New love is like a fresh start. During dating, everyone puts on their best face. People want to make their best impressions. It isn't so much a deception to hide past embarrassments, as it is an opportunity to discover your strengths in love. Attraction is new fresh perspective, a glimpse of potential. But that wouldn't be possible if everyone had to wear a complete disclosure statement of every fault they possess. If we had to advertise our flaws, no one would get beyond initial greetings to discover their late-blooming potential.

Some people confused attraction and chemistry with love, giving power to an outside force to control their destiny. They see attraction as a magical, binding influence to draw them toward their destiny. If it's working, it's a sign that two people are meant for each other. And if chemistry is missing, it's presumed to be an indicator that the relationship is doomed to loveless mediocrity. These assumptions trade personal responsibility for bondage.

Being bound in the spell of attraction is like playing a distorted game of "Go Fish." The draw pile and hands are composed entirely of numeric cards, while the players ask only for the missing face cards. A young woman, holding a hand with three tens, wants to find a King of Spades; but even if he came into her hand, she wouldn't have any cards to match the Queen of Hearts he’s looking for. All the players are looking for nonexistent suits, the joker laughs at the senseless charade. Many players go home empty handed.

Does it sound like a harsh criticism of the game of love? It isn't. I believe in the uplifting, wholesome enrichment that comes when two people surrender selfishness in affection for each other. But we often sabotage our wishes by the very means through which we hope to obtain them.

Appearances are deceptive. Beauty is even more so. By making a quest to find an attractive companion, we narrow our search to a field of candidates who may or may not share our values, who may be self-absorbed, and might feel superior—it isn't the best place to find lasting love.

By making attractiveness a search criterion, we focus on traits that are superficial: looks, dress, speech, posture—aspects of physical appearance. We overlook traits that are more significant for a lifetime of nurturing: virtue, honor, integrity, character, values, faith, compassion, and humility. These core attributes are the essential ingredients to a lasting love relationship. An imbalanced focus on romance is one barrier to finding lasting love. Everywhere you look, you're bombarded with messages to find love

A well-rounded approach to relationships balances the four quadrants of character: mental, physical, spiritual, and social. If you keep the four areas of your life in balance, you’ll likely find lifelong satisfaction. If any one aspect outweighs the others, you'll probably suffer

Is there such a thing as wholesome attraction? When you hold a newborn infant, you can't help but fall under her spell. You are completely taken by her innocence and unwritten potential. You wish the best opportunities for her. You fear what unimaginable dangers lie ahead. You’re in love, and this baby hasn’t made the slightest effort to earn your affection.

Infatuation is a lot like that. You've reserved a spot on your dance card and left it open, in hopes that someone spectacular would waltz into your life. You see a glimpse in a pair of eyes that reminds you of everything you ever wished for. You feel drawn toward the mysterious stranger. You hope and fear in the potential of an unwritten future. Attraction nudges you to step forward and introduce yourself. The first step opens the way for the potential of a wonderful relationship.

Beauty has its place, if we can relax our expectations and ignore the media's image of perfection. Attraction lets you open your heart to another person. In conditions of light and nurture, a seed sprouts and grows to fill its potential. So too can a person, under conditions of admiration and positive expectation. Use your strengths to get attention. Appreciate the strengths in others, and you’ll find they will grow on you.

Dating has several purposes. Social interaction and service are often overlooked. Taking time is one of the most under-rated aids to building lasting love. Get to know each other while you’re dating. Grow together in common directions. Dating gives you the opportunity to focus more on social development, and less on determining physical "Compatibility." Learn how you interact in a variety of settings and situations. Time also helps in discerning dysfunctional or unloving behaviors that could pose future problems. Impatience for a physical relationship is a warning sign of future problems.

Attraction has a purpose—to bring hearts together long enough to build a real relationship. By itself, infatuation isn't a substantial foundation to build lasting love. But alongside mental, spiritual, and social development, attraction serves as a bond to keep the flame of love alive in marriage. Love’s enduring expression is in mutual respect and commitment. In mature love, you'll continue to adore your loved one, always finding new perspectives for admiration. Love will help you find a deeper appreciation of the character, values and personality of the other, appreciating him or her for a culmination of positive traits. This will give you room to be patient with the faults and imperfections, rather than resent that your loved one doesn’t measure up to your unrealistic ideals.

Attraction is more than a temporary aid during dating and courtship. After marriage, boredom may creep into your relationship, and that's when infatuation could be most useful. Rather than let your love stagnate, you can find new reasons you’re attracted to your spouse. Don’t stop discovering hidden qualities in your loved one, looking for traits you admire.

As you learn to be more consistent in your love for others, you'll eventually find someone special who appreciates your character and shares your values.

If you’re married, you may have to relearn the art of flirtation. You can become attracted to your spouse by doing the same kind of things you used to do when you were dating. The chase doesn’t end at the altar. See the person whose heart you tried to win decades ago, and write love notes. Try fun date ideas. Be young again.

Affection is a combination of physical and emotional influence. It can be turned on and off seemingly at will. Beauty is an arbitrary measurement. What may be attractive to one person may do little for someone else. There really isn't such a thing as absolute beauty. It just makes sense to recognize that we all come with a mix of admirable and undesirable traits.

How often have you heard of married couples tiring of, and turning against the very traits that attracted them to each other? It makes more sense to find new reasons to fall in love with your loved one every day.

Author's Bio: 

Benjamin Devey hosts and publishes insights on love relationships in the monthly newsletter, "Learning Love & Life," available on the website.