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Should You Consider Dating Someone You're Not Attracted To?

When it comes to attraction vs. connection, there's more to both than what meets the eye.

Love & Relationships

I know, right? You would think that this is the kind of topic that doesn't even warrant a full-on article. Yet, the more I thought about my own personal experiences, the kind of conversations that I've had with married couples about it, and a video that I recently watched, it is my personal belief that the answer isn't quite as black-and-white or cut-and-dried as it might appear on the surface. But before I get into all of that, because I know that a lot of people will process, "Should you consider dating someone you're not attracted to?" as "Should you settle for less than what you really want in a relationship?", when it comes to that second question, the answer is "no". Mostly because, as my favorite quote on settling (by writer Maureen Dowd) states, "The minute you settle for less than you deserve, you get even less than you settled for."

Still, I don't really believe that it's an automatic that you should never consider someone that you aren't attracted to. One reason is because initial attraction can lean a bit on the shallow side of things (more on that in a sec). Another reason is because, as a very wise man said in his video entitled, "Attraction vs. Connection: 'Bro, you 'Wifed' the wrong one!'", a lot of us find ourselves in relationships that don't truly satisfy us; it's because we've believed that attraction and connection are one in the same when they absolutely are not (according to him, most men only truly connect with three women over the course of their lifetime, by the way). I tend to agree with him (we'll explore a bit more of his commentary in a moment as well).

Even if you're someone who just read those two paragraphs and still think that if you aren't attracted to a dude, a potential relationship can't go any further, while I'm not trying to change your mind, humor me for a few minutes, will you? At least allow me to offer up a few points that could possibly open up your perspective, just a bit—so that you can know if a lack of initial attraction could be hindering you from establishing a truly powerful and lasting connection with someone.

What Is Attraction Initially All About, Anyway?

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Attraction is powerful. There's no questioning that. When I think of all of the men who I've been physically attracted to over the course of my lifetime, this definition of attraction definitely applies—"to draw by a physical force causing or tending to cause to approach, adhere, or unite". That's why it made so much sense to me, what a particular article shared. It was based on research about what men and women are most (initially) attracted to. Reportedly men are drawn to (shocker of all shockers), women who have a nice body while women like men who are taller than they are (I concur). However, the article also stated that when it comes to attributes like intelligence and kindness, those weren't much of a factor. That's because this particular study surveyed almost 70,000 individuals on what they look for in a casual partner not a committed one.

Y'all can check out my piece on casual sex to see that the word "casual" isn't exactly my favorite word in the world. That's because it means things like "without definite or serious intention; careless or offhand; passing", "seeming or tending to be indifferent to what is happening; apathetic; unconcerned" and "without emotional intimacy or commitment". When something is casual, serious intention is not a factor. When something is casual, it's OK to be indifferent or apathetic towards it. When something is casual, there is no real intimacy or commitment involved. Casual kind of reminds me of a man who I am very physically attracted to who is also very physically attracted to me. One time, he asked me what I thought about us having a homie-lover-friend relationship. He's one of those guys who isn't really what I would consider to be a "f—kboy" yet he is a chronic commitment-phobe. Every few years, he gets an exclusive sex partner who he doesn't commit to, even though he only has sex with them. He likes the exclusivity of the sex while still keeping up emotional walls. A ton of people are just like him. It's an epidemic, to tell you the truth.

So yeah, if you're entering into something with someone and your intention is for it to be on the casual tip, of course looks are what's going to matter most to you. You're not trying to establish anything more than physical gratification and maybe a few dates and laughs.

That's why, to me, attraction is like icing on the cake. It's definitely what initially draws two people to one another, but it shouldn't hold a ton of merit. I mean, do you know how many attractive people get blindsided, cheated on and dumped? Tons. Just check out your favorite gossip blog; you'll see all sorts of examples.

So, why does it seem like so many of us put so much stock in attraction? I think that it's because a lot of us put attraction and connection into the same boat when they shouldn't be. This where the video that I referenced earlier comes in. As I was listening to a man who goes by the name Soul Immortal talk about the differences between attraction and connection, here is a part of what he shared:

"So, before we even get into it, there are two things that I want my brothers to understand, right? And the first thing is this—Sex is a byproduct. It's a byproduct of energies that are exchanged. You know what I'm sayin'?
It's just like when gasoline is made. You know, they take crude oil, they take several chemicals, they put it together and they make gasoline. Now when this gasoline is extracted, what's left is diesel fuel. Now diesel fuel is a beautiful thing. But this diesel fuel wouldn't have came to be if it wasn't for the creation of this gasoline, know what I'm sayin'?
So, sex is a byproduct, know what I'm sayin'? And the second thing is, we need to redefine intimacy. Intimacy is not the physical act. Intimacy is the fuel. The physical act is the byproduct…we have to understand that the physical body is only a catalyst. We have to understand that the physical act is only a primer."

So true, so true. A great example that Soul Immortal provided in the video is a friend of his and his wife. Soul Immortal said that when he initially saw the wife for himself, while his friend was what he knew many women would consider to be attractive, to him, the wife was around a six out of 10. But the more he watched his friend and his friend's wife interact with one another, she became a 10 out of 10. It was because they had such a beautiful connection.

I can relate to this. There have been many times when I've looked at a couple and, purely based on looks, I've wondered how one ended up with the other. But that's just based on appearance—the surface of things. I had to open myself up to the fact that clearly there is a connection there. But what makes a connection different from an attraction?

Is Attraction Costing You a True Connection?

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A simple way to explain a connection is it's a link with or bond to another individual. I like the word "bond" because it refers to something that holds two people together. Shared principles and values can create a bond. Trust and reliability can create a bond. Individuals who are emotionally present and available for one another can create a bond. Folks who complement one another's lifestyle can create a bond. An article on Psychology Today's website on emotional connections shared that a "yes" to questions like, "When I ask for your attention, can you be available to me?", "Can you comfort me when I am anxious, sad, lonely, or afraid?" and "I need to know that you care about my joys, hurts, and fears. Will you care about me consistently and reliably?" also signifies a real bond. But here's the thing—how can you get to know someone long enough to discover if you are bonded, if all that you're caught up in is physical attraction?

When I reflect on my own relational past, there were two men, specifically, who I most definitely were not attracted to. They were also two of the best men that I've ever known to this day. Kind. Attentive. Patient. Thoughtful. Forgiving. The only reason why I know this about them, though, is because I pushed past the initial lack of physical attraction and got to know them as people. What it ultimately taught me was that there was a connection—it just wasn't meant to be romantic or sexual.

Yeah, that's what a lot of us miss when we're not being open to considering someone who we're not attracted to—we miss that our connection may serve a different purpose than a romantic relationship, if we'd simply give things a chance.

So, what exactly are you saying, Shellie? That you do think that it's important to consider dating someone I'm not attracted to? Kinda. I think what I'm saying more is that, when it comes to someone who is interested in you who you are not attracted to, you should ask yourself the following questions before totally shooting them down:

1. Have you been told that you’re addicted to a specific “type”?

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As cliché as it might sound, I really do like men who are tall, dark and handsome. The taller and darker, the better. But you know what? The man I have probably had the healthiest connection with is my late fiancé who was probably around 6'-6'1" (which is kinda short to me) and lighter than I am. When he first let me know that he was interested, I was like, "Yeah…naw." Not because he wasn't attractive, but because I was so hung up on what my type was. Hmph. My first love was "my type" and that negro got me arrested, made another baby while I was pregnant with his child and is one of the biggest commitment-phobes on the planet to this day.

The moral to the story is this. We all have preferences. It's perfectly fine to like what you like. But if you're not open to dating someone because you're not attracted to him, is it because you don't find him appealing at all? Or, is it simply because he's not what you are used to? If it's Column B, well…if all you eat is pizza how would you ever know if you like Thai food? Feel me?

2. Does the way a man looks validate you in some way?

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There is a woman I used to know who had the ultimate form of low self-esteem. It's not that she isn't attractive; it's that she didn't feel that she was. And how that revealed itself was pretty cryptic. She would turn down perfectly nice guys who treated her well for the ones who, at least in her mind, were fine as hell—and treated her like dirt. The cycle got to be so much of a hamster wheel in her life that one time I asked her what her deal was. She said that she wanted to be the kind of woman who, whenever she walked into a room with a man, women would envy her. She said it would make her feel more attractive to be with someone who others thought was physically desirable.

If a lot of us were honest with ourselves, we've adopted this warped way of thinking before. Somewhere deep down, we think a good-looking man validates our own beauty. But looks really can be deceiving. Someone who immediately comes to my mind to prove this fact is ex-NFL player Darren Sharper. He's attractive. He's also currently in jail right now for drugging and raping women in various states. And the women I just told you about? The fine men dogged her, the nice men got married, and she's still single.

If you're rejecting someone simply because you don't think they are good enough to "validate" you, that really has very little to do with them and their appearance and more to do with you and your own self-image. And if that's the case, it would be best to be single and get your own self together for a while; to not be out here dating anyone—your type or otherwise.

3. Have you considered that ole’ boy serves a purpose that you can’t see—yet?

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It's kind of interesting that, when we're not physically attracted to someone, sometimes we can repel them as if they've got some sort of plague or something. You like me, I'm not interested. Please stop talking to me. But y'all, one of my closest friends is someone who used to be attracted to me, although I was never attracted to him. Had I left it at that, I wouldn't have the blessings in my life that come as the direct result of him being a part of my world.

Not everyone is meant to be "the one". But there are a lot of people who do serve a purpose in our life. If a guy is interested in you and the only reason that you're considering not going out with him is because you're not physically attracted, you could be missing out on him becoming a part of your life for other reasons. But hey, you won't ever know this if all you're thinking about is attraction without factoring in connection. This brings me to my final question and point.

4. C’mon. What would just one date hurt?

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If you check out "My Eureka Moment For Why I'm Not Into 'Nice Guys'", you'll see that I get what it's like for someone to like you, for others to like that person for you, only for you to convince yourself to go against your better judgment and then later regret it. So, please hear me when I say that I am not like the church ladies who say, "Who cares if he repulses you? Chile, you might be missing out on your husband." Look, I am a huge fan of sex, marital coitus more than anything, and you can't enjoy that if you're not attracted to your partner. I would scream that point at the top of my lungs if I could.

At the same time, happily married people tell me all of the time that, while their spouse is not someone who initially caught their eye, by going on a few dates and getting to know them better, they ended up becoming the most beautiful, interesting and sexy person they've ever known. They wouldn't have found this out without going on a first date.

It took a hot minute to get us here, but the title of the article is a question, right? My answer is this—in my opinion, should you consider dating someone you aren't attracted to? If we can change "dating" for "going on a date", the answer is a firm "yes". One date is just that…one date. And who knows? By stepping out and spending quality time with that individual, you just might discover that you're more attracted to them than you thought. That they are someone you could be connected to. All because you went past the surface and looked for something deeper. Good for you, girl. Good. For. You.

Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:

7 Ways To Have An Incredible First Date

Why We Love Men Who Are Absolutely No Good For Us

Unpopular Opinion: Men And Women CAN Really Be "Just Friends"

Like, Love & In Love: How To Really Know The Differences

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

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