How Do I Get Over the Curse of Hot-Ex Boyfriend?

I’ve been reading your blog since my break up and it’s been really helpful in making me realize that my ex wasn’t right for me (he was the one who left me despite me trying to save our relationship). So many other dating articles tell me how to bring back even the coldest man to the loving guy he was at the beginning but I’m not buying into all that anymore. Exes are exes for a reason and we are no longer in contact nor in good terms.

However, I think I’ve been hit with the curse of the hot ex-boyfriend. At times, I panic thinking I wouldn’t find someone as hot with all the amazing qualities of my ex (except the one quality necessary – to not give up). Looks weren’t important to me before I met him and now I don’t like this version of myself that is superficial. How do I get over the fear of not finding someone I can be immensely attracted to and who is right for me as well?

Divya

You’re a maximizer, Divya. That’s okay.

I’m one, too, and I’m going to tell you how to maximize your happiness.

My method is largely logical and rhetorical, but it got me happily married and I am confident it can do the same for you.

Think of the most impressive people you’ve ever met.

I’m going to do the same.

The smartest person I’ve ever met was nerdy and had great trouble fitting in socially.

The most social person I’ve ever met was tiring because she was always “on.”

The funniest person I’ve ever met was both unsuccessful and immoral.

The kindest person I’ve ever met had virtually no sense of humor.

Good qualities usually come with bad qualities.

The wealthiest person I’ve ever met lacked empathy and kindness.

This does not mean, in any way, that ALL smart people are X and funny people are Y.

All it means is something that I first outlined in “Why He Disappeared.”

Good qualities usually come with bad qualities.

The self-made millionaire isn’t home to play with the kids at 5.

The brilliant know-it-all doesn’t care as much about your opinion as his own.

The charismatic center-of-attention gets upset when you steal his spotlight.

I don’t know what flaw your hot guy had – consistency, communication, commitment – all I know is that he left you.

He didn’t value you.

He didn’t value your relationship.

He gave up on you when all you wanted to do is make things work.

So who gives a shit that he turned heads?

Who gives a shit that you’ll never date a hotter guy?

Who gives a shit about your unfounded and irrational fear that you can’t do better than a guy who made you feel like crap when you loved him?

Sure, looks matter.

Your man is the one who chooses you, over and over and over again.

But nobody told you that you had to settle on a guy you’re not attracted to.

All I’m telling you is that you don’t have to be with the person you’re MOST attracted to.

I’m not. Nobody I know is, either. Sorry if that’s news to you, but well, that’s my job.

My hottest girlfriend was crazy (literally, six months of inpatient therapy after we dated).

She was a 10 in looks. She spoiled me. She made me look good to others.

I would be MISERABLE if I married her.

The fact that my wife is “normal” attractive instead of “model” attractive is not an insult to her, nor is it a weakness, nor is it something I struggle with on a day to day basis.

Everyone compromises in relationships. EVERYONE.

Unless he’s smarter than Mark Zuckerberg, cuter than Channing Tatum, funnier than Louis CK, more charismatic than Robert Downey Jr, and more ambitious than Elon Musk, there will always be more impressive men than your husband out there.

So what?

Your man is the one who chooses you, over and over and over again.

Yes, you have to be attracted to your husband, but he probably won’t be the hottest guy you’ve ever dated.

And that’s okay. Because the hottest guy you’ve ever dated was a douchebag.

You should try not to forget it.

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Comments:

  1. 1
    Jeremy

    I very much like Evan’s response to the OP here, and would only add one thing.  Evan wrote, “Who gives a shit about your unfounded and irrational fear that you can’t do better than a guy who made you feel like crap when you loved him?”  Answer – the next guy who dates you.

     

    Evan is totally right that with increasing hotness, you often get other less-positive attributes.  So a woman who is dumped by a hot guy might choose to date a less hot guy who has better relationship qualities – and that can work out really nicely….unless she can’t forget how hot the first guy was.  The manosphere calls this concept “alpha widowhood.”  And of all the copious bullshit on the ‘sphere, this one has some basis in reality.  If the OP can’t get beyond the fact that she once dated a super-hot guy, if she can’t allow herself to appreciate the slightly less-hot-but better relationship-oriented guy in a way that is visceral (and not just intellectual), then she is not being more mature by choosing a less-hot guy.  In that case, some work on the self is needed.

    1. 1.1
      Emily, the original a

      Jeremy,

      If the OP can’t get beyond the fact that she once dated a super-hot guy, if she can’t allow herself to appreciate the slightly less-hot-but better relationship-oriented guy in a way that is visceral (and not just intellectual), then she is not being more mature by choosing a less-hot guy.

      She has to appreciate the relationship oriented man in a visceral way? I don’t think Lori Gottlieb is instructing women to go for Mr. Visceral. Didn’t the OP just have that and it turned out badly?

      If this guy set a physical and sexual standard (he may not have; someone’s appearance doesn’t always equate to hot sex), she may have trouble getting over him.

      Do men have women in their pasts who set a sexual standard? What do they call those in the manosphere … phantom fucks?

      Then again, the OP could wake up one day and want something different.

      1. 1.1.1
        Jeremy

        She has to appreciate the relationship oriented man in a visceral way?”  Yes.  Remember that everything is a spectrum rather than dichotomous variables.  But she must find him somewhat arousing as well as intellectually attractive.  Because most men need the validation that their spouse finds them attractive, much like women do.

         

        Do men have women in their pasts who set a sexual standard?”  Everything I wrote above applies equally to both genders.

         

        I don’t think Lori Gottlieb is instructing women to go for Mr. Visceral. Didn’t the OP just have that and it turned out badly?”  Again, spectrum, not dichotomous.  

         

        Then again, the OP could wake up one day and want something different.”  This is why I’ve said time and again that people who tend to wake up and want something different make very uncertain long-term relationship bets from their partner’s perspective.  We can all change and grow, but radical change is the enemy of marriage.

        1. Emily, the original

          Jeremy,

          But she must find him somewhat arousing as well as intellectually attractive.  Because most men need the validation that their spouse finds them attractive, much like women do.

          Somewhat is reasonable. Visceral implies an immediate, dizzying kind of attraction that this site warns about.

        2. Tron Swanson

          I agree: just as women can be alpha widows, men can be alpha widowers. When I was younger, I lucked into some way-out-of-my-league women, and that influenced my standards going forward. Having said that…I think that, with men, it’s usually more likely to be about absence than presence. Let me take a shot at explaining this.

          Men and women tend to have different formative experiences: women come into their full power in their early twenties, while men are scrambling to compete with both each other and older, more established men. So, any willing woman is having lots of sex, while men aren’t as lucky. This disparity in life-experience is carried forward with age. From what I’ve seen, women tend to regret the wild sex they had when they were younger, while men regret the wild sex they didn’t get to have when they were younger.

          So, while a man has to compete with the phantom of his partner’s too-perfect past boyfriend, a woman has to compete with her partner’s sense of missing out, and his sense that he still needs to sow his wild oats. In both cases, they’re really wondering about their individual potential–if/when they should settle, what “league” they’re really in, and so on. But, while Divya is wondering about her ex, many men are wondering about women that they’ve never even gotten to meet, yet. This is one area where men have it easier than men. Just speaking for myself, I’d rather compete with a flesh-and-blood person than a pure idea of sexual possibility.

          That said, let me tell you, the feeling that you’re being settled for…yeah, it’s awful. Shortly before my thirtieth birthday, women that used to ignore me started coming around, taking my proverbial temperature. I’ve never been the most successful guy, but I’m stable and have no drama in my life. Paraphrased from multiple women: “Are you hoping to get married, someday?” “Oh, wow, you aren’t paying alimony or child support? That must be nice, my ex-boyfriend and I were always limited on what we could do, financially.” “I’m ready to settle down and find a nice guy.”

          I’ve gone through almost ten years of that, now. Women wanting to get married, or remarried, or just looking for a man to help them raise their kids. I thought that being ignored by women (when I was younger) was horrible, but being “wanted” for non-passionate reasons is somehow even worse. They’re basically admitting that they’ve become less attractive, and they have fewer options, so now they’re willing to give me a shot. They still aren’t physically attracted to me, but they at least see me as being potentially useful, I guess.

        3. Emily, the original

          Tron,

          From what I’ve seen, women tend to regret the wild sex they had when they were younger

          I’m one person, but I can tell you that’s not true. I regret not accepting more solicitations and making more of my own. The desirable options for even something sketchy really dwindle once past 30. I didn’t know that then.

          I’d rather compete with a flesh-and-blood person than a pure idea of sexual possibility.

          A flesh-and-blond person is more threatening. She’s found her ideal once and thinks she’ll find it again.

          Women wanting to get married, or remarried, or just looking for a man to help them raise their kids. I thought that being ignored by women (when I was younger) was horrible, but being “wanted” for non-passionate reasons is somehow even worse. 

          It’s not personal. A woman who is looking to get married will look at any and all available options in her orbit. She’s looking at all men for non-passionate reasons (or along with passionate reasons).

        4. S.

          Never know if my replies will end up in the right place.  This is to Tron at, well, under 1.1.1.:

          I agree with Emily.  No woman I know regrets having good sex.  (Not sure if ‘good’ is the same as ‘wild’, lol. )  My friends and I don’t talk about sex much but I don’t sense any regrets whatsoever.  I don’t know how ‘wild’ their lives were in the past.

          Unlike Emily, I still have opportunities for sex since I’m aging rather gracefully.  Having sex with tons of people is not me, though.  Even if I’m in relationships with them.  Just too much . . . change for my temperment.   Like your formative years shaped you, mine shaped me.  I was a rather late bloomer. Not physically. I had a woman’s body at age 11. But mentally.  I go through things slowly. I have zero regrets about that. I never regretted moving too fast (well, mebbe once), and I really never regret moving too slowly.  I try not to have regrets.  Especially not about sex! 🙂

          men regret the wild sex they didn’t get to have when they were younger.

          When do men get over these regrets? I hope folks don’t live long with regrets. This reminds me of the woman who wrote to Evan who lost weight and was upset that more men wanted her when she was thinner.  Why didn’t they value her more when she was overweight?  Evan was basically like, move on from that, give men a chance, start from where you are now, etc.

          But I was with her in her feelings even though I’ve never been overweight.  What about the people who are never chosen physically? Never lose weight or are never people’s physical first choice even when thin? They’re ignored forever? I don’t remember his response really addressing who she had been and who some people will always be.

          They’re basically admitting that they’ve become less attractive, and they have fewer options, so now they’re willing to give me a shot. They still aren’t physically attracted to me, but they at least see me as being potentially useful, I guess.

          Not necessarily. You want them to validate you physically. I get that.  But maybe they see more in you beyond that.  Attraction can grow as I’ve mentioned elsewhere in these comments.  Most women don’t consider marriage with a man they don’t find at least a little attractive.  And to invite you to be around her children? Children are a woman’s pride and joy.  Most women are very, very careful who they let to be around their children.

          I’m just saying.  Don’t undervalue that.  Being wanted physically is important. It hurts to be overlooked and ignored when hormones are racing and it seems so many others are getting that attention.  But marriage is serious business, supposedly for life.   Most women I know don’t enter that lightly.  And if the women you meet are treating that lightly, you wouldn’t really want them anyway (even just for sex). Or would you?

        5. Emily, the original

          S..

          Unlike Emily, I still have opportunities for sex since I’m aging rather gracefully.

          I have opportunities but they are ones I don’t want or ones I do want but they’re married.  My point was … At 25, I could go into a party and most of the men would be available. Now I’m lucky if one is available. And at 25, I had no idea what awaited me. I guess I thought things would go on as they had. I went to graduate school at 32, which colored my perception of what was out there because there was still a decent number of men in my class who were single. Then I dated someone I really liked at 34. I had no idea then what a fluke that was.

        6. Tron Swanson

          Emily, S.,

          Thanks for sharing. For whatever reason, most of the women that I’ve known have made it clear that they regret the casual sex they had when they were younger–usually as part of a “Look how mature I am, now/Look how ready I am to settle down, now” display. I’m sure that most men respond positively to that, since the majority of men have this weird sexual double-standard when it comes to women. But for someone like me, who’s sex-positive and trying to make up for lost time, well, it has a negative effect, instead. I can’t tell you how many interactions I’ve had with women where they’re trying to show me that they’ve changed, and I’m trying to show them that I haven’t changed (and don’t want to).

          S.,

          Yes, I’d absolutely want them just for sex. But I don’t want to lead them on–or be manipulated via sex–so I usually keep my distance.

        7. Emily, the original

          Tron,

          Yes, I’d absolutely want them just for sex. But I don’t want to lead them on–or be manipulated via sex–so I usually keep my distance.

          I don’t think there’s anything wrong with casual sex as long as both parties are on the same page. I think women get confused when a guy takes them out on dates; they think he’s trying to get to know them. In those instances, he doesn’t want a relationship but wants some kind of emotional connection because it makes the sex better for him. If he wants a one-nighter, he should make that clear.

    2. 1.2
      Theodora

      “Alpha widowhood” is a reality. It starts with the observation that women can have casual sex or semi-relationship or half-hearted (from the man’s part) relationships with men who are objectively more desirable than them because men lower their standards to have sex. Then the woman starts to believe that the type of men who slept with her are the same type of men who will wholeheartedly commit to her. A source of delusions, misery and bitterness when reality finally kicks in.

      1. 1.2.1
        Jeremy

        I disagree with your etiology, Theodora.  The concept is more due to the notion that the type of man you “f-ck” and the type of man you marry are different.  And some men have the same fallacy, but women more often (IME) develop the belief that they have “matured” and will be happy with a man who has good husband and dad potential even if he doesn’t do it for her physically.  And frankly, this might be true.  But the guy will be miserable.  Because her deigning to marry him will not give him the validation he will need, in spite of her believing it should.

        1. Lisa

          I have no idea of this alpha widowhood that you speak of, but let me say this. Most people that are super attractive, men and women are extremely insecure.  Because the only thing they have ever been complimented on are their looks.  With limited exceptions we have no control over our looks, they are luck of the gene pool, and they fade in all of us.  When you are constantly validated for your looks, something you have little control over it makes you VERY insecure.   The way to cure that insecurity is to seek more validation for your looks, hence cheating.    This is true for women and men, and it becomes more true as we age and realize OMG we are losing our looks.   There are many super attractive people that have things beyond their looks that they have been validated for, and those people tend to not fall into the same trap as those just validated based upon looks.   From my perspective and I cannot speak for all women of course, but many women unlike men have attraction in their heads.  Men become more attractive to you the more you get to know them.   And women are all over the place on what attractive is.    It’s why me and my best friend can look at the same man and she thinks he’s gorgeous and I think he is hideous.   So just because the man was super hot to the writer, does not mean he is to anyone else.    The best people are super hot but have no idea they are and have a lot more going for them than looks alone.

        2. Theodora

          They are different in the sense that the man she f#cks is usually out of her league and out of her reach. The worst (and funniest) part is when she believes she “settled” when actually the man who offers commitment is her equal in attractiveness, but she uses the standard of previous casual encounters and semi-relationships, where men were more attractive.

        3. Sylvana

          I think I understand what Jeremy is saying.

          Basically, that while a woman might know in her mind this guy is the right guy for her (due to having what it takes to be a great husband/partner, possible father), she is pretty much “not that into him.”

          There is relatively low sexual attraction, or at least much lower than with the other man (who wasn’t a good partner). And the man who is a great partner can absolutely feel that.

          It’s not necessarily just a matter of looks, since tastes vary so greatly. It’s a matter of feeling that spark, that attraction, that draw – which is somewhat hard to fake.

          I don’t think men are so different from women that they wouldn’t need to feel desired by their partners, or need to feel that their partner is very much into them physically as well (the validation Jeremy speaks about).

          I don’t think “alpha widowhood” refers to women who think they can turn a hot guy out of their league into a great partner. I think it refers to women who have had that great sexual chemistry with a man (or more), fully knowing they wouldn’t make great partners, and are now settling for a man they don’t have as much sexual chemistry with because he is a much better partner.

          And while this might still make her happy, the fact that she did settle for less physical attraction is obvious to the man she is with. And it doesn’t make him feel very good.

          Some might call that insecurity. I think it’s only normal.

           

        4. Emily, the original

          Sylvana,
          And while this might still make her happy, the fact that she did settle for less physical attraction is obvious to the man she is with. And it doesn’t make him feel very good.
          Some might call that insecurity. I think it’s only normal.
          But don’t men make some of these same compromises? What is it always assumed the woman is settling for less attraction but a good partner? I have a male friend who said he looked for a woman who would be a good mother and good person when he looked for a wife. What one looks for in a long-term partner is different than a short-term fling.

        5. Jeremy

          @Sylvana, Bingo!

           

          @Emily, both men and women compromise in their search for long-term partners, but they tend to compromise in different ways.  Women more often compromise in terms of arousal/chemistry.  Men more often over-prioritize chemistry and under-prioritize compatibility (from their perspective) and end up with women whom they find attractive, yet whose behavior doesnt give them the validation they need in the long-term.  The friend you describe is, I believe, an exception if he compromised significantly  in terms of attraction.

        6. Sylvana

          Emily,

          Absolutely! I totally agree that men tend to do the same (different standards for marrying and sex). I think that’s why you see so much of what some would call insecurity in women.

          Those women are very much aware that their husbands would basically much rather sleep with the hotter/wilder chick, but has settled for someone with wife/mother potential.

          In men, this often gets excused with “men will be men”. (Like us being expected to overlook them going to strip clubs, obviously being interested in hotter women, etc.)

          Now that women are becoming more outspoken and freer, though, I think men are starting to realize how it feels to be on the receiving end of it. (not anywhere near enough yet, if you asked me).

          Still, I have to admit that being settled for will feel just as bad to a man as to a woman.

        7. Emily, the original

          Jeremy, 

          Women more often compromise in terms of arousal/chemistry.  Men more often over-prioritize chemistry and under-prioritize compatibility (from their perspective) and end up with women whom they find attractive, yet whose behavior doesnt give them the validation they need in the long-term.  The friend you describe is, I believe, an exception if he compromised significantly  in terms of attraction.

          I didn’t say he didn’t find his wife attractive. He’s a man. She’s a woman. He finds her attractive. But, no, he’s not having the hottest sex of his life with her. I would venture to say that’s fairly common. For women, often the man she had the hottest sex with is in prison! HA  Sorry, couldn’t help myself. Amy Schumer joke.

          Sylvana,

          Those women are very much aware that their husbands would basically much rather sleep with the hotter/wilder chick, but has settled for someone with wife/mother potential.

          Yes. You aren’t going to build a decades-long relationship on “had the hottest sex with” or “was most attracted to” or “was the hottest person I’ve been with.” If that happens to also be present in a person you are really compatible with, you’re lucky.

        8. Yet Another Guy

          @Sylvana

          I don’t think “alpha widowhood” refers to women who think they can turn a hot guy out of their league into a great partner. I think it refers to women who have had that great sexual chemistry with a man (or more), fully knowing they wouldn’t make great partners, and are now settling for a man they don’t have as much sexual chemistry with because he is a much better partner.

           

          It means the former, not the latter.   I posted a link to the definition below.

        9. Yet Another Guy

          @Jeremy

          I did exactly what Emily mentioned about her friend.  I will never repeat that mistake.  A loveless/sexless marriage is a nightmare that I would not wish on my worst enemy.

        10. Emily, the original

          YAG,

          I think it refers to women who have had that great sexual chemistry with a man (or more), fully knowing they wouldn’t make great partners, and are now settling for a man they don’t have as much sexual chemistry with because he is a much better partner.

          That’s exactly what it means, at least according to the manosphere. It can also mean the former partner was an alpha male while the other partner is beta. Thus: alpha fux, beta bux. The beta man is the husband who is supporting her but the alpha got it for free.

      2. 1.2.2
        Theodora

        No, actually very attractive people are rarely, if ever, insecure. People tend to assume they are more intelligent and trustworthy than they are (there are studies  which show this), so they receive compliments for more than their looks, sometimes without merit. Also, they get paid more than their less attractive counterparts and are preferred for employment and promotions. Overall, they don’t have confidence problems, unless we count over-confidence, narcissism and hissy fits when things don’t go their way, hence “hot and crazy”. I’m not saying that all hotties (of both genders) are self-absorbed, just that when they happen to have problems, insecurity is not one of them, on the contrary, the opposite of it.

        Also, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder only when we compare people of roughly the same level of physical attractiveness. Depending on personal preferences and tastes, some might argue which 7 is more attractive, the blond or the redhead. But everybody, except the blind, can see the difference in beauty between a 7 and a 9.

        1. Stacy

          Theodora,

          Everything you said in this forum is the truth!

    3. 1.3
      Tracey

      Very well said

    4. 1.4
      Yet Another Guy

      @Jeremy

      The manosphere calls this concept “alpha widowhood.”

      I thought that I had heard or read it all, but I had to look that one up.

      What is an "Alpha Widow," and why does it matter? from TheRedPill

      TLDR? This is what we mean when we talk about the consequences of unchecked hypergamy. Women fucking around with high SMV players end up with fucked up proprieties and a distorted sense of their own worth, and are no longer LTR material as a result. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the alpha widow.

      The problem here is that guys will sleep with any women who says “yes” when they are younger.  I lost count of the number of times that I went home with a woman I would never date before I married.  Sex with a less attractive woman is still sex, and quite frankly, most of the lessor attractive women with whom I had sex were a hell of lot better in bed than their more beautiful counterparts, especially the chubby ones.  They gave me an appreciation for fat bottom girls. 🙂

       

       

      1. 1.4.1
        Jeremy

        YAG, could have done without the disgustingly-worded hyperbole.  Reminds me why I’m off the ‘sphere.  Plus, even without the hyperbole, I disagree with this definition.  It isn’t that a woman has sex with guys above her station and laments the fact that none will commit to her – at least, that’s not the common experience.  Rather, as I’ve stated elsewhere, it boils down to the sexual exchange theory of relationships.  Most of the most stable marriages I’ve known are ones where the woman is +1 in SMV and the man is +1 in providership/status.  She’s in shape, he has a dad-bod (not obese, though).  He makes lots of money, she makes less.  These relationships can work out really well as long as each person appreciates what the other provides and continues to want the original bargain.  The problem comes when one of them adapts hedonically and wants something else.  For example, the woman begins to take her lifestyle for granted and wish the guy was sexier, even though his sexiness was never part of the original deal.  And she then remembers all the other sexy guys she dated in the past, or who proposition her currently.  THAT is the alpha-widow.  The lane-changer.

         

        Men are far less likely to change lanes, but we suffer from problems of our own under the exchange model.  People’s SMV reduces over time, but status might increase.  And a man whose income/status increases as his wife ages might begin to also grow dis-satisfied with the bargain.  So it is incumbent on both men and women to find solutions to these problems – to men, to look beyond the superficial and appreciate all the many excellent qualities a woman can offer beyond the exchange model.  And to women, to remember the original model and not become hedonically adapted to what their husbands do for them.

        1. Sylvana

          Jeremy,

          I like the way you put that. Completely aside from the alpha widow thing, I think this is wonderful advice to anyone.

          This, right here, might actually be the advice to give to most couples.

      2. 1.4.2
        S.

        Wow. Just wow. There is so much hate and dislike for women at that site in that link.  And it’s also so Western focused.  And it doesn’t consider different cultures at all.  That’s no sort of real inclusive truth.  At least it’s not my life here in the US.

        I’m not sure if the people reading that even realize all the bias and non-global truth in it.

        Sex with a less attractive woman is still sex, and quite frankly, most of the lessor attractive women with whom I had sex were a hell of lot better in bed than their more beautiful counterparts, especially the chubby ones.  They gave me an appreciation for fat bottom girls. 🙂

        There is a lot here that I have no time to comment upon.  I will only say when I asked in a comment above:

        What about the people who are never chosen physically? Never lose weight or are never people’s physical first choice even when thin? They’re ignored forever?

        Attention like this to the “fat bottom” girls is not what I meant.  Now I have to go wash my eyes out from that link before I have lunch.

        1. Emily, the original

          S.,
          I’m not crazy about how this is worded, either. (I had sex were a hell of lot better in bed than their more beautiful counterparts, especially the chubby ones.  They gave me an appreciation for fat bottom girls.) Unless you yourself look like one of the Hemsworth brothers .. you get where I ‘m going with this  …
          What about the people who are never chosen physically? Never lose weight or are never people’s physical first choice even when thin? They’re ignored forever?
          My sample size is small, but I used to work with a lot of men and from what they told me or what I heard them say, they basically found women attractive, in all shapes and sizes. Their interest wasn’t limited to young and thin.

        2. Chris

          I think there are some small elements of truth in the “Redpill” philosophy, but The Rational Male just goes way too far I agree. I doesn’t actually purport to hate or dislike women. But it does treat them with extreme condescension, regarding them as simple minded, irresponsible, and completely at their mercy of their hormones and other biological factors.

          Meanwhile, it tells men that if they want to be Real Men they have to transform themselves into muscular, emotionally invulnerable supermen. The site is frequently just obnoxious.

          And “Alpha Widowhood” supposedly occurs when a women is in an intense, exciting romantic relationship, but the relationship is broken off prematurely, before it has a chance to lose its luster.

        3. Emily, the original

          Chris,

          And “Alpha Widowhood” supposedly occurs when a women is in an intense, exciting romantic relationship, but the relationship is broken off prematurely, before it has a chance to lose its luster.

          The guy doesn’t have to be an alpha. He just has to give her the kind of sex where she sits up and says, “Oh, now I get it. Now I get what all of the songs are about.” He does that in a way the others haven’t.

      3. 1.4.3
        Yet Another Guy

        @Jeremy

        It isn’t that a woman has sex with guys above her station and laments the fact that none will commit to her – at least, that’s not the common experience.

        You and I will have to agree to disagree on this topic.  We lived very different lives before we married.  You appear to have lived a somewhat sheltered life.  My ex was not +1, she was at least -1.  My family commented on how she was not my type because I primarily dated women who would be classified today as “Barbies” before meeting her.  I did not marry her for her looks.  I married her because I thought that she would make a good partner and mother to my children, and if we take romantic love out of the picture, she filled both of these roles well.   This pattern is a lot more common with men who previously got around before they married than you realize.  Beauty loses its luster after a man has had enough of it.  While not all beautiful women are intellectually lazy,  a substantial proper subset of these women leaves a lot to be desired in that area.  Why? Because beautiful people do not have work as hard to obtain success as people with lessor looks.  These people are less likely to obtain an advanced degree because they do not need it to compete.  This dynamic applies to men as well as women.

         

        1. Jeremy

          We may disagree indeed, YAG, though I would say that the men in my circles didn’t marry just for looks.  Absolutely all of the women in my circles have advanced degrees.  Usually at least master’s degrees or professional degrees.  They just have less earning potential than the men they married.  And it’s not that the men they married are all that much worse looking than the women – they are generally good-looking guys.  They just might not be quite the same level as their wives.  I don’t know many men who married women SMV-1 that stayed married.  I don’t know many women who married men income-1 who didn’t come to resent that fact.  Could just be my circle, though.

        2. Yet Another Guy

          @Jeremy

          I know a lot of couples who have solid relationships where the woman outearns the man by a significant amount; however, then again, these marriages started out with equal SMVs and peer earning potential.  I do not know of many marriages that have survived where the women had a +1 SMV starting out unless she aged poorly.   Heck, I do know of many marriages that have survived where both partners had equal SMVs starting out, but the woman’s SMV basically remained the same with respect to her age and the man aged poorly.

          I do not believe the +1 SMV woman/+1 income man model is universal.   I believe that the outcome has to do with how sexually experienced the woman is going into the marriage.  In my world, a man has to earn significantly more than a sexually experienced woman with a higher SMV to be able to keep her over the long haul.  I am talking about at least 2x her earning power.   Even then, a man who is dealing with a sexually experienced woman is competing with all of the men from her past.  Men make peace with who that decided to marry far more frequently than women.  I know of several marriages that have been destroyed by a former boyfriend/lover coming back into the picture via Facebook.  These men were not slouches in the earnings department.  In fact, all of them are paying spousal support.

        3. Jeremy

          I’m sure you’re right that it isn’t universal, YAG.  After all, my circles tend to be self-selecting, and pretty restricted to a certain portion of the population.  I have no experience with hook-up culture, nor do most of my friends (male or female), so that tells you how little I understand that (huge) element of society.  Relationships….that’s another story.

        4. Sylvana

          And here comes the next problem. So men settle for the wife with the good wife/mother qualities, and women settle for the man with good husband/father qualities.

          A few years down the road, the cheating begins.

          “I love my husband/wife. He/she is a wonderful partner. BUT …

          Not saying you, in particular, of course.

        5. Sylvana

          YAG,

          In my world, a man has to earn significantly more than a sexually experienced woman with a higher SMV to be able to keep her over the long haul.  I am talking about at least 2x her earning power. Etc.

          I have to agree with you there, YAG.  I could list numerous reasons of why this is true.  

           

  2. 2
    Stacy

    OP, I understand and Evan is 100 right.

    My ex husband was SUPER model hot – like, he actually used to model. However, he could not keep his dick in his pants (as I found out later on, hence the divorce).

    While I never considered myself superficial in many things (money? I could care less as long as you can take care of yourself. Height? I just want you to be a little bit taller than me and that’s no hard feat), I was ALWAYS attracted to the man with the super handsome face. I literally thought I could never unlearn this. I am a sucker for handsome.

    However, when your heart gets broken, you start to learn some lessons. And, I realized that there is a price to pay to be with people who have too many options. Of course, I am not saying that all handsome men are cheaters, but I rarely came across a man who had the looks exactly that I like with the character I liked. So, I had to decide on what’s truly important.

    My current boyfriend is certainly not a 10. In fact, I would give him a 6.5 in looks. However, he has INTEGRITY. His character is beyond reproach. He has all the qualities I could ever hope for.

    Super handsome men hit on me all the time but I would not leave the man I am with because a good man who I can absolutely trust with my whole heart and who has a combination of all the values I treasure is like a needle in a haystack. Besides, I am hot enough for both of us.:)

    1. 2.1
      Adrian

      Dear Stacy,

      No disrespect because I do love your comments

      BUT

      From reading your various post throughout the year about how you see him… I feel sorry for your boyfriend

      1. 2.1.1
        Stacy

        lol

        Adrian, I think you’re mixing up the Stacys because I have only been with my boyfriend for a little over a year and trust and believe, he probably feels like the luckiest man on earth. I treat him VERY well.

        1. Adrian

          Hi Stacy,

          Sorry you are probably right…

          But to be fair to me remember their is Stacy, Stacy2, and Stacia…

          So getting some of the stories mixed up was inevitable (^_^).

  3. 3
    S.

    I don’t know him, but she says he had amazing qualities. That is rare. I don’t think he’s a douchebag simply because he didn’t want to make it work with her.  He may want to with another woman.

    Yes, it matters to Divya because this is her letter.  But I wouldn’t label him a douchebag unless she needs to say that to forget about him.  Really, he’s human and they aren’t a match. That simple.  That’s all she and we need to know.  If he’s not using those amazing qualities to stay with her, then they are useless to her.

    Some good-looking people are good people inside and out.  Someone marries them! But why waste you life and time looking for those folks when there are so many good people out there who would be willing to commit to you.  I’m certain you can find one of those people and can be insanely attracted to them.  Absolutely.

    1. 3.1
      L

      S. : Hear! Hear!

    2. 3.2
      Adrian

      OMG! S  THANK YOU!!!

      Comments like Yet Another Guy’s aside, it gets so old hearing guys get bashed constantly for breaking up with a women.

      There have been plenty of women whom I have chosen to not be with after a few dates and I will assure you that these same reasons would prevent most of the female straight commentors from wanting to be friends with these types of women also.

      Just because the guy is the one who does the dumping doesn’t make him a bad guy, and just because he is attractive doesn’t make him a bad boyfriend.

      And lastly everyone commenting on how the guy was the problem or how his looks were the problem need to ask themselves have they ever dumped someone for a good reason but the person still wanted them back or (More importantly) couldn’t understand why they were being dumped???

      I have…

      How would others like it if they were prejudged and accused of being the bad one just because they look attractive; as someone who has had this happen many times to them-It SUCKS!

  4. 4
    Rossana

    Metaphor: You can have shoes that look great, as shiny as diamonds, but are so poorly fitting for just about any human foot that you can only walk few steps, walking like you are on eggshells. Then they come off, or you have to take them off, because you can take no more of the pain they cause. If your goal is to run a marathon, those won’t be shoes you can conceivably wear. You don’t need to go buy horrific neon color shoes. You just need some cute reliable shoes that you can walk long distance. My experience has been that once you learn to see the positives in the average shoe, you will appreciate the looks more and you won’t even remember the diamond uncomfortable shoes

      1. 4.1.1
        Rossana

        Whoooooooooooaaaaaaaaaaaa I had never watched that one!! Funny!!! I guess I’ve been reading your books, blogs and watching your podcasts for so long now that I start getting the right train of thought 😀
        I suppose shoes are one of the most fitting comparisons for real. I have been using for years the five-fingers shoes to workout and when people make fun of how ugly they are I always think I could not care less because they are the most functional shoes ever and I am literally in love with them 😀

  5. 5
    Sylvana

    I agree with the advice, but I can also see how having felt that kind of attraction can cause problems when setting later down the road. Like S., I hope she’ll find someone who is good for her that she can also be insanely attracted to.

    While on metaphors, I consider it like a car.

    The Ferrari, Lamborghini, or any other fine tuned racing machine (the 9 or 10). Nothing beats the way it responds, handles, or makes you feel when you drive it. Let’s say you have one, but the darn thing is also temperamental, ends up in the shop for repairs more times than not. Definitely not the most reliable thing out there, and it might just leave you stranded on a long road trip.

    Then there’s the regular car. Not ugly, and it handles all right. And it will get you wherever you want to go without giving you any problems.

    Now my mind (and logic) will obviously tell me that the regular car is the one I will need to see me safely through my long-distance trips. And that is the choice I will make.

    Now, I would adore, even love my regular car for its reliability. And it’s definitely not bad looking for what it is. And the fact that it is so good to me and perfect for what I need certainly makes me happy.

    But every day of my life I’m gonna miss that feeling that I had driving the Ferrari. And I’ll always wish I could feel that again. And no matter how hard I tried, I wouldn’t be able to hide this completely.

    I think this might be what Jeremy and some of the other men on this blog were referring to when they said they can “feel” when a woman makes her choice more with her mind.

    Looks don’t matter all that much, because they are so objective. (I personally would leave the much better looking Ferrari behind for a rally car or powerful ford truck any day.) It’s the attraction, especially when coupled with other good attributes, like the writer implied.

    And since she mentioned that she was never “shallow” before, I think her bigger fear is not being as happy when settling for less attraction/chemistry, now that she knows how it feels.

    Personally, I don’t understand the attraction scale. I’m either attracted to someone or not. There is no difference in levels of attraction, and it doesn’t grow over time. And looks have nothing to do with whether I’m attracted to someone or not. But that’s just me.

    So while I agree with the advice to settle on less attraction (for people who have different levels), I would also say that they need to be good at pretending there is a higher level than the one that actually exists.

    If he’s a 6, she better be able to pretend he’s a 9 or 10. Otherwise, he’ll definitely feel that she’s  physically not all that into him. Which is not a good feeling for him (since he’s not a car). This, I think, is what Jeremy was referring to.

     

     

    1. 5.1
      Pistola

      Sylvana,

      “But every day of my life I’m gonna miss that feeling that I had driving the Ferrari. And I’ll always wish I could feel that again. And no matter how hard I tried, I wouldn’t be able to hide this completely.”

       

      Girl, that’s what motorcycles are for!!

      1. 5.1.1
        Sylvana

        LOL! True! I love the way you think.

    2. 5.2
      Emily, the original

      Sylvana,

      Like S., I hope she’ll find someone who is good for her that she can also be insanely attracted to.

      But what if that doesn’t happen? All any of us can do is pick from the people who want a relationship with us. Is it better to pick no one or pick one of the options S. feels a low level of attraction for (if she is a person who feels levels of attraction)? Or how low can the bar go and S. be reasonably happy with her choice if she and the man are compatible? A mid-level attraction? 75% ?

      1. 5.2.1
        Jeremy

        This is my 3rd comment of the morning as I drink my coffee before the kids get up :). But Emily, you asked such an important question, and I know you have an appreciation for the philosophical.  So here’s my answer:

         

        In his book “Stumbling on Happiness” Dan Gilbert writes about our psychological “immune system.”  Basically, we humans have the ability to be happy no matter how bad the situation gets, because of our ability to adapt.  Gilbert describes people who have been diagnosed with terrible illnesses, who have suffered amputations, who have been imprisoned – and after several months of time, they report levels of happiness similar to the rest of the population, even though that population would consider that such people should be terribly unhappy.  And the reason for this, asserts Gilbert, is that our psychological immune system kicks in and synthesizes happiness to re-establish a certain baseline, almost regardless of the situation…..with one caveat – We must perceive our situation to be irrevocable. As long as we believe our situation is irrevocable, this immune system will kick in to synthesize happiness.  If we perceive that we still have choice, that we can get out of the situation, this immune system will not kick in, and our happiness will remain low.  This is the paradox of choice – the reason why people are less happy with purchased items when they can return them versus when they can’t return them.

         

        If we choose a spouse who, perhaps, doesn’t have all the many qualities we might wish for, can we still be happy, or are we better off alone?  My opinion – as long as the person has most of the qualities, as long as the person treats you well and you want to treat that person well, and as long as you don’t perceive the situation as being reversible (!) one should be happier with a partner in most cases.

        1. Emily, the original

          Jeremy,

          and after several months of time, they report levels of happiness similar to the rest of the population, even though that population would consider that such people should be terribly unhappy.  

          I’ve read that, too. That, on the flip side, someone will experience a spike in happiness if something good happens to them (they win the lottery) but after a bit of time they go back to the same level of happiness they had before. In my opinion, people are wired to have certain levels of happiness and they stay fairly constant. Everyone is different, but trying to be happier is like trying to be taller. It’s not possible. Now, the search for fulfillment …. that’s something different.  🙂

          If we choose a spouse who, perhaps, doesn’t have all the many qualities we might wish for, can we still be happy, or are we better off alone? … as long as you don’t perceive the situation as being reversible (!) one should be happier with a partner in most cases.

          Marriage is always reversible! But I kid, I kid. You have written extensively about a man needing to feel his wife really desires him. Could he be happy knowing that she traded physical attraction for his other good qualities, even if she was ok with that choice and happy in the marriage? Is it unreasonable to ask someone to provide something you don’t feel or can’t give them? (And she, of course, doesn’t find him unappealing. She was just never ga ga infatuated the way she was with other partners.)

        2. Jeremy

          Emily, “Could he be happy knowing that she traded physical attraction for his other good qualities, even if she was ok with that choice and happy in the marriage?

           

          Depends on the qualities in which he invests his sexuality and on his sexual meta-goals.  If he invests his sexuality in his providership and has domination as his sexual meta-goal (as an example), he would theoretically be happy in the relationship if his wife admired him for his providership and allowed (and got off on) his dominating her sexually.  If his sexuality was invested in creativity/craftsmanship and his sexual meta-goal was novelty, he could be happy as long as she admires him for his handiwork and keeps the sex-life spicy, in spite of her not being all that sexually into him.

           

          But if his meta-goal is validation, or if his sexuality is invested in his physical appearance/sex appeal, this whole thing is a non-starter.  And IME validation is very, very common as a sexual meta-goal for both men and women.

        3. Emily, the original

          Jeremy,

          But if his meta-goal is validation, or if his sexuality is invested in his physical appearance/sex appeal, this whole thing is a non-starter.  And IME validation is very, very common as a sexual meta-goal for both men and women.

          Something tells me sexual validation is much easier to accomplish for women as men are attracted to a larger percentage of women than women are to men.

        4. Chris

          You’ve put into words some ideas I’ve had too. Divorce now is still stigmatized and isn’t easy. But its far more acceptable than it used to be. If divorce were as unthinkable now as it once was, would people overall be happier in their marriages, knowing they had to make the most of them? But then you’d have people trapped in miserable or even abusive marriages, as I’m sure was the case in earlier decades. There’s no easy answers here. Personally I’m not a big fan of the institution of marriage.

        5. Adrian

          Hi Jeremy,

          You said, “As long as we believe our situation is irrevocable, this immune system will kick in to synthesize happiness.  If we perceive that we still have choice, that we can get out of the situation, this immune system will not kick in, and our happiness will remain low.

          So is that why you feel that couples where the woman looks better and the man makes more are such a great long-term match?

          Because he knows that it would be harder to find a better looking woman and she knows that it would be harder to find a more successful guy (especially as they gets older and the dating market thins out)???

           

          I would be curious about your opinions where the couples are matched; say they both are 8’s and they both are doctors that specialize in the same field…

           

          Also what are your thoughts on couples where the man is the 8 but he is surgeon making $3 hundred-thousand a year but his wife is a 5 but she is a CEO making $4 million a year?

        6. Jeremy

          No Adrian.  It is not why I think such a couple are a great match.  Frankly, it’s not that I think they are a great match, but rather what I’ve observed tend to be the most stable couples in the long-term.  Others have made different observations.

           

          As far as why, google the sexual exchange theory of relationships, or read the book “Cheap Sex” – that will save me from having to re-hash it.  The woman who is a 5 in SMV but a millionaire is not the same as the male CEO who is a 5 in SMV and a millionaire, because the factors that each gender believe contribute to sexual or marital value are different.

           

          And none of that has anything to do with what I wrote about the paradox of choice, which is an entirely different line of reasoning and not necessarily related to relative positions on any scale.

      2. 5.2.2
        S.

        Ah, my name (or initial) was mentioned.  I think when she Sylvana mentioned me she meant, “Like S, I hope Divya’ll find someone who is good for her that Divya can also be insanely attracted to.”

        I do hope that for her.  🙂 I’m fairly sure it’s possible if Divya keeps looking.

        But what if that doesn’t happen?

        What if what doesn’t happen? That Divya doesn’t find someone who is good for her or that she doesn’t find someone good for her and who she is insanely attracted to? I’m not sure which question you mean.

        I think you read an “or” here when I meant an “and”.  I’m absolutely sure that Divya can find someone good for her and who she is insanely attracted to.  One clue is what Divya says here, Looks weren’t important to me before I met him and now I don’t like this version of myself that is superficial.”

        This guy was a change for her, not her norm. I think she needs to get over him.  He is what she’s stuck on. And part of his package was that he was good-looking.  But if looks weren’t as important to her before, she can probably be attracted to someone a little less good-looking again.

        As for me personally, there is a difference to me between good-looking and me being insanely attracted to them.  I rarely date what people would call hot or good-looking men.  They are normal and attractive enough.  But no magazine models (fill in the blank with what you consider traditional Western culture good looks) in my life.  I have been insanely attracted to all of them.  There are different levels.  Some start at a really high level of attraction from the outset, some start at lower levels and have a slow build.  I’m liking the slow build lately.  🙂   So for me there aren’t any levels at the end.  They are all 10s to me if I’m dating them.  Mmm, yum.  So delicious. 😀

        According to Evan, attraction level should be at a 7 to start at least.  (He’ll correct me if I’m misremembering that. ) I dated a guy this summer where the attraction on my end started at a 6.  He was not that good-looking at all, honestly.  But damn, did I want that man.  By the time it ended, my attraction to him was at a 10.  It took me a while to get over chemistry.  Because he was an amazing person, the chemistry was based on his really good traits.  But get over him I did, because he didn’t want to stay with me, as amazing as I am.   Divya can get over her guy too.

        1. Emily, the original

          S.,

          that she doesn’t find someone good for her and who she is insanely attracted to? 

          This is what I meant.

          As for me personally, there is a difference to me between good-looking and me being insanely attracted to them. 

          Me, too.

          Some start at a really high level of attraction from the outset, some start at lower levels and have a slow build.   So for me there aren’t any levels at the end.  They are all 10s to me if I’m dating them. 

          You’re lucky. Or maybe you have a good mindset. “I will become attracted to the people who like me.” There are men I have grown fond of as I have gotten to know them, but I haven’t grown attracted to them. Attraction is there or it’s not. If it’s there, it can grow or diminish depending on his personality as I get to know him. And it does come in levels, but a 10 level is very, very rare. Like twice-in-a-decade rare. That’s the kind where it takes a long, long time to see the person clearly. But I find myself giving too much leeway to men I’m attracted to even at a 7 or 8 level (a 5 for me is a neutral level) because even that level is rare and rare for it to be mutual and actionable, as in he’s asking me out.

        2. S.

          Emily, the original:

          “I will become attracted to the people who like me.”

          I remember someone said, “Like who likes you.” Dunno if it was Evan.  It’s not relevant because I didn’t believe that anyway. Still don’t. You can’t make yourself attracted to someone.  The men I date, I usually initiate contact with.  Whether on Match or real life.  I reach out first. Their picture, something about them is attractive to me from the beginning..

          The guy in question had a photo I really liked.  He looked like that sometimes in real life, sometimes not.  Even the day before he broke up with me, when I knew things weren’t good, he had that same look from the picture and I was so distracted I barely could focus on what he was saying.  So the attraction was always there, just not that strong.  I didn’t make it happen with my mind.  And it got stronger.

          So I choose. I don’t ask them out or pester them, but I initiate interest and then they reciprocate. I got so attached to this guy because he treated me like gold.  Like I was so special, just treated me the way I deserve to be treated by an intimate partner.  And it was true.  He really did genuinely like me. That’s why the attraction that was already present grew.

          I do think that I have trained myself a bit to really value how a man treats me.  It doesn’t mean that I can’t be attracted to a hot dude who treats me badly. I can, before I know him.  But a guy who ignores your needs?  That attraction wears thin wherever the chemistry level started.  It’s still there but it’s almost the opposite.  The 10 attraction falls down to a 7 or 6. It’s always present but the intensity wears down.

          I’ve had ten at the outset twice.  Crazy.  Like on drugs crazy.  And like drugs, it is indeed hard to recover from that.  And those guys weren’t good men for me. (Who know, maybe if I hadn’t been on such a hormonal high I could have thought more clearly about them.) Other times, sure it gets to 1o.  But hey, 8 or 9 isn’t bad.  That’s satisfying like Thanksgiving dinner, instead of crack.  LOL. Bad example , but I’m in a jovial mood today. 🙂

        3. Emily, the original

          S.,

          So I choose. I don’t ask them out or pester them, but I initiate interest and then they reciprocate.

          I’m like that, too. For the most part, I like to choose. Occasionally, I don’t mind being chosen but usually not.

          I’ve had ten at the outset twice.  Crazy.  Like on drugs crazy.  And like drugs, it is indeed hard to recover from that.  And those guys weren’t good men for me. 

          That feeling I know well. You have to get away from those guys. As in … physically remove yourself from the situation and not see them again. STOP the addiction cold.

      3. 5.2.3
        Sylvana

        Emily,

        I think each person would have to judge what would still make them happy. Personally, I cannot be intimate (so much as kiss, be touched by, or even have someone too close in my personal space) if I’m not attracted to them. So there is no way I could be with someone who I’m not attracted to.

        For someone who has levels, 50% might still work as long as everything else is wonderful. 75% I think wouldn’t be a problem at all.

        I also think what a person wants out of a relationship plays a big role. The more emphasis you have on intimacy (not just sex), the more attraction will matter. If a woman is mostly looking for a great father, provider, and companionship, attraction will likely matter less. For women who can well provide for themselves, have a great support system and friends, and maybe those who do not want children, the scales will likely tip further toward attraction once more.

        It is something each woman will have to decide for herself. To me, the only thing a romantic partner can provide that I cannot get from someone else (or myself) is intimacy. So attraction plays a big role. And not feeling different levels does not help lol

         

        1. Emily, the original

          Sylvana,
          For women who can well provide for themselves, have a great support system and friends, and maybe those who do not want children, the scales will likely tip further toward attraction once more.
          I agree. Attraction and a deep connection. If you don’t want kids and can support yourself, other qualities/traits are higher up the priority  ladder, like sex, which has to be really great, and the emotional connection, which has to be strong.  Or else, what’s the point?

  6. 6
    Marika

    Jeremy

    I’d appreciate your take on this: I have a friend whose first love was a cool guy in a band, elusive, charming, flirty, charismatic. They were together, but he wouldn’t marry her (claimed to not ‘believe’ in marriage, but apparently is married now, sooo). He broke her heart, dumped her in a hurtful way (cheating etc). She is hot herself, so it wasn’t long before another guy showed his interest. Polar opposite: solid job, dependable, not that charming (funny & nice though), but very into her and offered her the whole lot, marriage, family.

    Now, they’ve been together for a while and he’s all (too) comfortable and completely let himself go. She takes care of herself, works out, and is tiny. He doesn’t work out at all and is very overweight. He has grown an ugly beard which she has made clear hurts her face when they kiss. In fact, she’s currently refusing to kiss him as apparently it’s like kissing a Christmas tree. She’s losing attraction for him.

    She’s not comparing him to the previous hot guy, but she is comparing him to hot guys currently showing interest in her at work etc. She’s very unhappy and doesn’t know what to do. She’s begged her husband to lose weight, for his health, for her attraction, to be healthy for their kids, and made it clear she doesn’t like the beard or his current tracksuit uniform.

    Meanwhile she has a very hot guy at work (more than 10 years her junior) who keeps showing his interest and she’s very, very tempted. Thinking of you and the validation/attraction thing, I said why not tell her husband that a man is telling her she’s hot (in a fun way, not to be cruel), as it may get him to wake up a bit, but he laughed it off. The difference in their attraction ‘levels’ is now huge, she’s made it clear she’s not a fan of his weight or beard (and hinted that other guys are interested), but it’s doing nothing to change his behaviour or shake things up. Why? Doesn’t that go against everything said above? What can she do?

    I suggested a divorce, but she doesn’t want to do that to her kids (clearly kids deal with it all the time) – but I guess the issue here is that there’s no horrible fighting or emotional or physical abuse or anything, so she feels that a divorce on the grounds of lack of attraction is pretty petty. Then again, of course, it’s not.

    I guess I’m invested in this as, a. she’s a close friend, and b. I wouldn’t want to trade off attraction for a good guy either & regret it later. I’m actually going on a date tonight with a guy who’s not that attractive (to me), but has been so kind, consistent and lovely in the lead up to this date & I’m interested in getting to know him & giving it a chance. I don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater though like my friend.

    1. 6.1
      Emily, the original

      Marika,

      Now, they’ve been together for a while and he’s all (too) comfortable and completely let himself go. She takes care of herself, works out, and is tiny. He doesn’t work out at all and is very overweight. He has grown an ugly beard which she has made clear hurts her face when they kiss. In fact, she’s currently refusing to kiss him as apparently it’s like kissing a Christmas tree. She’s losing attraction for him.

      Is he depressed? That would explain the weight gain and loss of sexual interest.

      I had a good friend whose husband was depressed. He took Paxil, which kills your sex drive. He also drank heavily, which also kills your sex drive. They had almost no sex life. She begged him to try a different anti-depressant (he wouldn’t) and to go to counseling with her. He wouldn’t. This went on for years. She finally walked.

      1. 6.1.1
        Marika

        Thanks Emily.

        Good question, but I don’t think so. I think he’s a bit arrogant. I’m also thinking not all men have this “my wife should think I’m hot” concern going on. She is clearly way, way more attractive than him & it doesn’t seem to bother him at all. He seems to think, “I provide a good lifestyle for her, I’m a good husband and father, what’s her problem?”. And they do have sex. It’s just that she hates the idea of never having sex with someone good looking again for the rest of her life. If it was him 30 kg lighter and beardless, great, but he won’t do that.

        I’ve met quite a few men in my time who aren’t that concerned about the hotness of other people you’ve dated and wanting to be the best in your eyes (as per the above discussion). Not that I’m in their heads, but I would seriously question whether that idea applies broadly. Some men (people) appear to be so secure in themselves that other people’s perceptions of them are almost irrelevant, including those of people closest to them.

        1. Emily, the original

          Marika,

           I think he’s a bit arrogant. I’m also thinking not all men have this “my wife should think I’m hot” concern going on. She is clearly way, way more attractive than him & it doesn’t seem to bother him at all. He seems to think, “I provide a good lifestyle for her, I’m a good husband and father, what’s her problem?”. 

          This is the problem with marriage. Another person basically has your emotional/sexual happiness in their hands and if they decide to check out of the marriage, the other party is screwed. Do you stay and put up with it (you wrote they have kids; my friend did not) or blow up your life in the hopes there is something better on the other side?

        2. Sylvana

          I do have to say that I also find that men still somewhat have the attitude that their looks don’t really matter all that much. Comes from long, long times of them being expected to be the provider, and women expected to be beautiful, I guess.

          I’m often surprised to hear men judge a woman as being overweight, etc. when I look at them and think that they, themselves are way more overweight in comparison. Or being so judgmental about a woman’s looks in general when they have nothing to offer looks wise themselves.

          Sadly, those are often the same men who expect women to provide for themselves. (And often still want the woman to be feminine on top of looking good and providing for herself).

          To me, looks don’t matter all that much. So as long as the personality and circumstances do not change, it wouldn’t be a problem.

          But if she is not longer attracted to him at all, there’s bound to be other consequences and problems in the relationship.

          As Emily said, at that point she’d have to decide if the security is worth the sacrifice. If she can provide for herself, she might be better off taking the chance of finding someone better, since she’ll still be all right if she doesn’t find him.

    2. 6.2
      Jeremy

      It’s hard for me to venture an opinion here, Marika.  I never suggested marrying a guy for whom one has no attraction.  The problem here is that the guy is so much less attractive than he was when they met.  If he wasn’t, would she still be interested in the hot guy from work?

       

      See, my suggestion of using gentle dread game only works on someone whose goal is relationship and children.  Please recall that I said it would fail miserably on someone whose meta-goal was validation.  And frankly, I have no idea what this guy’s meta-goal is here.  My point is that when a relationship is in trouble, one needs to determine the meta-goal to re-ignite interest, not to use one-size-fits-all solutions.

       

      Why would a man ignore his wife telling him that he needs to change or else she will lose interest?  I can think of a few possible reasons – 1) maybe he is at the point where he doesn’t care what she wants because he is turned off by an aspect of her behavior.  2) Maybe he just doesn’t believe her because he perceives that he does so much for her (provides, for example) that no rational human being could possibly want more from him in his opinion.  3) Perhaps he is self-conscious about his appearance and her criticisms strike at his core so laughing them off is his defence mechanism.

       

      Obviously I’m grasping at straws here, but my point is that the solution will depend on the diagnosis of the problem.  If it is option 1, the solution will be very different from option 3.  And regardless, she will have to want to preserve their marriage enough to do the work here, because it sounds like the guy won’t.  So she’ll have to resist the temptation to burn it all in a bonfire and give in to short-term temptation.

      1. 6.2.1
        Marika

        Thanks all. Pistola, your input is useful, as I think my friend is struggling with being ‘mean’, ‘shallow’ etc., but really, it’s a reasonable way to feel under the circumstances.

        Jeremy, I know you didn’t say to marry someone you aren’t attracted to, but you have said this a lot: ‘because her deigning to marry him will not give him the validation he will need, in spite of her believing it should’.

        Clearly, for some men, marrying them is enough validation. They go all out to attract you, then once they ‘have’ you (some men) fall into a rut of not putting in any effort (beyond going to work), taking it for granted you will be there forever, no matter how lazy they are or how much they let themselves go. It happened to my parents (not the letting himself go, but definitely the lazy thing), I can see it happening to my younger sister and it’s happening to my friend.

        That is my worst fear.

        1. Emily, the original

          Marika,

          Clearly, for some men, marrying them is enough validation. 

          I just had one more thought — I have a friend who married a very handsome man. He gained at least 30 pounds after they married but it didn’t bother her. She had always been very attracted to him and that didn’t change. Could your friend’s situation be that the attraction was never that high — one of those — I’ve grown to love him because he is good to me and he looks good in certain clothes, with certain hair — but now that his physical appearance has changed so drastically, her attraction for him is gone?

        2. S.

          That is my worst fear.

          It’s a valid fear.  What I find with men I date is what I see is pretty much what I get. Even the impressing stage is relatively short.  So maybe have really long courtships?  Evan recommends two years.  I can’t imagine someone trying to continually be in ‘impressing’ mode for two years.  Possible, but unlikely.

          People change.  It’s usually not a wildly different change. If the your friend’s husband was arrogant, there could have been clues to that arrogance early on. So while one couldn’t predict the weight gain, one could guess that arrogance would come out in some way eventually.

          It’s so important to choose wisely.  That said, marriage is always a leap of faith. I hope things improve for your friend.

        3. Jeremy

          That is my worst fear.”  Is it?  Not trying to be a smart-ass, but based on your description of your behavior and preferences, my guess would have been that your fear was the opposite – your losing attraction (hence the attraction to avoidant guys)?  Regardless, it is a valid fear – as valid as a man’s fear that a woman will marry him and stop having sex, continuing to take what she wants from a marriage and not give back what the guy might want.

          I’ve written before that it’s impossible to know for sure whether a person will do this – there are clues based on personality types and baseline history, but really the best you can do is to choose as carefully as you can.

           

          I’ll say one last thing on this subject – whether or not your greatest fear is your future husband’s hedonic adaptation (as you wrote) or your own hedonic adaptation (as I guessed), fearing your own is the more rational fear – because it’s the only one you can do anything about.  You SHOULD fear your own hedonic adaptation.  You SHOULD try to engineer your life to minimize your own hedonic adaptation.  Because so much of the time, bad behavior of one’s spouse is at least partially reactive to one’s own bad behavior IME.

        4. Pistola

          You’re welcome, Marika.

          I’m thinking of a friend of mine who was engaged–not yet married–to a guy who started gaining weight as he got comfortable. She exited the engagement and gave the ring back when he topped 300 lbs without doing anything about it.

          She had always been athletic. She thought long and hard about her decision–not wanting to be “shallow” as you say. But what it came down to was, she wanted a partner who cared about being active and fit, who would engage in sports and healthy activities with her, and who she wouldn’t have to continually nag about eating healthier or taking care of himself. To her, that felt like watching someone slowly die, since it just gets harder to stay fit as you get older. She didn’t want to watch someone kill himself with food and cigarettes, and the sex became nonexistent due to the effect of increased weight on his hormones.

          She’s now happily married to a guy who swims, runs, and bikes with her on a regular basis.

        5. Rampiance

          Jeremy wrote: “You SHOULD fear your own hedonic adaptation.  You SHOULD try to engineer your life to minimize your own hedonic adaptation.”

          YES!  I practice this, and it has another benefit besides the one Jeremy mentioned (he mentioned that the spouse responds with like behavior).

          The other benefit is that having worked through what it takes to minimize your own hedonic adaptation, you are equipped to notice whether your partner has done similar work or is similarly equipped.  It’s the takes-one-to-know-one principle.

        6. Sylvana

          Emily,

          that is such a great point! Never even dawned on me that she might have settled on attraction to begin with in order to get the other benefits (good partner, security etc.).

          Just like we’re always told to do.

    3. 6.3
      Pistola

      Marika, not that you asked me, but–

      He doesn’t care about making her happy. THAT is the problem here. And the things that would make her happy are reasonable things. Taking care of himself. Being physically healthy. Taking care of his body and mind.

      A partner who blows off their partner’s wishes, especially wishes that are so reasonable and normal, is NOT being a good mate. They’re sacrificing the health of the relationship  for their own selfish wishes, which aren’t even healthy in and of themselves. They’re modeling bad behavior for their children. I have had SO many overweight clients tell me how angry they are at their parents for having modeled such poor lifestyle habits and self care for them as children. That stuff affects your kids too.

      Self care is self respect. Listening to and caring about your partner’s wishes is respecting your partner and your marriage. He’s not being a good partner.

      1. 6.3.1
        Jeremy

        And is she being a good partner?  See, that’s what we don’t know here.  I’d agree that not listening to his wife’s concerns makes him a bad partner to her, but given that Marika’s story only includes her perspective, we really don’t know half the story.  Is he not listening to her because he perceives her to be haughty – acts like she’s better than he is, or denigrates him?  Does she act in many tiny ways like she is contemptuous of him because he isn’t hot enough for her?  Does she fail to appreciate the good things he does, leading him to be reluctant to want to do more for her?

        I am VERY reluctant to place the entirety of the blame for this situation on one person – the one or the other.  Because IME such situations rarely are one-sided.  Your friend might not perceive the wrongs she does and might only perceive how she is wronged.  Remember my comment on another thread about women who claim to have been emotionally abused?  How many also admit to being emotionally abusive?

        1. Pistola

          Jeremy,

          I can understand that view when it comes to something like relationship dynamics. It takes two to tango when we are talking about interactions.

          But when we are talking about self care, taking care of your body, that’s something any healthy adult would be doing regardless of whether they were in a relationship or not. Anyone who would stop taking care of themselves physically just to spite a partner or get back at them would really have something wrong with them.

        2. Jeremy

          I think that unfortunately self-care often falls by the wayside when life gets stressful.  How many overweight people are there in society – people who don’t necessarily have something “wrong” with them, but over-eat and under-exercise for a wide variety of reasons?

           

          Now, when it comes to doing things to spite one’s partner, again there can be a wide variety of reasons (as I’m sure you know).  Evan posted an article a while back about a divorced woman who constantly tried to change her husband until he finally pushed back and told her that he didn’t want to change anymore for her.  I don’t know if this applies in Marika’s example, but I’ve seen it time and again in my circles.  A woman (usually the woman) constantly nit-picking at the guy to try to make him into the ideal that she wants – helpful suggestions, snarky comments, well-meaning purchases, etc.  Sometimes the guy goes along with it (which, frankly, usually results in the woman losing respect and attraction for him in the end).  Sometimes the guy gets frustrated and retaliates by digging in his heels.  Again, not sure whether that applies in Marika’s example, but the most common cause of such behavior that I’ve seen is retaliation – the notion that the guy should not need to do more because he feels he’s already doing enough and she not enough.  This woman needs to examine her behavior and make sure that she is truly taking her husband’s perspective into account (and not just pushing her own priorities politely, which too many women mistake for taking their partner’s perspective into account).  And taking those into account, plan an intelligent approach as to how to best broach the subject with her husband rather than nagging at him about what SHE wants.

           

          Or she could just tank the whole marriage.  The question is, is that what she wants to do anyway on some level and is looking for an excuse for?

        3. Pistola

          I dunno, Jeremy. It may reflect some disconnect around core values that is being exposed by the behavior.

          I’m a dancer and have always been active. I wouldn’t be able to be with, or be attracted or remain attracted to, someone who thinks it’s OK to not maintain a basic level of health and fitness. It’s your BODY. If you don’t have that basic level of self respect, what else is wrong in your life? The person that’s ultimately affected the most by being healthy is you. Not anyone else in your life. And you will be affected, and if you’re in a relationship, that person will deal with that fallout, too. Enough things happen in life that we don’t need to contribute to them by being deliberately unhealthy when it’s not necessary. Being unhealthy to “retaliate” against someone would be the depths of immature passive aggression.

          But, like my friend, I have a strong value around that and it’s important to me, which is why I won’t date anyone who doesn’t exercise or who smokes or drinks heavily or uses drugs. Just not a fit. It does cut down the pool, but it’s not like it can’t be done–I’m doing it, my friends all do it, and we’re all in our late 40s. If a guy doesn’t want to take care of himself, that’s his choice, but he’s not going to be going out with a fit lady.

          Different strokes for different folks–obviously there are women who don’t mind it.

        4. Jeremy

          So I think that we might be talking about different things, Pistola.  I totally agree that it’s within anyone’s prerogative to decide what is important in a partner – and sure, lots of people value physical appearance and fitness.  Lots of people wouldn’t consider dating a person below a certain threshold in that regard, no argument. And lots of people would lose attraction to a spouse who lets themselves go physically.  The question I have is why is he doing this.

           

          My supposition is that he likely subscribes to the exchange theory of sexuality on some level – namely, that in the depths of his mind he believes that what a woman provides in a relationship is her beauty, sexuality, and emotional receptivity, and what a man provides is security – physical, economic, and emotional.  Of course, each person also gives and receives other things, but those are the core of the relationship.  And, it seems, the woman in question here also subscribed to that model – hence her not dating the super-hot guy, but rather the guy who provides the married lifestyle she wanted.  And here he is, being a provider, giving her what she said she wanted…but now she wants something else.  Now she values his providership less than she once did (because she already has it and has already had her kids), and now she starts to also want him to be hot.  And he thinks to himself – I’ve fulfilled my end of this bargain, but she doesn’t appreciate it.  She wants more and more.  Why SHOULD I do more for her, when she doesn’t appreciate what I already do to hold up my end of this bargain.  And so he retaliates.

           

          I’m guessing about the mindset here, because I don’t know this couple – but I DO know so many couples for whom this applies.  The core of the argument is not a guy failing to take the concerns of his wife into account, the core of the argument is a change in the woman’s priorities, leading to a change in her calculus of attraction.  The woman who once dated hot guys, settled to marry the relationship guy, and then wants the hot guy again because her priorities have changed.  The guy lashes out because he feels he’s upheld his end of the bargain and she’s gone and changed the rules of the game.

           

          So how does one deal with this?  Depends….who’s the one mature enough to WANT to deal with it?  If it’s the guy, he needs to have a frank conversation with his wife and explain how he feels, what he believes he provides and needs to be admired for.  It will then be up to him whether or not he wants to capitulate to her demands and slip in some of his own.  If it’s the woman, it is incumbent on her to really think about whether she has become overly hedonically-adapted and whether she might be failing to appreciate the good he does, rather than focussing on what she wants to change in him.  And if she does need him to change, she should ask for that change in the context of admiration and appreciation, not self-righteous demands.

        5. Pistola

          Jeremy,

          I see your point there and get it. I’m just not sure that it’s a relational thing completely when it comes to how women see it.

          I work with a lot of older people because in addition to being a therapist, I’m a Feldenkrais practitioner. I see the huge difference between the couples who shared the value of exercise and health and the ones where they’re on different pages. The couples who share the value have a lot of good shared memories. They’ve traveled together a lot, do a lot of things together, participate in raising their grandkids, etc. Those relationships are healthy and thriving, examples of what I think we all want when we think of growing old with someone.

          The couples where one person valued health and fitness and the other didn’t–they lead almost completely separate lives. They don’t have sex. They don’t do much together because the unfit/unhealthy person either can’t or won’t do anything that makes them feel uncomfortable. The more fit and healthy person is often having or thinking of having an emotional and physical affair. We’re not talking about cases where one partner developed a physical illness or disability, but cases where one partner simply stopped caring about being a healthy person. Most of those situations are either close to divorce or a total mess.

          In the healthy couples I know, both people valued being healthy for themselves. Their partner never had to push them into doing it. They’re emotionally and physically healthy people who would be doing it whether they were single or partnered. No doubt, this is a large part of why those marriages are so healthy and happy.

    4. 6.4
      Adrian

      Hi Marika,

      My friend from friend on the other side of the pond (^_^).

      I’m so jealous of you, it’s getting cold here in the state but are you still wearing shorts, having parties with dolphins on the beach, and having cookouts during lunchtime at work while your are is singing thriller and trying to do the moonwalk.

      Yeah I’m so jealous!… (^_^).

      …   …   …

      Marika so what was the conclusion of your story about your friend?

      It’s crazy that you wrote that comment because I was just thinking about something similar right before I read what you said.

      This is what I was thinking and I would like your opinion on something that I have observed happening a lot: guys who are average looking or slightly below average looking getting lucky and getting a girlfriend out of their league

      BUT

      Eventually theses guys cheat or at the very least take these women for granted and she ends up leaving him.

       

      I guess this confuses me because for years these guys crave this type of level of beauty and when they finally get it they forsake it; years later you see the same guys dating women who are not that attractive and they have the audacity to actually confide in me they wish they could have a beautiful and sexy woman…

       

      I don’t understand people like that; assuming the out of his league girlfriend was a good girlfriend why do you think they mess up that opportunity?

      Is it some kind of unconscious avoidant attachment technique? They feel that they don’t deserve a beautiful women or that a beautiful woman wouldn’t really want them so they do things to sabotage it?

       

      I just can’t wrap my mind around men like this (O_o)

      …   …   …

      I think you should have you friend read Evan’s post on the woman in a similar situation.

      My Husband and I Have a Comfortable Marriage Without Sex.

    5. 6.5
      Seth_D

      This is prolly an old post, but I have read some comments and wanted to jump in here with my $0.02 and maybe get some opinions.
      About me,
      I am 6’1″, Athletic/Fit build, take good care of myself.  Divorced, 3 kids (who live with me).
      Some women (the ones I am usually not attracted to or interested in) find me really attractive (I have been called a Ken doll, Pretty, Abercrombie Gay, etc…)
      The women who I am attracted to, or interested in, don’t seem to find me that way or maybe they think it, but not interested to pursue anything with me.
      So I would love to find someone who has similar interests as me and believes how I do, that you should try to look the best you can for your partner.  I try to look the best I can for myself first of all, but also if I get in a relationship with someone I want to look good for her.  So I would like someone who thinks in a similar fashion.  But it seems that women at the gym are not interested.
      While women who do not go to the gym typically are.
      So it is rather depressing on my part at what I attract.
      Then of course women tend to be very vocal (in a negative way) if I express what I am interested in/attracted to.

      For me if I am in a relationship then I want validation.  I want to know she finds me attractive and desires me.  And that she enjoys sex (I refuse to be in another relationship like my marriage where there was little to no sex).
      I let her know that I am attracted to her and desire her, as well as try to meet the other needs she wants in the relationship.

      I am a pretty simple person.  I will tell her directly things I like and want….and the stuff isn’t outrageous, but she will not do it.
      Like one girl I was involved with, I wanted her to initiate sex every once in a while (going to back to me wanting to know I am desired), but she never would.  Simple request, but ignored.
      Another girl I was involved with for a while, I wanted her to wear a thong from time to time…if only in the bedroom.  She did it once and never again.  Even though I asked her many times.

      So in situations like that, for me, it is extremely frustrating.  Because I do attempt to meet her needs, but it is not returned.

      So when I see the women on here post and what they say, I am always wondering in my mind.  What have the men said to them, about things they want/desire in a relationship.  And if they were told, did they listen and try to do what was requested.
      Cause I kinda think with men, if you do just a little, most will be happier than pigs in slop.

      1. 6.5.1
        Jeremy

        Seth D

        Most women who spend a lot of time at the gym want validation.  Validation in that sense is defined as a partner who is better looking than them that wants them for the way they look.  If the partner doesn’t look better than them, the validation is much less and they feel there isn’t enough draw to the relationship.

         

        Most men who spend a lot of time at the gym want validation.  Validation in that sense is defined as a partner who is better looking than them that wants them for the way they look.  If the partner doesn’t look better than them, the validation is much less, and they feel there isn’t enough draw to the relationship.

         

        Seth D, a bit of advice from a guy who spends entirely too much time thinking about stuff like motivations and human behavior – you can’t have a relationship where the goals of both partners is validation.  Because in such a relationship, one person is always going to feel less validated than the other. I have 2 patients – a married couple, both of whom are super-attractive, both yoga instructors.  But the woman is aging less gracefully than the man.  And she is super-insecure, has had all sorts of work done to compete with her husband’s looks, and he is noticeably less interested in her than when I met them years ago.  His looks validate her, hers don’t validate him.  It is heart-breaking.

         

        If your goal is validation, you can date a validational woman who is slightly less attractive than you, or you can date a woman with a different goal whom you find attractive.  She may work out, but won’t be someone who hangs out in a gym or wants to meet the guy from the gym.  There are plenty of attractive women out there whose relationship goal is not validation – but then you have to be willing to give them what their goal is.  Something to think about.

        1. Emily, the original

          Jeremy,

          Most women who spend a lot of time at the gym want validation.  Validation in that sense is defined as a partner who is better looking than them that wants them for the way they look

          Actually, women who spend a lot of time want to be the pretty one. The guy could be as good looking as she is or slightly less good-looking but if he’s better looking than she is,he’ll pull focus from her.

        2. Jeremy

          I think it depends on the woman.  I think you’re right that some of these women want to be the better-looking one, but those are the ones who want a higher-status man.  In which case what they crave isn’t validation, but security.  They want to be admired/validated for their looks, sure, but what they want deep down is status/security.

        3. Seth_D

          @ Jeremy,
          Maybe I am looking for validation, I am not sure though.
          I guess at this point (I am 40), I just want someone who is interested in something that is a high priority for me, which is exercise/fitness/nutrition.  I don’t expect or want her to look as lean as me, I kinda do not find it attractive.  I like some meat on the bones.  I just want someone who if we can workout together we can or we can do our own thing.
          We don’t have to motivate each other.

          After having been in a marriage where my ex would not give any kind of compliment, but instead tore down, insulted and made me feel bad about myself, I want someone who actually understands where I come from.
          I don’t drink, smoke or do drugs, I don’t party
          So the gym is my outlet, but I like to get outside and do stuff, I like to be active.
          So while yes I would like to meet someone whom I find attractive, that “attractive” to me comprises many aspects of her being.  I don’t see it as “validation”…but maybe it is??

          The last girl I was with, to others she may not be “attractive”
          But I had fun with her and we did a lot together and she would work out with me….she also had a bit of a belly.
          But I still enjoyed her.  But she is military and moved away, so that’s that.

        4. Adrian

          Hi Jeremy,

          I find your story of the yoga couple very interesting in how it goes with giving examples of us validation type and I hope that you will tell more of this or other validation stories.

          However, something about your story is confusing me. You said that the women is now trying to compete with her husband’s looks-why?

          When you said that his looks validate her?

          Now if you would have said that she is getting surgeries in an attempt to keep him that I would understand but the word compete with is what is confusing me.

        5. Jeremy

          Hi Adrian.  She is getting the surgeries because he no longer is interested in her.  As good-looking as he is, if he pays her no attention how will she be validated?  To be validated we need to ingredients – a partner whose interest makes us feel validated, and a partner who actually gives us that interest.

           

          Seth D, you wrote, I don’t see it as “validation”…but maybe it is??”  Yup, it is.  I understand you very well.  Takes one to know one.

  7. 7
    Clare

    “Good qualities usually come with bad qualities.”

     

    This is such a simple, seemingly obvious statement that I am almost embarrassed it took me till nearly this time in my life to realise it. It’s still something I have to remind myself of regularly. The qualities that matter in a guy are kindness, consistency, loyalty, fidelity, the ability to be selfless and caring.

     

    Funnily enough, I was at the hairdresser’s about a month ago and telling her about some dates I’d been recently and she looked at me and said, “Clare, you know there is no such thing as the perfect guy.” It was a really simple statement, and yet it hit me like a ton of bricks. My mom said essentially the same thing to me yesterday. You have to work out what you can live with and forgive, because you’re going to have live with/forgive some flaws. Guys are human, and as Evan so accurately pointed out, no one is a perfect 10 in every area.

     

    The guy I’m with now is a good all-rounder, and I think I have a pretty decent chance of happiness with him. He’s not the most gorgeous guy I’ve ever dated, but I do find him very attractive. The chemistry is not the highest I’ve ever experienced with a guy, but I’d say it’s a 7 or 8. He’s not funniest or the smartest guy I’ve ever dated, but he is fun and lighthearted, and he is definitely smart enough to hold an intelligent conversation with me on most of the subjects I’d want to talk about. He’s also got one or two annoying little quirks, but he’s incredibly kind and soft-hearted, trustworthy and affectionate and always concerned for me, and I know I can forgive the little things if I think about it.

     

    It’s been an eye-opening experience for me. We tend to be very forgiving of ourselves and our own flaws, but not so much of the person we’re dating. So I think the mindset Evan is talking about in this blog post is a very mature one.

  8. 8
    LW

    I think it’s interesting that most people assume the “hot ex” mentioned here was an alpha male. I’ve actually had the opposite experience, where I tried dating an alpha guy who was keen on me but found the chemistry, connection and sex paled in comparison to my previous partner who was more on the “beta” side of things and much more effeminate. (Though I admit, even the attractive “beta” type was emotionally unavailable.)

    I found the alpha guy very attractive on the first few dates, but after a couple of months I pretty much lost interest whereas the other partner held my interest consistently over a long period of time (18 months). I think that being a good kisser, eager to please in bed, and having a strong emotional connection are a big factor. Also, the way a person smells and tastes makes a huge difference to chemistry IMO.

    I guess the point of all this is that your mileage may vary – people are attracted to different things, and alpha guys probably coast on their looks a lot. Also, alpha guys tend to be lower on the empathy and sensitivity scale which can be problematic in my experience – the lack of emotional attunement often leads to poorer sex because they aren’t in tune with my emotions and what I want or need.

    1. 8.1
      Rampiance

      I had the same experience as LW.  The hot ex I gave the most 2nd chances to acted more like a “girl” than I did ~~ clingy, insecure, big mood swings, great cook, super sex, psychically attuned ~~ and now behaves like a vengeful psycho.

      1. 8.1.1
        Emily, the original

        Rampiance,

        The hot ex I gave the most 2nd chances to acted more like a “girl” than I did ~~ clingy, insecure, big mood swings, great cook, super sex, psychically attuned ~~ and now behaves like a vengeful psycho.

        That  just kills it, doesn’t it? You can go from being very into someone to being completely turned off in a short time if he turns into a stage-5 clinger. Once someone shows you the depth of his neediness, you can’t UNsee it.

        1. Rampiance

          Emily, t.o., I knew he was very clingy BEFORE I really got into him.  He actually became less clingy with time as he improved himself.  If he had remained as clingy as he originally was, I wouldn’t have continued with him ~~ it would have been intolerable.  Clinginess/neediness was not the death of our r’ship; it was that I discovered his substantial untruthfulness/lies/misrepresentations.  It was too much of a character flaw for me to dismiss.

        2. Emily, the original

          Rampiance, 

          He actually became less clingy with time as he improved himself.  If he had remained as clingy as he originally was, I wouldn’t have continued with him ~~ it would have been intolerable. 

          How did you get him to be less clingy? I met a guy at a party once. We talked briefly and he got my number. We talked on the phone once. He was very attractive. But he started texting about 30  times a day, from about 8:30 a.m. to about 11 p.m. I didn’t make it to the first date.

        3. james

          Dont worry in a few years you’ll appreciate a man who texts you a lot.

        4. Rampiance

          Emily, t.o.,

          He was backed into a corner when I first met him: no money, a temp job, debt, bad habits like alcohol (which was reduced due to low funds) and nicotine (which he was trying to quit with a patch), some lingering effects of brain damage from strokes.  My assessment of him was that if he got his feet under him and felt less desperate for survival, he would behave less desperately.  Although he declared right away he would never, ever take supplements (like he saw me doing), he eventually reversed that decision, along with all the other problems.

          My part in it was to celebrate his every success along the way with admiration and genuine joy for his increased happiness, and respond with my true feelings to nasty behavior (I didn’t tolerate it, which is why I gave so many chances ~~ after he messed up and I walked away,  he apologized convincingly and explained how he would behave differently, then followed through).

          He once counted up his texts to me: they averaged 30 per day when we started out.  He was spontaneous without much filter, blasting out a text every time he thought about me.  I didn’t respond to all of them ~~ I told him I didn’t have time or attention for all of them.  But I did respond when they were intriguing, clever, especially hot& flirty, or factual time&place stuff.

        5. Rampiance

          …I should have said, “…why I gave so many chances ~~ he messed up SEVERAL TIMES and I walked away EACH TIME, he apologized EACH TIME…” etc

        6. Emily, the original

          Rampiance,
          He was backed into a corner when I first met him: no money, a temp job, debt, bad habits like alcohol (which was reduced due to low funds) and nicotine (which he was trying to quit with a patch), some lingering effects of brain damage from strokes.  My assessment of him was that if he got his feet under him and felt less desperate for survival, he would behave less desperately.
          Oh, ok. He was going through a bad time. With all of that going on, I might have waited until he landed on his feet to date him. I’ve lived in that survival mode, and I’m not sure you can be present for someone in that frame of mind.
          He once counted up his texts to me: they averaged 30 per day when we started out.  .  I didn’t respond to all of them ~~ I told him I didn’t have time or attention for all of them. 
          When I didn’t respond to ONE text from the guy I wrote about (I was asleep!), I woke up two phone messages. He had called me and the friend who had introduced us, asking why I hadn’t responded. That did it for me.

    2. 8.2
      Sylvana

      I’d have to say that most of the “hot” (in terms of good-looking) guys tend to not be alphas. They might be a bit conceded due to their looks, maybe a bit of an a**hole, but that doesn’t make them an alpha.

      Most true alphas I’ve known weren’t all that good looking in conventional terms. Although very attractive in other ways.

  9. 9
    Adrian

    Hi Sylvana and Yet Another Guy,

    You both said, “YAG,
    In my world, a man has to earn significantly more than a sexually experienced woman with a higher SMV to be able to keep her over the long haul.  I am talking about at least 2x her earning power. Etc.
    Sylvana,
    I have to agree with you there, YAG.  I could list numerous reasons of why this is true. 

    I guess I don’t understand this. If you are talking about a guy who is a 4 dating a woman who is a 7 then maybe but as Emily is often saying that level of an attraction gap in actually dating is rare because Assortative Mating is the norm.
    Anyway the part I don’t understand is the “sexually experienced” part; why does it matter if she is sexually experienced or not?
    By a certain age everyone has had sex and at least a few partners so I don’t understand the importance of this in relation to him having to make twice as much to keep her.

    Remember when we spoke about something similar on this site awhile back, the consensus from most women was that they rarely talk about their sexual past and if she is with a guy she is with him because she is physically attracted to him on some level.
    So basically if she likes the guy, enjoys sex with him and is smart enough to not tell him that she has dated hotter guys or that she has had better sex from guys in the past then her sexual experience shouldn’t be a problem.
    Right???

    1. 9.1
      Sylvana

      Hi Adrian,

      Most women who are more sexually experienced are also more sexually free. Meaning – less “hang-ups” or preconceived notions about sex. As such, they tend to be a bit more demanding of their sexual partners, in a sense that their expectations are higher. Basically – they’re not as likely to forgive just ok sex because they are in love. (They might also have a bit of a wilder side that is not easily matched by most partners.) They also tend to be more open to having casual sex, and as such, are very well aware that they can find a partner who will fulfill them at any time.

      In general, a lot of those women place a greater emphasis on the physical and mental aspects of sex than other women (who might be more fulfilled by the emotional aspects). Love and being a good partner will not be enough to keep them in a relationship. Add a good dose of money (and therefore security) to the deal, however, and the scales tip in the favor of the partner. Especially, since the sex is likely still good, just not as exciting or mind-blowing as it could be.

      1. 9.1.1
        Emily, the original

        Sylvana,
        They also tend to be more open to having casual sex, and as such, are very well aware that they can find a partner who will fulfill them at any time.
        They are aware they can find a partner at any time, but who deludes themselves into thinking they can find “fulfilling sex” at any time?
         Add a good dose of money (and therefore security) to the deal, however, and the scales tip in the favor of the partner. Especially, since the sex is likely still good, just not as exciting or mind-blowing as it could be.
        If they value the physical aspects of sex more than other women, money will not sweeten the deal.

      2. 9.1.2
        Adrian

        Hi Sylvana,

        I am having trouble (due to Jeremy’s introduction of meta-goals) distinguishing between a woman who is emotionally unhealthy and a women who just “needs” great sex above all else… not just good but great sex above all else.

        It seems that this is what you are saying, a woman who is more sexually experienced will leave a good man and a good relationship if the sex is just good…

        I am looking forward to your answers to Emily’s questions as well because I would not think it was so easy to find good sex along with good long-term husband material in a man… let alone great sex. So for a woman to leave a man to find something great how available is great sex?

        Sure she can easily find men to have sex with but from what I keep reading in the comments over the years most women consider the average man just okay at pleasing them sexually, not even good.

        …   …   …

        Also you said,

        they tend to be a bit more demanding of their sexual partners

        Demanding how?

        Demanding what?

        their expectations are higher.

        What do they expect?

        Higher how?

        Basically – they’re not as likely to forgive just ok sex because they are in love.” 

        What would make sex just “ok” to you?

        Are you like Emily and you don’t believe that a woman should not have to show her man how to give her exciting and mind-blowing sex? If he doesn’t know naturally find someone who does?

        They might also have a bit of a wilder side that is not easily matched by most partners.

        What do you consider wild sexually?

        Why can’t it be matched?

        …   …   …

        I apologize in advance for all the seemingly simple questions… but I am very vanilla when it comes to sex so the majority of the things you are talking about I don’t understand.

  10. 10
    Adrian

    Hi Emily,

    I was just reading through some of the comments above about “alpha widow” and now I am curious…

    1). In your opinion do women know when they are trying to date out of their league?

    2). How does age affect dating leagues?

    At a certain age do women just stop believing in leagues?

    Would a 50+ woman let the fact that a guy is super handsome or successful stop her from approaching him or feel insecure because of the gap in their looks, bodies, and success?

    3). Do league always have to deal with looks?

    4). If she is a 9 in looks but works by packing boxes in a factory but the guy she is dating is a 7 in looks but is a surgeon will she consider him below, above, or in the same league as herself?

    5). If a woman was a 5 in looks but owned her own million dollar company and a guy she was dating was a 8 in looks but he was an accountant only making $70,000 a year however, he was 15 years younger would she consider him below, above or in the same league as herself?

    6). When women do date guys significantly above their league in looks does it boost their self-esteem or make them more insecure (he could leave me for another girl or cheat on me)?

    7). How does family background and single mother hood play into the league mythos?

    Would a woman who is a 7 in looks but has 3 kids think she is above, below, or in the same league as a man she is dating who is also 7 in looks but without any children?

    Would a woman who is a 7 in looks from a impoverished background dating a guy from a upper-middle class background who is a 7 in looks think she is above, below, or in the same league as the man?

    8). Do you think the exchange above (her looks are a 9 but his success is a 9) can be applied to assortative mating or does assortative mating only mean people with similar SMV’s only date people with similar SMV’s and people with similar educations only date people with similar educations? A male 8 in looks construction worker dating a female 5 in looks corporate lawyer would not be assortative mating?

    1. 10.1
      S.

      Hi Adrian,

      I found your questions.  It’s like a test.  So I won’t look at anyone else’s answers.  🙂

      1). In your opinion do women know when they are trying to date out of their league?

      I’m in my mid-40s and never thought about the concept of leagues before finding another dating site where the site host is all about that.  Sure, I knew about popular kids vs. nerds in middle and high school. I had surely hoped that crap would go away when we were adults.  So to answer your question, sure. Molly Ringwald knew what she was doing in Sixteen Candles.  But for goodness’ sake!

      What are women ‘trying to do’?  I try to date good people. I tend to date men of the same socio-economic class. Same race.  Usually similar attractiveness.  Why? Really good-looking men can be arrogant or conceited and that’s a turn-off for me.   It always has.  So I’ve never gone for them.  I probably could get one but I’d have to go through too many gymnastics.  Looks aren’t a high value for me, so he and I would probably be mismatched. I’m generalizing. I’m sure there are nice, non-arrogant handsome men out there who would treat me like gold.  I just have never met any of them.

      2) How does age affect dating leagues?

      You’re really into this leagues thing. I feel like a therapist.  Why are leagues that important to you? LOL. I guess I have missed the original context of why you asked these questions.

      Leagues aside, age affects everything.  People like youth.  Western culture values it.  Hey, maybe other cultures do too.  I happen to look really young.  It’s annoying now because I’ve been mature forever and now got young boys looking at me.  Even a man with a 3 in front of his age is too young for me now.  I like men in their mid-50s but they almost look Dad-like next to me.  I like a man who has taken care of himself.  So I dunno. If you look young, you can date almost anyone.  Date is one thing, marriage is another.  I think vitality and fitness matter more to me.  I don’t think I could date someone who didn’t develop and appreciate for wellness.  I don’t mean going to the gym, but a person who actually cares exactly what and how they eat and how they move.  I don’t care if they are overweight, either. I don’t! But I do care if they are active.  Some overweight folks are faster than me!

      3) Does leagues have to do with looks?

      I think I answered this in number 2.

      4) Good grief. I’ll try and answer this. I just don’t think about people this way.  Maybe if I were considered a 9 in looks. But I am considered a 9 in intelligence.  I don’t think that way about people who aren’t considered that.  That’s kind of mean, in my opinion. And those ‘considering’ this could be wrong about both of us!

      I just care if I can talk to a guy and that he cares about me and invests some attention to me.  Strangely enough, earlier in the year one guy on line said if he met me in real life he wouldn’t have the nerve to ask me out. I thought it was because of looks.  He said, “I wouldn’t have the confidence.” Aww!  I was so glad he was real with me.  He never called me again, sadly.  And I really liked him.  He had some issues that others wouldn’t deal with,  mainly that he had been to prison.  But I would have dated him.  I didn’t think he was beneath me.  I don’t think that way.  My female friends don’t, either.

      5) This one is similar to number 4. I think you have my gist.

      6) When women do date guys significantly above their league in looks does it boost their self-esteem or make them more insecure (he could leave me for another girl or cheat on me)?

      Looks, looks, looks. Is this really what men think about a lot? I don’t.  I gave more thought to the referendums I voted for yesterday.  But okay.

      When I date a smoking hot guy, I’m usually on such a chemical high around him I don’t even have room in my mind to think about what other people think.  True facts.  It’s like being on drugs.  Now, when I’m alone or after we break up (these things don’t last) I do think about that! But honestly, I think about with smart men (I can bring him to my job and he can speak about it), with talented men (wait until they see him play the piano!), with kind men, honest men. If I’m dating him he’s brilliant many ways and want others to see it too.  I have dated men that I don’t think I fit in their world. This is rare.  This is mostly not a looks thing or an intelligence thing.  For me, it’s a class thing.  I have been insecure about that.  But mostly, I date in my same class so it’s rarely an issue.

      7) Number 7 is interesting.  Does looks mean you fit in a whole different social class? I think it does to men.  A beautiful woman can fit in anywhere to him.  But to her? I dunno.  I think dating out of your socio-economic class is difficult. Just because the values may be different. If he’s a saver and she’s a spender, etc.   Money really can be an issue if people value it differently.  Would a man rather be with a beautiful woman who spends all his money? Some might. 🙂

      8) Whew! I’m at the end. 🙂 I don’t know what assortative mating is. So not sure I can answer but I’ll try.

      I think that dating within your same looks, class, intelligence, education can be easier because you might have more values in common. I used to think those values didn’t matter, but they do. But notice I say ‘might’.  A person may find another person with  similar values from a completely different background. That’s what matters.   The values.

      As for me, S?  I don’t think I think of men that way. I used to. I used to think I was really unattractive.  I’m not.  I just didn’t know how to make the most of what I had. Once I learned. Jackpot.  And my confidence shot up and well, I could have sex with men I’m attracted to any time I want.  Are they 7-10s? Not to others.  But if I want them, they are to 7-10s me.  Which is what matters.

      That said, men are definitely self-selecting with me.  That’s totally fine. Most men who date me like my looks and my body but it’s the intelligence that hooks them.   That’s what they say over and over.  And that’s cool because it’s part of who I am, we always have conversations that connect, and it’s effortless for me. I don’t have to try to be something I’m not.  So while I’m not thinking of dating in terms of SMVs, men certainly are.

      It’s also interesting being an African-American woman. It’s like my SMV goes down because of that solely which is so ridiculous.  Unless you are young, thin, and model-beautiful, men outside my race (and some inside my race) aren’t necessarily that interested.   Like my race is a strike against me from the outset.  But I don’t care.  I have found my niche of attractive, intelligent, kind men who appreciate my type of  beauty  (not all looks, but some of it is) and heart. Speaking of which I have to go spend some time with one of them right now. 🙂

      Hope these answers were helpful to you!

      1. 10.1.1
        Seth_D

        @ S.

        With guys (most of them, and myself).
        We are very visual creatures.
        The visual aspect plays a huge part in my attraction…but then the personality/character traits of the women will follow in very quickly.

        So while women say all the time, that looks aren’t important…to some extent I may agree with that.  But after having been on dating sites and talking on other forums, the visual aspect does play a huge role for women as well, maybe not on the level for a guy.  But it is still there.

        i.e.
        I want someone taller than me
        I am not attracted to heavy set/fat guys
        I like clean cut, no facial hair.

        1. S.

          Hi Seth D. and thanks for replying to my long comment. 🙂

          In short, sure looks matter to me, they just don’t matter as much. I hate beards, but if I found a bearded man who treated me like gold and met all my other needs, I’d seriously consider him.  I would not aim to ever change his beardedness, but yeah, the other stuff combined is more important.

          I truly don’t care about a man’s weight or height.  I care about his health, but if he’s overweight, healthy, and active, I’m fine with that.

          So sure, important.  Just not as much to me. Not huge. I must add, that when I meet bigger men, it’s not usually online. Online is kind of a brutal playing field. When I meet people in real life, their other traits shine first to me.

          My two cents. 🙂

      2. 10.1.2
        Seth_D

        @ S.
        Online is very brutal.
        I swear I have been insulted by a bunch of women from online dating sites, and it is rather depressing
        Cause I make it a point to not say something to her that would be rude/insulting, but some women do not seem to consider that when they speak/talk with someone

    2. 10.2
      Emily, the original

      Adrian, my friend,

      Look up assortative mating. Most people marry someone who is similar to them in level of attractiveness, education and social status. Look up the engagement photos in The New York Times. The couples even look alike.

      I’m sure you can provide me examples of a guy who married a woman who is +2.757983 higher in SMV because he had money or whatever other commodity he brought to the table, but as a general rule people marry themselves.

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