If you look at the statistics surrounding relationships in the past 100 years, you would probably see that there are growing numbers of divorces that just keep climbing exponentially each year. There are a number of reasons for this but perhaps the biggest reason is that we simply haven’t figured out the difference between affection vs. attraction.
This is really a relatively new issue in terms of relationships, but bear in mind that the roles which men and women play have also changed significantly over the years.
A Historical Perspective
In the past, few relationships began as a ‘love match’ and when they did they were so out of the norm that they were widely celebrated. Marriages were made for convenience until perhaps the mid part of the last century and certainly were an everyday occurrence at the turn of the same century. Men went out to work and often worked long hours. A woman was ‘needed’ to run the household, raise a family and simply ‘be there’ should her man need anything of her.
Somewhere in the first few decades of the 1900’s women began demanding more rights and over time one of those rights was the ability to choose who she wanted to see and when. This is where the beginning of the issue of affection vs. attraction really took root. In those days it wasn’t necessary to have affection for someone and it certainly wasn’t necessary to be attracted to them to be in a relationship. It was here that it became necessary to look at just what you were feeling, affection or attraction.
Even now it is hard to tell if you have real feelings for someone or if you are just experiencing overwhelming lust. There are some simple ‘tests’ that can help determine the difference if you are really questioning whether or not you really care for your partner. In a perfect world the litmus test would be whether or not the other person’s feelings came before your own. Love is supposed to be other centered, but somehow we have gotten away from that aspect of it. We live in a ‘me’ world where it is ‘my’ wants and needs rather than what can I do for my lover.
Of course, we all know this is not a perfect world. Our feelings do count for something and it is okay to try to satisfy our needs. So putting someone first isn’t always a good gauge as to whether we have affection or are just attracted to another person. Actually, there is something you could look at to see if those feelings are just attraction or if they are authentic affection. If you are attracted to someone you of course want your needs met. But, if you have affection for the other person you would want to make sure that their needs are met as well. Perhaps that is a better guide. Do you only care about how you feel or do you want to satisfy the other person as well.
When Affection vs. Attraction Becomes Blurred
Too many relationships start out on rocky ground because the difference between affection and attraction are simply blurred. In fact, too many well-meaning mothers would tell their daughters “Don’t worry about it. You will grow to love him.” Well, you should worry about it! If you don’t have affection (maybe not love but at the very least affection) that relationship is doomed from the start. This is not the age where marriages were arranged for convenience! We actually get to choose our mates and because of this it is important to know that you are choosing out of love and not out of desire!
One of the ways you can tell if you are experiencing attraction or affection is in terms of the sexual side of the relationship. If you have true feelings for the other person you will probably not have eyes for anyone else and if you did you would be so remorseful that you just couldn’t act on it. On the other hand, if you are just attracted to someone then you probably wouldn’t think twice about going out with someone else. This goes beyond not wanting to hurt the other person but rather because your affection is focused on your partner. True affection is totally satisfying whereas attraction may or may not be. Actually, unless you are considering making the relationship permanent there really isn’t any cause for concern.
Instead of wondering and worrying about whether or not you love that person just let things happen as they will. Before long it should become evident whether you truly have feelings or if you are just attracted to him/her on a physical level. These things have a habit of working themselves out if you give it time. Don’t jump into anything unless you are 100% sure that you have affection for the other person. This is where so many marriages go terribly wrong. The couple is still in the throes of unadulterated passion (attraction) and don’t allow things to cool off before becoming committed to a lifelong relationship (affection). Even though there is a definite difference in affection vs. attraction, you won’t know this until time has passed.