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Help me feel attracted to a wider range of men
March 26, 2011 7:29 AM   Subscribe

What are your tricks and tips for becoming attracted to someone?

I'm a woman in my early 30s and went through a difficult break up a couple months ago. I'm starting to date again.

So far, I have met two men who seem interested in me. Both look good on paper and I have met both. The first one seemed way too eager though, so I decided to stop seeing him. I really want to fall in love with the second one though. He is perfect on paper, having all the qualities I want in a man plus he seems very into me. We've been out once and are going out again this weekend.

The problem is, I don't feel excited about this guy and it's making me feel sad. I have had two serious relationships in my life. With both relationships, I searched a long time before I actually found someone I was excited about seeing. Both of those relationships ended though, so I am questioning whether I need to feel excited about a new person in order to start a relationship.

After my first relationship ended, it took me almost 3 years to find someone I felt like I could love and I felt that way from the very first date with him. I dated a lot during those 3 years and met lots of guys who looked good on paper, but only felt a strong attraction to the one I ended up seeing seriously.

My ultimate questions are -
-Can it take more than one date to feel attracted to someone?

-Most importantly -- What steps can I take to feel attracted to a larger variety of men, both physically (I seem to only be attracted to men of the same race as me, which makes me feel like a horrible person and I love goofy looking guys) and mentally (I seem to only be attracted silly men who are extremely intelligent).

(My definition of "good on paper" = Kind, silly, highly intelligent, has strong relationships with family/friends, and has a decent job.)
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (25 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
As one or more wise men have said, "Attraction is not a choice."

I believe a lot of women go through this same phase, hear the clock ticking, and decide to "settle" and nest with a guy who's "good on paper". Nobody but you can say whether that's right for you. I know I'd hate like hell to be the guy on the other end and not know it.
posted by meadowlark lime at 7:38 AM on March 26, 2011 [10 favorites]


Give him a couple more dates, then let it go if your excitement isn't growing.

The idea that you have a moral obligation to be attracted to someone you're not is just a bunch of Beauty and the Beast. Ever hear of a story called Plain Jane and the Hunk? Why is that, do you suppose?
posted by tel3path at 7:38 AM on March 26, 2011 [12 favorites]


Good lord, give it some time to progress. Stop putting pressure on yourself after only 1 date and focus on how you feel around the person and whether or not he's a good fit for you. I would stop thinking "I'd like to fall in love with this person" and just try to have a good time.
posted by Sal and Richard at 7:40 AM on March 26, 2011 [8 favorites]


If I'm not attracted to someone when I'm seeing them at their best, in their area of competence, confidence, and comfort zone, and I'm even a little tipsy, then its not worth waiting for/working on - for that individual.

You're in your early 30s - you must know wheher your the kind of personnfor whom physical attraction can grow - or not. If not, don't hurt yourself and these men more.

The one thing I'd say is that I sometimes find myself more attracted to a type of man (which I suppose could end up extending to a particular man though not worth waiting and hoping for) if I'm more exposed and around that type. For example, I grew up in a not so diverse area and seeing mostly white people portrayed as attractive in tv. Having lived for a couple of years in a mostly non-white area, I find myself finding more and more non-white men more and more attractive. But... I think it's really not fair to tell a guy "look, I'm not so into you now, but let me go watch a bunch of movies and surround myself with other men hat share some of your broad physical characteristics, and who knows!"
posted by Salamandrous at 7:40 AM on March 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


I had to struggle with this myself and come to realize that the kind of powerful, limerent attraction I associated with Twu Wuv was wired to wrong, terrible men, and that the game is simply not worth the candle. That may never have been the case with you, of course, but it's how I learned the lesson. I've learned to appreciate the warm sweetness of a man as he is -- his own eyes, his own skin. It's something one has to find separately in every single person, and you can't force it or trick it to appear.

Whatever you do, be sure you don't lie to yourself or your partner about what exactly it is you feel. If that appreciation is to be found in yourself, you can find it. But if you can't, don't fool yourself and especially don't try to fool him. You can both find someone else to appreciate, and you're cheated if you don't.
posted by Countess Elena at 7:41 AM on March 26, 2011 [9 favorites]


Increase your libido... then you'll probably be more attracted to more potential partners.
**Possible TMI**
Some women *cough*, have a bit of a use-it-or-lose-it kind of libido. If so, I'd suggest getting a good vibrator, and using it every evening for awhile.
**End TMI**

Also, see if you can get some (professional!) massages. It helps with touch-hunger, and gets you used to being touched by different people again, and, more comfortable with the idea of being touched in nice ways by a new partner.


I used to be very 'picky' in my attraction (not deliberately). The vast, vast majority of people did absolutely nothing for me (I suspect it was partly a smell thing too?). But I got less picky/more attracted to people as I got older. The key bit, MORE attracted. People who would have 'passed' before, are 'Woah, mama!' now.


Finally, sleep with him if you're attracted to him, never if you're not, but unless it's fantastic keep dating. Don't settle for anything less than GREAT! in someone you want to be with, and Really Good! for someone you're prepared to date casually.
posted by Elysum at 7:46 AM on March 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


Yeah agreed with others -- it's crazy to try and force yourself to make a decision after such a short time. It's also a bad idea to try make yourself try to like someone because they "look good on paper". Just relax and see how things evolve, including giving the 'eager' guy a chance.
posted by modernnomad at 7:50 AM on March 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Let yourself be attracted to those to whom you are naturally attracted. If you gradually and naturally become more attracted to this guy, then that's fine. If not, that's also fine.

Ever hear of a story called Plain Jane and the Hunk? Why is that, do you suppose?

Well, it's just not a snappy title, frankly. Get some alliteration in there and you might have something that could sell tickets.
posted by The World Famous at 8:17 AM on March 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Of course you can become attracted to someone after one date. Give it some time, for crissake! Also, "right on paper" is overrated. You have to see if he's right in real life, and there's no way you're going to figure that out in one date.
posted by walla at 8:21 AM on March 26, 2011


I'm married to a guy that I met through work. If someone told me the day I met him that one day I'd be married to him I would have fallen down laughing. I thought he was a good-looking guy but I wasn't attracted to him. Not at all. We were both freelancers in the same business and worked together on projects for a day here, a day there.

Over the course of about a year as I got to know him, I started to appreciate little things about him, like how he was quiet in general but whenever he had something to say it was worth hearing. I liked that he's really smart but doesn't feel the need to let everyone know that. I discovered that he's got a great sense of humor and that he's basically a kid at heart like me.

Then I started to get hot for him. I lusted after him, actually. I thought about his blue eyes and his strong hands and his great smile. I brought him in on projects just so I could stand there and admire how his jeans fit him in back. And so on.

We didn't have the pressure of dating while this attraction developed. We were colleagues and then friends first. I think that especially for people in their 30's there is a lot of extra pressure to decide after a date or two whether this person or that one is worth keeping around, or should you move on to the next one because time is running out. It isn't running out. And marriage is so different than I thought it would be. It's not an endless date with your dream mate. That's a subject for another time.

The point of this is, attraction can develop long after an initial first impression. I don't think you can talk yourself into it, but if you have the chance to get to know someone pretty well, you might find that you have a lot in common, that they've got some great qualities that might not have been apparent right away but are now, and that they sure look mighty fine from the back in those Levi's.

Good luck.
posted by Kangaroo at 8:27 AM on March 26, 2011 [22 favorites]


Everyone's different, but it's certainly possible to not really be attracted to someone after a frist date and then finding yourself increasingly attracted after dates 2, 3, etc. If he made you feel good and you enjoyed spending time with him, why not give it one more shot? (I think two dates is a good cut-off point, personally. At some point you're just not attracted and it's not fair to the other person and a waste of your time.)

But, slow down! You've been out once and you already "really want to fall in love" with him? That's way too urgent and it's putting way too much pressure on yourself... and, in my opinion, is likely at this point to make it harder to feel particularly attracted to someone.
posted by J. Wilson at 8:33 AM on March 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


I really want to fall in love with the second one though.

I'm giving you a sad but understanding face here. That's not going to happen.

Others may disagree, but that's just not how it works. In my experience: the more you try, the more you fail.

I'd pass on both of those guys, because you'd know by now. Keep looking until you find someone who you do fall in love with, and not by trying.
posted by rokusan at 8:38 AM on March 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


After my first date with my husband, I found myself thinking, "he's great, we could talk for hours as friends." And I was reluctant to keep accepting more dates.

But I'd figured out that often the guys who had me smitten from the start were not the kind of partners I wanted long-term. So I decided, hey, the stakes are low. We're just talking about a few hours hanging out with someone who, even if he's not someone I'll fall madly in love with, is perfectly fun to be around.

And so we dated non-exclusively for a couple of months. We had a fight about how he was ready to become exclusive and I wasn't. And I went home and felt really guilty for stringing him along and not giving him a real chance. And then I realized I had finally started to really like him.

And after that, I fell pretty hard and fast. I don't know why it took a while to kick in, but I've loved him madly since then, and I am so, so, so glad I took a chance on a guy who was "on paper" different than the guys I usually pined for.

So here's my advice: When you check your internal Magic 8 Ball for how you feel about a situation, the answers are usually either Yes, No or Ask Again Later. If you've got a yes or no, you have your answer and can move forward with confidence. But if your gut isn't giving you a clear reading yet, don't treat it as a no. Give him some more time.
posted by katieinshoes at 8:39 AM on March 26, 2011 [9 favorites]


YMMV but … if you can tell after just one date that you want to fall in love with someone then it doesn't sound like you're setting the bar very high.

Or deep, if you'll excuse mixing metaphors.
posted by puffmoike at 8:41 AM on March 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


OK! Herein is a wandering diversion, that I think will come around eventually to the main point.

About 8 years ago, I was working as a field tech replacing bits of laptops, and I was working for a woman who was here in the States on a dependent spouse visa, as her husband was working on an H1B. She and her husband were both from the Indian subcontinent. She noticed my engagement ring, and asked if I was getting married soon, and I said yes. She then asked "Is it a love marriage, or arranged?"

I said that it was a love marriage, and that in the States the vast majority of marriages are love marriages, that we basically don't have arranged marriage here. I then asked her if her marriage was arranged, and she said "Oh yes." She ran through the process of how it worked in her background; basically, her parents got a bunch of dossiers of eligible bachelors, went through them and weeded out a handful of truly unsuitables, and then she sat down with them and narrowed the pile to about a dozen likely possibilities. They had each of those young men over for dinner, and after that initial meeting, she chose three to continue seeing. After three dates each, she chose one whom she liked the most; they had a couple more meetings, barely-chaperoned looooooong conversations, and then she decided to marry him.

I asked her if she loved him, and she said "Not at first, at first I just knew he was a good, respectful, compassionate man. I was so nervous on our wedding day! But yes, it was not long after our wedding that I realized I loved him very much. Wherever there is respect and compassion, love will grow."

OK. Obviously I don't think this is the universal experience of arranged marriage, nor do I think that an arranged marriage is something you ought to go looking for. But I do think that attraction doesn't have to be instant to be lasting. If you find a man whom you like, whom you have respect for, who respects you, and who is compassionate, and you think maybe you'd like to partner with him. . . go out more than once. I'd say 5 dates, just as a number on top of my head, and not all dinner-and-a-movie dates, either. Something like going to the zoo, or whatever long multi-hour activity will give you both a lot of opportunities for conversation.

If, after 5 dates -- maybe 8 -- you feel like an attraction to him is still kind of like pushing rope, well then, it's probably not going to happen. But sometimes the spark takes a little while to alight. Give it a chance.

(btw, only being attracted to men of the same race as you are? That's not particularly unusual, nor do I think it inherently makes you a bad person. there's stuff you could DO with that lack of attraction that might make you a bad person, but the mere fact of it is nothing to be ashamed of.)
posted by KathrynT at 8:56 AM on March 26, 2011 [21 favorites]


Attraction isn't the same thing as how someone looks on paper. The latter can enhance the former, but either someone does it for you, or they don't.

Right now I'm seeing someone I never would have considered before. He even violates one of my supposed "dealbreakers". And yet I'm really attracted to him. Beyond what his hobbies are or where he went to college or what he does for a living or how many tattoos he has, or whatever constitutes my "good on paper" metric.
posted by Sara C. at 9:17 AM on March 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yes, sometimes it takes a while.

But I think there is a huge distinction is between:

"I don't know whether I am attracted to this person" or "I never even considered being attracted to this person"

and

"I want to be attracted, but I am not."

In the former situations, it is a question that has yet to be considered or fully considered, you don't know. In the latter, you have considered it and it just isn't there. If you imagine this person going in for a kiss, what is your reaction? There is your answer.
posted by gjc at 9:26 AM on March 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


Some people fall in love right off the bat. Some people have to date someone for ages before they do it. The latter group will tell everyone to keep on dating someone they are interested in because they will change their mind. Except that doesn't work if you're an insta-love person (for lack of better terminology). From what your post says, you sound like you're the first person. And if you've already seen them at their best and you still Just Aren't Feeling It, then... well, you probably won't. And continuing to date him is just leading him on and things will only get more awkward. If you've only had one date with this guy, maybe give it 2-3 more, but if he's only feeling good on paper, then... well, he's not the one for you no matter what the paper says. Don't marry "the man on my list." (TM Gretchen Speck on Wonderfalls.)

I speak as the child of a mom who settled. I do not recommend settling for someone that you don't feel schmoopy about. It was just sad watching them when I was growing up, wondering when the inevitable divorce would kick in because they had no chemistry whatsoever.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:47 AM on March 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Have you considered that the lack of feeling like "THIS IS SO PERFECTLY RIGHT" might mean it's not actually so perfectly right, and you may simply need more information/more time/more space in order to feel that feeling genuinely?
posted by so_gracefully at 9:53 AM on March 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


I was in the same boat a few years back. I had met someone who was perfect on paper and our time spent together was always fun and interesting and pushed me to be a better person. We developed a very caring relationship and then proceeded to spend the next two years together. It ended ultimately because I had never been willing to admit that I wasn't really attracted to her. I kept hoping for that part to fall into place and I rationalized with myself that if everything else was so great I could overlook that one, small, tiny, elephant in the room. Go on a few more dates and see what develops, but if nothing, then cut your losses. Don't wake up years from now unhappy. In answer to your question, you're attracted to who you are, not who you want to be.
posted by ps_im_awesome at 12:17 PM on March 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


"Right on paper".

This is not how attraction works. Sorry.
posted by Decani at 1:10 PM on March 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't know you but I'll just add that some people only go for certain types because they are still really stuck in psychological stuff. In fact, i think a lot of what people find comfortable has to do with what they grew up with. Processing all that can bring freedom from those inclinations and leave you more ready to be attracted to the stuff you want to want (the good on paper stuff). This comment goes double if those two relationships before were similar or both not good for you. But even if you're just tired of waiting for one "type," doing some thinking and meditating and talking about what you're REALLY looking for might help you clear away bs like "corn-fed Iowa type" while focusing in on what does really matter to you (e.g., someone who capably handles problems). Visualizing and meditating and talking with friends about that meaningful stuff may help you spot it and be attracted to it regardless of the body someone is wearing.
posted by salvia at 2:18 PM on March 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


In case that comment didn't make sense here is a clearer version.

First, and this seems to not apply in your case, I'd say there IS a problem if someone only goes for people who are BAD on paper. That's a "get therapy" kind of issue. And scody would recommend and I will second the book How To Be An Adult in Relationships for letting go of the childhood patterns.

If your past crushes have been good on paper, then just keep looking. Don't force yourself to like someone you're not into. There are many nuances to the human personality. Being good on paper is necessary but not sufficient. It doesn't screen for a lot of what you might want from a partner. Keep screening for that. Maybe increase the odds of finding it by boosting the number of people you meet.

Last, you may be able to increase the number who meet your criteria and also your ability to notice them by really honing in on what you want, and simultaneously letting go of any irrelevant traits or even rough proxies that you've been using in your screening. (This was the point of my corn-fed example above. As a midwesterner myself, for awhile I privileged the corn-fed look because it signaled "capable" and "down to earth" to me. Once I realized I actually wanted someone "capable" and "down to earth," I suddenly found it in people of all body types.) So maybe make a list of key traits, then picture what those attributes look like in action and what they feel like to be around. If "kind" is one, you want to be able to discern whether the bus driver is "kind," and feel warmly toward him if he is.

I know the list-of-traits idea sounds generic, but it's not. E.g., I don't care if a guy is motivated to succeed, nor funny. You might. I do care if they are generous, with me and others, whereas plenty of people are happy to marry men who are, shall we say, frugal. It's easy to assume we all know what we're looking for, but we often are being driven by habit (someone comfortable, like dad or like ex-bf), or we want traits that are almost contradictory (both spontaneous and super-responsible) and haven't really thought about what the right balance would look like.

Oookay, on a reread, you have done a lot of thinking about what traits you're looking for. But is there something else that makes the difference between the silly intelligent guys you like and the silly intelligent guys you don't like? What does goofy-looking do for you, really? I also wonder what would happen if you walked around visualizing the perfect silly, kind, intelligent man of another race. Anyway, not sure this will be much help, but good luck!
posted by salvia at 3:06 PM on March 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


-Can it take more than one date to feel attracted to someone

Oh God yes! Keep going.
posted by Miko at 8:58 PM on March 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


My number one tip for becoming attracted to someone: get to know them!

How long did it take for your best friend to become your best friend? I don't see why anyone would expect love to take any less time, but then you did say attraction rather than love. In my experience my perception of someones physical attractiveness can change a great deal when you realise that you love them.

I know there are a range of opinions on whether 'it' is there from the start or its not, I guess that depends on what you think 'it' is. I believe in attraction at first sight, I've experienced that. I don't believe in love at first sight though, seems more like basing your relationship on hopes and dreams rather than what you know. I think your eagerness to know whether its going to work out may be causing you to overlook someone who could be perfect if only you got to know them, you are putting pressure on you and them to show everything about each other straight away, thats just not possible. First impressions are pretty misleading anyway, especially in a dating situation. I don't think its leading someone on to continue to see/date them for longer as long as you don't pretend you like them more than you really do.
posted by freshfish at 5:22 AM on March 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


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