One of the barbaric characteristics of our “civilized” culture, is that we’re conditioned to desire the admiration of our physical/sensual attributes over the appreciation of our unique spirit. We long for the approval of what we look like (you’re so hot) over who we are (you’re so gracious).
This cultural partiality is so pronounced that if you describe a person as having “a great personality” it throws up red flags. (Is that it? Just a great personality? But I want to know if they have “fine” written all over them!)
Now I totally get why we’re drawn to someone’s physical/sensual attributes. Duh! They’re so obvious – immediately apparent.
Contrarily, someone’s intellect, interests, and personality are not. You have to get to know someone to perceive those qualities.
But which of the two do we grow to treasure over time: external attraction or inner beauty? The answer to that question is pretty obvious too. Few people end a relationship because they decide they just can’t stand the other’s appearance, but many people part ways after discovering they simply can’t get along with someone regardless of how attractive they are. Even more interesting, how many times have you found someone plain upon first meeting, but find they grow more attractive as you get to know them?
Your physical appearance may increase your opportunities to connect with people, but it cannot help you sustain those connections.
So if you want to increase the quantity of your relationships, you will want to focus on your external appearance, but if you want to improve the quality of your relationships, you’ll want to spend less time grooming and more time growing: intellectually, emotionally, relationally and spiritually. And you’ll want to limit your dating prospects to those who are more concerned with growing over grooming as well.
Now that’s not to say, stop bathing and paying attention to style. Fact is, if I’m growing in health and wholeness on the inside, my outward appearance will naturally reflect this. However, if I continue to prioritize my appearance over my character I’m in danger of the opposite. I could end up creating a façade that doesn’t reflect who I am on the inside at all.
Does your outside appearance say, “Look at me! I’m a parking ticket! I’ve got ‘fine’ written all over me!” when the reality is that you are far from fine?
Does your outside appearance say, “I’m confident!” when the reality is that you’re insecure?
Does your outward appearance say, “I’m sexy!” when the reality is you’re just needy?
Does your outward appearance say, “I’m a healthy person!” when the reality is you’re broken and bleeding internally, longing to connect with someone you hope will heal you?
There’s only one person who can do that, but you won’t get to know them on a date. You get to know Him through prayer, through God’s word and through platonic relationships with other believers who are honestly dealing with who they are and who they can only be in Christ.
And as you question your character, look back over your dating life. Do you observe a string of short-term relationships? Could it be you’re building shallow relationships founded on external factors; relationships which then implode when you get to know the other’s internal makeup (or they get to know yours)?
Got a little more to say on this topic. In fact, next week we’re going to get into the sexual overtones of flirtatious remarks like this. Until then, spend some time on the questions above.
Date Night Advice (DNA) series: TOP10 Signs You’re on a Bad First Date
TOP10 Sign #10B: You’re date’s opening line is “… you got ‘fine’ written all over you!”
Click here to read the next post in the series.
DNA: It’s What’s For Dating
It’s NOT for couples, but for any wise individual who thinks they might want to get married sometime before they die. And would like to learn how to better build healthy relationships in the meantime.
Check out all three study guides in our store. You can walk through them on your own, but it’s more fun with friends (that and it kinda makes sense to grow in relational success in actual relationships with others), so consider putting together an FMU LoveEd small group study.
Even better? And ask a rock star married couple you respect to lead it!