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!

Martine

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 Match.com, 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 Match.com 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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Comments:

  1. 101
    SS

    I’m late on this one, but I appreciate Sayanta chiming in on this. I think the racial issues here are being overlooked.
    As a black woman who is not mixed race, but sometimes mistaken as such, I know that there are a number of successful “alpha” black men who are specifically seek out a lighter-skinned/mixed-race black woman. They might have spent their dating lives chasing whites (particularly blondes), but because of social/racial/community “obligations,” will choose to marry black.
    BUT, the catch is that the black woman selected will rarely be dark with pronounced African features… she will often be fairer or mixed-race.
    Another poster asked if Martine’s surgery put her closer to that “ideal,” which could be another reason that the black men that passed her by before are now suddenly coming out of the woodwork. Her boyfriend’s history of chasing blondes but now suddenly wanting a black woman to marry would be something that would make me raise an eyebrow… and if Martine’s new appearance is more “European” than her old look, then there is the legitimate concern as to whether her boyfriend was just looking to get a slightly darker version of the white women he seemed to prefer.
    This could have consequences that could rear their ugly heads in a marriage. What if the children are “too dark” for him? What if he constantly talks about how great Martine’s less African features look? What if he continues to show a preference for a phenotype that she’s not, and makes it clear by his actions that his marrying a black/mixed-race woman was to basically save face in his community and not seem like he was a so-called traitor to black women?
    If this was just about weight loss, I would say that Martine should work through whatever issue she had in accepting the compliments that came with her new body. But there’s so much more going on here…

  2. 102
    Sayanta

    To SS-

    It’s funny, I actually see Indian men’s profiles on Match where they’re standing next to some cute blond chick. Umm….okay, what’s going on here? I’m guessing they didn’t cut her out of the photo, because they can say, “See! I can get a blond chick. I’m worthy after all!” It’s really sad.

    Then again, I heard an Indian guy the other day complaining that Indian women do the same thing, so I guess it goes both ways….

  3. 103
    Karl R

    SS said: (#106)
    “What if he continues to show a preference for a phenotype she’s not, and makes it clear by his actions that his marrying a black/mixed-race woman was to basically save face in his community and not seem like he was a so-called traitor to black women?”

    SS,
    I realize that you’re stating a dating reality and not necessarily expressing your own opinion, but this statement jumped out at me.

    If I were to marry a woman who was black, oriental, Indian or native American, the only people who would call me a traitor to my race would be the white supremecist bigots. I have no “obligation” to choose a partner based upon the approval of bigots, nor do I feel any need to “save face” with them.

    How would you describe a community where those type of obligations exist? How would you describe a community that judges individuals based upon the color of the person they marry?

    SS said: (#106)
    “[…] there’s so much more going on here…”

    I think you’re right. There is a lot more going on here.

  4. 104
    m

    ” How would you describe a community that judges individuals based upon the color of the person they marry?”
    This happens all the time, Karl — in East Asian communities, South Asian communities, African American communities, French communities where there’s been a comparatively substantial influx of Algerian immigrants.
    The fact that you’re so incredulous about it really indicates to me that you’ve never had to deal with it, and so really don’t have any idea about how harsh the psychological ramifications can be on people who do.
      
      
      

  5. 105
    SS

    M, thanks for bumping this. Somehow I totally forgot about this post!
      
    So let me respond to Karl, about one year later… if he even remembers or cares about this question!
    SS said: (#106)
    “What if he continues to show a preference for a phenotype she’s not, and makes it clear by his actions that his marrying a black/mixed-race woman was to basically save face in his community and not seem like he was a so-called traitor to black women?”
    If I were to marry a woman who was black, oriental, Indian or native American, the only people who would call me a traitor to my race would be the white supremecist bigots. I have no “obligation” to choose a partner based upon the approval of bigots, nor do I feel any need to “save face” with them.
    How would you describe a community where those type of obligations exist? How would you describe a community that judges individuals based upon the color of the person they marry?
    You are correct that I was not stating my opinion, but a dating reality in many minority communities. I don’t consider a person who marries interracially to be a “traitor” to anything… that would be foolish, BUT, if a particular person is considered to be a scion of the community and wants to position himself or herself that way, having a mate of a different race could, in the eyes of some in that community, make that person seem like a hypocrite and it certainly could be brought up as a mark against him or her if he or she is attempting to hold some sort of social or political leadership position in that community.
      
    Speaking of the African-American community in general, the practice of prominent men heavily selecting their wives and potential wives from the lightest end of the color spectrum is rather common and almost predictable. Yes, some of those couples just happened to meet and fall in love, but to think there’s no sort of social selection going on is naive. My cousin, who is a lighter-skinned black woman with long thick hair, was approached in one of her college classes by a fellow student who showed interest in dating her. Well, he eventually told her that she had the “right look” for him as an aspiring professional black man.
    I WISH I could say I was lying about this, but my cousin is a very quiet and shy young woman who couldn’t make this stuff up.
    So, from the perspective of a black woman who has heard stories from family and friends — including a grandmother — on all sides of the color spectrum about skin color affecting their perceived value as a mate, it is not much of a stretch for me to speculate that this man who pursued Martine would have preferred to marry a white woman based on his dating history. BUT, if he has grown up in a community that has a strong sense of ethnic pride and frowns on people outright shunning the opposite gender of their own race in favor of someone white, he probably knows he can cut down on the negative comments by marrying someone who is mixed race and would be seen as a black woman.
      
    And like M said, this is not a black only thing… I’ve heard people from a variety of minority groups express similar situations that go on in their communities.
      
      

  6. 106
    Karl R

    SS said: (#110)
    “So let me respond to Karl, about one year later… if he even remembers or cares about this question!”

    I think I was on hiaitus when you (and m)  responded, but fortunately I stumbled across  the thread  again.

    Contrary to m’s belief, I wasn’t incredulous about the existence of the phenomenon. I’ve witnessed it firsthand (in a workplace that was sufficiently mixed-race that there was no majority). I was pointing out that the community has some serious issues with racism.

    I live in the bible belt. There’s a married couple in their 70’s who belong to our church and have been devoted and loyal members of our church since the first moved to the city. They struck me as being a little unusual for the church … quite conservative compared to other members, but utterly dedicated in their support of the church.

    They joined the church as a young married couple. A mixed-race couple in the pre-civil rights era. Our church was the one church that accepted them unconditionally. It was their refuge in a city that was mostly hostile to what they represented.

    Decades later, almost every white church in the city would respect them for what they are: unsung heroes of the civil rights struggle. (Just two out of tens of thousands, but you get my point.) However, a mixed-race couple in a  minority community risks being ostracized (with one branded as a traitor) for exercising the same rights that the same community was willing to march and die to gain.

    It’s kind of depressing if you think it all the way through. Why haven’t people come further in the last 55 years?

    1. 106.1
      Em

      Karl R: Are you saying you believe white people are generally more accepting of interracial relationships than black people? Sorry to burst your bubble but that is just not true.

  7. 107
    twinkle

    Wow, that letter was sad. But the fact that her boyfriend didn’t leave her even after finding out she had so much surgery is comforting, in a way. Some men would be turned off but he was understanding. I think that’s a good sign. I hope they are together now.

    I don’t want to judge her for having surgery. I’m aware that so much of my confidence comes from being conventionally beautiful and I totally understand why women would want to have a bit of nip-n-tuck if they can afford it to feel better–in her case, a lot of nip-n-tuck. I think she needs therapy to work thru these issues, because she sounds painfully insecure, and that can spoil her life if she’s not careful.  

    That said, I think the reason for her having surgery was quite unhealthy–she did it to get a man. Surgeons always say–do it for yourself, not for others. I guess this sad scenario mentioned by the OP is a reason why. The unfortunate thing is that so many people who have surgery do it for these bad reasons because they weren’t considered attractive, thus they didn’t grow up with healthy self-esteem and healthy thinking.   Paradoxically, many women who are confident enough to do surgery primarily “for themselves” are women who wouldn’t feel the need to have surgery in the first place!  

  8. 108
    EmeraldDust

    I’m no hottie, but I bore a strong physical resemblance to my ex husbands mother in her younger days.   So while objectively speaking, I’m no “10”, in HIS eyes I was.
      
    Years later he told a marriage counselor that he ONLY married me for my looks.   He pretty much told me that he wanted kids so he married me.   So I guess he saw me as a brood mare who could make pretty little babies for him.   He has since then tried to take those words back, but some things just can’t be unsaid.
      
    Funny,   when we were dating, he did say he admired my strong, independent spirit.   (I thought men didn’t like that).   He was impressed that I owned my own condo and that I moved out of state all on my own and started a new life on my own.   He also did say that I made him feel like “the handsomest man in the world” and that he “adored” me.    
      
    Maybe that was all a foreshadowing.   He wanted he wanted a nice looking kid, he wanted an ego stroke, and he wanted to be able to walk away guilt free in the end, knowing that I am perfectly capable of taking care of myself.
      
    Of course I want any man I’m with to think I’m some form of attractive (cute, beautiful, pretty, whatever) but I would like it to be more than that.   Of course I want him to feel good around me (as I should around him), but there has to be more.   Apparently being smart, funny, outgoing and independent doesn’t impact a man’s attraction to a woman, it seems to be all about being “hot” and making HIM feel good. Which is all a good start, but doesn’t always last through to the end.

    1. 108.1
      twinkle

      @Emerald Dust: I believe that there are men who indeed are attracted by certain non-appearance traits in women, such as smartness, being outgoing and independence. And these may have been factors in your husband falling for you–what he told the marriage counselor might’ve been said in a moment of spite or bitterness.  

      Actually sometimes these character traits or intelligence do contribute to a man feeling good. If he values these traits, then I think getting a woman with those traits makes him feel like a winner. U may also have heard of a study finding that when people associate someone with positive personality traits, they actually view that person as being more physically attractive than before. (And I think also if the person has similarities to themselves). So I believe your smarts and character traits do matter a lot in attraction. 🙂

    2. 108.2
      flonie

      Interesting that mention those things.   I’m sort of interested in though we are not exclusive yet (complicated) but this guy has described all the women he has dated as being stunning.   He actually described how his ex was the most stunning woman he had ever been that close to.   The first woman he slept with was a 9, no a 10.   So as you can see, I feel like I’ve got alot of competition.
      At the beginning he said I was cute, once or twice he said I was beautiful but it hasn’t happened since a few months ago. Nowadays I’m just “cute”.   I don’t know if I want to be just “cute” for someone, if that’s good enough for me to be honest.   I’m not a stunner, but I’d like to be with someone who thinks I’m really attractive on the outside as well as the inside.   But I feel like I’m asking for alot.

      This is why I don’t like online dating. You get to know the person on the inside first before the outside.   If i wasn’t talking to you online, if we crossed each other on the street would either of us notice one another? It sounds shallow, but I’ve never really found guys seeking me out, though my ex did think i was attractive back in the day.

  9. 109
    paula

    Sorry if this was said before or if I missed something but, dors she even like this guy? Does she think he’s. a good man,? Does she really know him well? Does she respect him? Does she think he has a good heart? Maybe she should focus more on her love for him rather than his for her. What if he were not as attractive, woukd she still care about him as a person?

  10. 110
    Janburger

    This lady will never be happy in life, because she is so unhappy with herself.   She is going to sabotage any relationship she is in.

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