Dating Someone You’re Not Physically Attracted To

My first boyfriend cheated on me. I found out from his brother, who was a good friend of mine. He broke the bro code as he saw how much I wanted to make his brother happy but also how much of a fool his brother was making me out to be. Behind my back, my ex was seeing other girls and laughing about how stupid and gullible I was.

The experience left me determined never to date another man who loved me less than I loved him. It made sense to let the guy put in more effort and have deeper feelings than me. That way, I would never get hurt again. Looking back, I see how selfish I was and I am not proud of what happened next.

Meeting a fellow cat lover 

I met J in London as a young working professional. I was out having drinks with some of my girlfriends when a tall guy at the bar spotted the picture of my cat on my phone. “Cat lover, huh? he asked. He flashed his home screen wallpaper of his own cat and asked if he could buy me a drink. I wanted to hear more about his cat, so I agreed.

As we got chatting, my girlfriend walked past me and lifted a quizzical eyebrow. She knew he wasn’t the type I was usually physically attracted to, but I gave her a glare and she left me alone. J seemed to find me really funny. He was also enamoured by everything I said. It was a real ego boost; a quick rush that felt really addictive.

He asked if he could have my number so he could take me to see the Phantom of the Opera and dine at the most coveted steak restaurant in London. I agreed.

J arrived on our first date with flowers and chocolates. He was the perfect gentleman. But I felt no chemistry or excitement. “These things take time,” I told myself. Plus, he was a nice guy. I agreed to a second date, which turned into a third, fourth and fifth one. I enjoyed being showered with gifts and attention, and being made to feel like a princess.

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Physical attraction takes time—or so I thought

After the fifth date, J tried to kiss me. But I moved away, saying I wasn’t ready. He replied that it was okay and he would wait till whenever I was ready. 

Six months went on and eventually, I relented. He was a good kisser, but I felt nothing. I felt like I was going through the motions of mouth movements.

Despite my lack of feelings, I continued to date J. Why? I knew he would never cheat on me. He loved me unconditionally and adored everything about me, flaws and all. It felt reassuring to know I would never be hurt again. I also didn’t believe I could do better. 

It sounds ridiculous now, but I didn’t know if I would ever find a man who would spoil and love me the way he did. So I carried on, and kept telling myself I would feel differently. After all, lust and infatuation fade in relationships as time goes on—should it matter that I never felt them in the first place?

Enough was enough

The months wore on and I hoped my attraction for him would grow. Instead, I felt the opposite. I started to find everything he did and wore irritating. I became cold and distant, and started to feel nauseous when he tried to put his arm around me. It was only after I caught myself checking out other guys, wishing I could date them, that I knew it was time to put things to an end.

J didn’t deserve someone who felt this way. All he wanted was to see me happy. Instead, I was an angry, irritable partner who constantly criticised him. I had become the kind of girlfriend I never wanted to be, one who took and took and didn’t give anything back.

Eventually, I took the plunge and broke up with him, resigning myself to being single forever. At the same time, I also realised I would be happier alone than with someone who made me feel nauseous. I didn’t want to settle and, on the other hand, J didn’t deserve someone who didn’t love him the same way. He was kind, generous and patient. He deserved to be with a girl who appreciated him. That girl wasn’t me. I may have found him unattractive but attraction is subjective. There would be other women out there who appreciated his looks more than I did.

I Dated Someone I Was Not Physically Attracted To & Realised It’s Better To Be Alone Than Unhappy

I have since gone on to meet a wonderful partner whom I am physically attracted to, who is also kind, loyal and patient. Every day, I wake up wanting to kiss him and stare at his face. I also heard through the grapevine that my ex has found someone else. They are engaged and will be married in a few months. I feel incredibly happy for him.

So, if you are in a relationship where you feel like you are settling but are too scared to leave, remember, it’s better to be alone than in a relationship that makes you unhappy. At least with the former, you have some form of control over it. Have the courage to let you and your partner find the true happiness that you both deserve.

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Photography by Joshua Lee