Is It Selling Out to Marry Someone I’m Not Infatuated With?
By Debra K. Fileta, M.A., LPC
I’ve been dating this wonderful girl for about two months now. She has everything that I’m looking for, including my core values (born again, conservative, doesn’t drink, wants to strive for purity, etc.) And she is gorgeous! What I don’t understand is, why don’t I get that “feeling” that I get just from looking at other girls whom I’ve never met before? How important is that “head-over-heels feeling” when you first start dating someone? If you don’t start feeling it after the first few months of dating, does that signal a problem, even if the relationship is going well?
Once upon a time, I got this loaded question in my inbox. Interestingly enough, I’ve also received hundreds of other questions that echo this very same concern, but worded in different ways:
What if I’m not feeling “butterflies” when we’re together?
What if my feelings of infatuation aren’t always strong?
How much sexual chemistry do I need to have in order to pursue someone romantically?
To these questions, I would start by stressing the difference between “feelings” and “attraction”. Let’s start off with some basic definitions:
Head-over-heels feeling: an exaggerated response to seeing, interacting with, or being in the presence of someone of the opposite sex; a feeling of euphoria, stomach-dropping, or nervous energy associated with positive regard.
Attraction: the response of being drawn to someone physically, mentally, and emotionally; possessing a strong desire to be with a particular individual, longing for connection, investment, and intimacy.
To this young man, I would start by stressing the difference between “head-over-heel feelings”, and attraction. When it comes to feeling chemistry in a relationship, often times our bodies have a natural response to certain individuals or even specific situations. But the presence of those particular feelings doesn’t actually mean we’ve found the right relationship. Add to that the influence of our entertainment and media — sexual images, pornography, and over-the-top emotional storylines featuring lust and infatuation — and we’re sure to have unrealistic expectations in the real world of relationships.
The most interesting thing I’ve observed about that “head-over-heels” feeling we tend to talk about is that often times, it’s rooted in our body’s “anxious response”. The same physiological system that is triggered when we’re feeling anxious or in danger (the sympathetic system) tends to also be aroused when we’re feeling infatuation. It’s the stomach-sinking, heart-racing, sweat-producing, mouth-drying, adrenaline rush of encountering the unknown. It’s a natural response that exciting infatuation that comes with the novelty of something new and mysterious. But ironically, it can also be a symptom of fear.
And the truth is, just because you’re drawn to someone, doesn’t mean they’re good for you.
THERE’S MORE TO FOREVER THAN FEELINGS
How long will it take us to learn that feelings can’t be trusted? They may help point us in the right direction, but they should NEVER be the sole foundation on which an entire relationship is based. Because at the end of the day, feelings come- and then feelings go. Those who build their relationships on the foundation of “feeling” will find that when the rain comes- their love quickly crumbles.
All over the world there are Christian young men and women waiting for that magical moment when they will come face to face and eye to eye with the person that will stir their heart and connect deeply with their soul. For the one who will complete them and make them whole.
There is no such thing as a person who will complete our souls, because according to God’s word, we are only made complete in Him.
Healthy relationships begin by understanding this completeness. They are based on positive interactions, effective communication, and an emotional give-and-take with another human being that reflects health and wholeness. They are founded in faith, rooted in good choices, and grounded in hard work and a whole lot of grace.
Don’t get me wrong- healthy relationships will always come with an abundance of healthy feelings, passion, and romance- but they may not always start with those emotions.
ATTRACTION TRUMPS INFATUATION
If you’re waiting to meet that person that will trigger some sort of magical moment inside of you that will dub them as “the one”, there’s a good chance you’ll be waiting for a long, long time. Instead, do yourself a favor and begin to make connections with the people God has placed in your life. Get to know yourself, and then get to know people of the opposite sex who have the qualities you are looking for in a future mate.
Look for qualities of healthy attraction: the mutual drawing of two people to one another. Find someone with whom you connect with on a physical, emotional, and spiritual level, because the strings of attraction in those important areas are the things that hold a relationship together. Like the young man above, when you’ve found a relationship that has “everything you’re looking for”, don’t get bogged down if the chemistry isn’t as strong as you imagined it to be. Relationships that are founded on attraction instead of simply infatuation, will draw you deeper into the relationship and keep you excited about the things to come.
Don’t freak out if the feelings aren’t magical or mystical, because frankly, they were never intended to be. While some couples may have that instant connection or experience, most couples find that both their feelings and their level of attraction for one another grows with every step of the way.
Look for qualities, traits and characteristics that are attractive based on the things you know you need and want in a relationship. Take it one step at a time, and be assured that in a right relationship, feelings will always be present, but they can never be the foundation of a healthy relationship.
Debra Fileta is a Professional Counselor, speaker, and author of the book True Love Dates: Your Indispensable Guide to Finding the Love of Your Life as well as the 21-Days To JumpStart Your Love-Life Program, where she writes candidly about dating, relationships, and how to find true love. You may also recognize her voice from her 100+ articles at Relevant Magazine or Crosswalk.com! She’s also the creator of the True Love Dates Blog! Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter!