Topic of the Day: What First Attracted You to Your Significant Other?

After my grandmother passed away last month, my cousin uploaded a video to YouTube of an interview she did with our grandma about ten years ago as part of a video editing class. I loved watching the video for several reasons: hearing my grandmother’s voice again; seeing and remembering how she was a decade ago before the ravages of multiple strokes, a heart attack, and the heartbreak of losing her husband took their toll; and learning how she and my grandfather met — a story I guess I never thought to ask for for some reason, and either never knew or maybe once heard but forgot.

In her telling of the story, she was invited to a friend’s church to go Christmas caroling because her own church wasn’t caroling that year and her friend knew how much my grandmother loved that holiday tradition. At the church, she met my grandfather — a tall, handsome redhead. She was 18, he was 24. She thought he was younger and he thought she was older. But, as my great-grandmother said after she met my grandfather, she knew my grandmother was a goner because he was tall (6’4″), went to church, and had red hair. (My grandmother had a lifelong obsession with red hair; I still love the story about how my mom called her to tell Her I was born, and after telling her my sex and my name, she said, “Mom…she has red hair!!” After having four kids who didn’t have red hair, my grandmother could not have been more excited to have her first grandbaby be a redhead, finally.)

When I think about what first attracted me to Drew, I know it happened about an hour into our first date when he made me really laugh. And laugh and laugh. Also, he was so excited about becoming a first-time uncle in a few months and I thought that was pretty sweet. And he not only knew who Lucinda Williams was, but he was a fan, too.

So, what about you? Were there traits that instantly attracted you to your now significant other? (Or, if you don’t have one, what about former partners?) Was it a love at first sight kind of thing or a slow build? Are you still attracted to the traits that first won you over?


  1. Slow build for sure. He was so intelligent and worked so hard. When I met him he was going back to school for his second Masters degree. Over time I found out he was so funny and caring and sweet. My husband comes across somewhat, well for lack of a better word, scary. He really isn’t but he is big, kind of closed off to strangers. A slight scratch of the surface and he is a big, cuddly, caring, sweet love bug. I love that about him.

  2. For me it’s always been height, I’m embarrassed to admit. And I’ve usually been attracted at first sight, but my first bf had on this bad basketball tank top and bad glasses when I met him in 1992, and I was kind of dismissive until I realized how funny he was.

    1. I’m into tall guys too…I don’t mean to be! Most of my exes are between 6’2″ – 6’4″ and I’m only 5’4″. And I usually date ethnic men (however you define it….but basically a multitude of cultures and most often people from different countries) and ended up with a nice white guy from Canada. Preferences aren’t everything at least!

  3. Oh I’m going to love reading this thread – can’t wait to feel a bit mushy!
    I met my boyfriend on Tinder, which as many of you know can be a cesspool (shout out to the guy that ironically told me on the first date that it was “really hard to be a white man these day”). Suffice to day my expectations were low. My boyfriend asked me out to dinner (usual time / $ investment for a first meeting) and also suggested a bar for before dinner…and a bar for after dinner. He was just super eager to spend as much time as he could with me.
    When we met at dinner (because I didn’t have time to do a drink first) I thought he was really tall and better looking than his pictures, and my hands were shaking the whole time because I was suddenly nervous – he was super handsome! I also remember how incredibly easy the conversation was, like we were already good friends, and how easy it was to feel comfortable and fully like myself with him. It was just such a totally pleasant evening, and he was so funny and interesting and kind that it made no sense NOT to see him again. And again, and again.

    1. One of my friends dated a guy for a year who truly believed it’s hard to be a white man. He was… pretty bad. He didn’t think he was racist or homophobic, but he was definitely both. He once threw an actual temper tantrum (flung himself down on a bed, kicked, and pounded his fists). Anyway, if you managed not to laugh at this guy or say something snarky in response, good for you!

      1. OMG what adult man thrown temper tantrums? I think I just quietly blinked at him, and said as a minority woman I would have to disagree. It was a very strange conversation. He’s a cop in the city we live in (which as you know has a long storied history of violence against people of color) so it was particularly egregious.

        -also holy typos, wish I could edit my original post!

  4. Allornone says:

    His eyes- they were very kind. Later, the way he listened. And the way I felt I could babble on and tell him anything without judgement or even boredom. I’m an introvert, and long conversations, even spending any extended amount of time with anyone, even my loved ones, can exhaust me. But I could always be around him. I just felt comfortable around him. I still do. We knew each other three years before we started dating (I honestly thought he was still with his ex when actually, they had been broken up for over a year- that was an awkward, but wonderful conversation). But from the moment we first kissed, I knew this guy would be something incredible to me. Four years later, I can’t imagine myself being so at home with anyone else.

  5. I didn’t find the husband attractive at first. I thought he was full of himself. Kind of an ass. That was 9 years ago. What changed?

    1. He grew a beard and looked different.
    2. I kept hearing at work how great he was and I wondered what did all these people see that I didn’t? Come to find out, he was extremely kind. Ridiculously intelligent. And funny. And humorous. I found my verbal sparring equal. Such a delight.

    Look-wise, he is opposite of what I usually found attractive. I liked men with blue eyes and light brown hair. Every man I dated, until him, had blue eyes.

    1. * Delete either “and funny” or “and humorous”. I obviously didn’t edit one out.

    2. @ktfran something similar here, I always liked short guys with light eyes and dark hair, but my boyfriend is 6’3″ with dirty blonde hair and brown eyes.

    3. OH yes the beard. That shifted me a bit too. When I met husband he had just retired from the Air Force (literally the day before) so he still had the really short hair and baby clean face. Not my thing. Now he has a full head of more hair than any man ever, heck any human ever, that is salt and pepper and a little long (long for an ex Military man ha) and a salt and pepper beard to match. That for sure got me more physically into him. Even now I look back at some of his old pics before his hair turned colors and I am not as attracted to him in those pics. He really was made for the salt and pepper look.

      1. Some with the husband! He can’t wait to turn totally gray so he can be a “silver fox.” God, what a nerd!

        And it has turned more gray since he met me. Hahahahahaha.

      2. It is our job as spouses to turn them grey. Now if he could turn mine back, hair appointments aren’t cheap! Haha

      3. Lol, right?

  6. We went on a hike alone together – other people from our hiking group were supposed to show up, but nobody else did. The hike was 4-5 hours long and we talked the whole time. I just felt so comfortable with him and loved that we had so many things to talk about. I felt at ease.

  7. I’m a huge sucker for blue eyes. And tall fellas. At the time I met my husband to be (a tall guy with blue eyes), I was quite jaded by the dating process and feeling like nobody could hold my attention for more than 10 minutes. On our first date, we discovered we both loved hockey and spent a good portion of the night talking about our teams and favorite players. We’ve also both traveled for our favorite mutual hobby so that was another intriguing conversation. That’s what got the second date. As time progressed I felt like I finally met a guy who could not only keep up with my active lifestyle, but genuinely had his shit together — very lacking qualities in these other potential suitors that didn’t hold my attention.

  8. First serious boyfriend was a slow build. I was dismissive at first because he wasn’t my type, but he was so funny and such a good friend to me.

    Second serious boyfriend, if ever I had a “type,” he’s it. It’s shallow, but he was just so handsome (to me) that I was instantly attracted. I’m not sure if this sounds weird, but the guy was divorcing and his ex-wife was a closeted lesbian who had been cheating on him with a woman, and I remember thinking that even though his wife had hurt him, he didn’t let it make him a hateful or mean person. He was raised in a rougher area just outside Detroit — a lot of people raised there never leave — and I remember being so impressed with his work ethic and drive. I also liked that he was “hard” on the outside but a softie on the inside, and that I was one of few people who got to see that softie side.

    Guy I’m currently dating (though he’s not my SO) is cute but not my typical type. We met online, and the conversation on our first date felt so easy. I wanted it to continue, so of course we split two bottles of wine and I was DRUNK. Ha. But the ease of the conversation and that “I just wanna stay here talking to you” feeling was enough to want to see him again. This may sound silly, but he often says things that I was just thinking or that I just said aloud to someone else, and it felt/feels significant. We joke that we share a brain. As I’ve gotten to know him I’ve learned that he’s unbelievably kind, good natured, and non-judgmental. It’s only been a few months, though, so we’ll see what happens.

    1. Every guy I’ve dated longer than a few months has had blue eyes. I’m a sucker for blue eyes, particularly on men with dark hair. I didn’t notice until date three that the guy I’m seeing now has blue-green eyes (and dark hair! score!), and I remember feeling like, awww yeahhhh, this is a goooood sign. Hahaha.

  9. Bittergaymark says:

    My first — it was he looked SO straight. So J Crew / fratboy God. Right up until he kissed me roughly (and naked)(long story!) right there in his parent’s glowing turquoise swimming pool … I had absoutely NO idea he was gay.
    Zero. Zip. None…
    He was perfect in a million other ways, too. It made for an amazing freshman year. (Swoon!) But then he graduated and I was still only about to be a sophomore… So. That was that. Funny, had we met now — I mean, if we were in college now — in this world… I suspect we would have made a real go of it. Maybe I would have followed him to NYC rather than remaining in Tucson. Who knows? Maybe we would even STILL be together. Honestly? Frankly, Nobody else has ever even compared…
    Oh. And maybe he wouldn’t be dead. It’s odd to think about. Late night musings. Wonderings… What could have been…?
    Fucking dumb ass drunk drivers. Sigh…

    1. Ack, I was about to ask if you’d looked him up when I got to the part about him being dead. I think I remember you sharing that before. I’m sorry. What a loss.

      1. Bittergaymark says:

        Oh, I probably have…
        Speaking of looking people from the past up… I am pretty damn sure I found that fucking driver (conveniently unusual name) recently on Facebook. Smiling. Married with way too many ugly brats. All Untouched. Rich. Successful. Happy. And oh so Obnoxious…
        Sigh… It’s really too bad I am such a good person…
        NEWSFLASH! There is no neither justice nor karma in this universe.
        Zero. Zip. Nada. None.

  10. I love these stories!

    For me, the first time we met, we fell into talking very early and just seemed to click right away. Neither of us was looking for someone (we were both dating other people), but it seemed to easy to talk to him right away, when at least for me that’s not usually the case. Some of that was helped by some shared experience, since we grew up not that far away from each other and had previously had summer jobs at the same place. Well, and he was kind of my type (a fair amount taller than me and slim, which maybe matches a plurality but not a majority of the people I’ve dated). But it was more of the feeling I had with him than any specifics.

    When we did start dating later, I noticed how he wanted to know everything about me, and overall when he talked to people here asked a lot of probing questions. That’s something I’ve always liked about him, that he genuinely wants to know more about others and the world in general.

  11. We were in a cable car together, way above some cliffs in the mountains. He looked queasy and I asked why. “I’m afraid of heights.” I thought “How interesting!” The idea that this guy would willingly put himself outside of his comfort zone like that was really intriguing to me.

    Later, we got to talk for a while and I would make him laugh telling him some funny stories. I love to make people laugh but my sense of humor is not always the easiest. I could have gone on forever like that with him smiling at me.

    But I’ll always remember the “I’m afraid of heights” thing. That’s when he caught my attention.

  12. Well, I met my partner on Tinder, so it was definitely looks haha. I saw him first and I immediately SUPER LIKED him so he would know for sure that I would be a match.

    Then we started texting non-stop. Which was nice because SO MANY matches on Tinder just don’t ever talk or the conversation just like, completely fades after the hey how are you part.

    But we could not stop texting and he was SO FUNNY. Then after only a day of texting non-stop, he asked if he could call me. Actually pick up the phone and call me! And his voice was so much deeper than I expected, but it was really sexy, and I loved his accent which is a little bit jumbled because of all the places he has lived.

    Yeah… I’m really glad I super liked him 🙂

    1. When I was on Tinder, any guy I “super liked” was an accident and I’d actually feel kind of embarrassed when it happened (even though I don’t think anyone thought anything of it).

  13. I love reading the stories these kinds of Topics of the Day generate.

    The first time I laid eyes on my husband, physical attraction (to everything about his body) instantly drew me to him. I wasn’t looking for a relationship and figured even if I was, he wouldn’t be my type. I knew he was an athlete, and wrongly judged him, assuming he’d be the stereotypical dumb jock with whom I’d have nothing in common. I asked him out intending to have a one-night stand, or booty call at most.

    When we’d talk, while waiting to be ready to go again, I got to know him and found myself drawn to him mentally and emotionally because of his kindness and his values. I learned he’s a Christian, and while I’m not particularly religious, I fell in love with him when I saw how he tries to live Jesus’ teachings, instead of using religion as an opportunity to discriminate, shame/convert, or sow hatred. As we started going on dates and spending more time together, I saw him constantly volunteer his time to help the less fortunate, speak out when he witnessed bullying, call out his friends for treating their girlfriends poorly and for using “gay” to insult each other, step in to break up strangers’ fights, stop his car to help an elderly woman cross the street, and speak of/treat everyone he encountered with respect. I was drawn to marry him because he inspires me daily to be a better person.

  14. We met on bumble.

    His profile had a sly sense of humor to it, and his eyes were kind. We texted for a day and he was funny and smart. So even though I was crazy busy – and had already scheduled a different first date for that weekend – we found time to meet up in person just a few days later.

    When we met in person it was instant for me. I saw him and my body said “yeap. Touch THIS one.” so I did, hugging him. He kinda startled, and then smiled this amazing slow smile. Then he spoke and the accent just killed me. We spent the next few hours drinking terrible avocado smoothies and then excellent coffee and just laughing.

    I went home and cancelled the first date I had scheduled for the next day. Haven’t seen anyone since, because I just didn’t want to. So far, its been great.

  15. Howdywiley says:

    I was 12 and at my grandmother’s new house helping her unload groceries from her trunk. He rode by on a bike and immediately stopped when he saw us. He walked right up to my grandma and said “Can I please help you with your groceries Ma’am?” He then carried all her bags inside for her. He told her he lives right next door and if she needed anything else she can yell over the fence for him. I was smitten immediately by this.
    I guess being helpful to a little old lady and expecting nothing in return is my jam because we got married ten years later. We’ve been married now fifteen years.

  16. I was attracted to my ex bfs smile, his height, his Russian accent and the fact that we liked the same tv shows and movies

  17. I first met my husband when I was signing people up that might be interested in forming a local working group. He had these ice blue eyes and was blond. I thought he was hot but I figured he was cocky and probably taken.

    We didn’t go out with each other for a long time. He had been dating someone and we only knew each other very casually. This was long before smart phones and when people would instantly look others up on Facebook.

    I was attracted to everything about him. The way he spoke, his politics, his measured, polite demeanor. But I never assumed we’d be compatible, I always knew I was a little nutty. He seemed far too clean cut for anything to come out of it. We’ve been married 13 years.

    1. edit *who were interested

  18. I love Scrabble and am really good, and on one of our early dates my now husband (who isn’t even a native English speaker) beat me! I was a goner…

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