If Men Like Only Hot Women, Where Does That Leave an Average Woman Like Me?


Dear Evan,

Why do dating experts for men teach them how to get the hottest women possible? Unlike women, they are rarely told to date someone they might not find attractive at first because she might grow on him. As an average looking woman (I am fit, well-groomed and fashionable, but I know that I am not a bombshell. I don’t make people gag, but I don’t turn heads either.), I feel that no man is going to find me desirable because all men feel that they deserve and can get the hottest woman out there. Just where does that leave women like me?  


Dear Tia-Maria,

Thank you, thank you, thank you for asking this question. A few months ago, I promised to write a post about shallow men, and this note from you is the perfect excuse.

First, a story:

When I started writing Why You’re Still Single, back in early 2005, I was working with a different woman than my eventual partner, Linda Holmes. This original partner was a noted matchmaker who brought a certain credibility to my pet project — she’s experienced in her field, she’s telegenic, she knows plenty about single people, etc.

One of the first chapters I completed was called “The Beauty Myth Is Not a Myth.” It didn’t necessarily debunk Naomi Wolf’s seminal work, but it did establish one very important concept that women need to understand: Men are as shallow as advertised. And while women can beat their heads against a wall, wishing that this were not true, they’re fighting a real losing battle if they expect men to stop worshipping at the altar of beauty.

Like much of my advice, it can rub a woman the wrong way. But I wasn’t condoning the behavior, I was merely reporting it. This is what men do, whether we like it or not. Yet my writing partner felt so unnerved by my stance, that her version of the “Beauty Myth” chapter only served to contradict everything I had written.

She mentioned that she was in the business of connecting souls.

She stated that as men mature, they learn to appreciate inner beauty.

She encouraged women to hold out for the kind of guy who isn’t as focused on the outer packaging.

That’s when I fired her from the project.

I tell this story not to make myself look good (clearly), but because I refused to put out a book that gave bad advice. And make no mistake about it — telling women to hold out for men who don’t care about looks is BAD ADVICE. Why? Because men like this are as common as Halley’s Comet….

Here’s an excerpt from Why You’re Still Single:

“I am not suggesting that men are pure objects of lust with all the depth of a bathtub. Nor am I suggesting that men don’t have the ability to love and accept any physical imperfections. They can and they do.

Just not as much as women. At least in my experience as a dating coach where I have the unique privilege of being given access to some of my clients’ online dating accounts. And after years of doing this, I’m still flabbergasted that no matter how unattractive a man is — no matter how little hair is on his head, or how much on his back — he STILL has the same twenty-something supermodels on his favorites list as if he was Colin Farrell.

Yes, Shallow Hal lives — and I believe he lives in a majority of American men. Men who are 5s want women who are 10s. And women who are 5s are often left out in the cold, at least in L.A., where I live…

Men who are 5s want women who are 10s. And women who are 5s are often left out in the cold.

If anybody should be judged harshly, it’s men for refusing to let women age gracefully. Most men do not break out of gender roles and societal expectations. So while you may know a handful of men who don’t care about looks, they are rarities. They are the gold standard, the type that every woman should be striving to date. But if you’re under the illusion that they grow on trees, it’s time to wake up and smell the Kiehl’s anti-aging lotion. The number of guys who are “above” the whole looks thing may fill a classroom, but not a stadium, and definitely not a big enough portion of the male population to suggest any type of trend.

In a weak moment, I bet that even the most non-judgmental guy around would say that he wants a mind, soul, and body connection — but only if she takes care of her body.

So, Tia-Maria, why do dating experts tell men how to get the hottest women possible?  …

Because that’s what men want. Plain and simple. Dating experts try to sell products by connecting with readers’ basest wishes. And for men, the holy grail is to be able to get the hot girl. What these men rarely consider is that the hot girl might also be emotionally bankrupt, unintelligent, flaky, humorless, and lack basic human empathy. These details don’t concern them. Men’s repeated refrain: “I can’t help what I’m attracted to.”

Who do we blame for this? Men, of course, but there’s more than enough responsibility to go around. After all, women buy into the Beauty Myth just as much as men do. Advertising and media saturation reinforce the image of perfect bodies and skin, and women spend thousands of dollars each year striving for an impossible standard. And to please whom? Men? Themselves? I’m not sure anyone can agree on this stuff.

And where does this realization leave you, Tia-Maria? I would say right back where you were before. Secure in who you are and who you’re not. Validated in your opinion that men are impossibly shallow. And rightfully concerned that you’re going to be overlooked.

Despite my shallow man diatribe, please bear in mind that there is a lid for every pot. Just look around. Most women don’t qualify as “hot” in the Maxim sense, and yet they still get married. The real struggle is in keeping a healthy perspective and a positive attitude until you find the right fit.

So don’t worry about what you can’t control (men); instead, take care of what you can control (yourself).

And trust that the right man will love you as you deserve to be loved.


For more commentary on shallow men, please read:

Where Are All The Emotionally Available, Mentally Healthy Men?

How Come Everyone I Want to Meet Online Isn’t Interested In Me?

Are Women More Likely Than Men to Require Chemistry To Go On A Second Date?

Online Daters Are Shallow! And Water Is Wet!

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  1. 21

    Gimme a break, Evan, I think you’ve been living in LA for too long. And great resopnses from everone else. While most women accept that men value looks because they’re visual, at the end of the day it really depends on a woman’s confidence. And, yes, you can say the same thing about women and a guy’s earning potential (I see this in NY a lot, esp among the younger gals).

    Sure guys are attracted by a woman’s looks but what one guy will consider hot another will say ‘eah’. I’ve seen this a lot. Case in point: a gal I grew up with is not what one would consider conventionally beautiful at all, yet always had a boyfriend and has been happily married for years to an attractive, smart guy. Why? Because she’s always had a good sense of herself and never seemed obsessed with looking a certain way. She was always popular and people respected her. I’ve also met women my guy friends have dated and seen photos of former boyfriends’ exes. None of these women looked like porn stars or supermodels.

    One of the most pathetic sights is seeing a guy in his 40’s+ who’s never been married, nether fit nor well-kept but sez he want to settle down and will only consider women who look like supermodels. These guys have unrealistic expectations and complain that women will only date them for their $$. Well, if money is all these guys have going for them, why would any decent gal want that?

  2. 22

    Evan, fair enough.

  3. 23
    Ava Mazur

    I totally agree with Evan. But here is the thing confidence can turn a 5 into a 10. I am a attractive but GASP overweight, Im not wearing moomoos but a string bikini is just not a good idea. Here is the thing I can own my pudge. I dont complain about it I dont have sex with the lights off and quite frankly I walk around thinking every man is turning thier heads at me. But my sumation is guys like the thrill of the unattainable…and beautiful women have that. Give guys a bit of a chase and they will follow.

  4. 24

    recently, at a singles seminar, I heard a female therapist say, that, 2/3 of men marry for the sexual and sensual, and 1/3 for money, whereas, 2/3 of women marry for financial stability, and 1/3 of women marry for the sexual and sensual….a young lady stood up and said, “that is not what I was told.” The therapist replied, “Who are you going to believe, your friends, or 30 years of studies and research?”

    1. 24.1
      Marc Lüizianno

      What a disonest research, uh? Most people I know married because they want to have a life together, because they love each other. Of course finacial stability is necessary, and sexual joy is desired. But love and willing to start a family together is the most important reason.

      1. 24.1.1

        I can believe the research, to a degree.

        The reason for marriage is not always the same as the reason for initial attraction.   Priorities will often shift once two people have been dating for a while, but the initial attraction usually shows the reasons why they were interested in the other person.

        Most men are attracted to a women for looks and sexual purposes.
        Most women are attracted to a man for the ability to date and marry up.
        Each will typically find other things attractive in their mate as they date and move towards marriage, love, humor, etc.

        Anyone who believes different is not being honest.

      2. 24.1.2

        So your anecdotes of “most people you know” automatically makes the research dishonest?


        Logic fail.

  5. 25

    I recently got away from flirting with the “sexy” women, now, I flirt with, the plain, average, women, and enjoy life, much more!

  6. 26

    Let’s face it: men are “wired” differently, and good visuals *immediately* get them in the mood. From what I can tell though, good visuals can be any number of things: large breasts, an athletic figure, lacy stockings and high heels, flawless skin with no makeup; red lipstick; confident posture. This seems to be something that European women know, and they make the most of whatever works for them as individuals. The attractiveness that some Americans may rate as a “5” could be transformed into an incredibly alluring and sexy package. Maybe we should do away with the 1-10 scale anyway?

    1. 26.1

      Hello??? Am i the only woman who is attracted immediately by looks??? You guys act like we are different species. Hello, we’re human! I have looks standards for guys just like man does for ladies. Haha!   Women salivate over good looking hunks allll the time. I have a hot bf and i still can’t help looking at other men who catch my eye.


      1. 26.1.1

        Haha, no Amy, me too. I think it is gender inequality, women also prefer hot men, but it is just that some women have put money  and protection a as a priority when looking for a partner. I blame gender differences for this. I, as a relatively attractive young woman, can say that in order for me to be swept off my  feet by a guy, he has to seem hot to me. Obviously, hotness is not just  purely looks, it is also the way a guy talks, his voice, movements, personality, what he says, but then again, it is the same for women. And if a guy scores really bad in the looks department, then I am sorry, it is hard to offset this. A guy has to seem at least neutral upon the first encounter to me. If he seems repulsive (like obese, bald, smelly or in any other way), there is no way, my love can grow on him.

  7. 27

    hunter Nov 29th 2007 at 10:35 pm 24

    recently, at a singles seminar, I heard a female therapist say, that, 2/3 of men marry for the sexual and sensual, and 1/3 for money, whereas, 2/3 of women marry for financial stability, and 1/3 of women marry for the sexual and sensual….a young lady stood up and said, “that is not what I was told.” The therapist replied, “Who are you going to believe, your friends, or 30 years of studies and research?”

    I can relate to that quote. I was brought up by feminists and other sundry idealists. About halfway through college I got smart and started looking at how people actually worked instead of how other people wanted me to believe people should work.
    As Grouch Marx once put it:

    “Who are you going to believe? Me, or your own eyes?”

    One of the reasons why I enjoy Evan’s blog. He is refreshingly honest.

  8. 28

    As a guy (*ducks*), my initial impression of a woman is based on looks. If I don’t think I could be attracted to her, forget it. However, that initial determination of “am I attracted to her” varies wildly among the male population. While the buxom blonde stereotype is most likely to find the best reception among the male population in total, it’s not the ideal for all guys.

    So where does that leave you if you’re not a buxom blonde? Don’t aim for the guys who are after the buxom blondes. Look for someone who’s attracted to *you*.

    Brief note that I find self-confidence and self-contentment (i.e., knowing who you are and accepting it) to be very attractive. Looks matter but they are far from the only factor or the one deciding factor.

    One last brief observance. In college, I dated a girl who definitely did not fit the “beautiful” stereotype. She really wasn’t a looker – instead, she was a rather plain, slightly overweight girl-next-door. Yet, for some reason I was incredibly attracted to her. I have no idea why I was or what it was about her, I only hope that I meet another woman for whom I feel an equally strong (or greater) attraction.

  9. 29

    I have a theory that all the talk men make about looks and women make about money, is more talk than anything else. The same way we all talk about how we’d like to be millionaires and have a big yacht. We talk about it, but we’re not that serious about it, we don’t expect it to happen. After all, average looking women and men without lots of money are dating and getting married all the time, every day in fact.

  10. 30

    Looks will initially draw the eye, but I agree self-confidence and self-contentment (great word Alan!) become bigger draws as you get to know someone. There is something incredibly attractive about someone who is comfortable in their own skin–in both men and women.

  11. 31

    Um, Evan, you spent a lot of time in this post talking about how men are visual. Got I. But what was the advice for women? To NOT hold out for a man who doesn’t care about looks?

    OK, done.

    I don’t know about you, but most of the women I know are realists who at least accept the fact that a guy’s gotta be physically attracted to them if they’re gonna get a date.

    Was there any more advice for women like us, or was your advice just directed at the subset of women who insist on dating non-looksists?

    Maybe I’m thick, but I honestly had a hard time finding your post all that helpful or informative, though there was an interesting anecdote in there about how you fired your first writing partner for contradicting your idea of “good” advice.

    (Tia-Maria, if you think all men require you to be a 10, you’re lookin’ for love in all the wrong places. Look at the women you know who are married or seriously involved with a guy. They’re not all 10s, are they?)

  12. 32

    Are men attracted to beauty? Sure (so are women). However, the old saw of beauty being in the eye of the beholder still prevails. Are women drawn to stable and secure men? Of course, but again the definition of stability and security are almost as diverse as their are women. I really think a lot of frustration, heartache and lonliness could be avoided if people just learned to enjoy themselves and take time to stop and smell the proverbial roses.

  13. 33
    Evan Marc Katz

    Thanks for the note, Cami. As you well know, not all advice has to promise life-changing revelation. The point of this post, as articulated in the last few paragraphs, was simply to validate Tia-Maria’s concerns and let her know that, despite men’s shallowness, there is hope.

  14. 34

    Women have a point when they say that men care about superficial things like a woman’s looks, but I have a feeling that women themselves care a lot about other women’s looks too.

    Women I’ve known have repeatedly made disparaging comments about other women’s looks. Often these comments come completely out of the blue. Once when I told an ex-girlfriend that I was dating someone new the ex-girlfriend immediately smilingly asked, “is she pretty?” (the ex-gf had never been shallow before)

    If women themselves judge other women by their looks, then how can you hold men to a higher standard?

    I disagree with Tia-Marie. You don’t have to look like a model to have a boyfriend. Different men are attracted to different things and most men have a broad range of what they find attractive.

    Some people are just weird though. There are 5s out there who think they can get a 10. People like that are a minority, just keep going and eventually you’ll find someone who finds you beautiful.

  15. 35

    Let’s face it. There aren’t that many really attractive people out there (on a percentage basis when compared with the entire population).

    Yet, something like 95% of us will eventually marry (myself excluded).

    Now, let’s figure that roughly 10-15% of the population (probably much less than that) are drop dead gorgeous (males and females).

    It’s obvious: There’s hope for everyone who has physical flaws. It would be interesting to see a study of whether or not really beautiful people are happier in their marriages than average or eve below average looking people.

  16. 36
    Evan Marc Katz

    Actually, Sam, I disagree. I don’t think you have to look like a model to have a boyfriend – not by any stretch of the imagination. But I do think that with the advent of online dating, when men are scrolling through pages of pages of women, there’s very little incentive for them to write to average women when they feel like they can take a shot at a model. They may be delusional, but it doesn’t stop them at all.

    People go online and complain that the people they DON’T want write to them, and the people they DO want won’t write back.

    So more realistically, the average person is a 5 who wants to date an 8. The problem is that most of us think we’re 8’s.

    Therein lies the disconnect – and the source of the disappointment.

  17. 37
    UWS MuShu Jew

    It’s interesting, because I think this discussion seems to revolve around the nexus of men’s and women’s individual insecurities around aspects of our dating profiles that we are not able to fully control.

    Issues of diet and exercise aside, to a certain extent one’s physicality is one’s physicality. (Example: I will always have a belly. If at around 5’6”, 105 pounds, and working out 2 hours a day I still had a belly, it’s not unreasonable to think that at that point, it’s just genetics.) Similarly, depending on your job, your salary range is set within the confines of your profession. School teachers as a general rule will not make a six figure annual salary, but corporate attorneys generally will. I work in theatre; my neighborhood Starbucks Barista makes more than I do.

    The concerns voiced all seem to only hint at the underlying fear that in the world of dating we are all being summarily judged unfairly on characteristics about which we, ourselves, are already insecure. We take information of all sorts and place it into neat, little heuristic box to make our decisions, but our own insecurities increase the perceived weight which certain traits carry when others place that information into their own neat, little heuristic boxes.

    Ultimately, many of the comments seem to speak to the desire for each of us to be judged as individuals rather than as generic categories.

  18. 38

    Tia Maria, the surest way to guarantee no man will find you desirable is to assume that no man will find you desirable. It’s up to you. Do you really think there are men out there who wouldn’t be psyched to have someone who was “fit, fashionable and well-groomed?” Now all you need is killer confidence (and good posture goes a long way).

    If you want some inspiration, look to the French who have a term for women who are not conventionally pretty but have style and charm: “jolie-laide” which literally means “pretty-ugly”. Actresses like Sandrine Bonnaire or Charlotte Gainsbourg.

  19. 39


    That first girl is gorgeous.


    A lot of posting in this thread. Hope you’re still “mit frau”.

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