Why You’re Attracted to the Opposite Sex

Donald Miller

This week I’m featuring posts from my newest release, Father Fiction. These are new writings, not previously released in the books original form. The book hits stores today.

Father Fiction spells out some practical advice for people who grew up without dads, but it’s great for mentors and single mom’s too. I should warn you the book is very plain spoken and blunt. It’s perhaps the most direct book I’ve written, and I don’t hold back on my opinions. I don’t hold back because over time I’ve learned exactly what I needed to hear having grown up without a father. This first piece is taken from a chapter about dating:

From Father Fiction:

“…We also want to understand why we are attracted to the opposite sex, and there are many reasons. I want to talk about the two dominant forces that draw you to the opposite sex. The first is the desire to reproduce. This is what your body wants. The second is the desire for redemption. This is what your soul wants.

At a young age your hormones were going crazy. We think we are in love but the truth is, we are in lust. We just want to have sex. But look around, look at how many couples are unhappy. So many of them got married because they wanted sex, not because they wanted the responsibility of taking care of another person and a family.

The other force is the desire for redemption. Psychologists theorize that we are deeply attracted (what feels like romantic love) to the negative characteristics of our primary caretakers. You know that intense feeling you get when you think you can’t live without him or her? According to this theory, what you are really feeling is the desire to go back in time to when you were a baby and fix the relationship you had with your parents. Your subconscious recognizes the other person as having your parents characteristics, and takes your subconscious back to childhood. That’s why you feel like you’ve always known this person or that if you don’t have him or her, you won’t have security. Your brain assumes if you lose this person, you’ll lose the roof over your head, your daily food and love itself. That’s why you obsess about somebody you hardly know. Your subconscious brain thinks that person is your mommy or daddy. Your squirrel brain is picking up on the negative characterisitcs of your primary caretakers because those are the ones you hope to fix so that you’ll finally receive love. If your father had a bad temper, you might be attracted to a person with a bad temper. If your mother was controlling, you are going to be drawn to a mroe controlling person. And the whole time you are going to think you are madly in love, that this other person is going to complete you. The very sad news and the hard news is they won’t. The greater the passion, oftentimes, the greater the let down. This is true because the subconscious brain doesn’t get what it was hoping to get, which is a repaired relationship with mommy and daddy.

Nuts, isn’t it? Insane. But I actually think this theory bears a lot of truth.

But what do you do with this?

Well, for starters, you don’t let your squirrel brain drive all your decisions. When you fall in love, ask yourself what it is that is drawing you to this person. Is it sex? That won’t last. It won’t be long before you’re sexually attracted to somebody else, and you might end up having many partners and the lonely life of a sailor on shore leave. Is it that they are controlling or have anger issues? That won’t work either. They aren’t your mommy or daddy, and they aren’t going to make everything okay.

In fact, relationships, while rewarding, actually make life harder. They will bless your life, but they will bless your life through sacrifice. You are going to get more muscle out of it, and that’s the attidute you have to have going into it in the first place. If you go into a relationship hoping to give love, hoping to create some of the security the other person is looking for, you are better off and your relationship stands a chance. And you’ll most likely get some love in return. But it will be realistic love, not redemption. Your spouse isn’t Jesus.

So the real question to ask is, “Can I put up with this person?” That sounds awful, but it’s important. Does she like what I like, is he easy to talk to, is she a good friend? In other words, does this relationship have the stuff of terrific friendship? Of course, you have to be attracted to the person, just don’t let that attraction hijack you into making stupid decisions.

That narrows the field considerably. You might be ticked at me right now because it’s hard enough to get a date, and I’ve just taken ninety percent of the applicants out of the picture. But I promise you, people who know what they want and are choosy about their mates are infinitely more attrative to the opposite sex. Be choosy and I assure you people will be more drawn to you.

I wish somebody would have told me that when I was a kid.

Now, lets talk about what women really find attractive in men, and what men really find attractive in women…(continued tomorrow…)

* Father Fiction is available at your local bookstore today. Thanks so much for your interest, and for allowing me the plug!

Donald Miller

Donald Miller

Donald Miller has been telling his story for more than a decade, now he wants to help you tell yours. He’s helped over 1,000 companies clarify their message through the StoryBrand Workshops. For an introduction to what he’s doing now, check out the 5 Minute Marketing Makeover.

  • Dino

    That’s a pretty good ending to this post. I actually think we are attracted to the opposite because we are just built to do so. It’s instinct, it is what we make us humans.

    I guess it it is true that we are attracted to certain traits such as a controlling personalities or arrogant ones. However, why we are attracted to the opposite sex in general is because without that characteristic, we wouldn’t exist in the first place.

    Not sure about about why some people are attracted to their same sex, though. I was hoping to find a more idealistic view of why we are attracted to people in this post.

  • Pingback: Beware when opposites attract! | lolograce()


    thanks for this article. It really calmed me down from one of my hormonal fits. I definitely know what I want out of life and a partner, but my loins are usually in the drivers seat so I end up in unhappy situations. There’s a woman (a few women actually) that I work with and who I’ve been pining over, but it’s all physical. We don’t have good interactions; small talk is forced and I find their personalities to be cardboard cutouts of real personalities. I’m a bit of a cad and loner so I know why I’m drawn to them, lack of getting laid, but I don’t really like sex with other people so I just have these thoughts floating around in my head with nowhere to go. The only women I’ve liked were because of looks; haven’t yet met someone that I could stand to be around for any significant length of time. Anyway, thanks again. I was really close to sending a stupid e-mail asking a pretty co-worker out for drinks, but I’m really not interested in conversation so I won’t.