How Do You Know He Loves More Than Your Looks?

Hi Evan,

I’m a very successful, 37-year-old black/mixed race female who had over $40,000 worth of plastic surgery 4 years ago. I won’t lie: I did it to hopefully land a “top quality” guy. Here’s the problem: It actually worked. The surgeon was very skilled and I ended up a much prettier and younger version of myself.

Pre-surgery, very successful men have always found me attractive enough to date. But it was my “personality,” I was often told, that they were attracted to. But wedding rings eluded me, and these men soon broke my heart and went on to marry hotter girls. And the black men I wanted ended up marrying white women. (Yes, yes, all the clichés.) Now, with my new looks, these same types of alpha males behave quite differently: they call regularly, talk about a future together, and yes, some have even proposed.

To give men some credit, I have to say that I’m also more fun to date. Because when a guy always treats you well, it’s easier to be confident, sweet and lighthearted. Here’s my dilemma: I am currently with a “great catch”: early 40’s, tall, black, very successful, treats me well. He wants to marry me and have a family. He tells me that he was initially attracted to my looks, but it was my personality that won him over. Thanks to me, he is now all about family values and want to raise a strong black family. (Prior to me, he had mostly dated blonde women.)

But I can’t seem to say yes. I can’t shake the feeling that should my looks fade, he might change his mind, and I will end up divorced in 7 years, with young children. What I really want now is “that nice guy who would have loved me with my flaws and all” – the kind of men you encourage strong women to give a chance to. Even though my boyfriend tells me he loves me, even he admits that had he met my former self, he might not have given me a chance in the beginning, but now it doesn’t matter because he sees me for who I am. What to do? Dump him and start looking for that “nice” guy who might not show up in time for me to have children? Stay with this guy and live with my fears? Help!


Dear Martine,

Not only have I already written a treatise on how difficult it is for attractive women to trust men, I’ve had at least 3 girlfriends who lost over 40lbs before dating me. I can pretty much guarantee you that I would not have given them a second look at their former weight.

This doesn’t mean that I’m shallow – at least no shallower than anyone else in the world.

It means that I have preferences, same as you reading this. And as much as I preach being open to all sorts of possibilities, the fact remains that all of us are as valuable as our options.

All of us are as valuable as our options. If you have 500 men in your Inbox on, you be afford to be choosy…

If I prefer women who look like Barbie, but am not particularly tall, rich, charming or charismatic, I’m probably not going to get many Barbies. I can theoretically hold out for the Barbie of my dreams…or I can consider dating a curvier woman who has everything else that I’m looking for in a partner. Same thing goes for women. If you’ve got 500 men in your Inbox, you can afford to be as choosy as you like. If you determine that none of them are suitable because you want a six-foot-tall man with dark skin who loves dogs and Glenn Beck, then, well, you may be waiting for a while.

What you’ve done through your plastic surgery, Martine, is made yourself more “valuable” and desirable to the opposite sex, thereby increasing your number of options.

This is nothing to apologize for, as it’s had its intended effect. And if you’re doubting whether your boyfriend is being “real” with you, I don’t even think that it’s the right question. The issue here isn’t about your boyfriend: it’s about you and your own self-esteem. The fact that you’re not positive you “deserve” this guy is just beneath the surface. You’re looking for an excuse to run instead of delighting in your successful relationship.

This reminds me of a girlfriend of mine who never quite believed that I could be attracted to her – not while I was attracted to the women in Maxim and Internet porn. I couldn’t have been crazier about her, yet she broke up with me three times because she just didn’t feel safe. She had a fat girl complex – from how she treated me as a constant threat to cheat, to how she fumed that men were gawking at her new body in the gym, as if it’s their fault that she was once 40lbs heavier.

I’m no therapist, but, in layman’s terms: you eventually have to get over it.

Do you think ugly rock stars spend much time worrying about WHY women like them?

Do you think rich men squiring golddiggers around are losing sleep at night?

The truth is that we are the sum of many parts. Some of them are what draw people in… some of them are what keep people sticking around forever.

Do you think ugly rock stars spend much time worrying about WHY women like them?

Attractiveness is a sales tool – nothing more. You’ve probably heard the expression, “See that hot woman over there? Some guy is getting sick of screwing her right now.” It acknowledges a basic truth – looks can only get you so far. Personality, emotional stability, playfulness, generosity – those are the things that keep men hooked on you. This is a central tenet of “Why He Disappeared”. Yes, he has to be attracted to you, but long-term relationships are forged in something much deeper.

Every man knows that there will always be someone younger, hotter, and thinner than his wife… He makes a choice to forgo those women because of what he stands to lose.

Your concern is a real one, Martine. Rich men with nothing going for them WILL lose their golddigger wives when they lose their money. Hot chicks with nothing going for them WILL lose their shallow husbands when their looks fade.

But that’s not you. And it’s not your boyfriend.

He only knows you as you are now – smart, strong, successful, and, after $40,000 in plastic surgery, a lot more physically attractive. Take heart in the fact that you were able to afford the kind of changes necessary to increase your dating pool, and don’t spend anymore time second-guessing how you got there.

Your very reasonable insecurities only stand to mess up the good thing you’ve already got going. Please report back and let us know how it goes.

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  1. 1

    My first thought was since this man says he loves her and for more than her looks, why not believe him?

    My second thought is nowhere in her letter does she say she loves him.  She goes on about what a great “catch” he is, but she doesn’t quite trust that he will stay with her long term. Might the insecurity stem not from having had plastic surgery, but because she doesn’t love him flaws and all, just appreciates the outward package and what he can provide?

  2. 2
    Katarina Phang

    I think she’s going down the path of self-destruction with the unnecessary provocations on herself.  Instead of just enjoying the moment and being grateful for what she has, she now is questioning her own self-worth.  What you believe you become.  It’s as simple as that.
    What you hold in your mind will become your reality, sooner or later.  That’s the power of your mind whether or not you realize it.
    Insecurities are very destructive to relationship and the number one way to repel your partner.
    I do wonder, Evan…why oh why these rich and famous supermodels are attracted to and married to these super ugly rock stars?  Doesn’t it boil down to our discussion last week that women are indeed inherently attracted to perceived male power (such as represented in money, fame and success)?  Otherwise what other explanations to these women who have everything in life to want to be with these visually challenged men other than that their perceived “good provider” traits?
    To be honest, I won’t be as shallow as that might sound.  I just can’t be with a man I’m not physically attracted to no matter how rich and famous he is.

  3. 3

    I can’t help but think there’s one theme running through her story: “I’m not (good) enough”.  To me, it sounds like you found yourself lacking; therefore, unable to keep a man despite your wonderful personality, so you opted for surgery.  And that’s more than fine, but I think it solved a sympton, not the cause.  You have to know you’re more than enough, Martine.  You have to love yourself and know that you’re lucky to have found eachother…you both contribute to the relationship.  What your lack of confidence and fear is doing, is actually manifesting what you fear most–him falling out of love with you and leaving you somewhere down the road.  Best of luck in being happy with, and loving yourself first…cuz the rest will fall into place.  And another thing…it’s difficult to fully love someone when you block it from yourself as well.

  4. 4

    This sounds like a classic, “Be careful what you wish for.”
    If very successful men found her attractive enough to date [score 1], and also felt attracted to her personality [score 2], and they chose to visit the candy shop to purchase the grandest treat, maybe she wasn’t dating men who possess the best qualities. IMHO, changing her looks ($40K sounds drastic to me) wasn’t the answer, even though it happened to lead her to her great catch. A wedding ring eluded her for numerous reasons, among them her insecurities. How did changing her looks stop the black men she was interested in from continuing to marry white girls? What did she change?
    If she wanted a man who would love her, flaws and all, then she shouldn’t have done the surgery. Her looks will fade. Depending on what she had done, the surgery may actually accelerate this, as follow-up procedures are sometimes necessary after a few years.
    Her catch has fallen in love with her on the inside, but not her authentic self on the outside. Unfortunately, this is the reality she accepted when she did the surgery. Clearly, there’s no going back. She couldn’t find such a man anyway, since she’s no longer flawed, if you will.
    I say, “Embrace the love you now have, and work through your insecurities.”

  5. 5

    Actually, maybe her man does love her flaws and all, since his learning about how she changed her looks and why could be seen as a major flaw.

  6. 6

    The irony for me is that someone can spend what for many people is the equivalent of a year’s salary on plastic surgery at the ripe old age of 37, and STILL feel insecure and dissatisfied. 
    What I am learning from this, and the previous post from the 90% girl, is that shallow people attract other shallow people. And also, be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.

  7. 7

    Generally, I agree with everything Tanya said (#2). The OP took care of the outward causes of her insecurities, but never worked on the inner ones. This is why, btw, most people who lose weight do not succeed over the long term – the weight is only a symptom of a faulty psychology, and they never address that.
    It does leave me perturbed that her man openly admitted he wouldn’t have given her a chance if she still had her former looks. This isn’t the same, actually, as it is with a formerly fat person. (Most fat people are so self-hating anyway, they would only agree with such a statement emphatically.) But it’s different when it’s your actual face and your actual age, methinks.

  8. 8

    Diana #4
    Good point. After 40k in plastic surgery, there probably isn’t much there that is real.
    This obsession with some phony ideal of perfection is beyond narcissistic.

  9. 9

    “Shallow people attract shallow people”
    At the end of the day as a man I would never marry anyone with plastic surgery if you are not happy about yourself than the chances of our marriage will not work out. Statistically the reason why a black women marrying a white man almost never ends in divorce. Is because the white man doesn’t care what other people think. When you are in a relationship especially when the other people do care about what other people think your chances of a successful relationship will be reduced.
    Spending over 40k on plastic surgery you give a crap about what a lot of other people think. When it comes to options the really pretty women still have to settle/compromise for a guy who isn’t in there first choice.
    Instead of thinking about life is about choices and options. Enjoy the time you two spend together.

  10. 10


    Actually since she said she had the surgery 4 yrs. ago, she was only 33 at the time.

  11. 11

    This is why i think plastic surgery is wrong. It creates insecurity and an identity crisis. If i suddenly became beautiful it would terrify me.
    I think the best thing this girl can do is to take her time with this relationship and work out if it is right. Be honest with the guy that because he has said he would not have looked at her before this is the reason for her concerns. If he loves the real you. he will understand.

    1. 11.1

      @Christine, your comment, “If I suddenly became beautiful it would terrify me” reminds me that there used to be an awful reality show featuring radical plastic surgery that the recipient wasn’t allowed to look at until unveiled on the show. I imagine one would need a huge amount of psychological counseling after such a life-altering experience…

      I think any kind of radical change in appearance–whether it’s surgical or just through hard work (exercise/diet)–requires a lot of inner work to accept and love the “new” you in the mirror. Remember actress Jennifer Grey? After a bad nose job, she’s unrecognizable. You can’t “undo” plastic surgery…

  12. 12

    yay to the OP! She knew what she wanted, she did what had to be done and she got her wish.

    About her question – I personally gave up on the “why?” question some time ago. Why do I want this? I don’t know, I just do. Why does this man wants her? The answer is WHO CARES. Just take what is. I know I do. Makes life a lot easier.

  13. 13

    This is exactly why I refuse to get implants, despite being practically flat-chested in a sea of the big tatas capital that is LA. I think I would resent the attention they would get.
    Interesting, Bill. Now that I think of it, 2 of the most loving and successful long term couples I know in real life are a older white man/black woman combo. Much like Roger Ebert and his wife. I wonder if the op gave older, maybe overweight white guys a chance. or maybe thats not top quality enough for her? Are only these slick, rich black guys with a propensity to chase blondes considered top quality?

  14. 14

    That is why you always have to fix/work on the inside. 

  15. 15

    Cat #15,
    I do remember Extreme Makeover quite vividly, actually. While normally not a supporter of plastic surgery, however, I thought in those cases it was warranted. Those people’s appearance effectively ruined their lives, and if even the surgeons occasionally remarked that those were the worst cases [of teeth, skin, whatever] they’ve ever seen… makes it kinda difficult to propose that they just accept themselves the way they are. 😐
    Jennifer Grey’s nose job wasn’t bad per se, it was just unnecessary, and turned out to be detrimental to her career. She had her own unique look, and after the surgery she ended up indistinguishable from millions of other people.

    1. 15.1

      @Juju, I was referring to the show, The Swan. (There’s a link to the wiki as well.)

  16. 16

    Oh, sorry, missed it. I don’t think I ever heard of it before.

  17. 17

    @Juju #7:
    “It does leave me perturbed that her man openly admitted he wouldn’t have given her a chance if she still had her former looks.”
    Good point. After reading your post, I tried to put myself in the OP’s position. I was a really nerdy-looking teen, and have some pictures to prove it. Then, as soon as I outgrew that stage, I went off to college and gained 30 pounds in my first year. Lost them all by my last year of college, but, again, I have pictures. I’ve shown the pictures to plenty of men (heck, they’re even posted on my Facebook somewhere). And I have never in my life had a man say to me, “Well I would’ve never asked you out if you still looked like that, but hey, I like your looks now, so it’s all good.” It’s just an incredibly rude thing to say. No wonder the OP feels insecure. Maybe the guy is not as much of a catch as he seems? just a thought.

  18. 18

    Goldie, and that’s when the issue was only weight and/or style. With the weight one can argue that it’s not your actual body, since it’s your body plus the extra poundage (sort of a diamond in the rough). But when it’s the actual face you were born with, it’s as if he is saying, “I find you fundamentally unacceptable.”
    That’s the way I would have felt about that, anyway.

  19. 19
    Karl R

    JuJu said: (#7)
    “It does leave me perturbed that her man openly admitted he wouldn’t have given her a chance if she still had her former looks.”
    Goldie said: (#19)
    “It’s just an incredibly rude thing to say. No wonder the OP feels insecure.”

    Martine may have directly asked her boyfriend that question. I’ve had people (including girlfriends) ask me questions where they don’t want to hear the truth … and I try to avoid lying, especially to friends.

    It’s a very awkward position to be placed in. And it is the sort of question an insecure person is likely to ask.

    Martine said: (original post)
    “I did it to hopefully land a ‘top quality’ guy.”
    “I am currently with a ‘great catch’: early 40’s, tall, black, very successful, treats me well.”

    Would you have dated your “top quality guy” if he wasn’t successful? Or would you have gone looking for a better catch?

    Martine said: (original post)
    “I can’t shake the feeling that should my looks fade, he might change his mind, and I will end up divorced in 7 years, with young children.”

    What happens if he loses his monetary assets? What happens if he loses his great job and can’t find another that earns nearly as much? Will you change your mind and divorce him?

    At some point, there was a “before” he was successful. There may be a point when he is no longer successful. Are you willing to accept him, flaws and all, if that occurs?

    Martine said: (original post)
    “Even though my boyfriend tells me he loves me”

    Forget that. Do you love him?

    I think that’s the first question you need to ask yourself.

  20. 20

    You know what the weird thing is? What really rubs me the wrong way is how her man mostly dated blond women before her. Being Indian, I’ve definitely seen this trend among men of my own race- it bothers me. Not because they find blond women hot. Hell, I’ve found plenty of blond women to be hot myself. like Patti Boyd. LOL But because with these men, it usually smacks of identity crisis, and a form of self-hatred at being the race they are. Such men tend to not be independent thinkers, no matter how successful they are financially or academically. I don’t know about the OP, but I’m looking for someone who’s proud to be who he is.

    I don’t know what her own issues are regarding her ethnicity- maybe they match her boyfriend’s? If so, maybe she realizes that. My two cents? If you want to date men of color, make sure that they don’t have a prejudice against their own race, or other people of color- that spells trouble to me.

  21. 21

    She has her priorities wrong when it comes to her qualifications a “catch”. I couldn’t date someone who I had to get plastic surgery that will always leave you at a level of inadequacy that will always hunt you.

  22. 22

    With regard to Martine having $40K worth of plastic surgery, how many times have we been told and repeated that the world is as it is and we can’t change other people but we can change ourselves?  Basically, agree or disagree, Martine recognized that we live in a looks driven culture, and to get the type of man she desires, she had to change herself and she did.  It boils down to, how much do you want something and what are you willing to do to have it?  Sometimes obtaining that which we believe we want is not better than what we had, but rather presents a whole new set of issues.

  23. 23

    After I left an emotionally abusive, seven-year relationship with a loser boyfriend who cheated and lied, I looked in the mirror and realized I looked about ten years older than I was.  Crying for five years straight will do that to a person.  I had my eyelids done and a facelift to freshen up what was already mine.  I looked like me, only a more refreshed, more youthful version of me.  I was delighted with what I then saw in the mirror and went on to have a wonderful time dating until I met my husband.  So to all the plastic surgery haters out there – please realize that it does have a useful purpose.  It’s up to surgeons to determine who the good and not-so-good candidates are, based on their reasons for wanting the surgery.

  24. 24
    Karl R

    sayanta, (#22)
    You avoid dating men from your racial/ethnic background. When I first learned this, I asked you why (because I am also aware of the self-hatred that commonly accompanies such decisions).

    If your reasons for doing so are completely rational, why assume otherwise when it’s a man who is doing the same thing?

  25. 25

    Didn’t Evan have a letter writer a while ago who was a fat girl who lost a bunch of weight and even though she afterwards got lots of male attention, she resented it?  Essentially her thought was, “Would you have liked me when I was fat?”

  26. 26

    This is one time in my life when I’m glad I don’t have that kind of cash to throw around.

    I, too, was disturbed about her man’s comment about how he wouldn’t have given her a chance had she never gotten the surgery.  But I’m suspicious — did he really say that? Or is that what she heard through her filter of insecurity?  Either way, it is unsettling and suggests that they might both have some real insecurities. 

    But even more troubling is her comment that “thanks to me” he changed his outlook from being a blond-chaser to being a family man, wanting only a strong black family —  a Bill Cosby type I guess.  I just don’t think so.  How many times do we repeat it to ourselves, yet still believe the opposite:  You can’t change other people.  Either he is a family man or he isn’t, whether it’s with a white woman or any other woman.  

    I understand about insecurities and the nagging feeling that maybe he was just attracted to me because he liked my [butt, breasts, calves, money, whatever].  But my experience has been, if that’s true, the guy doesn’t stick around long and he certainly doesn’t propose marriage.  If he said he grew to love the real you, just believe him.  And please stop worrying about whether he’ll still love you when your looks fade (so will his, ya know), because it’s a waste of time & there is no remedy.  Instead, concentrate on what you like about yourself — the things you had going for you long before you ever had surgery — and forget the rest.  It’s true what they say: Men like women who like themselves.  If you’re hot, yea, that’s a plus, but looks don’t win out in the end.  Only personality lasts the long haul.  Best of luck.  Whatever you do, don’t get more surgery.  

  27. 27

    @ Karl #21

    Have you noticed how “He loves me and I love him” doesn’t make it high on the criteria lists of those who have them, if at all?

    So many of the posts the last few weeks have made me feel jaded toward my own gender. And glad I’m not a man faced with the prospect of dating some of these women.

    I may have to take a break.

  28. 28

    Karl- #26-

    I must have given the wrong impression (or unintentionally) misled you. I’ve mostly gone out with Indian men- but yes, I have had lots of issues with them too. I’ve also gone out with blond, white dudes, so it would be hypocritical of me to say I would look down on someone purely because of that fact.

    But there are men, like I said, who only date white women (usually blond), because they’re considered ‘trophies.’ A sign that a man of color has ‘made it.’ It’s that kind of thinking that I’m not crazy about.

  29. 29
    Sara Malamud

    Yes, he must have liked your face at the beginning but I do not think he stayed with you because of it, that was the cover of the book, then again, if he leaves when you get older or beauty fades, is that a man worth of you you? besides, you do not have anything else to offer? How can you worry about him leaving you? how about you leaving him when he gets old..

  30. 30

    I don’t quite get it. The OP admitted she spent $40,000 (Holy moly 40K!) to make herself more marketable. And now she is upset that her boyfriend  WHO LOVES HER says, “Hey, money well spent.”
    I know a very happy couple. The husband is now bald, but he wasn’t when they met. Is the wife shallow because she wouldn’t have looked twice at him if he had been bald when they met? It truly is our preferences that attract us, and what we find in the person that keeps us.

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