Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Is Attraction Important?

You think it is, I think it is, but aren't you curious what the Rabbis of Israel have to say about it?

We are sitting on the sloping hill, alone aside for the trees and the moon. I've convinced The-Yeshiva-Guy-I-Didn't-Marry to sit down on the grass with me, instead of on the customary bench. It's a new sensation, sitting on the grass with a boy. I cross my knees, pull my skirt down to cover them. He sprawls out on his side, a few inches from me. This is so much more relaxed than benches and chairs. It's the first time I've ever done it, on a date. A part of me whispers that that's a rather sad fact.

"Are you attracted to me?" I ask. There's a certain light missing from his eyes, when he looks at me. He doesn't look at me the way the boy before him did. I'm worried. I don't know what they've been telling them in Yeshiva, about feelings coming later, and all that. I know one thing, I don't want that to be the case with my husband. The question is blunt, but I don't care. I'm passed the beating around the bush stage.

Like a true Yeshiva student, he avoids the question. "Is attraction even important in a marriage? Rabbi C.K. say's it isn't."

Rabi C.K. being the venerated Gadol Hador.

Before I can open my mouth to protest, he continues. He is quick. One of the things I like about him.

"Of course, you know what Rabbi S. says."

Rabbi S. being an esteemed Rosh Yeshiva.

"Rabbi S. says attraction is very important."

"Well, I agree with Rabbi S." That sounds better than saying I disagree with Rabbi C.K. I've already learned what not to say about the Rabbis he admires.

"I thought you would. He also says: The reason Rabbi C.K. can say that attraction isn't important is because to Rabbi C.K. the couples come only before they get married, for his blessings. To Rabbi S. they come after the wedding, with their Shalom Bayis problems. "

I'm beginning to like the sound of Rabbi S. Not the kind of line I'd fit with his image.

"And what do you think?"

A dog comes bounding over, breaks the moment. My Yeshiva guy stands up and brushes the clinging greenery from his pants. I follow suit. We make our way towards the park's exit.

The relationship doesn't last much longer. I tell him I want a husband whose eyes will light up, when he sees me. I hold by Rabbi S.


  1. My "yeshiva guy"? (snortle)

    funny and appropriate, but my security word for this comment was "fatten"

  2. Another yeshiva guyDecember 2, 2009 at 8:45 AM

    I've only heard rabbis quote their rabbis and Talmudic sources to say that marriage shouldn't happen without attraction.

  3. This needs to be put into perspective (based on a recent convo w/ my Rav):

    a) life is not a disney story - your husbands eyes won't always light up when he sees you. Often enough he'll be tired, hungry, or something of the sort. If his eyes do light up, it won't be uniquely because of your looks, but because of you being you and what that means for him. What you want is attraction that is based on the whole you, not on the "looking good" you (which is probably what you meant by attraction, but I want to clarify for everyone else..)

    b) Lust is God's tool to help drive us to get married. But once you're married, that tool should no longer be used - the emotional connection is what its all about. Therefore, what is required is *enough* attraction that allows you to achieve and maintain that emotional connection. What this really means is that you go from superficial attraction to meaningful attraction.

    c) But after everything is said and done, you're right, if his eyes don't "light up" when they see you before you're married.. then there's obviously not *enough* attraction.

  4. A man's eyes lighting up, I think, is not merely attraction alone. It's "Wow! Ain't she fabulous, smart, witty, and gorgeous? Lucky me to get such a wonderful person!"

    The light doesn't stay around forever. But it would be nice if it made an appearance during dating.

    If a guy greets a girl he's been seeing for a while with a bland, "Oh, hey . . . When did I eat that hot dog?" Well, be still my heart.

    I'm not even a romantic.

  5. Just curious - what number date was this, when you asked him if he was attracted to you?

    SUCH an important question.

  6. Funny, when I first met my husband I was kind of surprised by his looks. He was being redt to someone else I knew and I was just shocked because I forgot she was going to marry a chassidish man with a beard. Not that he wasn't good looking, just that he wasn't what I expected.

    And then I got to know him in a completely different sense and by the time a few months passed I would be close to tears every time I heard him discuss another shidduch he was redt.

    So by the time we both figured out we wanted to be with each other, his looks weren't even on my list. I was attracted to him in so many different ways, my eyes would light up just seeing his name on the caller ID.

    But attraction is definitely important. Physical attraction, emotional attraction, whatever. It needs to be there.

    and PS. my word verification was "caress". now tell me blogger doesn't scare you sometimes...

  7. One of my issues with dating and not meeting, hanging and eventually dating is that when dating for marriage you are always thinking of the future and not the now.

    Imagine you meet a guy, but it's not a shidduch situation - you hang out for several months and then you notice that you like or are attracted to the guy. That would never happen in shidduch dating - if you are not attracted on the first few dates it's over with.

    I just realized that in during the current relationship I'm in - I was in no way attracted to her when I met her yet I became attracted, if it was "for marriage" I would have never went out with her.

    Of course attraction is important but feelings do come - you shouldn't marry without them but if the dude is mad cool - then wait it out a little

  8. So a girl is supposed to wait around for "feelings to come"?

    I hope my ego is better than that. If a guy doesn't want to marry me, G-d bless, but I have better things to do, other guys to see, then wait for one fellow who's not sure.

    And what is wrong with being open? "I would have never went out with her."

    And what if he goes out with another girl, and those strong feelings he never had before suddenly appear, because she's the one for him?

    For how much time do you expect her to wait?

  9. Wow.

    Such different worlds... I would have never contemplated marrying someone to whom I was not attracted. (And I've broken off relationships at the point where I realized that such attraction would never come.)

    It's not about physicality -- it's about seeing something special in another person, something that draws you to them. I'm sure there are matchmakers out there who can make matches between people who aren't attracted to one another at the beginning but who become so over time, but that seems like a major rolling of the dice for me, much more so than the rolling of the dice involved when two self-aware people take the time to get to know one another.

    But anyway, I think it's a very brave thing to question such things.

  10. Should I count the number date from the first time we met, or from when we decided to "try it again" for the X time? Let's just say we'd been dating for a while..

    Troi, you put it perfectly! Go girl!

    but frumsatire has a point - Shidduch dating, depsite being theoretically about "focusing on the important things", often ends up being a lot more looks focused than relationships that start out from knowing the person, and slowly blossom. On the other hand I guess they are better than the pick up scenes at beaches/parties/nightclubs, where a guy won't even say hi to a girl if she's not a bombshell.

  11. Great post - looks are indeed important. After I first started dating and had gone out with several girls who weren't attractive (to me) I spoke with my Rav about possible misplaced priorities (looks vs. middos, etc). He basically said - "don't be 'tzadik' and think you're above needing someone you find attractive." The physical component of marriage is very significant and you should certainly feel attractive by her beauty/his handsomeness. We just need to be realistic and not adhere to supermodel-esque standards for looks.

  12. At least on a shidduch date a shadchan can lie about the other person's looks, but exacttly --- if guys walk over to girls on their own she's gonna be SMOKIN'.

    I think any way people meet is okay. It's not like shidduch dating is evil and clubs are questionable; whatever floats your boat.

  13. I wish there were more girls that would pick the grass over the bench.

    Maybe you should be looking into right-wing YU guys instead of yeshiva guys...

    My experience is that yeshiva guys are merely puppets and their rebbeim pull the strings.

  14. ive never heard any rabbi ever say that attraction isnt important and as a matter of fact nor did anyone else, how do i know? simple, the gemara says you have to be attracted to your wife, it praises looks and says a man should look for an attractive wife. hence... anyone that says otherwise in the name of a rabbi is simply lying.

  15. Lawschooldrunk says...

    Ohhhhh noooooo. I HAVE HEARD THIS FROM YESHIVA RABBEIM. There are definitely rabbis that stress that looks are not important. And by that, they mean (because I have asked for research sake)that it is the least important factor. So please do not quote gemara and assume all rabbis adhere to its words. while that is a lofty goal, it is not completely achieved.