to people who do not have the characteristics we dislike in ourselves.
Finding a wonderful, permanent partner is complex.
If we think we might not be able to get and keep our Mr. or Ms.
Right, our desire increases. Thus, when parents prohibit us from
dating someone or when our lover moves away or when we fear we
won't get a date or when the person we are interested in plays "hard-
to-get," our longing for the lover grows. Yet, there must be some
indication that he/she likes us; otherwise, we are likely to conclude
that he/she is "stuck up." We like people who like us but we are leery
of a person who will "go out with anyone." We are flattered if we are
"the chosen one." Yet, some women hesitate to ask men out for fear of
being considered "sexually loose." Interestingly, research has shown
that women, who are judged to be intelligent by men, are not
considered "sexually aggressive" even though the women take the
initiative in asking for a date (Meer, 1985). So, ladies don't "play
dumb." Also, men often don't pick up on hints that women are
available. So, explicitly invite him to do something with you. Naturally,
he may "make a move" to see if you are "loose." You can say "no"
whenever you want.
Approaching someone but guarding against infatuation and lust
How does all this research help us find a partner? First, we have to
contact others before attraction can occur. Obviously, where we look
has a bearing on who we meet. There are more potential alcoholics
and philanderers in a bar than in a church, probably. There are more
intelligent people in a classroom than at the race track, hopefully.
Secondly, knowing how to approach someone and how to converse is
an important skill that can be learned and practiced (see chapter 13).
Thirdly, 55% of women and 63% of men believe in love at first sight
(Harper's, 1985). As we will discuss shortly, infatuation certainly
happens but instant love is not a dependable sign of enduring love.
Many people will also tell you that the "body chemistry has to be
right." But, in fact, this strong, instant physical-emotional attraction
sucks us into both good and bad relationships. The body chemistry on
the first or second date is no reliable indication of what the body
chemistry will be like in the second or twenty-second year. The
selection of a life-long partner must be based on more than initial
physical-emotional attraction. Indeed, so long as breasts and pimples
are more influential than brains and principles, we are in deep trouble.
So, I will try to give you some information that will help you evaluate
your own selection-of-a-partner process and help you disengage if
there are signs of trouble.
The Nature of Attraction and Love