I have made the case in several previous articles that looks matter in the dating world. How a person looks and the attraction that results from those looks is the most immediate and powerful indicator of attraction. When we are initially attracted to a person’s good looks, that leads us to then being more open to learning more about that person, subsequent conversation, and a possible eventual relationship. Even though people often say that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, that is only somewhat true. In a previous article I reviewed universal beauty indicators: physical traits that each gender is wired to naturally be attracted to that are indicative of health, fertility, and other positive outcomes (see: https://www.ldsdimension.com/articles/universal-beauty-indicators-67/). So yes, it matters, but no, looks aren’t everything.
Complicating the looks issue: because of technology—tv, computer, cell phone apps, etc., we are bombarded with ideal images of the opposite sex on a continual basis. Billboards, magazines, and other tangible ads further hit us with ideal beauty images all around us. With all this exposure to ideal beauty, what is the effect? The field of psychology has created a term called, “the contrast effect” (see: https://psychology.fandom.com/wiki/Contrast_effect). With the contrast effect, the more often we see ideal images of the opposite sex, the more desensitized we can become to regular, real life beauty. This desensitization can make it more difficult and challenging to be physically attracted to others in real life that we may otherwise be attracted to. Hence, working to lessen and contain seeing such images excessively is a healthy goal. Yes, living in the modern world can make this goal challenging. Beyond trying to see less of such images, some other emphases below can be better to focus on more with others. In short, the more these other traits are focused on and emphasized, and the less looks alone are the focus, relationship choices become more balanced, healthy, and positive.
Positive Traits to Look for in Others (Beyond Looks):
*Being Empathetic, Kind, and Giving: An empathetic, kind person is willing to lovingly give in whatever ways are needed at the time. Kind, empathetic people naturally and freely give of their time, energy, efforts, and occasionally, money/other physical resources. They are generous people who are happy to give without keeping score and looking for favors in return. They give both openly and in private, when around others, and when others are not around. Their prime motivates as caring individuals are to give in whatever ways others need. Their ability to empathize and sense how others are feeling helps them know what to give, when, and how much (since most people tend not to ask for help when needed). The opposite of being empathetic and giving? Being selfish/narcissistic. Beware of and avoid such individuals relationally.
*Fun/Activities: What are their hobbies, interests, and past times? Do they tend to be solitary or do they like to be around others? Are they more sociable and extroverted or more isolated and introverted? Are activities at home or away? Costly, low cost, or free? How energetic, mobile, and active are they? Are they animal people or not? Are they into church activities or not? In general, how well do their activity levels and interests match yours, as well as their general energy levels? Usually, the more similar you both are together, the better.
*Intelligence: How intelligent are they? How much formal education have they attained? How strong are they with their street smarts and common sense? How “sharp” are they? How well can you match and relate to their intelligence level—and the other to yours? Do you mesh well together or is there a notable mismatch? A good match of intelligence creates comfortable, stimulating, relatable interactions. A mismatch is usually a notable strain, labor, and effort.
*Communication Style: John Gottman, the world’s leading expert in marital research out of the University of Washington, defines individuals as primarily utilizing one of three main communication preferences: volatile (aggressive), validating (assertive), or avoidant (passive) styles. As couples get together, they tend to create one of five main type of couples interaction styles: conflict avoiders, volatile couples, validating couples, hostile couples, and hostile-detached couples (source: https://www.gottman.com/blog/the-5-couple-types/). While some of these styles will tend to promote a ratio of notably more or less positive versus negative interactions, they are still all preferences. The important thing is that whichever style a couple creates together, the healthy goal is to average 5 or more positive interactions for every negative one together. Consider your communication and interaction style as a critical key to whether or not you would be a good, healthy couple together (or not).
*Spirituality: In an earlier article, I talked about the need to be equally yolked spiritually. This basically means that if you are roughly at the same spiritual level and have about the same spiritual goals, you will be more likely to get along in this important department. Conversely, the more different and apart you both are in the spirituality arena, the more resentment, frustration, and friction will develop on the subject. For more information on spirituality and spiritual compatibility, see: https://www.ldsdimension.com/articles/are-we-spiritually-compatible-27/.
Again, looks matter and they always will. However, please learn about and focus on other deeper and more interpersonal traits a person possesses beyond their looks as well. As you see people in a broader, more holistic way, you will be in a better position to make relational decisions to proceed or withdraw from prospective relationships. Your relationship decisions are of immense mortal and eternal importance, so choose well. Because “…neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.”—1 Corinthians 11:11.
P.S. If you have any questions, comments, or a future article request for me, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the author
Hello, my name is Dr. Randy Gilchrist (aka "Dr. G"). I am a licensed clinical psychologist, a licensed marriage & family therapist, and a certified hypnotherapist in private practice in Roseville, CA (www.dr-rg.com), practicing since 1997. Also, I am happily married in the temple (Manti) since 1996 and have 4 sons. I am a volunteer writer and contributor to LDS Dimension. I use my training, education, and experience to share insights with LDS Dimension on all things of interest to the LDS dating community. Please read my articles and columns on this site to assist you in your online dating journey. Also, to be considered for an answer in a future Q and A column, please email me your dating/relationship oriented questions to email@example.com. Finally, I also offer a powerful, effective worldwide custom hypnosis recording service just for LDS Dimension members for weight loss, pornography, and many other issues of concern to those in the LDS dating community (please learn more now at www.dr-rg.com/lds; email me questions to firstname.lastname@example.org).