted to.

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