Do Looks Really Matter When It Comes to Dating?

Life & Love | Gerren Keith Gaynor | 02/19/2014 | 12:00 AM EST

Everyone has their deal breakers, but should physical appearance be one of them?

The process of dating can sometimes feel like a fast food restaurant; there’s a variety of menu options you can choose from with an even more variety of ingredients. Unfortunately unlike a visit to McDonald’s, you can’t substitute one quality of someone you’re dating for another quality - typically what you see is what you get. Still, who you choose is entirely your choice, and how you choose should be based on your desired preference.

But what do you do if someone possesses most of the qualities you’re looking for in a partner, but maybe does not fit into your preference physically?

Though it may seem shallow to some, physical attraction is an important factor for most when dating, particularly when it comes to the sexual aspect of the relationship. Physical attraction isn’t something you can turn off or on. You’re either turned on sexually or you’re not. However, there’s a difference between attraction and compatibility. You can be turned on by someone for their physical appearance and not be compatibie, while you can be very compatible with someone but not be sexually or physically attracted to them.

But is physical appearance really a deal breaker? With all the twists and turns the dating lifestyle brings, finding someone you’re truly compatible with can prove to be rather nauseating - not to mention it would suck to let a good one go simply because of looks.

However, sexual attraction is crucial for most relationships, and because physical attraction is closely linked to sexual arousal you may put yourself at risk of not being sexually satisfied in your relationship (which can lead to infidelity). Of course, there are levels to attraction. You may choose to date someone whom you considered to be a 7 on a scale from 1 to 10, but it doesn’t mean you’re not physically just means there are others out there you’d find more attractive.

Should people, therefore, date someone who they are at least remotely attracted to, or should they not even waste their time? Some experts say that a couple’s compatibility factor is more important than attraction, with some even arguing that the attraction can grow over time.

But professionals have differing opinions when it comes to whether or not physical attraction is important, and more importantly if one’s attraction to a person can actually improve. Still, it’s important that you’re honest with yourself enough to know what is or isn’t a deal breaker for matter how shallow it may seem. With that, however, it’s important to not have too lofty of an ideal that it leaves you never satisfied and single.

Physical attraction doesn’t have to be such a shallow concept. For some it may be body type, skin complexion, etc., while for others it’s more nuanced things like good teeth, height or grooming. There’s nothing wrong with such things, just be sure to be willing to compromise somewhere on your list of musts, because you will more than likely never find all the ingredients of your “perfect” mate.

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