Falling in love is one of the best experiences, but it can also blur our vision. That’s why it can often feel like love is blind. A vital step in our search for loving and meaningful connections is understanding the forces that impact our choices. A lot goes into creating sustainable long-term connections and having a sense of who you’re attracted to and why will make it easier to recognize the right person. (Estimated reading time: 7 minutes)
“”If love be blind, love cannot hit the mark.”— William Shakespeare
Most of us remember the feeling when we laid eyes on our first high school crush. The mere sight of them made us blush, gave us butterflies in our tummies, and got us tongue-tied.
Young love has an intensity and innocence that we can rarely replicate in adulthood. We chose to stay on top of the clouds and let our world be filled with unicorns and rainbows. We didn’t question our feelings or those of the other person and it made us believe that love is blind.
As we grow older, the stakes of our relationships get higher. We can’t get stuck in the honeymoon phase of young love and be blinded to the flaws and foibles of our lovers.
A lot goes into creating sustainable long-term connections, and the person we choose to be with has a significant impact on our happiness and wellbeing.
A vital step in our search for loving and meaningful connections is understanding the forces that impact how we choose our partners. That means trying to figure out why certain people who look good on paper and seem so right for us (based on others’ perspective) leave us feeling flat, while someone who seems very different from us or socially unacceptable (think Romeo and Juliet) can spark fireworks.
Having a sense of who you’re attracted to and why will make it easier to recognize the right person out of all the hundreds and thousands of people that you’ll come across in your life.
More than meets the eye: the unconscious forces that impact our choices
When French mathematician Blaise Pascal famously said, “the heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing of,” he was alluding to the mystery behind our desires for certain people.
Evolutionary psychology states that we’re wired to choose partners who show signs of good fertility and give us the best opportunity to pass on our genes. Like other animals, we’re driven by a primal instinct to survive and reproduce.
Studies show that men are instinctively drawn to women with a certain waist-hip ratio (approximately 0.7-0.9) and feminine and youthful facial features. Bodywise, women prefer taller men with a high shoulder-to-hip ratio (a V shape body).
Our instinct to seek fertile mates goes beyond the physical. Both men and women want people who will stick around—this is usually seen in warm, loyal, kind, empathetic, thoughtful, and conscientious people. Women seek men who display intelligence, ambition, and competence.
Of course, this theory doesn’t factor in changes in our social landscape. Now that gender is fluid, non-binary people won’t relate to this cookie-cutter criteria. Women now play a bigger role in the workforce and aren’t necessarily looking for a provider.
Another theory to explain our choice in partners is the Imago theory. Developed by the therapist Harville Hendrix, it states that we’re unconsciously drawn to people who remind us of our parents or primary caregiver. We pick someone familiar who we think can help us work through past issues and heal childhood wounds.
Becoming aware of the influence of Imago theory is especially important if our parents were not present in our lives or if the way they expressed love was unhealthy and inconsistent. In such cases, we tend to be drawn to toxic partners with whom we form co-dependent relationships.
Beyond evolutionary and psychological aspects, other factors influence our mate selection:
- Proximity: We grow to like those we often see and those we have frequent contact with.
- Similarity: We are drawn to those with similar interests, values, and temperaments. While we aren’t looking for our identical twin, we do want someone similar enough so that we don’t have to explain ourselves or alter our ways too much.
- Social value: We tend to pick those close to our assessment of our own desirability and attractiveness. Physical attractiveness, status, and financial success become key factors in those driven by a “marketplace mentality.” We want someone who is on par or who can elevate us.
- Culture and religion: In some communities, people are required to find partners within their culture and religion. This becomes a benchmark that they adhere to.
When we dig deep and reflect on how these forces affect us, we free ourselves from their control. We become more conscious and deliberate in our decisions about whom we choose to couple up with.
Beyond surface attraction: recognizing soul-inspired partnerships
In the movie Titanic, when Jack Dawson first laid eyes on Rose DeWitt Bukater, he was hypnotized by her beauty. When she noticed him, she met his eyes with curiosity.
When his friends noticed his starstruck look they told him that it was impossible for a penniless artist like him to get close to a woman from an upper-class background. “Ah, forget it, boyo. You’d as like have angels fly out of your arse as get next to the likes of her,” one of them flippantly said.
On some level, a person in Jack Dawson’s shoes is aware of the odds against them, but it’s often not enough to extinguish the powerful flame that’s been lit. Falling and pursuing a woman like Rose was far from convenient and could even have cost him his life. But he did it anyway.
Their encounter can be seen as proof that love is blind, but there’s more happening beneath the surface.
While they were physically attracted to each other, they could feel a deeper purpose in being together. She encouraged his artistic talent and was even willing to be his muse. He noticed a fire in her and urged her to escape the rigid lifestyle that constrained her.
Their presence in each other’s lives led to the realization of their own potential and growth. Their shared love gave each one the courage to pursue what they knew was right for them. Even though Jack’s life tragically ended, Rose went on to live a life of liberation.
Sometimes our reasons for being drawn to someone may not make sense. Society may not condone it, and one will have to fight for it as Rose and Jack did. Such people often turn out to be key players in our personal evolution.
To recognize the individuals who become the catalysts of our souls, we must look at them beyond the lens of superficial standards and our primal urges. We can only appreciate their worth when we listen to the wisdom of our intuition. When we’re open to where it takes us, we’ll discover paths we never knew.
Here’s how to choose partners from a place of conscious awareness:
1. Heal the past: Memories of painful events can significantly influence our daily lives, including the way we judge potential partners and how we respond to what they say and do. Get rid of any blocks and address unresolved traumas and hurts that linger by practicing mindfulness, self-compassion, present-moment awareness, and seeking therapy.
2. Know the difference between love and infatuation: Knowing the difference between infatuation and love will make it clear if there’s something more to your connection than surface attraction. Both feel different—infatuation is an obsessive interest and admiration, while love is a warm attachment and devotion. Check in with yourself if you feel the pangs of desire clouding your thinking.
3. Get clear on what you want: While attraction is not a science and people can’t be reduced to lists, it helps to know your basic requirements based on your values and lifestyle. For instance, if you’re a staunch vegan, is it important for your partner to be one too? Having a sense of your “dealbreakers” can weed out people who aren’t a good fit. If you’re passionate about animal rights, you probably wouldn’t want to be with someone who is a recreational hunter.
4. Prioritize common values over ego-based criteria: The happiest couples are those who can see eye-to-eye on issues (or peacefully agree to disagree) and who can get on the same page on important decisions. This is more likely to happen when we’re with people who share the same values and similar views as we do. Too often, people go for partners who look good on paper and that society and family approve of versus the ones with whom they are truly compatible.
5. Slow down and listen: Time reveals people’s true colors. We are complex beings with many layers to our personas that can’t be revealed in a few meetings and in limited settings. That’s why it’s essential to take time to understand and watch a love interest’s patterns before committing. It also allows us to see the person more objectively after the first blush of new love wears out. We’ll see that that idea that “love is blind” is a myth.
Every potential partner we meet can teach us something valuable about ourselves and about how we love. When we pay attention and are fully present with whomever we choose to spend time with, we take on the vibration of love. It’s in this elevated state that we’ll draw the people who will resonate with us on all levels—mind, body, and spirit.
All my best on your journey,
Question for you: Do you believe that love is blind? Have you ever faced a time in your life when your judgment was not on point about a certain person you were interested in?
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