Let’s talk about when someone grabs your attention…
Should you be concerned if you notice an attractive man? Absolutely not. Have you gone against Scripture or broken any vows? No. Are you failing to guard your heart just because you notice someone is eye-appealing? No. You can rest easy in the fact that your eyes function very well, and you can simply thank God that He makes such fine art.
Attention is based on what we see, whereas attraction is based on what we hear. That’s why I don’t believe in love at first sight. It’s simply attention at first sight. Maybe you’ve had the experience of noticing an incredibly handsome man, only to hear him open his mouth and yell at his kids, brag about his success, or complain about someone or something in a derogatory way. Did you find yourself attracted? No. Regardless of how gorgeous he may be, you probably found yourself repulsed. He got your attention, but you felt no attraction. On the other hand, a woman can meet a very ordinary man (physically speaking) and perhaps pay little attention to him, yet she may find him very appealing upon talking with him. This is because women are stimulated more by what we hear than by what we see.
The next stage beyond “attention” is “attraction.” In the attraction stage, you become familiar enough with the person to know you are drawn to him, but you are not yet familiar enough to act affectionately toward that person.
Both attention and attraction are not limited to men but can include a wide variety of things: the kind of clothes we like, the style of house we prefer, and the types of food we crave. Whether or not we feel attraction for something will determine whether we like or dislike it. It’s how we know we prefer the beach instead of the mountains. It’s why we have a soft spot for cuddly kittens instead of rowdy puppies. Attraction determines our inclination toward a symphony as opposed to a ballet.
We are also drawn to certain women and children. Perhaps you prefer that your child spend time with a particular playmate. You may find yourself inviting one preferred child over to play far more often than any other of your child’s friends. Maybe you even go out of your way for them to play together because you so enjoy this child’s company. When you go to church or business meetings, you probably are drawn to certain individuals but not to others. The woman who became your best friend is probably someone you run to when you needed a hug or have really good news to share. We go through all these motions and emotions in a relationship because we feel attracted to that person.
Society has twisted our minds into thinking that if we are drawn to someone, we must want to have sex with them. But attraction isn’t necessarily sexual. I find many of my friends and coworkers attractive, but I’m not the least bit tempted to have a sexual relationship with them or even an emotional affair with them.
Why are we attracted to some people and not to others? The reasons vary from person to person and are many times based on your experiences growing up. For example, I once felt a strong attraction to a family friend. I couldn’t understand why until I learned about Imago therapy, which teaches that certain people simply “fit your mold,” and each person’s mold is different. That is why you may have heard a friend rant and rave over her new boyfriend, but you met him and thought, What on earth does she see in him? He fits her mold. He doesn’t fit yours.
In understanding more about my own particular mold, I realized that the family friend looked very much like my brother and acted very much like my father. Of course, he is going to fit my mold. Did I panic, thinking I was going to fall into an emotional affair with him because I found him attractive? I might have many years ago, but I’ve lived long enough to learn that attraction is all part of being human. I simply exercised caution by continuing to monitor my motives and feelings for this person.
Excerpted from Every Woman’s Battle: Discovering God’s Plan for Sexual and Emotional Fulfillment by Shannon Ethridge. Copyright 2003. All Rights Reserved. Published by WaterBrook Press, Colorado Springs, CO 80921. Used by Permission. Not to be copied without Publisher’s prior written approval.