How Important is Physical Attraction in a Relationship?
We are taught to ask if physical attraction is love. We are not taught to ask if the emotional attraction is love. We are taught to assume that physical attraction/ sexual attraction isn't enough by itself but emotional attraction is. We are taught that people who value physical attraction are shallow and incapable of emotional attraction. That their relationships won't last long. I learned the hard way that ignoring physical attraction is one reason a relationship won't last long.
I used to believe that attraction was not only shallow but also something I didn't need in a relationship - at least not physically. I did not think the attraction was important in a relationship at all. I was almost exclusively focused on emotional attraction--which sort of meant "do I feel safe with this person" but mostly meant "does this person give me butterflies every time I see them?" (No, in case you're wondering, I did not see the irony in thinking physical attraction was shallow). The "butterflies" feeling might be one way of defining what chemistry in a relationship is, but I thought chemistry was only about physical attraction. The first time I ever heard of the idea of mutual attraction was earlier this year, so I had only experienced one-sided attraction and thus, didn't think it was that powerful or necessary. I hadn't heard of the philosophy of Iris Dating, that mutual attraction is more powerful than my list of dealbreakers and "must-haves" in a partner in terms of political leanings, worldview, lifestyle, health--my list was a mile long until I discovered the idea of mutual attraction.
Meeting "The One"
I thought that "the butterflies" were my signal that I met the one, but I didn't see it as a sign of physical attraction. I interpreted them as excitement, which indicated an emotional connection, the main thing I was seeking in a relationship, so when I married my ex-husband, I didn't see my lack of physical attraction or our lack of mutual attraction as a problem - I don't think I even noticed them. I simply thought the butterflies meant excitement that I'd finally met the one, that I'd finally found my person.
Falling in love
But can you fall in love without physical attraction? On top of dismissing physical attraction, I was too afraid of losing love, especially if I'd had it for a long time, after seeing what my grandmother went through when my grandfather, her husband of more than 50 years, died. I know it sounds crazy, but I wasn't even considering whether or not I'd fallen in love with my ex, so I certainly wasn't asking if I was physically attracted to him, if he was physically attracted to me or if that was necessary for a relationship. As it turns out, it is.
I didn't realize how important physical attraction is until I realized that there wasn't any between my ex and me. That was not the only reason for our divorce, but the lack of mutual attraction didn't help. This meant that there was no glue holding us together; literally the first time something challenged our relationship, which was not that big, it fatally shattered our bond, though it may take several years to see it. Mutual attraction does not cure all things, nor does it make up for severe lacking elsewhere. But, as Iris believes, it's the foundation, it's that invisible force continuing to propel you and your partner toward each other, the power that keeps you fighting for one another so you don't walk away after 13 years together as total strangers..