Why Chasing Attraction is a Losing Strategy in Love

I have a guy friend who is perpetually single. He’s got everything going for him. Advanced degree. Successful. Funny. Social. Ambitious. Good values.

And yet every time I talk with him, it’s the same old story.

Another woman just broke his heart.

When I ask him for the details of the latest debacle, it usually comes down to the fact that he’s a nice, relationship oriented man, who earnestly follows through and communicates his feelings… and she’s an aloof woman who tries to consider him as a romantic partner, but ultimately would rather chase an unattainable jerk.

It’s classic, really.

But when I ask my friend what makes him fall for these emotionally unavailable women, you know what he tells me?

“I like them because they’re smart and they’re hot.”

Got it.

You can’t help what you’re attracted to. But you can acknowledge that the men you’re attracted to aren’t always good long-term relationship partners.

Objectively, wouldn’t you tell this man that perhaps “smart” and “hot” aren’t necessarily the best criteria to evaluate a lifetime romantic partner?

Of course you would.

You’d tell him to appreciate her inner beauty, her warm smile, her generosity, her sense of humor. All the things you appreciate about your own girlfriends.

Yet when you look at your own life – at your consistent pining for tall, handsome, brilliant, fascinating men – you do the exact same thing.

Worse, you defend it in the same way that my friend does:

“I can’t help what I’m attracted to!”

You’re right. You can’t help what you’re attracted to.

But you can acknowledge that the men you’re attracted to aren’t always good long-term relationship partners.

You can acknowledge that attraction can be blinding and allow you to overlook a man’s flaws for way too long.

You can acknowledge that attraction isn’t either a “10” or a “1” – that there’s usually something in between.

And you can acknowledge that, for my guy friend, his addiction to smart, hot, aloof and inaccessible women isn’t really working for him.

By the way, I’m not telling you anything that I haven’t considered in my own life.

As a man who’s been married for three years, I’ve finally started to get into a rhythm with my wife.

We’ve got a house.

We’ve got a kid.

We both work from home and spend a lot of time together.

And unless something changes, you know what we spend most of our time doing?


When we’re not working, you know what we do?

We figure out how we’re going to decorate the house.

We plan weekends out of town to visit family.

We throw dinner parties, karaoke parties, and wine tastings.

We go food shopping and make chopped salads with beets.

If 95% of your life is spent on matters that are neither “brainy” nor “sexy”, wouldn’t it make sense to find a partner who is compatible in all those other areas?

We watch “Castle” and as many minutes of “Dancing with the Stars” as I can tolerate.

We retreat to our offices where she watches funny YouTube videos and I obsessively manage my fantasy football team.

We go upstairs, wash our faces, talk about our days, tell each other we love each other, and snuggle before drifting off to sleep.

It’s a WONDERFUL life.

You know how much time we spend having sex? A couple of hours a week.

You know how much time we spend talking about string theory, or Proust, or what happens to us when we die? A lot less.

So if 95% of your life is spent on matters that are neither “brainy” nor “sexy”, wouldn’t it make sense to find a partner who is compatible in all those other areas?

Rather than finding the smartest, hottest guy imaginable who doesn’t want to throw dinner parties, doesn’t want to see your mother, doesn’t want to let you choose the furniture you want, and doesn’t want to raise a family together?

I think so.

Naturally, you have to find your partner attractive and intelligent, but he doesn’t have to be THAT attractive or THAT intelligent to have a very happy life together.

As a dating coach for 8 years, I’ve long advocated for putting compatibility on the SAME level as chemistry, instead of making chemistry the most important factor in your decision-making.

Because, as you know, you can get the smartest, hottest, tallest, richest guy in the world… and you’ll most likely discover that he’s a selfish narcissist who’s just not that into you.

Thus, there is wisdom in compromising a little on looks and brains in order to find the HAPPINESS that has eluded you when you exalt “attraction” above all.

Believe me, I did not settle.

Neither should you.

Just consider the relative importance of a chiseled jawline and a Masters degree vs. the ability to love you unconditionally and the desire to make you happy.

I think it’s clear what should win out.


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  1. 31

    This article depresses me a little. I’m in a great relationship, at least I think I am. But I still wonder if sexually he wants me as much as I want him? He says cute to bra pics…I mean really? I must be the fifty…not eighty…

  2. 32

    I think I have a massive problem because either I find men attractive or I just don’t – there are no degrees in between. Objectively I know that some of my exes are attractive to other women and some are not so it is not just about how they look. I don’t know what it is. Worse, it does not get better on the second date, the third date or a month. Like a female panda, it is either there or it just isn’t. I am not really sure what I can do about it if anything. The thought of kissing someone I don’t find attractive is abhorrent, let alone sleeping with them. I had a date last night with a friend of a friend who was really nice, clearly likes me having texted me on his way home, and has already asked if we can meet up again. This happens on most of my dates I have not met in real life – they want to see me again. I enjoy their company but there is no attraction. In real life I don’t have this particular issue as I don’t accept dates unless I find the man attractive. The man I met last night is not objectively unattractive – he’s average – but I am just not attracted to him so not sure it is even fair to meet up again even though I really enjoyed his company. Sometimes I wonder if maybe attraction is there for a good biological reason.

  3. 33

    Karl hit the nail on the head in writing: “I have many female friends who don’t want to have sex with me. I enjoy them as friends. I just don’t want to spend months courting a woman (and getting my hopes up), just to find out that we’re never going to be anything more than friends.

    Men push sex because it provides clarity.”

    Men don’t push for sex because they’re constantly horny. Rather, as Karl wrote, we do it because sex is the essential sign of attraction or arousal from a woman. Every man has had experiences of dating or seeing a woman intensely, falling in love with her eventually, to painfully realize after months that the romantic feeling was not a mutual one, not reciprocated, but rather one-sided: “Let’s just be friends.” Men hate it!

  4. 34

    Pierce Brosnan is a very happy man with his UnHollywood-looking wife, a testament to your point.

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