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Just how important is physical attraction when choosing a partner?
Just how important is physical attraction when choosing a partner?

Laws of attraction

I have been told on more than one occasion that your partner in life should also be your best friend. I do not doubt that notion.

We should all be lucky enough to find someone who makes us laugh, keeps our secrets and offers objective advice. But what happens when you fall in love with your best friend, only to realize a true, deep attraction is missing? Is it silly to walk away from a great person, just because your stomach doesn't fill with butterflies when you see him or her?

I've often wondered just how important a part physical attraction plays in a healthy relationship. I don't think it is any secret that at some point in all long-term loves, the "passion" (if you know what I mean ...) dwindles. Gone are the throw you down, rip your clothes off moments that dominate the early, blissful stages of new love.

But sometimes, that feeling is never really there. Let's be honest adults here, most of us can be intimate at times with people to whom we are not totally attracted. Nature is nature, urges are urges, beer is beer. If it has been a while or you've had enough to drink or you love someone and think you should be attracted to them ... If there is a will, there's a way. 

So, what happens when that will starts to fade and your eyes start wandering?

Is it shallow to dump someone who doesn't "get you going" or is it a smart move to cut and run?

I pose these questions for a reason. I'm not sure if it's the new decade, or if my friends are just becoming more self-aware, but lately a lot of us are reevaluating ourselves and our relationships. Everyone seems to be changing and growing, but with some hesitancy. The common self-doubt; Am I selfish for wanting something more, especially when it comes to my romantic relationships? Because I have been with someone for a long time or have kept them in my life, do I owe it to that person to make it work at all costs?

A friend recently told me a story about a young couple. "Jane" and "Joe" were the textbook definition of the pair everyone wanted to be. They worked in a similar field, supported each other's careers, laughed, loved and rarely -- if ever -- fought. Both had stood by one another through thick and thin, and both were entwined with the others' family -- holidays, birthdays, weddings -- the whole nine yards. After four-plus years of dating, it seemed inevitable they would get married. They were (or at least they seemed) like the "perfect" couple.

So, like the next chapter in a somewhat predictable book, Joe got down on one knee and Jane said yes. Of course she said yes. They had dated forever, she loved him, he loved her and their families were thrilled. Except one person -- the bride to be.

Jane loved Joe. She loved his family, his friends, and their four years together. He was her best friend, but something was missing.

To the shock of everyone on the outside, Jane called off the wedding. Her reason, "I was never really physically attracted to Joe."

Obviously, it took a long time for Jane to say this out loud, and when she did, it was not to very many people.

Who wants to answer the questions? How can you dump someone you love? How can you walk away from a person who has stood by your side through the toughest of times?

I think it is the only thing to do.

Maybe I'm naive or have watched too many chick flicks, but I want the butterflies. I realize over time the flutter won't be there day in and day out, but they will always linger just below the surface. I want the person I love to look at me in that way. But most of all, I never, ever want anyone to stay with me out of a feeling of obligation or loyalty. Cut and run. Save us both the heartache down the road.

I've seen a lot of couples do the opposite of Jane. They stay with, or keep going back, to their best friend or most loyal companion. It is easy and they are content, even though they may not be truly happy.

But who wants to be a fall-back plan?

Because the truth of the matter is, the Joes (or Janes, if the roles are reversed) aren't going to call your bluff. They will look the other way and keep telling themselves that what they perceive isn't the truth. Even though in their gut, they, too, have the feeling something is missing. The lack of attraction isn't lost on them or falling on blind eye, they just continue to try and not see what is really there.

It's what most of us do when we're in love and afraid of being alone again.

Physical attraction is a very strong emotion and one that is difficult to keep bottled up. Far too many times, even the best people with the purest of intentions, fall to the siren's call. Translation -- when needs aren't met, you look elsewhere.

And far too often, the fall happens when it's too late to right the wrong.

Instead of respecting a person and giving them the opportunity to find someone who loves and is attracted to them, you stick around because ... Fill in the blank with a weighty obligation.

Sticking with someone so as not to seem shallow or selfish? Unlike rain on you're wedding day, the above course of action is truly ironic. 

Talkbacks

tamz33 | April 29, 2010 at 4:21 p.m. (report)

Wow, up until the point of - she called off the wedding - I thought you were telling my story.
I actually married "Joe" and ended up divorced a year and a half later.
I confused him, my family and a good portion of my friends with my announcement. When I started to explain my lack of physical attraction most of my friends and family could agree that they never saw that spark in my eye. I loved him for who he was, how he treated me, how he loved me and how everyone around him loved him. I knew I wasn't attracted to him from the get go but I grew to love him despite that flaw in our relationship. It was the hardest decision I have ever made and it honestly hurt my heart and my mind to follow through.
Physical attraction is HUGE in a relationship but of course you need to build on that as well...

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