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!

Join our conversation (506 Comments).
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  1. 41
    Kat Wilder

    I think it’s natural to be attracted to someone who looks good … at first. I’ve chatted up guys who were “hot” and then, well, if they were boring or arrogant or mean-spirited or whatever, that was pretty much the end of that.

    That’s where the online world can put you at a disadvantage (and why so many people post old photos of themselves, thus becoming liars — wonderful way to start a relationship!). If you’re not pretty/handsome or if you are but you’re not photogenic, well, you may not get a first or second or third look. (but if you’re cute and write the most boring, ego-centric and grammatically problematic profile, you will; go figure).

    So I think women (and men) should go about their lives making themselves happy and doing things they love, taking care of their body (for themselves), surrounding themselves with good-hearted people and genuinely liking who they are. Then, I think it would pretty much be a non-issue. They’ll attract a person who wants that (and who would want anything less?) Confidence is sexy.

  2. 42

    Looks does count I’m sorry to say but it’s a fact. One doesn’t have to be as “hot” as a model or celeb though. In a place where no one knows anybody, what initially attracts you to a certain person? Looks, the attractiveness. Personality comes later. Sometimes I wish we aren’t this way but we are.
    Why women are so vain? Because men made us that way. It’s usually men who leave his wife for a younger or more attractive whore than the other way around…lol

  3. 43

    @ Cami

    thanks for the great advice! that renewed my hope, thinking of the happy relationships out there with average-looking men and women.

  4. 44

    From my dating experiences I think this is wrong. It is not all about bodies and trying to live up to airbrushed models that get their stretch marks and cellulite painted away in magazines. Some men go for a good body, some men go for a pretty face, some men want it all. After the initial looks thing, if there’s no personality and intelligence, most men will run a mile.

    I have stretch marks, I have cellulite, and even though I don’t like them, I’m always getting asked out. I’ve been married for 10 years, I have been engaged twice and I’m now in a long term relationship. I still get asked out all the time and I’m not skinny, I’m curvy.. and most men love curves! And most men realise that in life even supermodels get cellulite and stretch marks, and even men get cellulite and stretch marks. It’s just life.

    My best friend is just average looking and she’s a big girl, but she has the most amazing personality. Men swarm round her like flies as soon as she starts talking. She’s now happily married to a very good looking, wealthy man.

    All this hype that men want skinny stick insect supermodels is not true. Most men do not like grinding against someone’s pelvic bone. All the women and young girls who try to starve themselves to death and get eating disorders trying to live up to the impossible media concept of what we should look like, that even the actual models do not look like, cause their airbrushed. All the women who go through painful plastic surgery and even die from it.

    Ladies, there is not much to making a man become attracted to you. It is all mental.. what you think of yourself, how you carry yourself, make yourself look pretty without going to extremes, a little confidence and then just be yourself. Half the guys you will meet will be shallow, but then again do you really want to be with a shallow guy? But the other half of the guys will be blown away by you. And once their hooked you can have them eating out of your hand.

    These days it’s not all about men trading in their wives/partners for younger models… it’s women trading in their husbands/partners for toy boys!

    Women are in their prime in their 30’s/40’s, men are past it by 25.. so Ladies go and get yourself a toy boy! Enjoy the journey and remember you never know what’s round the corner.. it might even be your very own toy boy 🙂

  5. 45

    to Leah,

    I like the way you talk, tell these women to get a boy toy, it is a common practice in Europe. Often times I meet lonely, bitchy, women, whom, I wish would find a partner…..Just remember,….you don’t marry boy toys….

  6. 46
    Having sex


    Speed dating is without doubt an unbeatable opportunity to have fun, expand your social circle and maybe even meet a potential partner. Striking a healthy balance between a fear of and a desire for an intimate relationship can be very difficult. Be willing to be open to meeting new people. You want to make sure to meet in a safe place.

  7. 47

    A recently published book, Microtrends, states (on page 9) that between 2002 and 2005, the percentage of men interested in dating women 5 or more years older than they on Match.com increased 44 percent. So, you don’t have to be 20-something. If you are average looking, just take up a fitness routine, let people around you know you are single and looking. Dress well/tastefully for your age (but don’t dress frumpy!). Most of all, have a positive attitude about dating. Accentuate your positive attributes. Raise the bar for theirs. Picky women are also perceived by men as being more desirable. The fact that you are picky communicates to them that you have other options.

    Hunter: actually, more and more women are marrying their “boy toys”. The numbers of couples in the USA where the wife is significantly (6 or more years) older than her husband, has increased dramatically since 1997. Microtrends has a chart on page 8 that proves this.

    Our population is aging. It is creating a surplus of single women in their 60s who are siphoning off available single men in their 50s — creating a surplus of single women in their 50s who date 40-something men, creating a surplus of 40-something women who date 30 something men (my 48 year old friend gets more dates with men my age, 39, than I do!!), creating a surplus of 30 something women who now date 20 somethings (I had a 20 year old guy with a crush on me at the office, but he was just too unreliable, or I might have considered it…). I think the trend may not be as pronounced in Los Angeles because your population is not aging as quickly there. In the fastest-aging states (such as the one where I live) the tipping point has been reached. I have noticed in the last 10 years a lot more coworkers now date and marry younger men. 10 years ago, there was only one woman at the office who married a guy 5 years younger than she was and she was a little embarassed to talk about it. Now, in a office where there are 8 to 10 women, I only know one who is dating or married to someone older. Think about that. The trend is starting in the older states, but if your state’s average age is gradually getting older you will start to see it there soon too…. After all, why are so many 20 something teachers now getting in trouble and making the news all the time for seducing their teenaged male students? because the younger-man taboo is GONE ladies.

  8. 48

    I think that is about attitude, I have seen a lot of average looking ladies with really hot guys, in awesome relationships. I think that when a woman is confident of who she is, what she wants…when she compliments herself, by herself, she will ultimately attract men, even if she is not a bombshell. I think .. and I may be wrong …. that you have adopted a “guys prefer bombshells, and I am not one” attitude, that is only creating am invisible barrier between you and men. I think, that if you assert yourself, and see how unique and beautiful you are inside and out, and work on yourself, to be the best that you can be, you will see yourself outshine many women around you, and so will men. I think that physical attraction is only part of it, the “chemistry” you put out — is the rest. All the best to you! =)

  9. 49

    For f sakes. Look around. Do any of you (Other than the odd rich bloke with young women which is rarer than people hype ito ut to be) see average loking men with dates lining up. I’m sick of women usingy the whole men are shallow excuse to explain why they cant get or keep a man. I’m average loking and Ii get pestered for dates and pursued all the time! I also find not being a doormat helps keep the equality in a relationship at even ground. Most average looking men get rejected consistently and have a hard time finding a mate to. Oof course there never allowed to say women are shallow. No. As for the guy who said he’s ashamed of how shallow he was when he was young. Most guys still dont seem to realise they get rejected because of there looks women just tend to lie to make the guy feel better and not wanting to be mean. Most women I know always sectratly wnat there bf’s hott best friend and feel bored with there mr average bf’s but for some reason we feel the need to go on about it much less than guy’s. I’ve always wondered why guys feel the need to proclaim how shallow they are all the time when everyone aleady knows and who cares? Itas almost as if its an initiation into manhood to not just feel shallow thoughts like all humans due but to loudly proclaim them?

  10. 50

    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)

    God, the extent to which some men don’t get it is astounding.

    Women care about other women’s looks because of the thing men constantly rant on about: COMPETITION.

    And what might women be competing for, you ask?


    Evan, the response you gave Cami is a PR-based, well-structured wimp-out. Congratulations on talking without saying anything.

    How is the OP supposed to “not give up hope”, short of additional plastic surgery and starvation diets, if she’s not getting any concrete response to her question?

    If she’s not looking for specific, concrete advice, why would she ask the question in the first place? Do you think women don’t notice when you don’t actually answer the question posed?

    The level of patronization is staggering.

  11. 51

    Tia Maria,

    Have you considered concentrating on shorter men? In a previous column Evan pointed out that this is a vastly underserved market:
    Since short men are normally overlooked they will probably respond much more favorably to you; what is a 5 to a 6?5 guy might well seem like a 10 to a 5?5 guy.

    Um. no.

    If you notice, as you will if you read the thread, short men still think they are entitled to that size 00 blond supermodel.

    (Also, she has to be an actual working supermodel — with contracts and endorsements — as opposed to just a pretty girl, so the man won’t feel like he’s first judged “by his money” even though he first judges a woman “by her looks”. Puke.)

  12. 52

    Women can over time grow accustomed to an ugly guy but for men its not nearly as easy. Its possible for a guy to ‘get it out of his system’ per se and kind of do all the things he wants to then settle for a more sensible women who is not as attractive. Maybe you’ll find that guy but more then likely you will either need to lower your standards, find a new dating pool or focus on health. From what I’ve seen theres a lot of permeated myths and mis-information about dieting in womens popular lit.

    1. 52.1
      rose pelaez

      This is a sad world for me, as an ugly woman.. I’m petite, no curves, no butts, no boobs, not thatintelligent. I always say to myself that I’m beautiful no matter whut though I have an ethnic features.. My looks is not aligned with society’s standard. No one’s get attracted to me. Guys don’t even give me a chance..smh My looks even prevent me from going out.  I will even consider datin’ with an ugly guy but they’re also want a 10. Dating apps like okcupid makes me miserable too. It’s the painful truth that 99%of men are really superficial and society’s beauty standard is unattainable for me.. AM I goin to blame the media? smfh. T_T

  13. 53

    Where are average women left if men only want hot women? I’m not so sure I agree with the premise. That said, and I am speaking in generalities (as the questions is), there are plenty of opportunities.

    A main premise is that men generally want the best looking girl they can find as an initial attraction. That said, it begs the question, “What are you doing to maximize that outer packaging?” No one is saying you need to be 5’5″ and no more than 115. The issue is what you do to maximize what you have. Flattering haircut? Flattering clothing? Do you work out? Watch diet? I offer these previous 2 questions to to indicate that someone needs to be a certain size. It is meant to show there can be a difference between size zero and far larger than you were naturally meant to be.

    Please do not cast stones and take the haughty approach that men shouldn’t care about such things. The reality is they do. Refusing to accept reality is not only insane, it will not lead to any positive growth.

    Now with that said, let me also say that men who are healthier emotionally and mentally do not focus simply on hot chicks. Here in Scottsdale, which is ground zero for fake boobs, lips, botox, fake tans, huge french manicures and all of the other caricature-like traits, increasing numbers of men are looking, nay, begging for women who are real, emotionally and physically. Therefore, it would seem Tia-Maria’s preferred demographic is looking for her also.

    Most men I have spoken with have not had good, healthy experiences with ‘hot chicks’ (defined here in preceding paragraph).

    However, physical attraction is a must. The simplest point is not to complain that ‘men only want a certain type” and that men need to change. Insisting the world change to suit your belief is unreasonable. However, Tia-Maria can do an honest assessment about her own situation for areas of realistic improvement, and act upon them.

    Also keep in mind that what I’m saying is that good, healthy (emotionally) men, whom Tia-Maria presumably wants, are looking for more than a hot piece of you-know-what. By the same token, I would also think she should be happy she isn’t wasting time with men who only want a hottie.

    My $0.02

  14. 54

    I meant to write

    “I offer these previous 2 questions NOT to indicate that someone needs to be a certain size. It is meant to show there can be a difference between size zero and far larger than you were naturally meant to be.”

    Kinda changes the sentence, no?

  15. 55

    This post blows, Evan. Your answer was a total cop out. Blah, blah, blah, yet you had no advice other than not giving up hope even though you pretty much told her not to expect any men to give her a second look because they’re all jerks who only go for hot chicks.

    1. 55.1

      Unfortunately, women can be shallow as well.   I admit I have been in the past, and thus dated some men who were not good matches for me.   Now, at 38 and online dating, I am still above average, but find men on sites like Match are indeed usually focused on younger/ hotter.    Many Match.com guys who are my age keep their search range a few years younger.   I do not photograph as well as I present in person which also works to my detriment.   Eharmony has been a bit better-   men on EH seem more focused on shared interests and long term compatibility.   I would recommend that women also focus on organizations and activities that offer opportunities to meet men in person.   Meetup.com is one suggestion.   That 38 year old who dismisses me on Match would most likely see me in person at a Meetup event and expect me to be younger and within his age range.  

  16. 56

    “This post blows, Evan. Your answer was a total cop out. Blah, blah, blah, yet you had no advice other than not giving up hope even though you pretty much told her not to expect any men to give her a second look because they’re all jerks who only go for hot chicks.”

    Which goes right back to what verbosity was pissing and moaning about 2 posts above me concerning fake blonde, boobs, tans, etc.

    Do you men HONESTLY believe that a woman would go through the physical hell and expense of, say, a boob job, if on some level she hadn’t been browbeaten into believing it was WHAT MEN WANTED???

    So how was she ever supposed to “get a man” if she didn’t give them “what they want”???

    Not to mention the men whose eyeballs I’ve seen fall out of their heads and the tongues to the ground slavering over these women??

    The cognitive dissonance is staggering.


  17. 57

    “Women can over time grow accustomed to an ugly guy but for men its not nearly as easy.”

    That is so untrue!

    And how is this opinion still so prevalent, that women don’t care about men’s looks? Each time I hear about it, it astonishes me.

    You have to realize, in the context of human history, it really hasn’t been that long that women are able to -choose- a mate. What is it, like, the last 50-75 years, tops?

  18. 58

    By the way, on the subject of self-help:

    I was browsing through these various love & dating self-help books on Amazon the other day, and it amazed me (although it’s hardly a revelation of some sort) how all the books directed at women are about KEEPING a man, while by far most books for men in this genre are about getting a “hot” woman into bed, nothing beyond that. Whereas it is precisely the men who require guidance in this area so sorely.

    My ex-husband, who was insanely in love with me, lost me in part because he never realized the importance of working on a relationship. And it’s only men who may not see a break-up or divorce coming (interesting Mars vs. Venus article: http://men.msn.com/articlebl.aspx?cp-documentid=5873934&GT1=10715) Makes one think.

  19. 59


    Women are instinctually attracted to social status. This is as hard wired as men’s attraction to beauty. Call it shallow if you will. I call it bloody efficient. Evolution has wired us that way and for the most part it succeeds in passing on the best genes.

    While beauty is fairly unambiguous, what garners ‘social status’ is highly context dependent. In parts of the US, status is strongly tied to the amount of money a person makes. And hence women are interested in this. This isn’t shallow, it’s instinctual.

    I live in New Zealand which is culturally very different. I make very good money but I’m not particularly physically attractive and are only 5’7” and consequently have always struggled to attract women. I’m 25yo, confident, articulate, well educated, in decent shape, musical, and pretty social, but still get bugger all action and always have. I think a big part of this is that money, at least in my age/peer group, is not really a source of status and status has more to do with looks & social value from doing cool stuff and knowing heaps of cool people. And the people that fit into that category usually don’t make much money because they have and continue to spend most of their time partying/socialising/traveling etc and less time working/studying etc.

    I have a number of friends who are lawyers, bankers, doctors, etc that make great money and are actually really cool guys, but if they are average lookers and haven’t had much experience with women, they get basically nothing.

    As a guy I know has said before, I’ve never met a women that doesn’t care about what a man looks like. And height is often more important than looks. Women forget this, but height is actually an even more fixed variable than looks and if you’re a short guy you’re pretty much stuffed. Women will winge about guys being focused only on looks but then say they need a tall guy in the next breath.

    Looks are also pretty important for a guy so that he starts getting lots of experience with women from a young age. Without getting that experience, as soon as you get out of a school/college context it is actually very difficult for these types of men to meet women in bars/clubs etc if they haven’t had enough experience to have developed confidence/understanding with women.

    And I think women significantly underestimate how many men suffer from loneliness for large portions of their youth. And its usually the quite decent guys that are decidedly not shallow. It is absolutely a fact that at least up until the early 20s, that 20% of the guys screw 80% of the women and most guys go without.

  20. 60

    PS somebody mentioned that they were astonished at their drop in attractiveness after they left college. As I said in my first post, social status is context dependent. At college it was highly dependent on looks/height and hence you did well. It sounds like the social environment you are currently in has changed and money has become an important element of status.

    That sucks man, but that’s life. I’m in the opposite situation – make good money but I’m short and have below-average looks and got squat all through college. I still get squat though but what can you do? People are gifted different levels of sexual attractiveness (both men and women) and if you’ve lucked out you can’t really do anything about it.

    Best just to get on with your life and develop friendships, hobbies, your career, read a book, play sport, go to the gym, blog, and work on developing a fulfilling life without a partner as best you can. That’s what I do.

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