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Hi Simcha,

My question is probably not a simple one but it's been nagging at me for a long time, and at the moment it's quite relevant and urgent (!).

I know that love is about much more than physical attraction, and I know that "sheker ha'hein v'hevel hayofi." On the other hand I know that Chazal said that a man is not allowed to marry a women before he sees her so as to make sure that she finds favor in his eyes (such that one who is "machmir" with trying to make the relationship work even if she doesn't find favor in his eyes is essentially being "meikil" vis-a-vis the din of "v'ahavta l'reiacha kamocha").

So basically what's the proper balance? I'll to illustrate the question:
If a meet a girl with a great personality and lots of good qualities, but after meeting a few times I don't find myself attracted to her physically, should I end the relationship or keep on investing in it and hope things turn around?
Or I'll ask the question a different way - should I break up a relationship with a girl if she has the qualities I'm looking for, but I can't see myself being able to look her in the eye and tell her she looks beautiful?
Or a different variation - if I meet a girl for the first time and right away say to myself that she doesn't look attractive, should I continue or just end it there before anyone gets hurt?
Or yet another variation - should a normal man expect himself to be able to develop a loving, intimate relationship with a woman to whom he doesn't feel a strong physical attraction?

Thank you in advance!


Dear David,

I will quote you a teshuva of Rav Moshe, and some commentary which we published in an article, which sheds some light on the issue:

    "One should not be too clever [in searching for a mate, rather look for] a woman who you find attractive both in her appearance and in [the qualities] of her family, and who has a positive reputation that she follows our traditions. With regard to such a person, you should rely on the above evidence and marry her in the hopes she is the one designated for you by Heaven. It is not necessary to excessively inspect her and such efforts will not accomplish should relate to Hashem with simple trust (Devarim 18:13)." (Igros Moshe, Y.D. Vol. 1:90)

Rav Moshe alerts us to a number of points that are worth studying carefully. In general, we see from here a glimpse of Rav Moshe's emotionally uncomplicated and psychologically healthy approach to faith and human effort. Although one should look for a mate who is both physically attractive and comes from a good family, Rav Moshe cautions against trying "too hard" and being "too clever". Evidently, Rav Moshe was of the opinion that we need to make only reasonable efforts in order to merit G-d's providence. Furthermore, if one overly scrutinizes a situation, aside from causing needless worry, Rav Moshe is of the opinion that "it will not accomplish anything." This also seemed to be Rav Moshe's approach to faith and life in other areas as well. Rav Moshe only worried about that which he could control or still change, but regarding matters he felt were beyond his control he trusted in Hashem. Thus for example, when his doctors suspected he had a heart attack, he was of the opinion that it was incorrect to take a blood test that would verify if he did or did not actually have this heart attack. This is because the event occurred in the past and his current medical situation was already stabilized. Being of no relevance at the moment, and beyond his control, he preferred to trust in providence. (See the biographical introduction to Igros Moshe, Y.D. Volume 5, where this is explained in detail.)

The psychological benefits of Rav Moshe's approach are obvious. This idea is also reflected in the serenity prayer (used as a source of inspiration for recovering addicts), which goes as follows: "G-d, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."

Another important point to consider is that no matter how much research we do, and how much we feel we know our intended spouse, that person is essentially a stranger. You don't really know a person until you have both been up for several evenings with one child who has a temperature of 104, another who threw up all over the new carpet, and numerous bills to pay. When the chips are down and people are under great stress, they will likely revert to their old and earliest behaviors and patterns of relating, so a person's upbringing is an important factor to consider. Therefore, Rav Moshe's advice about looking at the qualities of a potential mate's family should be heeded."

However, here is where it gets tricky: Yes, one should not marry someone for whom he has no feelings attraction. But, no, it should not take hundreds of dates over many years to find such a person. So, something to consider is, if it is taking an unusual amount of time to find that person, or if one is always attracted to people who don't seem to be attracted to him, then there may be unconscious avoidance mechanisms at work.

Be Successful!


Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, CSW co-authors a weekly column in the Jewish Press on religion, relationships and parenting, along with his wife Chaya Feuerman, CSW. The Feuermans also have authored a book, titled "How to Have Fun Without Getting into Trouble: Essays on Relationships, Parenting and the Self" available through Rowman and Littlefield, inc. In addition, Simcha serves as Director of Community Services at Ohel Children’s Home and Family Services. He received training in family therapy from the Philadelphia Child Guidance Center and maintains a private psychotherapy practice in Queens, New York, where he provides individual therapy, family therapy and couples counseling.

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