How Can I Tell How Attractive I Really Am?

How Can I Tell How Attractive I Really Am?
Hi Evan,

I have been reading your blog for over a year now and I have also bought your book Why He Disappeared. I enjoy a lot of the advice and generally agree with most of it.

You generally maintain the reason why people are single is they over-assess themselves and rate themselves higher than what they originally are. Like a 6 thinking she is an 8. So my question today is basically this: how do you correctly analyze yourself? I always feel like asking people I am around (good friends, coworkers etc.) but I am scared it might ruin things/make things uncomfortable and basically they might tell me what I want to hear.

So is there an objective way to quantify yourself so that you are clear in where you stand? –Sharon

Thanks for the self-aware question about not being entirely self-aware.

I’ve always used a metaphor to describe people and their attractiveness ratings.

Think of it like a clothing store.

You’re introducing a new brand of milk. It’s no different than anyone else’s 2% milk, but it’s your unique packaging. You’re targeting wealthy people who want the best of the best in everything. To that end, you price your milk at $10/gallon.

Nobody buys it.

Does anyone that you want to date want to date you back?

There’s nothing wrong with the milk. It’s just not finding its target market.

You lower the price to $9. $8. $7. $6. $5…

Your mind is blown because you thought that your milk was different and special and it turns out that no matter how strongly you felt about your unique brand, other people – your buyers – only valued it at a lesser rate.

It’s basic supply and demand and it’s about the only way to see what your value is.

Sure, you can put your face up on HotOrNot or buy one of those Ugly iPhone apps to gauge your “scientific” attractiveness rating. But that’s not particularly telling.

More telling is this: does anyone that you want to date want to date you back?

If not, you’re overestimating yourself, no matter what “number” you think you are.

Listen, we overestimate ourselves because it’s necessary. No one would want to wake up in the morning, thinking that she’s ugly, stupid, mean, and has bad taste in clothing, music, and décor. But if you look around, there are a lot of stupid, ugly, mean people with bad taste, aren’t there?

So a measure of self-delusion is not only normal, but somewhat healthy for survival.

People respond to confident people and whether the confidence is deserved or not doesn’t really matter, as long as each delusional pot finds a delusional lid.

The only time that this overconfidence bias becomes a problem is when there’s a severe disconnect between reality and fantasy.

The 62-year-old guy who writes to you online when you’re 31? If he starts to take things personally, he’s gonna go through some hard times. He may be a great catch, but if he’s holding out for exclusively women who DON’T want him, he’ll likely be alone for a really, really, really long time.

I don’t judge him. He wants what he wants. But I do feel bad for him.

Everyone becomes choosier online because we’re comparing you to other, younger, taller, richer, smarter people in a way that we don’t in real life.

He’s overestimated himself and forgotten that the 31-year-old could have any man – 30, 35, 40, 45, 50… there’s virtually NO reason she would choose to go out with him.

Flip that over and apply this logic to yourself, Sharon.

If every guy you write to online is a 9 and none of those guys write back, they probably don’t see you as a “9” as well.

Keep going down the list – writing to the 8s, 7s, 6s, and 5s. The ones who start writing back are the ones at your level.

For most people, this reality check is quite a slap in the face.

And that’s exactly why I do it with all my private clients.

I have no tolerance for people who don’t embrace reality and if a fit 50-year-old woman is only going to write to hot 45-year-old guys who claim to want 35-year-old women, she’s most definitely wasting her time.

To put a final point on it, online dating isn’t the best arbiter for your attractiveness number. Everyone becomes choosier online because we’re comparing you to other, younger, taller, richer, smarter people in a way that we don’t in real life.

In real life, your physical attractiveness number is completely affected by your personality.

Overweight women, women with large noses, women who are older – name your physical bugaboo – all become sexier when attached to a bright, vibrant, positive, engaging personality. Which is why the photo test is, at best, limited.

Still, if you’re only holding out for men who have no interest in you, you’re probably overestimating yourself and should take it down a peg. Same exact advice applies to all men, so please, no angry comments, okay? ☺

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Comments:

  1. 1
    Heather

    Evan, I really liked this entry, it’s really interesting.

    I think this is true for EVERYONE online, men and women. I’ve heard some horror stories from guys, and I’ve had my share of guys who really thought they were something and when I’d politely respond with, “Thanks, but I’m not sure this will work”, I got some pretty verbally abusive responses to where I had to contact the site admins and flag them.

    I’m not expecting a 10, since I am not a 10 myself, but if you’re really a 4, please don’t go online and tout yourself as a 10 and get angry if those of us who see through it, decline to get on board the BS bus. Honesty is one heck of a lot more refreshing than lying. I went out with a number of guys who were balding or greying, because they were gracious and humorous about it, and never tried to hide it.

    If only everyone could act like this, dating would sure be alot less stressful, IMO! :)

    1. 1.1
      najwan

      You are %100 accurate; each one  should grab a piece of paper and put down in writing his/her positive and negative characteristic and be honest when scoring or evaluating our selves

    2. 1.2
      James

      Why do you refer to bald guys as though they are at a disadvantage? Your saying they had to make up for their baldness in some other way? That’s wrong. The stigma associated to baldness is such superficial shallow behaviour from women. If only the women who put baldness alongside something like being fat woke up to realize the true character of a man. Something far more important towards having a long successfully happy relationship. 

  2. 2
    CaitlinElise

    Evan,
    This is so right on, positivity and a great personality make any man or woman more attractive. Confident people GLOW. That is attractive all on it’s own. Thanks for serving up reality to all of us who need to be reminded.

    This was great.

  3. 3
    Trenia

    The one thing that topples this theory is that human behavior and desire are often unpredictable. I was waiting in the airport security line yesterday when I saw a really attractive woman standing behind me who was about 5’10″ and wearing a tank top embroidered with the word “bride”. When I saw the guy standing behind her I just thought she was going to her bacherlorette party, and so did the women standing in front of me because they commented on it. Well, come to find out this 5’10″ bombshell just married this older man, who seemed a little rough around the edges and a few inches shorter than her.

    Relationships aren’t always that scientific down to the number, and who decides who’s a 9 and who’s not? This is further complicated by people who date outside of their race. There was a really awful article that came out several months ago in Psychology Today that said black women are the least attractive women while black men are seen as the most attractive, and all hell broke loose; Psychology Today got so much heat for it they took the article down. Should a smart, well-educated woman date the guy who sells her her morning paper at the newsstand simply because he’s the one who’s showing interest in her and the men at her office do not?

    I’m a plus size woman, and if I had a penny for every time someone told me that some guy wouldn’t date me because I was a big girl I would be rich. The men may not come in droves, but they do come. A lot of plus size women struggle with this because the automatic assumption is if you’re fat then you can only date a fat man, and that’s just not true. I don’t know, I think it’s a little bit more complicated than pairing the 6′s with the 6′s and the 10′s with the 10′s.

    1. 3.1
      Rebecca

      I’m intrigued by the desire to figure out whether I’m a 5 or an 8 or … (don’t even wanna consider that I might be a 3), but I don’t get Evan’s standard about whether people I want to date want to date me.  Of course _some_ of the people I want to date want to date me.  In online dating and speed dating, pretty much everyone I’ve expressed an interest in has responded in kind, but I’m certainly not a 10.  Is the message that I should look for the most gorgeous picture of a man who claims to be tall and rich and see if he responds to me?  Or maybe the message is I just should stop caring what my rating is if guys I want to meet are agreeing to meet me.  My ego would kinda like to know…

  4. 4
    SB

    Excellent article. Yes, sure thing – confidence is the key, male or female.

  5. 5
    Kathleen

    Evan ,
    I think thats a valuable article that helps me keep perspective for online dating. Ive been amazed at the delusion of some of the guys that contact me however Im sure my age 53 and height , 6 foot, are detractors for me also
    I like the idea of testing who responds since I seldom send emails.
    I was disappointed the hot 45 year old black guy didn’t respond but your article helped me laugh and overcome the pain of rejection LOL

    1. 5.1
      najwan

      Dear Kathleen
      I ‘m a black woman and I do understand black men mentality and perception of  women.  They likes/prefer young women even if they are same age as  their daughters  + loves to engage in multipule relationships.   Also they are not honest, irresponsible and women should n’t trust them (especially white women) . Yes it is not fair to brush all black men with the same brush but generally they sex-holic and that make it difficult to commit to one female.

  6. 6
    a regular

    Evan, would you please extend this advice and comment on breast size? I feel like this is a factor on relative attractiveness “value,” but I haven’t heard anyone objectively comment on it.

    I am a fit woman with a body like a model (trim with curves and not emaciated) except smaller. Nothing sags and I have a good waist to hip ratio. Thing is, I have a small frame and small breasts to go with it. How much of a deal is this? It seems like many guys are into large breasts nowadays. How much impact does breast size have on attractiveness levels in your opinion? What about in sunny climates?

  7. 7
    Holly

    I have a man interested in me who thinks my theory of “The Perfect 5″ is ridiculous. I think I’m being fair when I categorize myself as a 5, and am therefore looking for a 5. I believe dating too far up (or down) from where you fall on the scale is a recipe for disaster. I would say he’s a 9 (very attractive, makes good money, and has let me know that he’s had many beautiful women in his past). So why would a 9 want to date a 5? He’s just going to leave the minute another 8 to 10 walks on the scene, isn’t he?

  8. 8
    Paula

    Bottom line: beauty is in the eye of the beholder

  9. 9
    Karl R

    Sharon asked:
    “how do you correctly analyze yourself?”
    “So is there an objective way to quantify yourself so that you are clear in where you stand?”

    There’s no objective way to quantify yourself. Evan’s subjective method (explained above) is probably the most systematic way to do so in an online environment.

    To put it simply, where you stand varies from person to person, for a number of reasons. So you want to find a person who values you highly and who you value highly.

    Finding someone who values you highly:
    This is why Evan recommends doing reverse searches. Start with the people who are interested in you. If you have mainstream appeal (young and attractive woman / attractive and successful man), this is going to be a lot of people. If you lack that mainstream appeal, you’ll have to find the people you do appeal to. What are the traits that draw people to you? Who is drawn to them?

    Finding someone who you value highly:
    If you’re attracted to people who have mainstream appeal (young and attractive women / attractive and successful men), then you’ll be competing against almost everyone. If the people you find attractive aren’t mainstream, you’ll have significantly less competition. Are there any traits that have broad appeal that you can do without (or do with less of) in a partner?

    The easiest way “to be clear where you stand” is to meet people face to face. That way you can see how the person is directly responding to you. Online, look at your inbox to see who is messaging/responding to you. In either case, only the “top end” matters.

  10. 10
    Kathleen

    Holly Ive always found it interesting when a guy has to share that he’s dated very beautiful women/ models/Ms Tropicana. It makes me wonder how insecure they are Most women underestimate their attractiveness where as men seem to overestimate it . I would speculate that he might be less than a 9 , you more than a 5 and he’s insecure.

  11. 11
    Heather

    Holly, you know, you might have a point there, about dating too far up or down on the scale from where you think you are. I guess I’d put myself at a 7 if I really had to sit down and work it all out, but I tend not to go for the 9-10 guys. Especially because I found out that a few of those guys that look hot, are actually scammers, yes guys, we girls get scammed too, LOL.

    A former boyfriend definitely fits your theory as well. He was maybe a 5 and that’s on a good day, and I’m not trying to be snarky, but he was short, bald, and looked a LOT like George Costanza. Anyways, he’d lied to me about his height, and then whined about how hard it was to have found me, so many girls were so shallow, etc. He ended the relationship because his parents didn’t like me for being divorced, and from what my friends who run into him tell me, he is still lying about his height, whining about why he can’t meet a “nice, not shallow, not flaky girl”. If he’d just been honest, and not so entitled and pushy, he’d have done probably just fine. It wasn’t like he was an ogre or anything, but he was very unrealistic about his looks.

  12. 12
    Kathleen

    The scale is an interesting concept My ex husband was extremely good looking If we went anywhere people would think he was an actor/ athlete etc and if we were overseas they wanted his autograph and would insist he was incognito. Women were always checking him out. He liked that I was bright and athletic LOL !!!
    My neighbor, a wise Japanese woman, told me never again to be with a man who was better looking than me. Im hoping not to make the same mistake. Thats not likely lately Ha!!

  13. 13
    Spiral

    Insightful and timely, Evan!
    I completely agree that a bright personality can increase a person’s attractiveness quite a lot. But the converse is true as well: being gorgeous and cranky can totally bring your number down.
    When on the dating sites, I remind myself to READ, not just look. Then I remind myself that not all guys are great communicators or can spell. Then I remind myself that I don’t have to have absolutely everything in common with the guy and it’s okay if he’s into sports even if I’m not.
    Then I strike up a conversation and see where it goes. :)

    For those thinking their personality doesn’t shine through on their dating profile, you can always make a video and post the link. Not all sites allow this, but there are some sites that have sections designed specifically for it too.

    Good luck and chin up, everyone.

  14. 14
    Holly

    Kathleen/Heather, thanks for your insight. It’s funny now that I think about some of the men I’ve dated in the past. I’ve intentionally sought out the short/fat/bald guys (those I consider 5s) because I figured we’d be a good match; he’d appreciate me even though I’m overweight and no model, and I wouldn’t have to worry about other women chasing him around. Well, now that I look back I realize that most (if not all) of these men had been married to gorgeous women or ended up cheating on me with gorgeous women, so maybe the scale doesn’t mean anything after all. If they can get good-looking women, I’ll take a shot at a good-looking guy for a change!

  15. 15
    Rudy37lee

    I’m definitely on the same page as Evan here, I think his description is quite accurate. If you glance around at couples, for the most part, they are about equal in attractiveness to one another. So, going for a 7 if you feel you are a 7, makes a lot of sense. That will only take you so far though. Attraction truly can’t be whiddled down to something so simple as numbers 1 through 10, people are far to complex for such a simple system. For people who are genuinely confused about where they stand, though, it’s a good starting point. Some of my girlfriends have dated guys that they think are gorgeous, and I think are just ‘ok’. I’m sure I’ve dated guys who I thought were dead sexy and they didn’t agree either. So my 10 might be your 7, or vice versa. It only has to be ‘real’ between the two of you. If 10 guys say I’m a 5 and you think I’m a 10, as my boyfriend, then that’s what matters to me. It’s when people are so full of themselves, arrogant, or BLIND that they really think they are gods gift to the opposite sex that they can date a super model. Well, that’s just pretty dense . . . I highly doubt you’re going to make much progress with someone as clueless as that. If you have a decent amount of self awareness, it really shouldn’t be so difficult to figure out where you stand in the attraction arena.

  16. 16
    Michael17

    I agree with Trenia #3. In fact, I was going to write something similar, and then I read her post.

    I’m a guy, and I’m not physically attracted to every woman whose physical beauty rates “9″ or “10″ (going by society’s general concensus). In fact, there are many such whom I am NOT attracted to. And yet, I am attracted to some “6″s or “7″s. Thing is, I have a physical type.

    Trenia, to many guys, you might be just what they are looking for physically. Not “the best they can reasonably hope for”, but actually “just what they are looking for”. And some of these guys could very well be what society considers “9″s and “10″s.

    That said, I do get the basic concept of what you are saying, Evan, and I agree with a lot of it. A 50-year-old woman who is holding out for an “in-demand” 35-year-old man can expect to be waiting quite a while. I just think that there also has to be accounting for individual tastes too.

    1. 16.1
      Rebecca

      Thank you, Michael17.  I teased the last man I fell for that he wasn’t young enough or cut enough or white enough to be a Hollister model, and none of those models was half as sexy as my boyfriend.  He may not have been the in-demand look, but he was ideal to my eyes.

  17. 17
    Heather

    Holly, yeah I hear you, it doesn’t hurt to take a shot at guys we think are pretty good looking. I remember when the George Costanza lookalike ended our relationship after informing me that Mommy told him to end things, I thought, wow, so much for my giving a guy a chance whom I wasn’t sure was my type. I was just bitter at the moment and really hurt.

    My current guy is a fellow I “typically” would not go for, but when I saw his smile, and pictures of his family dog with him, and after a few conversations, I realized that he was definitely worth talking to, and see where it went. And here we are five months later. He’s a really good man and sure, I’d love it if he read more, didn’t watch “Major League” EVERY daggone weekend, and were a bit more quiet, I still wouldn’t trade that for a guy who was well read, watched more “in depth movies” and was more quiet, who would not treat me like gold.

  18. 18
    Karl R

    a regular asked: (#6)
    “How much impact does breast size have on attractiveness levels in your opinion?”

    If the man likes large breasts, it has a big impact. If a man likes small breasts, it has a big impact. If a man likes all breasts, it has very little impact.

    a regular asked: (#6)
    “What about in sunny climates?”

    Why would the climate make a difference? Breasts don’t grow (or shrink) when exposed to direct sunlight.

    Holly asked: (#7)
    “So why would a 9 want to date a 5?”

    Physical attractiveness isn’t the primary quality he (or she) is looking for.

    My fiancée is primarily attracted to intelligence and sense of humor. If a man is “a 9″ in both of those traits, he’s a 9 to her (even if he looks like ten miles of bad road).

    Holly asked: (#7)
    “He’s just going to leave the minute another 8 to 10 walks on the scene, isn’t he?”

    I remember the best-looking woman I ever dated. Our first date was two long. I did not ask her out for a second date.

    If someone is genuinely interested in you, that means they are interested in you.

    I know several couples where one partner is significantly more attractive than the other. After getting to know them, it was obvious that the less attractive person was the genuine “catch”. Don’t place too much importance on appearance.

    Holly said: (#7)
    “I believe dating too far up (or down) from where you fall on the scale is a recipe for disaster.”

    Dating someone who is not kind (or to whom you’re not kind) is a recipe for disaster. Dating someone whom you cannot get along with is a recipe for disaster. Dating someone who you think is “too far up the scale” merely makes it more likely that you’ll overlook poor behavior.

  19. 19
    Trenia

    Michael17 #3, I agree 100%. I’m glad I’m not the only one who sees it this way.

  20. 20
    Holly

    Heather, I’m so with you! I have several friends who have been doing the online dating thing right along with me, and I see them pass over guy after guy because they’re “beneath them,” or don’t meet every single one of their requirements: (MUST be under 40, earn six figures, 6’2″, 180 lbs., six-pack, know the words to every Marilyn Manson song, hate sports, no dogs, no kids, etc., etc.) Give me a break! I’ve been burned my fair share (by 5s AND 9s–I guess we ALL have), but my best relationships have always been with guys who my friends would never have considered and frequently tried to talk me out of (“You can do better.”) Better than a guy who’s kind and good to me and goes out of his way to make sure I’m happy? Huh? Meanwhile I have a 9 just waiting for me to pull the trigger and they’re still sitting at home, alone. Hmm…think I just answered my own question here. Think I’ll go on a date tonight! :-)

  21. 21
    Holly

    Thanks for the perspective, Karl R #18. I may be too afraid of getting burned again and have been looking for reasons and making excuses to avoid it. It’s nice to know there are people out there who are willing to overlook a few physical flaws in exchange for laughter, kindness, and genuine loyalty. Your fiancee is a lucky girl!

  22. 22
    Helen

    Karl R: “Breasts don’t grow (or shrink) when exposed to direct sunlight.”

    Thank you for the biggest laugh I have had in a number of days. :D

    More to the point of this thread: Why even ask this question “How can I tell how attractive I really am?” Every person will be attractive to some types and unattractive to others, and it doesn’t always relate to appearance. Why attempt to put this on a quantitative scale: just for vanity’s sake?

    Apart from which: back in the days I was dating, both incredibly handsome men and ugly men asked me out. Apparently they both thought I was the appropriate attractiveness level for them. I really don’t think there is any objective scale. There is such a wide range of tastes, and to attempt to limit yourself by numbers, you may cut out a lot of people who may be right for you.

    The best you can do for yourself is to BE yourself, happily and proudly and confidently. Instead of only relying on online sites, also take the time to meet people regularly in person.

  23. 23
    Melle

    First off, online is a poor representation of people,because everyones different in real life. I get hit on regularly but with online dating, I get an average of 3 emails every 2 months….go figures. Whereas I may seem like a 4 online, Im actually a higher (subjective) number in real life. Or so it seems as I get hit on by a number of attractive, well-off men.

    Also, confidence is over-rated. I like a term Ive read on a different site and the idea is to be ‘comfortable.’ Ive been on dates with men overflowing with egoistic confidence that turned me off and with men who were COMFORTABLE with who they are (vs. confidence) that was such a turn on. They were shy, easygoing, but had a comfortable charm about them that made them attractive. Confidence is simply over-rated.

  24. 24
    Katherine Wakefield

    To get your personality across in a photo online is incredibly hard to do. If you meet face to face you are making an unconscious assessment of your potential date from personality to physical attraction. You don’t have this in online dating.
    I don’t always judge the photo, i look at the email where the personality can shine through. But again sometimes this dosen’t translate. Some people don’t communicate well by email. I’ve had dates who haven’t been adept at emailing but on the phone its been like talking to a different person! I’ve been on dates where they have been adept at emailing but when meeting in person it just wasn’t there.
    Trust your instincts they won’t let you down. If you are looking for the perfect 10 you will never find them. If you look for flaws you will find them. If you look for faults you will find them. Look for the positives and you may just find the date that you have been waiting for!

  25. 25
    JM

    This is a timely post. I’ve dated men up and down the looks spectrum, and generally speaking, the men who contact me online are maybe 5s, with a couple higher and lower sprinkled throughout. Personality and intelligence are HUGE for me and this is what’s missing in online dating. It doesn’t do me any favors (as someone who can take time to get to know) and it doesn’t do the men any favors, either.

    Sometimes when I see someone online I think of some of the guys I work with who, when I first met them I didn’t think twice about them. But then, after getting to know them, I find them quite attractive and have grown to like them. That way, I’m reminded that just because someone doesn’t have a good photo, they could still be a great catch. However, there are just some looks I cannot stand, so that often stands in the way of giving someone a chance. Namely, facial hair. I think it’s disgusting!

    My ex was in the 8-9 range and I don’t wish him on my greatest enemy. Yet, he is always in a relationship. Most of the really good-looking men I’ve dated are quite flawed, actually. And most of the really good-looking women I know also have some serious issues.

  26. 26
    Ruby

    Melle #23

    “Comfortable” is fine, but it’s often hard to feel comfortable if you lack confidence. Confidence doesn’t have to mean arrogance. Truly confident people feel good about themselves without egotism.

  27. 27
    Leesa

    in evan’s “pitty the pretty” posting that he did a while ago, he talks about pretty women not being able to attract decent guys because the decent guys generally don’t bother going there, and so the pretty women often get the creepy guys who don’t care if they get rejected and will shamelessly have a go. where does this fit into pretty women being able to judge their realistic attractiveness to men? thanks for any comments in advance.

  28. 28
    Tash

    If you take a look at the book ‘why women want love & men want sex’ by Allan & Barbara Pease, they have a very good section to work out your ‘mating rating’. A fantastic read & good base for dating in general.

  29. 29
    Angie

    Online dating profiles are such a terrible gauge of attraction anyways. I found that men who spent so much time putting up great photos and writing witty responses to everything were better in the marketing. Men who had a few nice, casual photos of them being real and wrote straightforward, genuine, and pretty mundane responses to the dating questions were in fact, better in real life (for the most part).

    As far as real life is concerned, though, I’d start putting myself out there as much as possible and always trying to look your best. So, if you are a 6 in (a) flip flops and a sweatshirt, and an 8 in (b) nice boots and a sweaterdress and some mascara, go for outfit b, even if it’s just to the grocery store. (I’ve tried this, it works). Smile a lot and joke with people. Go to Memorial Day or 4th of July bbq’s, networking events, etc. If men aren’t finding you attractive in person at your most attractive, then whatever! His loss!

    You are either someone’s type or you aren’t, but you should give them every reason to find you attractive and go from there.

  30. 30
    MAXINE

    Evan, as usual you are correct in your thinking. Thanks for all your wonderful insightful comments. Yes, we all do listen and take heed!

    Thanks Karl (#18) for your delicious insight! I am still laughing. You are correct on all points.

    Still Looking!!!

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