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Dating Advice #6 - Coming Attractions?

May 8, 2009 | by Rosie Einhorn, L.C.S.W. and Sherry Zimmerman, J.D., M.Sc.

Our experts answer: Is he Mr. Right if I don't feel attracted at first sight? And what happens when two quiet types go out on a date?

Dear Rosie & Sherry,

I am a 29-year-old woman and wish to get married. (I've been divorced 5 years and have a child.) I'm lonely and, to be honest, I'm afraid to stay single any longer. I also feel obligated to build a normal family, since my child needs a stepfather.

I am in contact with someone who seems to be a decent person. The problem is, I don't feel any attraction to him. It's more than not liking his appearance. He is my anti-type, which means that he is very different than the type of man I'm attracted to. Should I continue the contact with him in order to get to know him better and possibly overcome disliking his appearance? Could we ever make a good match?

Shoshi in LA

Dear Shoshi,

Few of us could ever imagine marrying someone whose appearance repulses us, and in fact Jewish law actually prohibits this. From a practical standpoint, it isn't merely enough not to be repulsed by someone. You've got to be attracted to the person you marry. For many people, attraction is not instantaneous. It develops as they get to know the person they are dating.

Attraction doesn't mean being overcome with desire each time you see him.

Attraction does not mean that you are overcome with desire each time you see your date. A woman's attraction often means that she likes at least one aspect of her date's appearance. He may have warm eyes, a cute dimple or a great smile. (A man is usually attracted to a woman's overall physical appearance.)

Before you consider dating this man seriously, just make sure you're not simply grasping at the first "decent" guy who comes your way. Re-think your goals for the coming years, the lifestyle choices that you'll be comfortable with, and the personal qualities you'd like to see in a future spouse. If you and your dating partner have compatible goals, lifestyle choices and personalities, it's worthwhile to see how this can develop over time.

It may be that as you get to know this man, his appearance will "grow" on you, as has happened in many successful coutships. It would help if you could minimize your sense that this man is, as you say, your anti-type. Does his appearance turn you off because it is not the "ideal" way you'd like a man to look? If so, try letting go of the stereotyped images you carry around with you. Does this man have some physical characteristics that you really dislike? Why do you dislike these characteristics? Do they remind you of someone you disliked or of an unpleasant experience?

Once you understand the negative association, it may be easier for you to stop making it. If you can't let it go, it will be difficult, if not impossible, for you to develop physical attraction for this man.

In any event, once a couple has dated 4 or 5 times, each of them should be feeling at least a small amount of physical attraction. If it doesn't start by this point, there's a good chance it may never develop.

Rosie & Sherry


Dear Rosie & Sherry,

A few weeks ago you suggested to someone not to go into too deep stuff the first few dates, but rather to carry on "airplane" conversation. I have a very big problem with that. By nature I am not such a big talker, especially when it comes to having to talk about nothing. On top of all that I usually get set up with guys who are as quiet as I am. You can imagine what a "great" conversation we have. What can I talk about that's not too personal? Thanks for your help.


Dear Yehudit,

Don't be intimidated by the idea that you have to become a great conversationalist in order to have a successful date. Conversation is a skill that can be developed well by anyone with a little practice. We suggest that you enlist the help of one or two friends to help you work on your conversational technique. Here are some exercises you can do together:

You don't have to be a great conversationalist to have a successful date.

See how many non-personal topics of conversation each of you can think of in 10 minutes. Stay away from any subject that involves thoughts or experiences that are too personal to be shared with a stranger. At the same time, don't confine yourself to careers, politics and Jewish geography. Think of hobbies, programs that pique your interest, something you hope to accomplish -- information that's personal but not private.

You and your friend should then choose which of these topics are the most interesting. Think of anecdotes or points of interest you can tie into some of these topics.

Next, role-play by having conversations on several of these topics. Take turns being the person who initiates the dialogue. During your "practice sessions," do more than simply give brief answers and then let the subject drop. Focus on an interesting point and expand it. For example, think what you would ask a friend about her recent business trip.

Rehearse questions that ask for a description or an opinion. Practice phrases that will keep the conversation flowing, so that it doesn't sound like a one-sided interview. "You know, something similar happened to my brother....", or "You know, what you just said reminds me of..." You should also practice moving onto another topic when the conversation becomes awkward, "That's an approach I'll have to spend some time digesting. I'm interested in hearing how you...."

After at least three practice sessions, you and your friend can compare progress. Hasn't it become easier for you to think of subjects to talk about, to express your own thoughts, to draw the other person into a conversation? Couldn't you ask most of the same questions of your date? Couldn't you give you date most of the same answers you'd give a friend?

If you're not happy with your progress, try a few more role-playing sessions. By then, you should be comfortable enough with conversation to try it with a new date. Good luck!

Rosie & Sherry

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