Laws of Attraction

Dear Darla,

So let’s get down to the business of serious analysis. What are you looking for in a man? Because there is no man on the scene right now, this question of serious analysis, though you are thinking about the “qualities of a man you would want,” is actually a question of serious self analysis. You can’t analyze him because he’s not here yet.

You can come up with a list of characteristics and qualities, and you can write them down. Go ahead and do that. If something comes to mind, put it down. Make a stream of consciousness list. Just put it down. You can edit later, and you can prune things from the list later, and you can change things on the list later. This is a working draft. You are not examining a man, but rather examining yourself.

Now suppose you made such a list, and then a guy comes along who checks all the boxes. Suppose he takes you out a few times, and you decline going out with him a third time. Why? You just weren’t feeling it. This is certainly your prerogative, and nobody’s arguing that you should continue to go out with a guy just because he matches somebody else’s list. But if he checks all the boxes on your list, and you still want to say no, this is only because you didn’t put enough boxes on your list. Put those boxes on there now. If you said no because you wouldn’t have checked those boxes had they been on your list, then put them on your list now so that you can refuse to check them. Then he will not be one who “checked all the boxes.”

But before you say no to too many guys, it would perhaps be best if you analyzed your list. Is your list carnal? “I want a guy who is tall, dark, rich, and Reformed.”

Is your list realistic? In other words, do you not know what league you are in? Would a guy who fit the description on your list be interested in you? The guy who matches your list is a guy who presumably has a list of his own. Are you on that list? We have touched on this before. You don’t want an unrealistic list made up as a composite of the last ten romcoms you watched.

This next question needs a bit more unpacking. Is your list disingenuous? What I mean by this is—“how brutally honest is your list?” Did you put things on your list, not because you find them attractive, but because you have been taught that you are supposed to find them attractive?

Let me give you a hypothetical example. Suppose there is a guy in your circle of friends who is sweet, humble, sacrificial, gentle, soft-spoken, and is a guy who will one day make the best deacon in the whole world. You like him fine, and don’t object to his presence in the group, but the thought of going out with him produces a meh reaction in you. Now imagine another guy in the group who is kind of brash, talks too much in Bible studies, laughs a little too loudly, always seems to be in the center of whatever the action is, and the girls talk about him as kind of a pest. But he is not really maladroit—just too far out there for some people’s taste. They talk about him too, and you agree with those comments, and you shake your head at the same things your friends shake their heads at. And yet, in unguarded moments, you find yourself thinking about how you could help fix him. Fix him is too strong. Help him. Tame him. Take the rough edges off him. Maybe a little sandpaper and deep red cherry stain.

What is going on here is that you find his masculinity attractive, but are not in a position to admit to yourself that you actually do find it attractive. You are not supposed to, according to our current societal conventions, and so you don’t. He is putting dents in various social norms, and you feel like you have to tsk along with everybody else, and so you do.

In Scripture, men are told to love their wives, and so the smart men are looking for someone they think they could love. Women are told to respect their husbands, and so the smart women are looking for someone who speaks and acts with some kind of authority. But we live in egalitarian times, which is why the men are taught that to consider looks (or to talk about it with others as if they are considering looks) is the same thing as being a pig. And the women are taught that to look for a high status male who can lead others is to be a frothy little bit of nothing.

And yet the way of the world continues. Men start with how women look, and women start with how men act. Acknowledging these realities has fallen into disfavor, and so people avoid acknowledging them (even to themselves) but they continue to act on the basis of them.

Now every sensible Christian should know that the basics of attraction are merely what gets the second look, what garners the thoughtful consideration. And at this level, men are attracted by looks—hair, figure, face, liveliness. This is entry level for them, and so a man who stays there is a fool. Charm is deceitful, etc. (Prov. 31:30).

But we are not talking about what attracts them—the subject for another letter. I am talking about what attracts you. There is a masculine counterpart to the “charm is deceitful” principle. Machismo is deceitful also, and so you should be cautious. But you also need to not feel bad that you give a guy a second look because of it.

Just as charm is not deceitful if a woman has a gentle and quiet spirit (1 Pet. 3:4), because the charm goes all the way down, so also masculinity is not machismo—provided it goes all the way down.

So then, on to your list. I am going to provide a sample list below, with some commentary. This is only a sample list—as will become apparent, parts of it need to be on your list, while other parts of it are just placeholders, according to your tastes. The main thing is to note the structure of the list—need to have, good to have, would like to have, that kind of thing.

Need to Have

He must be a God-fearing man, attending worship faithfully, a conscientious Bible reader, one who consistently walks with God.

You do not want to be married to anyone who does not honor God as God. If he does not honor God, then it is because he in some way wants to be his own god, and you don’t want to be married to anyone who wants to be a god.

He must be someone who naturally and readily commands your respect.

One of the central things the New Testament requires of wives is that they honor and respect their husbands. You do not want this to be a steep uphill climb. Do you naturally look up to him? And related to this, see the point below about attraction.

He must be committed to Christian education for any children you will have.

One of the central things you will do together with your husband is the rearing of your children. You do not want to be at cross purposes with your husband when it comes to how you are going to do this.

He must be attractive to you.

This one admits of misunderstanding, but it is still important. I touched on this above, and will develop it some below. I am not talking someone who causes schoolgirl flutters, but rather someone you look up to and respect. This is because respect is an erotic necessity, and for many women it is an unrecognized erotic necessity. This aspect of the relations between men and women has been slandered horribly, as though conservative Christians are all about the domineering male, but the fact remains. C.S. Lewis points this out in That Hideous Strength.

I see,” said the Director. “It is not your fault. They never warned you. No one has ever told you that obedience—humility—is an erotic necessity. You are putting equality just where it ought not to be.”

That Hideous Strength

And in a essay entitled “Equality,” C.S. Lewis also says this:

This is the tragi-comedy of the modern woman; taught by Freud to consider the act of love the most important thing in life, and then inhibited by feminism from that internal surrender which alone can make it a complete emotional success. Merely for the sake of her own erotic pleasure, to go no further, some degree of obedience and humility seems to be (normally) necessary on the woman’s part.

Equality

So he must be attractive to you, but you must also have a good understanding of the laws of attraction. If you are not attracted to a guy because he is a milksop, you shouldn’t feel bad about that. You are pleasing God through not being attracted. You are doing your duty. But if there is a guy you actually do respect, but you are not crushing on him, or your heart is not doing a gymnastic floor exercise, and as a result you worry that you are not “attracted,” this means you that probably are misinterpreting the laws of attraction at the deeper level. You are not attracted to a guy you know you could lead around. Goodfor you. But you might think you are not attracted to a guy because you are nervous about where he might lead you. Not so good.

Good to Have

He must be a man who reads.

You grew up in a family of books. This is the kind of thing I know you value, and it would be a trial to your soul if married to a man uninterested in books.

He should be the kind of man who will probably wind up in church leadership some day.

This is under “good to have” instead of “need to have” because there are plenty of godly Christian men who have no need to become elders or deacons. He might be too busy feeding you and the ten kids. But it is fine to put a pin in it, and fine to have on your list.

Nice to Have

These are the sorts of things you should have on your list, but be willing to adjust as the situation unfolds. This is because you might think you would be blessed by something in parallel, when you would actually be blessed by a contrast. Sit loose with this kind of thing.

He should be a man who likes living in the Pacific Northwest.

You would like to stay relatively close to your extended family.

He should be decent when it comes to playing lawn darts.

My family always has lawn darts tournaments at our family reunions, and I don’t want to be embarrassed.

Our respective families should be similar when it comes to cultural issues.

You don’t want your kids suffering whiplash on alternative Thanksgivings.

Special Category/Prayer Request/Luck of the Draw

He should be aggressive enough, and well-endowed enough, to satisfy you sexually.

Because you and he are both Christians, this is not something you can ascertain directly. You are not supposed to ascertain it directly. The world thinks nothing of living together as sort of a test drive, thinking this provides “beforehand knowledge,” but it actually doesn’t. Couples who refrain from sex before marriage, and who are faithful to one another in marriage, are as a general rule far more satisfied sexually than those who fancy themselves “experienced.” Experience in fornication is not experience in marital happiness.

I used the phrase “luck of the draw” above, but that is only a matter of appearances. It is not really a matter of luck. Although you are not to come together sexually until the honeymoon, this is still something you should think about, and have some awareness of. Having said this, you can draw reasonable inferences from certain proxy considerations.

When two rams on the side of a mountain are in an epic head butting battle, what are they doing? They are in a battle having to do with access to the female. I speak in a parable, but a quarterback and a linebacker are doing the same thing. Now some are offended by this kind of thinking, but they should grow up and deal with it.

One of the things we have done to muddle ourselves is to pretend that certain aspects of our lives are not sexual in nature when they are entirely sexual in nature. But we have cordoned them off into a separate mental category, and then are offended when someone recognizes the sexual connection anyhow.

Or perhaps we sometimes recognize the sexual connection when whatever it is gets to extreme levels. What is the point of high heels? The point of high heels is to accentuate the buttocks, and this is something we might admit if confronted with a trophy wife in ankle-busters and a silver lame dress. And there are ways of putting on makeup that are supposed to signal a mock arousal. But don’t get me wrong. There are modest ways of putting on makeup, and there are modest heels out there. But there are no asexual heels.

In a similar way, there is no asexual football game. A man’s sexual interest and ability to pursue you is directly related to testosterone. As a chaste Christian woman, you are to have no direct knowledge of how that would translate into the bedroom. But here is the good news. Testosterone does other stuff, which means that you can have that knowledge indirectly. But you can only have that knowledge if you are not kidding yourself about what is going on. We are sexual beings. We were created as sexual beings, and we are supposed to take it into account. But we are also rational beings, which means that we should do so intelligently. See what I wrote earlier about the laws of attraction.

So here now, I am going to draw this to a close. I see that your uncle is embarrassing you.

Your uncle,

Douglas

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