Online Dating 101: Appearances Change, Read the Profile First
My wife will soon give birth to our first child. Our OB-GYN said my wife should put on about 30 pounds through the pregnancy. The weight hasn’t changed her attractiveness. It has caused reflection on just how much weight – pun intended – men (and women) give a woman’s appearance when choosing a possible mate.
From Online Dating To Pregnancy
Many people who use online dating or dating apps “swipe left.” Looks are often a reason.
Because of this, online dating can be a shallowing experience. Both sexes find the other physically attractive, though generally men prioritize physical attractiveness while women tend to put financial security first. According to some research, women look at height while men look at weight when considering a potential mate online.
I’ve long preferred more slender women. For example: My wife’s Catholic Match profile description was very attractive. But it was her picture which was the decisive factor for reaching out. She lived halfway across the country; I wasn’t sure if it was wise to pursue a relationship. I’m glad I did!
As we headed towards marriage, we regularly talked with our priest about the creation of new life. As orthodox Catholics* not planning to use Natural Family Planning, contraception, or other methods of pregnancy prevention, we knew an early pregnancy was likely.
We were right. Within six months of our wedding, my wife’s body changed both externally and internally.
Social Subjectivity and Objective Morality
For men, it can be especially tough to look beyond the flesh. Pornography, near-pornographic images in magazines and comics, bikinis, and men’s weakness with physical chastity create a difficult environment. And as I’ve written for Catholic Match, online dating made me shallower in some ways.
There is always a balance. God designed each of us a certain way. Rejecting the natural and good part of your appreciation for one of God’s attractive creations is not helpful. But don’t overthink it; don’t spend hours parsing each and every word in a dating profile. And unless one’s predilection regarding physical appearance is sinful, it is just fine for physical attraction to play a role in dating decisions.
The fact is only God can transcend earthly loves and find the healthy mean for us. Relying on Him at all times is key to success. We all change physically and in every other way throughout life. Disease, age, accidents, pregnancy, genetics, general life experience, and pregnancy are just some of the reasons why. (And I haven’t even touched eating habits.)
God is the key, but here are a few tactics to supplement looking beyond the flesh early in a relationship:
- Men, do your due diligence to have a list of qualities you’ll prioritize when looking for a spouse. If a woman’s profile doesn’t match those qualities, move on. Do not get caught up in justifying reaching out if her physical attraction plays an oversized role in your consideration.
- Have important conversations early in a relationship. Chastity, divorce, abortion, church attendance, love languages, prayer, finances – make sure you’re involved with someone who shares your daily values.
- Learn healthy conflict resolution. Everyone has their challenges when it comes to disagreements. Some people are less in tune with emotions, some people are overly sensitive, some people are too blunt, and others may never directly address problems. Whatever challenges you and your significant other have, learn what they are and how to address them early on.
- Do your best to be a worthy spouse before you get married. If you are lacking in qualities which you or your significant other value, get to work!
Be True to the Holiest Version of Yourself
My wife and I know we are imperfect people entering a lifelong relationship. We’ve chosen to put our trust in God and each other that our love will grow as we change from what we looked like in 2016. Our daily fidelity of doing the dishes and laundry, putting down the toilet seat, and greeting each other with hugs is just part of making sure we see not only each other’s skin-deep, but also our soul-deep beauty.