How Do You Know He Loves More Than Your Looks?

young adults having a restaurant date, blindfolded

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. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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?

  5. 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?”

  6. 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.   

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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..

  10. 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.

  11. 31

    I don’t mean to sound rude or bitter…. but I have very little sympathy for all the hot girls and their unlimited dating partners who write in and complain about their love lives. I only wish I had so many men after me that I was turning down engagements left and right.

  12. 32

    My advice for Martine echoes many others: keep this guy.   If someone loves you and is proposing marriage and things are working well (and you love him) then just go with it.
    Now on to some of the more controversial points.
    “Thanks to me, he is now all about family values and want to raise a strong black family.”   (OP)

    Could it be that he was interested in dating white women, but when it came down to marrying someone, wanted a woman of the same/similar race?   The Women are Racist thread discussed this.
    He admits that had he met my former self, he might not have given me a chance in the beginning,” (OP)

    I think Karl’s right, and that Martine probably asked him this question point-blank and he chose not to lie.
    After college I lost 40 pounds and my dating options expanded greatly.   I put some of that weight back on but was still overall much slimmer than my top weight when my fiance and I started dating.   But the love pounds started coming on, and my fiance proposed to me when I was around the highest weight I’ve been since college.   Would he have asked me out when I was my college weight?   I have no idea, and have no intention of asking him.   But I do know that he has decided to further his commitment to me, despite the scale going up.   I’d say that we should take the boyfriend at his word, and that he will stay with Martine even as her appearance will change with age.
    RE: Sayanta’s #22
    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.
    Sayanta, have you changed your views about dating Indian guys?  

  13. 33

    I have had more facial work done than Heidi and the thing is people DON’T have any idea. It looks natural and  was more than I could  have ever hoped. I  went to a great doctor and I just had all the things that I felt were detracting from my appearance “fixed.” It made me feel great. I did it for myself AND because I was sick of being passed over and then reading words like “settling” being “realistic” about my options and what I  could attain in my league.

    The funny thing is I always thought I was great person on the inside. I felt I was unfairly looked over because of my appearance. I didn’t think I was ugly or anything like that, but I knew I wasn’t ever going to be called “beautiful” or “gorgeous.”   I didn’t get surgery to try to be something I wasn’t. I truly believe getting it allowed me to be – and be viewed as – the person in my head I always thought I was. If anything, before my surgeries I felt trapped and beyond frustrated stuck looking like something I didn’t feel represented me at all.

    To the original poster – I say all the power to you. Be thankful that you did get a fantastic result and enjoy it and all the attention it gets you. And remember that someone now gets to look past your looks and gets to see the real you, who you are inside instead of writing you off before they even know you. So try to just enjoy getting to finally  allow the real you to shine through. It’s just one piece of a person but unfortunately without that part, the rest of you can be overlooked and you don’t have to worry about that now. Guys are shallow and stop fighting the reality and just enjoy having more options at this stage of the mating game.

  14. 34

    Interesting post.

    I was in my youth, a very slim, athletic attractive girl who got a LOT of attention. Then I got depressed, put on a bucket load of weight, and got no attention.

    I really resented that. And was almost uwilling to lose the weight, just because i wanted some-one who liked me for me. I became quite angry.  But I realized that was completely stupid. Why? Because I don’t like really overweight men. I’m not attracted to them. If a man is slim, dresses well, has nice hair and a nice smile, that is enough for me. He doesn’t have to be “handsome” just healthy.

    So, really..why on earth would I expect men to be any different? Why would I resent men who wanted me to look my best?

    So, I’ve lost the weight, and have gained back the attention. There are still moments when I think “He wouldn’t be talking to me”, but then I remind myself “Would I have approached him if he was obese, wearing frumpy clothes and sitting there frowning?”. Nope.

    It’s easy to get annoyed at people for not “liking us” for who we are. Much harder to realize at the end of the day, we all do that to one degree or another until we get to know some-one.

  15. 35

    Is this all about the equity theory of love ?
    We are no more than products whose value is mostly on the surface.
    I remember studying marketing years ago, and was told that most of the cost  of perfume was in the packaging – the bottle, the box.  If the product failed to sell they would just change the packaging, not the perfume.

    Sadly, what is being recommended here is spend alot of money on cosmetic procedures because thats what sells.
    All the dating advice comes down to
    1. Settle for the ones that you find unattractive, but will accept you as you currently are.
    2. Improve your attractiveness to the opposite sex by whatever means, so that the ones you find attractive will accept you

    Although an awful lot is said about option 1, option 2 looks a hundred times better.

  16. 36


    LOL- it’s so funny how much we know about each other without ever having met! Well, like I said- I guess some people misunderstood, or I somehow gave wrong info- is that I’ve always gone out with Indian guys, but have had serious issues with them, including whether I wanted to marry one.

    But now…I’m kind of going the other way- only because my  increasing religiousness,  and the fact that I may, one day in the far future, want to live in India have become other important factors. I won’t say I don’t still have issues, or bitterness about their behavior- but, I’m working on it.

    I don’t know- I guess the best thing to do, is…just not think too much. lol

  17. 37

    I admire people who have the boldness and the resources to follow through with plastic surgery.   Not only will improving your physical appearance benefit you with dating and possibly self-esteem, but  you’ll get nicer treatment from people in general (I don’t think men can resist being nice to an attractive, young woman) and even advantages in the job market.  

    I once saw a segment on 20/20 where average looking women and great looking women went on job interviews while carrying a hidden camera in their purses.   Their resumes were extremely similar.   The good looking women get advice, pleas “please call me if you have any questions,” compliments on everything they said, and a great deal of time.   The average looking women were merely treated politely.  

    In satire there is truth:,487/

  18. 38

    Annie #36 at al.

    This is actually very interesting. I wonder if this is some kind of a cultural thing in the US, where kids are conditioned from an early age to have  the sense of inflated self-value, and when they grow up into the world which refuses to love them unconditionally they end up resenting it.

  19. 39

    I dunno, I think this is a very “it depends” situation. We don’t really know what she had done. I think plastic surgery is different than losing weight. Weight affects your health, and often means a person is not very physically active, which is a turn-off for potential partners who want to be healthy and active.
    But that fact that this poster is mixed/black and mentions that her suitors usually date white, makes me assume her surgery made her more “white” looking. That does irk me a bit, especially for someone who wants children. Remember, the kids won’t inherit your “new” look….hopefully you and their father will love them regardless.

  20. 40
    Karl R

    Zaq said: (#37)
    “2. Improve your attractiveness to the opposite sex by whatever means, so that the ones you find attractive will accept you […]  option 2 looks a hundred times better.”

    Does it?

    I knew a young lawyer who had an attractive wife. It was fairly obvious that her attraction to this short, overweight man was his income and job. As long as he was spending money on her, she was happy.

    Unfortunately, as a young lawyer, he wasn’t earning that much. He had student loans to pay off. He was getting deeper and deeper in debt, and was having to make unethical decisions just to make ends meet (like cheating his clients).

    Is it worth sabotaging your financial well being and your reputation just to get someone attractive?

    Some improvements are worth doing because they will improve your quality of life and attract others: being at a healthy weight, exercising, improving self-confidence…

    Some improvements can  improve attractiveness at a minimal cost: hair, clothes…

    And some “improvements” are risky, unhealthy,  unethical or make you unhappier in the long run. Cosmetic surgery comes with a health risk. I’m also not sure that it’s made Martine happier.

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