I Am Not Physically Attracted to My Boyfriend. Can We Possibly Have a Future Together?

Hi Evan, I am in a very tricky situation and don’t know what to do, I found your web site and your advice are great. I hope you will answer my question, I need your precious advice too. I met a man online a few months ago, and, to make a long story short, we met, we are a great match intellectually/emotionally. I am concerned sometimes he is too attached to me and the way he started to make long term plans with me quite soon, but this isn’t a real problem.

The real problem is that I don’t find him attractive. He is not ugly but I don’t like his features and overall appearance. Physically, I find he is not a “match” for me and I am not proud of being so shallow. I don’t know what to do because other than that he is just perfect and I like him very much, he makes me feel very good. But I am not sure if I should be making plans with a man I don’t feel much attraction for. I decided to tell him the truth about my feelings and he said he will take all the steps necessary to improve himself physically as he doesn’t want to lose me. I am torn. Is he really the man of my life if physically I don’t like him the way he is?

Thanks you so much for your help. Mia

Making a life-long decision based on attraction is like getting a tattoo with someone’s name on your back and breaking up four months later

Mia, I can’t answer your question, because NOBODY can answer your question. Attraction is the big X Factor in any relationship. When you have it, you don’t think twice about it. When you don’t have it, it’s hard to overcome. Which would seem to indicate that you should break up with your boyfriend. Not so fast. I’ve put a lot of thought into the pros and cons of how much you should weigh the lack of physical attraction in a relationship. I urge you to consider this before taking any rash steps.

Reasons for Staying Together Despite a Lack of Physical Attraction

Ask most long-term married couples about the relative importance of sex in their lives, they will generally say things like “It’s the dessert, not the main course”. And it’s true. It’s just hard to consider that when you’re 27. But realize that in 10 years, you’re 37, raising little ones and your life is no longer your own. By 47, your bodies have thickened and drooped. By 57, you’re probably finishing menopause and his libido is largely gone. By 67, you’re thinking of retirement, travel and grandkids. By 77, you’re hoping just to stay healthy, and … Can you see how making a decision based on attraction is a perfect example of short-term thinking? Like getting a tattoo with someone’s name on your back and breaking up four months later. The truth is that life lasts for a REALLY, REALLY long time.

And yet we base our relationship decisions on evanescent emotions like lust, passion, and chemistry. Fact: In relationship studies, traditional “attraction” wears off within 18-24 months of dating. This probably corresponds to what you’ve experienced in real life – namely, that it’s hard to get “excited” about someone with whom you’ve been intimate for two years straight. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible, but if you ask most married couples, the nature of sex changes. Sure, you might be that rare “three times a night” couple well into your fifties, but most of those clichés about parents not having time or energy for sex are true.

We’re attracted to what we’re attracted to – often to our own detriment.

So if life becomes more about responsibility, friendship, compatibility and all those other “boring” things that old married couples cite, how much emphasis should we put on physical attraction in our 20’s/30’s? It is no secret that compatibility is a stronger predictor of relationship health than chemistry. Yet chemistry is what we chase – somehow hoping that it turns into compatibility as well. It rarely does. Look at your most “passionate” relationships. Where are they now? Exactly. Yet we can’t help ourselves. We’re attracted to what we’re attracted to – often to our own detriment. Which is how men end up with hot crazy women and women end up with hot emotionally unavailable men.

This isn’t my opinion. This is life. Just look around. Does this mean that you should stay with your amazing boyfriend even if you don’t feel attracted? Ah, if it were only that simple…

Reasons to Break Up Because of a Lack of Physical Attraction

As you know, sexual attraction rarely grows over time. With men, this almost never happens. With women, it tends to be correlated to her feelings about her partner. However, this is presuming a steady baseline of attraction from which to grow. If there is NO attraction to start, there’s not even any room to go down. That’s a rough proposition for you to endure with a boyfriend. Thus, it’s impossible to convince you to give a shot to someone you’re purely NOT attracted to. No rational thinking is going to overcome your genetic and cultural biases.

So we discriminate on age and height and weight and dozens of minute details of which we may not even be aware. Then there’s the Paradox of Choice. We dissect others physically, although none of us wants to be dissected physically as well. I can explain this phenomenon – as author Barry Schwartz did for a few hundred pages in his amazing book, but, at the end of the day, we can’t help ourselves. As noted dating guru David DeAngelo says, “Attraction is not a choice”. We’re still going to crave choice and variety, and something approximating societal ideas of perfection, however unrealistic this might be.

In a good relationship, sex is the dessert, not the main course

If you doubt this yourself, go to an online dating site and make a list of your “favorites”. Odds are, they’re going to be among the most physically attractive singles on the site. That doesn’t mean that you don’t care about who they are as people – what they do, what they earn, what they believe – but it all starts with attraction. The problem is that when we compare people side by side, great catches often lose out. Why respond to the 5’5″ guy when there are six-footers out there? Why go out with the heavyset person when you can write to a lean model-type? Why go out with the 45-year-old when you can try the 29-year-old? Once again, this isn’t my opinion. 20/20 did a study years ago in which women were more likely to date a cute 6’1″ plumber than a 5’4″ heart surgeon/concert pianist. But hey, you can’t help what you’re attracted to.

That doesn’t mean you’re shallow – no more than anyone else. It just means you’re human. The other long-term thing to consider about why it’s important to have attraction is that in a monogamous relationship, there’s only ONE person with whom you’ll be having sex for the rest of your life. In that case, well, you’d BETTER have some measure of attraction. Anything less is a recipe for wandering eyes and future infidelity.

Which brings us to the moment of truth. You know that sex is the dessert and not the main course…but you know that this is the only person you’ll ever be with again. You know that companionship is more valuable than lust over 40 years…but you know that attraction is important and won’t get better over time. So should you stay or should you go if you’re not that physically attracted to your partner? It all comes down to your own internal compromise mechanism. Because there’s a difference between observing that your boyfriend’s got a paunch and being physically repulsed by him. Only you can decide. If you’re turned OFF by him, the whole thing’s a non-starter.

You’re not doing yourself (or him) any favors by staying with him if he has no ability to excite you. However, if he’s somewhere in the broader spectrum – somewhere between a 5-7 on the attraction scale, you may want to think twice before you toss him back in the sea. First, ask yourself if he – or another man – could dissect YOU physically as well. How about emotionally? Intellectually? It’s simple to find fault with others, but there’s a certain grace and wisdom in loving people in spite of their flaws, just as you’d like to be loved in spite of yours.

We often underestimate how rare it is to find someone who loves us unconditionally

Second, ask yourself if your boyfriend – despite your middling attraction for him – can make up for it in bed. If he’s energetic, passionate, and devoted to your pleasure, he may be more valuable to your love life than someone who is more aesthetically pleasing with the lights on. Finally, ask yourself if you can do appreciably better. We often underestimate how rare it is to have a partner who loves us unconditionally.

Very often, the second you assume the grass is greener is the second you may find yourself in an exciting new romance…with a guy who only texts you once a week. Attraction is an intensely personal choice and is fundamental to maintaining a healthy sex life. But don’t lose sight of the fact that you’re better off with a 7 in attraction and a 10 in compatibility, than you are with a 10 in attraction and a 4 in compatibility.

Warmest wishes,

Much love,

Evan

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Comments:

  1. 1
    mic

    There does need to be some aesthetic fondness. Familiarity can help, like just staring at his picture, but it seems that would have helped by now. Is his appearance repulsive? What is meant by “features”? For example, are hair and teeth included? A better hairstyle might help. Some minor dental work might help. Does he look totally different from you? People who look somewhat alike tend to be more suited to each other. Maybe the simplest question is, If he’s not young and has pictures from years ago, would his younger self have been attractive to you?

  2. 2
    Steve

    Mia;

    I have to give you props for your honesty. That is a very difficult thing to tell to someone. Few people do it and it is often a thankless task.

    I agree with Evan’s point that there is no one size fits all answer for everyone for this situation. You are going to have to on your own judgment.

    1. 2.1
      Sarah

      What if you’re physically repulsed by your boyfriend of two months but he’s your closest friend and you don’t want to hurt him. Im fifteen by the way. I told him I wouldn’t leave him but I so badly want out.

      1. 2.1.1
        Mach

        For god’s sake… You’re only 15, you will love many people during your life-time and you’re not doing any favors to that guy by staying with him for pity, that’s one of the most horrible things you can do to someone. Besides, friends are not forever you know, eventually you will lose some people down the way, and you should be honest with them, since they should like you for who you are. 
        Just tell him the truth and it will be better for both of you. 

    2. 2.2
      Amanda

      hi!
      thank you for this!
      I have a boyfriend who is my best friend.. he is my entire world… He is a 2,000 on the compatibility scale and about a 2 or 3 on the attraction scale.. maybe a 4 or 5 or 6 on good days. I don’t mean to be shallow but I cant help not being attracted to him. I love him more than anyone in the world and I can picture us spending our lives together, but I am in no way attracted to him.
      But he doesn’t turn me off either, so there’s some hope.
      We just click so well I can’t imagine life without him, so reading this article made me realize that I’m looking for a best friend and life partner, not just a physically attractive sex machine.
      I love him, and I’m okay with not being attracted to him.
      It used to bother me a lot, but I’m slowly getting over it.
      Hes not fat, hes just super out of shape. But I don’t want to tell him that I’m not physically attracted to him because I want to love him for what he is. I can’t change him and I don’t want him to feel like he has to change for me to love him. I’m just going to accept him for his beautiful self<3 
      There’s been a lot of shit in my life and hes stuck by my side through all of it. Even several abusive relationships (we’ve been best friends since high school) with my mother, stepfather, older brother, and ex boyfriends, etc. I have had a lot of people abuse me, rape me, bully me, all kinds of stuff..
      And he rescues me from that…
      I love him..
      Sorry this is so long!!
      Hes super shy and reserved and I’m outgoing and I never stop talking and we are both insanely sarcastic! Most people don’t get my sarcasm but he does and we talk nonstop…. I literally text/call/facetime with him nonstop 24/7…
      I think hes the love of my life…
      ugh sorry i’m going to stop annoying you guys haha 

      1. 2.2.1
        Ellie

        Thank you so much for your entry Amanda. I’m in the very same situation. Thank you for sharing your experience.

        Evan, thank you for taking the time to answer the question. Your response has been the most thorough I’ve found this far.
        I wish I could personally thank you both. I’ve been struggling with this issue for a whole now. 

      2. 2.2.2
        andy

        I am in the same boat with my ex. We want to try and make it work. Compatibility 10 attractiveness ?. The thing is though she is a big girl but she has a very gorgeous face. I broke up with her solely on her weight, body hair issues, and my wandering eyes. And yes i feel bad about being shallow. Her weight wasnt the biggest deal but she has very fat legs and would wear inappropriately short shorts and she refused to shave her very hairy butt and other areas. It doesnt sound like much but maintenance is a biggy. Im not perfect myself but i put in an effort to be attractive. The strange thing is that even though she is the biggest girl i ever dated i never had better more fulfilling sex and powerful orgasms. I broke up with her because I wanted someone hot and skinny. I dated a few women only to realize that physically attractive women that i could get walk by every day but ive only met one girl who was compatible with me. Who loved me for me unconditionally. I love her to this day and she loves me. The problem is she is in a relationship with a new man but she still tells me she loves me everyday. Im so confused

  3. 3
    Steve

    I would like to hear people’s thoughts about whether or not it is healthy for Mia’s “boyfriend” to handle the situation the way he has.

    If I were him I would sincerely thank Mia for her uncommon and brave honesty. I would also break up with her.

    It wouldn’t be about spite or hurt feelings.

    It just seems to me that “making yourself suitable” to someone else is a bad way to go into a relationship and sets up an unhealthy power dynamic.

    I think it would be better to make use out of Mia’s feedback and go find someone else.

    Opinions?

    1. 3.1
      andy

      I think it all depends on what you dont like about the person. Whether its something easily solved (too much hair, bad style) or something they cant control (height, ethnicity, bodily defects). I had a girlfriend tell me that I should grow out a beard because i would look much more attractive and not look like a little boy. I liked being clean shaven but it was something i considered. I did it and the beard has stayed for 10 years because I do look better with it and I kept an open mind and didnt get offended. So really it all depends on what the problem is.    

  4. 4
    Kenley

    Mia,
    Be careful what you ask for.

    I met a man online who I thought was very attractive and a really nice guy as well. He was tall and lean, but he wore really baggy, boring, unattractive clothes. How he dressed didn’t bother me at all because I liked him and didn’t care about his clothes. One day, however, he mentioned that he hated to who and that his ex use to buy his clothes. I myself had just used the services of a stylist to help me shop so I recommended my stylist to him. The results of wearing modern clothes that fit were astonishing. He looked 15 years younger and a million times sexier. And….. He dumped me two weeks later telling me that he met someone else. I think that because of his makeover, he was able to attract someone younger and more attractive than I was. So, Mia, if your guy becomes too attractive, you may no longer be attractive enough for him!

  5. 5
    Steve

    @Kenley post #4

    I wonder if that is why many married men look like giant 12 year olds when they aren’t wearing their work clothes. Their wives strategically dress them that way :).

  6. 6
    BeenThruTheWars

    I knew a man once who told his fiancee he didn’t think he could marry her after all because she didn’t have slender legs and ankles. They were thick and sturdy and muscular. “Northern Italian child-bearing ankles,” she jokingly called them. Alas, he was a “leg man.” Those aesthetics were really, really, REALLY important to him. He had always envisioned his wife looking a certain way, and his fiancee didn’t fit that image. It was a real crisis for him, an awful dilemma, because they were perfect together otherwise, but he felt this stood in the way of his physical attraction to her.

    She told him that it really came down to one question he needed to ask himself: was his life better with or without her in it? Because those “big” legs were strictly hereditary and weren’t going anywhere. They also were the result of years of strength training she wasn’t about to abandon. In addition, if he wanted to dump her and go out and find a leggy model-type, how would he feel if a month after the wedding she was in a terrible accident or got a debilitating disease and her legs had to be amputated, or wasted away and became disfigured? Were legs really the deal-breaker? Wasn’t it more important to find the one person whom you cared enough about to love through the worst day of her life? And who cared enough about you to love you through the worst day of your life? Ultimately, it’s about companionship and being on the same wavelength, as well as being able to share things and have fun together and, well… LIKE each other through most any situation. To prefer one another’s company to anyone else’s.

    He rethought his fears and they got married. They will be celebrating five years together soon, 3.5 of them married, and all of them happy.

    Yes – “he” is my husband and “she” is me. We are wonderfully affectionate and have a very active sex life. And we would – and have – loved each other through the worst days we’ve ever faced.

    1. 6.1
      carolina coutada

      amazing way of telling your story. I loved your courage. Inspiring.

      1. 6.1.1
        Mark

        Do you really see the shine in your husbands eyes? May be he thinks he made a mistake but he can’t find courage to tell the truths.
        Sorry I do not want to disturb your mind with negative thoughts. But I like to know if every thing is fine you marriage. Dose he reacts you perfect?
        I’m asking you because I’m at the same situation like your husband. (I’m not married yet. But thinking a lot and never find the answer yet.) I our situation some small problems gets bigger and bigger because of my poor tolerance. I started to hate my self because of my reactions. I find my self looking other girls and I feel guilty.
        Your answer will be helpful, thanks.

    2. 6.2
      andy

      I am a man who has the exact same problem. I am a leg man. Buts its not like her legs bother me. Its how she presents them. She has very large pale thighs with cellulite and the thing that bothers me is that she wears innapropriatly short shorts and when we go out people look and stare and comment. It bothers me but I love that she is confident in herself. But it is not appealing to the eye. She has a drop dead gorgeous face and I think she should highlight her amazing physical qualities not parade the most unattractive thing about her. Just my opinion  

  7. 7
    -NN-

    Finally someone who has a bit similar problem as I do.

    I have met plenty of men – over 400 online dates – but if I can’t see myself opening my legs, or kissing a man, if I don’t want him to touch me in any way – there is no point of meeting that person again, no matter how compatible he is.
    He has to have something that I find attractive.

    I have had relationships like that Mia here descrived, I have tried to get over it.. but it won’t work. I feel like I am a prostitute.. doing sexual things for other reason that physical attraction – I exchange favours to get companionship and good things that come with it, which becomes suffocating and I just feel like I have to get out.

    I have friends for company – male and female.
    The difference between that and relationship is sexuality.
    If I can’t enjoy sex with my partner, if it feels like a chore, if it is something I do to keep the other happy.. It is not fair for him, not fair for me either.
    Then he is a friend at max, or he is out of my life if he can’t accept it.

    I am rather single and selibate, than with someone whom I find a burden. I totally disagree with the saying that “it is not important” – Sexual attraction is IMPORTANT.. for me at least.

    Maybe I sound like a man, but that is how I see it. Men don’t have sex with women that don’t put their mojo up. Why should I?
    I am a man then – if that be.

    There has to be both – physical compatibility and mental attraction.
    If there is not, I am rather single for the rest of my life, than whore myself for companionship that just feels like a prison.
    (and btw, I am 39, and lived alone for 14 years of those 39 years and even some 4,5 years of those totally selibate.)

    If there is some basic attraction, sure I agree with Evan, but if there is no attraction, (or worst a turn-off) , it is better to let that person to find someone who values his physical side too.

    1. 7.1
      justlooking

      “…but if I can’t see myself opening my legs, or kissing a man, if I don’t want him to touch me in any way – there is no point of meeting that person again, no matter how compatible he is….”

      You are putting the cart before the horse. The mind does not work this way. Feelings are not meant to dictate our actions. Rather, our actions generate our feelings. When you find a compatible person, you have to mentally accept them BEFORE your body will respond to them. You don’t shut them out and look to your body to be open to them. Feelings ought to follow actions, not the other way round.

      1. 7.1.1
        choice-phobia

        “Feelings are not meant to dictate our actions.” Not meant to? Well, bad news for you: we are animals, our bodies dictate pretty much most of our actions. it’s not fair, but it’s a fact.

    2. 7.2
      brooklynmermaid

      Interesting response. I was married to a man who I was extremely physically attracted to however, often he was emotionally unavailable and difficult to resolve conflicts with a a couple. We got a divorce after only 2.5 years of marriage and were together 9 months before we got married. The physical attractiveness I found in him quickly diminished once he began to distance  himself from me emotionally when there were conflicts.
         Currently, I am dating a man who is ten years older than I and I don’t have the physical attraction I had with my ex; weight and balding. However, I am every attracted to him emotionally. I am happier with him than with a man who is a 10 physically but a two in emotional availability and compatibility. I’ve come to realize it’s okay to not have it all and still be happy. 

      1. 7.2.1
        Ellie

        Thank you for sharing your experience. 

    3. 7.3
      pinkdress

      I agree with nn, it is very personal. I think sexual attraction is very important. Without it, the relation can’t go long a
      Unless you all are 70 + plus years old. I think woman should not exchange or give up their right to feel good about themselves and get physically satisfied as man. We do not need to tie any man to chores or responsibility by holding or exchange sex for favor. Of course the best is to find mental, spiritual and sexual compatible partner. Sex is 1rd of share so it is important. Lot of things woman is looking for can be found from family, friends and inner self. 

    4. 7.4
      Sam

      so I have been here… And 22 years later here I am with this same guy I had no plysical attraction to in the beginning. 
      i will tell you that our campanship is still strong and we’ve been best friends through the years. However…
      in the end and I believe our time has come to the end; I’ve had sexual affairs with men and have been very promiscuous. you can have the best relationship in the world but I believe being attracted to someone and wanting them physically is very important in a marriage. Or even a relationship. It has forced me to find it else where. I’m not proud of that, and I’ve hurt over this for a long time. Because to me as a women I never believed sex was all that important. I didn’t believe that it would impact my life with him. I have finally told my husband after 22 years that I’ve never been attracted to him, not because he’s not good looking. He certainly is. But it’s the kisses and the touches that don’t do it for me. I tell you now if your in this situation and you think you can overcome it. You should reconsider. Cause for me after all these years, you’ll only cause more pain for the one you care the most about. We all have circumstances. I’ve got mine in why it worked and why I’ve stayed. 
      please don’t judge me or be a hater, I’m just sharing.  

  8. 8
    Paul

    that is the best response Evan has ever wrote. And he ended it with the fact that it is better to be with someone that you are compatible with, than someone your attracted to. Both is good of course, and I don’t think you would want to be, or would be naturally with someone that you are not attracted to, but lets define that a little more. Is it that Mia was not attracted to him, or really, that the guy needs a bit of a makeover, like you see on TV. Hey, don’t laugh, those makeovers are unreal! Just about anyone can be made to be more attractive, and maybe this guy of Mia’s just doesn’t get it. Or maybe is socially inept. Both can be overcome. On the other hand, I don’t think he would even be a boyfriend in the first place if there wasn’t some sort of attraction… people don’t usually get together if one repulses the other. That is what Mia needs to define…is it that the poor slouch needs to polish himself up a bit and get another groove going, or is she really just disgusted with the features that he cannot change?

  9. 9
    Honey

    I agree with what Evan and others have said – if your physical response to him is neutral, then his abilities in bed and quality of character may change how you view him sexually in a positive way. If he repulses you in any way, then cut him loose.

  10. 10
    Steve

    @-NN- post #7

    I agree with your post 100 %.

    A person isn’t wrong in wanting a satisfying sex life with a person they find attractive. Its not wrong when women want it and it is not wrong when men want it either.

    I think that desire is perceived as villainous because usually it is men who speak up about having that desire and it is usually women who are on the losing end of it.

    No offense to anyone, I’ve been on that losing end too.

    Just making a point.

  11. 11
    starthrower68

    Been Thru The Wars, that is a great story and you are to be congratulated on a successful outcome. However, I think that you are the exception and not the rule. Not that it’s right, fair, etc. just the way it is. We are bombarded with messages of what we should find attractive, sexy, physically appealing and so on, and that is what people want. Whether we are a 5 wanting a 10 or not wanting to be judged ourselves is incidental. Whether I agree with it or not, we’ve all been where Mia is. I’m a bit unsure about her guy’s readiness to change for someone rather than holding out for a woman who loves him as is, but then again, I’m not seeing things from his perspective.

  12. 12
    starthrower68

    BTW, maybe I need some advice because I tend to avoid the conventionally handsome or attractive men, per society’s standards; I don’t trust them.

  13. 13
    A-L

    There have been some good responses so far, and a nice choice of topic, Evan.

    On to the OP. If you’re repulsed by your boyfriend then nothing good will happen, end of story.

    But explore the middle ground a little. Do you enjoy the physical aspect of your relationship but there are no fireworks going off for you? Or is it more a boring chore that you do while thinking up your “to do” list. If you’re in the first group I’d probably try to stick it out. If it’s the second have you communicated your sexual desires to him? Perhaps with a bit more direction things might become more pleasurable for you.

    If things are fine in the bedroom but it’s really just an appearance issue, what is it that bothers you? If it’s clothes/haircut/teeth whitening that’s easily solved since your boyfriend seems willing to do so. If it’s more significant, can it even be done?

    I can sympathize with you as I don’t have that knee-buckling, tummy fluttering, fireworks extravaganza with my boyfriend. But I do know that each month we’ve been together that I’ve grown more attracted to him and have acted on that attraction more. I also know that he’s got pretty much everything except that on my wishlist, including loving me just as I am. At the moment I’m just enjoying the time we have together and seeing where things go. And if your relationship is headed on a positive trajectory, meaning that each month things are better than the previous month, then I would continue to date him and see how things go. But if they’re headed downward, then it might be time to let go.

  14. 14
    Karl R

    One observation that I heard from someone who dated some ugly men: there had to be some feature about them that she found “hot”. Based on my own experiences dating women who were less-than-hot, I’m inclined to agree.

    Mia said: (original letter)
    “he said he will take all the steps necessary to improve himself physically”

    This bothers me, but I can see two situations where it might not be as bad as it sounds:
    1) The “necessary steps” could be described as better grooming.
    2) Her boyfriend had been intending to make those improvements already (losing weight, braces, rhinoplasty).

    While I’m not about to get a radical makeover for anyone, I’ve been known to alter the frequency of shaving and haircuts to suit the tastes of the woman I was dating at the time.

  15. 15
    Hopeful

    It’s early in the relationship and you already feel he’s a burden, so it might be best to step back and reevaluate your life, values, and beliefs. Each of us has a right to feel and think the way we do, but we also need to be responsible for our actions, and its consequences. Such as, you let him go and then he finds happiness elsewhere, all of a sudden, you discover he’s the best thing that ever happened to you. Don’t go chasing him down like the movies, but instead, be sincerely happy for the guy and have no regrets.

    Your boyfriend’s reply kind of stunned me, but at least you were honest. If you feel bad, just tell him you are still very immature for your age and need more time to learn and grow. I’ve used this line in the past; actually, I still do.

  16. 17
    Kenley

    This is such an interesting topic with so many angles to explore….

    At first when people objected to the OP’s guy changing his appearance for her, I wholeheartedly agreed that he shouldn’t have to do that. She should just like him for who he is no matter what he looks like. However, I then thought about all the dating advice that men and women are given. And a major one is to look your absolute best…..Are ya fat? Then you better call Jenny. Yellow teeth. Three out of four dentists recommend Crest Whitening Strips. Scrawny body. Get pumped it up at Bally’s. Saggy boobs. Go get Victoria’s Secret (yes, I actually did read that.) Hair cut from the ’70’s. March yourself right to the trendiest salon in town for a cut that would make Stacy and Clinton proud. Most of us that agree looking our best is good advice. So, I think it is interesting that refining or even overhauling our appearance to please some anonymous, non existent person is acceptable, but changing for a specific person that you actually like somehow feels wrong. Why is that?

    On the other hand, having once gone out with a guy who didn’t think I was attractive was the most horrible feeling ever — I was heavier than the women he typically liked to date. So, while the OP may think she did her guy a favor in telling him that she didn’t think he was attractive, I’m not so certain she did. What if he does all he can to change the features that offend her and she still doesn’t think he is her match? What then? I think when a man and a woman are really and truly right for each other, he thinks he’s got the greatest all around gal ever and she thinks she’s got the greatest all around guy ever. He falls short of that for her and she told him so. How ego deflating is that for him? It may sound like I am criticizing her for feeling the way she does, but I’m not. I don’t think it’s shallow to want to find your partner attractive and I don’t think people should have to apologize for the way they feel. I just don’t think telling someone you dislike the way they look– even if it easy to change — is a great idea.

    Based on the tone of her email, I don’t think they have a chance. Even though he said he would change for her, I didn’t get the impression that she thought he would be successful. So, it seems like there really is zero physical attraction. Moreover, if he hasn’t grown on her by now — based on the way he treats her and their compatibility — I think it’s highly unlikely that it will happen down the road. Thus for her sake and for her guy’s sake, I think she should end it. She deserves more and so does he.

  17. 18
    Ava

    What a fascinating subject! Great post from Evan, in which he really considers all the angles.

    I’ve dated men who weren’t 10’s, but whom I was very attracted to because I loved their personalities/sense of humor/lots in common/great sex. Perhaps I was unsure about the physical appearance initially, but after a brief time, that changed. You CAN have great chemistry with a non-gorgeous mere mortal if other elements are in place. I’ve had no chemistry with drop-dead gorgeous men. I’ve also dated men with whom I shared common interests, who weren’t unattractive and were very nice, but for whatever reason, the chemistry never quite jelled. I stuck around, hoping that would change, and ended up regretting it. Tricky thing, this chemistry business, but isn’t that what separates a romantic relationship from a friendship?

    Mia isn’t saying that her BF is ugly, but that she doesn’t like his appearance and doesn’t find him attractive. It’s been a few months, and she’s still saying that. Can he change his appearance enough to suit her? Should he even have to? Frankly, it sounds like they are better suited to be friends than romantic partners. I may be going out on a limb here, but I think if Mia were a man, she would have broken up with the guy a while back. I don’t think men waste much time on women they’re not physically attracted to. Do we women second-guess our feelings more than we should?

  18. 19
    Selena

    I’ve dated men I wasn’t overwhelmingly attracted to at first and found the more I got to know and care for them the more attractive they became to me. Like Karl mentioned in #14, I could find something “hot” about them. If Mia still feels unattracted to this man after a few months of dating him, it would seem this hasn’t happened for her and likely won’t. Even though he said he’s willing to change things about his appearance for her, the tone of Mia’s letter suggests she doesn’t really think it would work. I think Mia’s better off going with her gut here and letting the guy go. Better that than him putting himself through all kinds of hoops only to find it makes no difference in the way she feels about him regardless. *It* is either there or it’s not.

    I’m curious though as to what changes he is willing to make. My sense of my own attractiveness as well as my self confidence soared when I finally had some long put off dental work done. Same with gaining or losing 15 pounds as I have in the last 5 years. A flattering haircut, or clothing can have the same effect. If Mia’s man is open to a makeover of sorts, it might have a surprising positive effect on his sense of self whether it wins Mia over or not. He might find the woman who really does feel *it* with him – not because of the way he looks as much as the boost of self confidence he gains and projects.

  19. 20
    Lance

    I haven’t even read the blog post yet, just the headline, and the answer is NO.

  20. 21
    Lance

    Okay, just read the letter and response.

    Couple of points:
    1. She states the guy isn’t ugly. The way I interpret this is that his presentation is lame and he has no “style.” The way he looks is indistinct or screams beta. The truth is, most guys don’t have awesome bone structures and aren’t classically hot…but with some nice threads, a cool haircut, good posture and body language, that same ugly guy is now handsome. He needs to fix his presentation.

    2. Which leads me to #2. Internally, the guy is beta, and this is what is really turning her off. Notice she said he made long term plans too soon. That means he’s clingy and trying to her lock her down. The guy has confidence issues and is immature when it comes to relationships and sex. He’s probably lousy in the sack, too.

    Conclusion: They shouldn’t be together. The guy needs to grow internally and fix his presentation. She needs to tell him this. He needs to do some reading and get honest feedback from trusted sources and become a better man.

  21. 22
    mic

    He said he will take all the steps necessary to improve himself physically.

    Didn’t notice that before. Wow. That sounds like he is too eager to be with her, which in and of itself might be linked to his appearance and of course hers. Too bad what he looks like is a mystery. Other important parts of the story – for example, how much each person values physical intimacy – also are missing. Anyway, thanks for the de facto endorsements of professional image help :)

    1. 22.1
      fazsha

      I think it’s perfectly fine to say that you will do whatever you can to make yourself more physically pleasing to another person.  If someone said you were too loud in restaurants and other public settings, would promising to be more careful in order to please your partner just be a courteous thing to do, or would it be ‘selling out’ because you’re ‘too eager’ to be with someone.  My view is that relationships should attempt to please the other person, but also to kindly point out things the other person could do better.  If I had a girlfriend ( I don’t) and she respectfully and thoughtfully told me a way I could improve myself in some way, I would be happy to listen.  If I agreed with her, I would be grateful to her for pointing it out, and if I disagreed, we could discuss our points of view.  I don’t take offense easily if the other person at least shows an attempt to be gracious in the way she brought the topic up.  My radar is up the most keenly when I sense a lack of kindness.  I do wish I had a girlfriend, but I just had a hip replacement and am just learning to walk again, so I’m just not ready to court anyone.

  22. 23
    mic

    So, I think it is interesting that refining or even overhauling our appearance to please some anonymous, non existent person is acceptable, but changing for a specific person that you actually like somehow feels wrong. Why is that?

    Kenley, it probably is considered “wrong” for a man because it means the woman has the power and that he’s “beta” and not the dominant man (which implicity suggests manly-looking, at least when younger) that women typically want. Until recently, it wasn’t considered at all “wrong” for a woman to do much upkeep or “refining” for a man’s sake, but not to the extent of surgically changing her features to something they never were. Of course there also elements of appearance that very much reflect personality, such that changing them is like changing personality, which feels “wrong” to do for anyone else’s sake and probably cannot work in the long run.

    Another reply talked about why women try to fight their feelings. Women are more pragmatic in matters of love, it’s been shown. Their attempted compromising on looks might explain a lot of break-ups that mystify men. Look at John Edwards – women will tolerate much more from men they find quite physically attractive.

  23. 24
    mic

    By the way, among personality-linked appearance elements somebody probably shouldn’t change mostly for the sake of a potential specific or actual partner is overall style. Bah to any image professional whose priority isn’t making the client satisfied with his or her personal style. Change the hair somewhat, change the footwear somewhat, wear the right sizes, but don’t for example dress conservative when you have artistic leanings.

  24. 25
    starthrower68

    I think women have to be careful about being starstruck by a guy. Been there done that and have come to realize that is a huge warning sign that I’m not seeing things objectively. I fell head-over-heels in “lust” for a very attractive man a couple of years ago and I completely ignored his lack of character. It didn’t take long to find it out, either. I’m not saying that all beautiful people have no character but I’m saying that one must be careful not to be so caught up in that so that one’s objectivity is clouded.

  25. 26
    Eathan

    I agree.. attraction is the X-factor. I’ve had relationships end because one of us didn’t have enough attraction to each other.

    Eathan´s last blog post…She’s Out The Closet

  26. 27
    downtowngal

    I agree with the poster above who said that after 5 months of dating, if it’s not there it probably never will be.

    Maybe you should have a break, that way your true feelings will become evident. If you miss him then there’s a shot. If not then you have your answer.

    Attraction is subjective; I’ve found guys who are conventionally attractive to be a turnoff based on their character or how they’ve treated me. And I had a serious boyfriend whom many might not have considered attractive at all, yet his smile, intelligence and unconditional interest in me turned me on.

    Attraction is very important to relationships, and for women, especially, because studies have shown that the more attracted you are to your partner, the better the sex and the easier it is for you to conceive.

  27. 28
    Angela

    What ever other attributes this guy has it does not seem to offset his looks. One of my best relationships was with a guy that I initially didn’t like how he looked. He pursued me really hard and when we met and I got to know him, his personality overshadowed how I feel about his looks. Plus he had a nice body!!!! I think she needs to move on and just be this guys friend

  28. 29
    hunter

    A womans’ biggest mistake, when she selects with her eyes. But didn’t our creator build people that way, just to keep this place populated? Sometimes, we almost have to think that way just to maintain our sanity.

  29. 30
    downtowngal

    Hunter, I think it’s everyone’s mistake. But in this case they’ve been dating for a few months, long enough for someone to get over the physical attraction stage.

    1. 30.1
      Lucy

      It happened to me. My ex boyfriend wasn’t attractive at all. But we were compatible in many factors. But it didn’t work, you can’t love someone if you are not even attracted to him, love is complete (you know what I mean). At the end we broke up and after that my friends started telling me things about him that they should have told me before. I realized he was an asshole and I thank God he wasn’t the handsome enough to cover his inner ugliness. Now everytime I remember him I think ‘iiuuhhh’. I should have listened my best friend when he told me I deserved someone better, but you can’t undo your past.

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