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Dating Someone You’re Not Physically Attracted to: It May Just Work For You

by eharmony Editorial Team - April 4, 2016

There comes a time in everyone’s dating life when you seriously consider, at least, dating someone you’re not physically attracted to. While it may not fit in the traditional happily ever after narrative, being emotionally attracted to someone can be the basis of a great relationship. Not to mention, good looks don’t last forever, so it’s all a bit of a moot point in the end.

Why date someone you’re not attracted to?

Of course, the first question is why should you start dating someone you’re not physically attracted to? For several reasons:

  1. Looks aren’t everything: Despite what our social-media-obsessed world may like you to believe, a person’s attractiveness isn’t – or shouldn’t be – the most important thing about them. It’s far better to date someone who’s kind, caring and funny who treats you well, versus a pretty face that hides an ugly soul.
  2. You might have other things in common: Another reason to consider dating someone you’re not physically attracted to? They might have the same values and goals as you do, or share a hobby, or the two of you may be lovers of the same obscure Russian poet.  
  3. It takes the pressure off: When there’s physical attraction, there’s also a lot of pressure – to look good, to act in a way that doesn’t diminish any potential feelings of lust they may be feeling. On the other hand, when you’re only emotionally attracted, you’re not as self-conscious about your own looks or behavior, which makes things a lot less stressful.
  4. Your type might actually be wrong for you: You might insist that your ‘type’ is blond(e)s, or bad boys, or whatever else, but just because something is your favorite doesn’t mean that’s all you should consume. (Case in point: French fries). Dating someone who’s not what you usually go for physically can be a great way to find a relationship you might have otherwise overlooked.
  5. Attraction can grow: Despite what movies and books may tell you, love doesn’t always happen at first sight. In fact, it often takes people time to be emotionally attracted. The same can be said of physical attraction – sometimes, it takes getting to know someone better before any pants feelings can happen.

How to date someone you’re not physically attracted to

Here are some things to keep in mind, when you date someone you’re not attracted to at a glance.

Be open-minded

Over the years, our perceptions of beauty have narrowed until the definition of attractiveness has become incredibly limited. It may take a little bit of patience to find something you appreciate visually about your partner. Maybe his eyes crinkle when he smiles or the way she talks with her hands is very graceful. Let go of the need to have an Insta-worthy partner and you might find someone truly beautiful.

Give it three dates

First dates may sometimes be a little like job interviews. Everyone’s nervous, and things can be slightly awkward, especially when you’re trying to get to know each other. Rather than letting one date make or break a relationship, give the attraction time to develop; and who knows, by the time the three dates are over, you might well find someone you’re emotionally attracted to.

Focus on what you have in common

Physical attraction is all very well, but it’s important to date someone you can see yourself being able to spend time with. Whether that’s a shared love of sport, a preference for Netflix on the couch versus dancing the night away, or even the fact that you both laugh at the same kind of jokes, a common interest is an essential starting point for a happy relationship.

Look at long-term compatibility

Physical attraction fades – it’s scientific fact. Which is why, if you want a relationship to go the distance, it’s important to look at compatibility. Over the years, having the same values as your partner, especially when it comes to things like what kind of relationship you want to have and how you want to raise your kids, is a lot more important than how much you want to drag them into bed at any given point. You also want to be sure your partner is a person you can live with outside of bed as well as in it.

Be prepared to be vulnerable

We’ve all met that person – the one who dates a series of attractive partners and has relationships that are over almost before they can begin, because while they’re happy to get undressed, lowering their emotional walls is another thing altogether. When you’re dating someone you’re not physically attracted to, you have to be ready to open up to them emotionally. The bright side of letting yourself be vulnerable? You might just come out on the other side with a connection you never expected.

Can a relationship work with no physical attraction?

All of that said, the jury is still out whether a relationship can work without physical attraction.

Relationships don’t have to be based on physical attraction to work…

Yes, sex is great but there are absolutely relationships where one or both partners don’t feel it that are still strong, loving, and fulfilling, whether the people involved are asexual (a part of the LGBTQ+ umbrella of identities, asexual people don’t feel sexual attraction) or whether they’ve made the decision to put other qualities (emotional connection, shared interests and values, or stability and security) over physical attraction.

… but that doesn’t mean attraction isn’t sometimes a dealbreaker.

Every human being is different, and for some of us, trying to force ourselves to stay with someone whom we’re only emotionally attracted to just leads to anger and resentment. More than that, staying in a relationship where your lack of attraction to your partner is making you miserable isn’t fair to you or them. Under such circumstances, it’s better to break up and find someone who makes you happy.

Happily ever after doesn’t have to be the same for everyone

There are seven billion people on the planet; that we may not all want the same thing in a relationship should be blindingly obvious. But it’s hard sometimes to shake everything we’ve been told about what a happy relationship should look like – especially when it’s about dating someone you’re not physically attracted to. Physical attraction isn’t a sign you’re in love any more than a lack of it suggests your relationship is doomed. What matters is that you and your partner are happy together and have made a strong connection with each other. If that’s the kind of relationship you’re looking for, eharmony and its unique Compatibility Matching System is a great place to start and find your next potential partner. So, sign up for eharmony and make that connection today.

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