Well before the sun came up this morning, I read an article from Psychology Today on why women are fatally attracted to unsuitable men. As one may have guessed from reading this blog, I myself have been amply prone to making this mistake in the past. (And how!)

Said article attributes this kind of self-destructive behavior to women’s emotional biochemistry (i.e. we fall in love with the people we sleep with.) Yeah, no duh. That’s nothing new.

What is new, or was to me until very recently, is the message with which the author ends the article:

… you’d be better off evaluating a potential partner as you would a friend: look at their character, personality, values, their generosity of spirit, the relationship between their words and actions, their relationships with others. Know your partner’s beliefs about relationships before you get in too deep. Most of all, don’t confuse sex with love.

It may seem self-intuitive to some, but trust me, it’s not. We live in a culture that relishes portraying sappy, overwhelming, obsessive love, and equates that love with intense sex scenes. The movies about true relationships don’t get made, because they don’t sell.

This is one of the facts that I have struggled with most on my path to marriage. When I started dating my fiance, it was the first time that I had actually talked to a man for any length of time instead of kissing him. I even wondered if he was attracted to me at all, because the only way I knew how to measure attraction at that point was by physical demonstration. (He still laughs when I tell him that.)

As I got to know him, though, I have come to value him as described in the above paragraph: as a partner, and as a friend. But having an everyday life with this partner and friend is a long shot from the Hollywood concept of love, or sex for that matter, and to think about living that everyday for the next thirty years… well, it can be slightly daunting. There’s definitely no movies about that.

Somehow, I managed to stumble across the kind of person described in the paragraph above. It was wholly unintentional, believe me. I wish someone had sat me down and explained all of this to me years ago, or shaken me every time I slept with someone who didn’t care about me. Even if they had, I probably wouldn’t have listened, but at least I would’ve known there was a whole other world out there. As it was, I was pretty much unaware that sex didn’t equate love, at least well into my 20s.

I know all of this sounds completely simple and intuitive. But I am a fairly smart person, and I couldn’t figure this out for the life of me. So the question becomes this: why aren’t we explaining these things to our young women? Would they listen if we did? Or is it something you just have to learn the hard way?