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.

Join our conversation (119 Comments).
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  1. 61

    There’s lying, and there’s dissembling.

  2. 62

    @JuJu #57
    I just added it to my netflix queue

  3. 63

    Some if not all of the people who write emails to Evan for advice read the comments to his posts.       I have written some strongly worded comments ( the 90% girl ) because I felt compelled to do so, not out of a desire to insult anyone or a disregard for their feelings.       I have seen a number of comments lately that are flat out rude and insulting to the OP, “talking about them” as if they were not there.   Yes, this is the internet, but these people are big enough to be here and ask for advice.     Why not ask yourself how you would feel if you were reading the message you are writing?     Why not try to make it a useful message (one the OP might listen to ) instead of one that just expresses your thoughts?
    End of sermon

  4. 64

    @Steve #65
    The OP wrote in to Evan for advice, not a horde of people on the internet.
    I like reading the comments. They’re more interesting when they express a variety of voices and views. Yes, I’m not the OP, and my feelings won’t be hurt. But realistically, do we need a disclaimer for the OP not to take the opinions of strangers without any qualifications (except free time) seriously. All we know about her is from the few paragraphs in the letter. People know her reality is probably more complicated, but we’re just offering our own views on the case as presented, if not to help the OP exactly, but to everyone who’s interested in relationship-related female/male issues.

    I think Evan’s reply in this case was balanced and in perspective. Without more to go on, there’s nothing more really to be said. There’s no imaginary perfect relationship out there. And there are no real red flags in this current one. She got the work (plastic surgery) done, unless she get is undone, she’ll never know the alternate reality. So why all the distress on her part?

  5. 65

    Well I think she is low in confidence after that surgery deep in her heart she thinks that this beauty is not permanent and it will fade away and his husband or boyfriend also which she got from that surgery…she is feeling insecure. I just want to say that don’t leave in future or in past enjoy this present which you have got and be happy.

  6. 66

    I would hope anyone who writes to EMK would understand how their topic gets dissected in the comment section of the blog. The purpose is to create discussion, otherwise EMK could simply answer the letter without having a comment section.

    To Martine: No one can predict how long a relationship will last. Since half of all marriages end in divorce, the best you can do is base your decision on what you know and feel and hope for the best. It really is a leap of faith.

  7. 67

    Its very easy to decide to not date someone coz u dont like their looks….. No comparision to leaving someone after several yrs of marriage coz u think they’re older and hence less attractive!!! …… Very unfounded fears I feel!….

  8. 68

    re: J #59
    I’m not saying any old white guy is better than a black guy, I’m saying that based on the op desire for someone to love her flaws and all, maybe she should have given other guys a chance, rather than going for the ones who have proven to be superficial. I’m really just echoing Evan’s usual advice. Look at what the op wants: successful alpha black man, who wants kids, and would love her regardless of how she looked before. I’m just saying that rather than having surgery, she could have made compromises with her criteria, like a going for a successful white guy who thinks she a goddess, OR she could have also gone for a black guy that perhaps is not as successful, tall and suave as her current guy. BUT post surgery, since she can’t go back, I agree with others that if she loves this guy she should compromise the the last part of her criteria and accept that her current guy has good looks at (or at least near) the top of his list. So in the end, she has to compromise any way.
    Karl R says: A person could make the same rationalization for the following lie: “I did not have sex with your best friend.”
    I don’t think its the same thing. Cheating is a destructive action, but simply telling someone they are attractive despite their flaws is an act of love. I’ve been on the other side of this, as I have been with guys who lose their hair or develop a gut. When they act insecure about it, I tell them they are cute to me and I love them how they are, even though secretly I would prefer they have all their hair and   slimmer waistline. But in the end, confidence is more attractive than any of that, so I like to encourage my guys rather than point out their flaws.
    And true, I suppose guys can see I’m small chested from the get go, so I have been making more of an effort of not asking guys reassurance about it. Insecurities die hard though! 🙂

  9. 69

    I mentioned in my previous post the Equity theory of love.
    Basically the idea is that two individuals have a value to each other based on looks, personality status etc.
    We all try to get the mate with the highest value. If the choice is between eating considerably less and working out every day so that you can attract those who you find attractive versus taking the easy route and trying to like the ones you think are ugly and unattractive – well one of those is possible, but difficult and the other is impossible.

    Karl has made the point that values can change. The ‘rich’ lawyer can become poor – what then ? Unfortunately the equity theory says the relationship fails or comes under stress.
    The attractive woman marries the ambitious man. Her looks fade and he becomes more successful. His value increases, and hers decreases. The partnership is no longer one of equals. He trades her in for one of his young assistants. I know plenty of cases of that.
    I also know  several cases where the woman was attracted to the mans physical attractiveness, and the relationships came under stress when the men failed to be ambitious   enough.

    Yes all of this sucks

  10. 70
    Karl R

    Zaq said: (#71)
    “the idea is that two individuals have a value to each other based on looks, personality status etc.”
    “We all try to get the mate with the highest value.”

    That’s sufficiently accurate.

    I would say that you’re not looking at the whole picture, though.

    Since you’re not flawless, you can’t get a woman who is perfect in every way. The woman who is perfect in every way can hold out for the man who is perfect in every way. Therefore, you’re going to have to compromise on something (or waste your time perpetually chasing women who are out of your league). You could go for the hot girl who treats you badly, or you could go for someone less attractive who treats you well.

    Which are you willing to compromise on: looks or personality?

    Since I’d prefer to avoid years of being nagged  or insulted, I’m willing to compromise some on looks to ensure I get someone that I’ll enjoy spending the rest of my life with.

    Zaq said: (#71)
    “If the choice is between eating considerably less and working out every day …”

    Following your Equity Theory, you can also improve your value by  improving your personality. Good looks might be more effective for getting your foot in the door, but the woman will eventually leave you if she decides that you’re a good-looking prick.

  11. 71

    Lol! Karl #72

    “…but the woman will eventually leave you if she decides that you’re a good-looking prick.” Yes. And I have.

  12. 72

    Karl said “you can also improve your value by  improving your personality”

    Well that is true, personality has a value, and it isn’t something that fades with age. Unfortunately, in studies done, personality doesn’t seem to account for much.  
    Men tend to set the bar low in any event, women are the ones with high expectations. Men are rejected simply based on their height. They can make up for it based on other factors, like the saying in judging a mans height, he stands on his wallet!  

    But lets make this clear. we are not talking about compromising one attractive characteristic for another, we are talking about whether to accept someone who when you take into consideration everything is still unattractiive.

  13. 73

    Zaq says, “The attractive woman marries the ambitious man. Her looks fade and he becomes more successful. His value increases, and hers decreases. The partnership is no longer one of equals. He trades her in for one of his young assistants. I know plenty of cases of that.”
    So basically you are validating the OPs fears..that even though good looks got her foot in the door her man will most likely leave her for another woman in the future.   So all women are screwed either way..the ugly ones aren’t given a chance, and the pretty ones will age and then their successful husbands will leave them
    Thanks for depressing me.
    Oh, and just curious, your friends who do the “trade in”..are they happier? Are there children involved? It just seems incredibly immature and selfish and adds to my opinion that rich men aren’t to be trusted.

  14. 74

    It isn’t that rich man would trade you in it is his over the top personality that takes him to the top. That personality is what shouldn’t be trusted not his wealth.

  15. 75

    C. in 75

    Just read any dating book by Leil Lowndes to get the idea. I certainly would love to live in a universe where we are judged based on whats in our hearts, but when it comes to mating we are driven by powerful evolutionary forces to desire things that may not make us happy.
    A man is attracted to the most fertile women. That means young women. For a man to give up half his wealth and risk social disaproval, this drive must be powerful.

    At the same time, you can google a youtube video of a scientists conducting research at a speed dating meeting. When looking at he results, one of the scientists comments on what a man needs to do in order to be attractive to women. “don’t have a great personality,  don’t bother going to the gymn – just be tall!”
    What  possible advantage can a mans height bestow to a happy relationship ?
    So a woman making herself look younger  WILL increase her dating options. A man undergoing surgery to lengthen his legs WILL increase his dating options, and this has absolutely nothing to do with confidence.
    What I take from all this is that it is  best to avoid the members of the opposite sex of the highest value, otherwise what the Op fears  may well  come true


  16. 76

    Well, Karl (#62), by the same token I can ask, why do you put such a premium on the truth? Even telling the woman the reason for such a question, rather than answering the question directly, would still offend her. If the insecurity becomes a constant problem that affects the relationship, then yes, it should be addressed (delicately). Otherwise you have to ask yourself if there is anything to be gained by stating the truth. Your belief in the value of of the truth seems to be somewhat dogmatic, to me. And contrary to this belief, there isn’t a default, intrinsic value to it.
    I am lucky though, I suppose, in that that whole behavioral pattern is alien to me – it would never occur to me to ask someone if I look fat. I rely on my own sight and perception. Nor can I understand the slim and trim women who are always convinced for some reason that they are actually fat in reality.
    As for Zaq‘s post, I can understand people growing apart, no longer being happy with their partner, and so on and so forth. What I can’t understand is trading up merely for the sake of trading up. Treating the concept of a partner as a status symbol, of sorts. To me that signifies a certain psychology, a way of thinking with which I choose not associate myself. This simply isn’t the kind of person I would want in my life, let alone in the capacity of a mate.
    And it’s not like the man stays frozen in time – he is also getting older and less attractive. His value does NOT linearly go up!

  17. 77
    Karl R

    Zaq said: (#74)
    “we are not talking about compromising one attractive characteristic for another, we are talking about whether to accept someone who when you take into consideration everything is still unattractiive.”

    What do you mean, “we”?

    You are talking about settling for someone who is unattractive on all levels. I’m not, nor is Evan.

    Evan has never suggested that anyone settle for someone who doesn’t treat them well. He has never suggested that anyone settle for someone who doesn’t love them just the way they are. He has suggested that people compromise on looks, height, weight, age, income and interests.

    Martine (original post) also implied that when she said to Evan, “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.”

    So I’m really curious, what do you mean, “we”?

    Zaq said: (#74)
    “Unfortunately, in studies done, personality doesn’t seem to account for much.”

    Other than self-confidence, personality doesn’t get your foot in the door. When it comes to a long-term relationship, personality and values are the critical elements in a long term relationship. Seriously, does a “top quality” person leave you because your looks fade or your income drops?

    You are trying to eat less and exercise more in order to get someone who is more “attractive” (presumably better looking). That’s fine, particularly since being healthier is a reasonable goal for its own sake. It will help you get your foot in more doors.

    But getting your foot in the door is only the first step.

  18. 78

    C #75: Don’t give up hope.   Obviously not all rich men do this.   The important thing is to make sure that ANY man (not just a rich man) loves you for more than your looks, because what Zaq said is right: looks DO fade.   Personality and character do not, and these are the things that can stay constant or even improve with maturity.

  19. 79

    It feels really weird to read all these comments as they see sooo naive as if they are written by a person with very little life experience. Either that or I am the most cynical person around here who’s lost all illusions.

    Excuse me, personality and character do not fade? Really? As a person with 2 older generations of my family aging before my very eyes, I know that personalities do fade in a major way. Sometimes to the point when it’s no longer possible to be around a person. To assume otherwise is very childish, as the brain deteriorates same as the rest of the body over time. Not to mention, that people change as a result of various other events, such as having a baby, for example, or not even biological.

    And looks will sure fade too, if you want an insurance for that – go for a person who’s 10-15 years older, that way you will always look sufficiently younger in comparison. Easy.

  20. 80

    Apology for the multiple postings, this is my last comment in this topic, no sense in arguing…

    Looks, personality, habit,  money – it can ALL change, in a very major way over the course of one’s life. To assume that any of those will stay the same or automatically improve is very naive to say the least. When we enter a relationship we take what is, hopefully at face value, and should have no expectations as to how this “what is” will evolve, because there’s simply no way of knowing. Even looks fade differently, some women age nicely, some get really ugly. In that respect, marrying someone for “money” or “looks” is no more shallow or stupid than marrying for the “personality”.

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