Should I Date a 7 or Hold Out for a 10?

Should I Date a 7 or Hold Out for a 10?

This blog post elicited a fair amount of heat, and it covered a  topic I dealt with recently in my free newsletter: the value of chasing white hot chemistry with a person whose looks are a “10”.

Now, before we get into that in great detail, I want to state 3 important disclaimers:

First, not every person who is a “10” is damaged goods.

Second, not everyone agrees on what a “10” is.

Third, people can be judged on things other than looks.

If a man or a woman is a 10, who is he/she going to most likely going to want to date? That’s right, another 10.

I say this, because these are the things that people invoke when discussing this – and it’s not like I’m not aware of them. However, the exception doesn’t disprove the rule.

“Rules” are rarely my opinions – more often, they are observations about how the world works. Women lie about their age. Men will not call after having sex. Smart, successful women will struggle to find equal partners.

I observe this frustrating reality and point out why it happens and what, if anything, you can do to counteract it. While I’m an emotional guy, my advice is based on logic and evidence. Generally, if you’re disagreeing with me, it’s because something I said hit you emotionally and rubs you the wrong way. That’s fair. It doesn’t negate the fact that my observations are just that – observations.

If I am to observe that a disproportionate number of “10’s” are: shallow, narcissistic, selfish, demanding, difficult, more likely to flirt, less likely to commit, and somewhat disconnected from the ‘average’ person’s reality, you might say, “Maybe…but I know this one girl who is gorgeous and sweet”. And you’d be right. It still doesn’t change that most 10’s are problematic partners.

So when I write “Stop chasing 10’s, marry the 7’s,” and my good friend Lance writes this reply:

Most hot girls are crazy, that’s for sure, but I wouldn’t advise anyone to date a 7. I say go for the 10 that’s awesome on the inside, too. They’re out there, you just have to look around and be the man that’s worthy enough to get with that gal. If you fall short, look in the mirror, and make the changes that make you attractive enough to land a 10/10.

Well, I’ve gotta disagree – vehemently – on a number of levels.

1) If a man or a woman is a 10, who is he/she going to most likely going to want to date? That’s right, another 10. Most men, in particular, don’t date “down”; they all want to date “up”.

2) If, as Lance says, you hold out for the 10’s…and every other woman holds out for the 10’s…but the male 10’s want the female 10’s…doesn’t that mean that pretty much every woman ends up not finding a partner? It’s like saying that everyone should hold out for a $500,000 salary because that’s what you’re WORTH. Well, if there’s only a few thousand of those jobs out there, there’s going to be a LOT of unemployment. That is, unless someone compromises – and finds a lower paying job (a 7) that has much better benefits and quality of life.

3) If the average guy is – logically – a 5, he usually thinks he’s an 8…and that he should be dating a 10. Yet women who are 10’s have, literally, EVERY single man they meet hitting on them. I can’t think of a better explanation about the fundamental flaws of online dating than this phenomenon. You’ve got a 1-1000 chance of landing a 10, tops.

If the average guy is – logically – a 5, he usually thinks he’s an 8…and that he should be dating a 10.

4) The most important reason that chasing 10’s is a bad idea is that, when you get right down to it, you probably wouldn’t want to keep them. That’s the big blind spot. Chasing looks and chemistry is like a sport. There’s the rush of the chase, the thrill of victory, and the smugness of showing off your hot catch to all your friends – for a moment.

But what happens when you GET the tall, dark, handsome, wealthy, educated, sophisticated, world traveler/self-made millionaire?

Guess what? He’s probably just not that into you.

In fact, he’s probably more into himself.

That means he’s going to be a workaholic – that’s what made him a millionaire.

He’s probably going to be arrogant and stubborn – that’s what happens when you’re a success at everything you do.

He’s probably going to be vain – that’s what happens when you’re told how gorgeous you are.

He’s probably going to be a player – that’s what happens when you have the ability to pick and choose your dates at will.

He’s probably going to be a commitmentphobe – why settle down when you can continue to date a variety of smokin’ hot 10’s?

And so, you never really GET George Clooney. Or James Bond. Or that guy you’re lusting over right now. You’re just renting him. And you’re merely overlooking his considerable flaws because of how hot he is.

Guys do the same thing with women, I assure you. The most tempestuous relationship I ever had was also with the hottest woman I ever dated – so hot that she had to hide her profile on to stem the tide of emails. I held on for four months of hot sex and bragging rights – mixed in with innumerable times of being insulted, emotionally abused, and left at restaurants, parties and weddings. Why did I put up with it? Because she was a 10. And because when she wasn’t acting crazy, she was actually a good girlfriend.

The key is to break the cycle. Stop chasing looks first. Yes, attraction matters, but seriously, it’s a short term high. You’re looking for a relationship to endure for 30 years. You want to spend 30 years on eggshells because the hot guy or girl is being selfish or doesn’t let you know where you stand? Go ahead.

But if you want to find something healthy and enduring – and STILL have great sex – try going for a 7 in looks and a 10 in every other area. Kindness, warmth, intelligence, wit, consistency, effort, generosity. These are the things that matter when you’re 50 – far more than whether your partner holds up next to a 26-year-old Maxim or GQ model.

It’s easy to say you’ll never compromise, you’ll never settle, and you’re going to be the one who finds the “perfect 10” – the Rhodes Scholar/ Supermodel/Top Chef. Good luck with that.

It’s easy to say you’ll never compromise, you’ll never settle, and you’re going to be the one who finds the “perfect 10″ – the Rhodes Scholar/ Supermodel/Top Chef. Good luck with that.

Most 10’s never develop the life skills that average folks do – which is why, on the whole, they’re not going to be as loyal or thoughtful or empathetic. If that’s okay by you, because, hey, you just can’t help what you’re attracted to, then I wish you good luck.

Just don’t be too surprised if everyone else “compromises” their way into a fulfilling relationship while you keep chasing a dream that never has a happy ending.

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  1. 61
    Curly Girl

    Thank you, Selena (#58)!

  2. 62

    Your #56 is fantastic.

    Two things. If you find half of the women on to be attractive enough to date (and you’re saying that you only want to date 10s) then I think you’re operating off of a totally different definition than most of the rest of the board. It sounds as though you define an attractive person as a 10, whereas I suspect many here are describing an attractive person as a 7, and a supermodel as a 10.

    Secondly, why are most of these people not going past multiple dates? Presumably because you (or your date) found that there were some serious enough flaws in the other’s personality to not merit going further in the dating process. Which means that in no way is their personality a 10 (at least for you). How many women with “10” personalities have you come across? And how many seemed good and then a few months in you see their psycho/witchy/whatever side and run for the hills? Perhaps the “10” personalities are rarer than you think, particularly when combined with the 10s in appearance.

  3. 63

    I think Monique has it right.

    Hasn’t everyone known someone who they initially thought they would never be physically attracted to, but after getting to know them–platonically–it happened (or could happen)?

  4. 64


    It has for me.

  5. 65

    @A-L: I said I’d go on 50 fifty first dates, didn’t say I’d go past that. Basically, yes, I’d go on exactly 1 date with an attractive girl just to find out if she was cool.

    For point #2 it doesn’t have to be a personality “flaw,” simply an incompatibility or a difference in values. Perhaps she wants 2 kids within 5 years and I don’t Nothing wrong with that, it just doesn’t jive with me.

    But yes, finding the 10 personality in a highly physically attractive person is pretty rare, which is exactly why I’m still single.

    Lance´s last blog post…Work Your Ass Off and Get the 10’s

  6. 66

    “But yes, finding the 10 personality in a highly physically attractive person is pretty rare, which is exactly why I’m still single.”

    But Lance, finding that person is only half the battle. She has to find you a double 10, as well…

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  9. 67

    Most female 10’s have long necks, as per entertainment industry standards.

  10. 68
    Hot Alpha Female

    I have to agree with Lance’s original comment. I understand what Evan is trying to say about compromise. I do. I get it.

    There are so many unattractive men out there who are regularly dating beautiful women.

    What would happen if they said to themselves … No I can only have women that are average looking.

    You can have your cake and eat it too.

    If you want the 10’s then go out there and get them. You can have exactly what you want.

    Hot Alpha Female

    Hot Alpha Female´s last blog post…mysqlerror

  11. 69

    @HAF #69

    Funny, no one ever tells the unattractive women “if you want the 10’s then go out there and get them.” Hmmmm…

    This kind of thinking, as Evan and his readers have pointed here and elsewhere on the blog, only skews an already unbalanced dating pool. If the unattractive or just average men all think they can have the 10 females (which I don’t think in most cases they can, unless they are wealthy), there will be precious few men left to pursue the average or unattractive women.

    And why would a supermodel want to date an unattractive man when she can have a better looking alternative? While there are exceptions to this, it’s just not realistic for most people. All it does is tie up the available average guys while they spend their time looking for Miss Perfect. They spend 20 or more years doing this, and everybody winds up old and alone.

    I personally think many women who fall in the 10 category get a perverse pleasure from having men of all levels of attractiveness fawning all over them, even if they would reject most of them in a heartbeat. It’s self-centered and egotistical, exactly the qualities Evan attributed to people who have been able to skate by on their looks and not develop other aspects of their personalities.

  12. 70

    Hmm, not that I am a 10, but I really, REALLY am not flattered by the attention I get from men of all levels of attractiveness. In fact, in some cases this attention is downright insulting.

    A really mean thing to say, I guess, but I am a firm believer in not asking for what one can’t offer.

  13. 71


    I think there’s a difference between being flattered by that kind of attention and downright encouraging it, even if you have no intention of acting on it.

    I would never consider it insulting to receive attention from any man based solely on his looks. Misguided perhaps, but not insulting.

  14. 72

    Cilla, my unattractive female relative, married a male “10”.(she owns a flourishing construction company, not that she is his meal ticket, I would never admit to that) One reason I tell all men, “there are some gems in plain wrappers”.

  15. 73

    This is very very silly…because what is 10 for one person, for another might be only 7 and etc. And there is no need to say, “cos if you are not a model, then you can not be “10”. Just look at Kate Moss, to my opinion she is a bit of a minger…but to others-gorgeous…And you can have an amazing chemistry and attraction with people you might think ” I never would…”; e.g., i did not like blond men, until I met one that i did…
    So, a completely useless argument.

  16. 74

    I think this debate really comes down how much you value looks relative to other qualities. You could replace looks with “kindness 10s,” “Wealth 10s,” height 10s,” “cooking 10s” etc.

    Some people value a 10 in looks to the point they aren’t bothered whether or not s/he has a personality. And that’s fine. That’s important to them. Some people find personality more important, others jobs, common interests, what their family thinks, etc.

    As long as it’s what that person wants as opposed to what they try to convince themselves what they want or what other people tell them they should want, couples tend to find out what works for them and everything’s dandy.

  17. 75

    Funny, the last guy I fell for, who was a ’10’ in my books, would probably be considered a ‘4’ by other people’s standards. He just had that certain something I go for. I think I could legitimately call myself an ‘8’ and I deliberately avoid ‘9’s and ’10’s because I don’t want to be stressing out over other women, and attitudes, and feeling like I’m never quite good enough. Anyhow, I could NOT get this ‘4’ guy to be interested in me! I was so bummed out about this that I have passed up quite a few ‘7’s since then.

    I will admit I’m picky, and I don’t find too many men to be my ‘type’, but I wanted to point out that pickiness isn’t always about looking for a ’10’. Also, in the pecking order of physical appearance, one’s higher ranking does not necessarily guarantee any measure of success with those of a lower ranking.

  18. 76

    so- it’s interesting, a generalization that always seems to be taking place is that men are shallow, women are not, or, less so-

    then this brilliant Esquire article comes out about women’s ‘secrets’- it made me cringe-

    to all the guys out there- this is NOT how most normal, self-accepting, secure women think. I really wish they wouldn’t let celebrities speak for us.

    PS- oh, except Christina Applegate- she’s right about that 3 day rule. Oh, and Courtney Cox- with the hand thing. LOL

  19. 77

    Sayanta, the hands tip, is new to me.

  20. 78

    I see the opposite ptoblem quite honestly, where someone is an 8 or 9 on the important things but is often exchanged for someone who is a 5 on the important things -trust-honedty-witty-funny-warm-but the 5 has one big attribute-looks for men, money for women-and that one big attribute trumps all others. Then these are the people who can’t understand what’s missing from their lives. Women are just as guilty as men in this regard.

  21. 79

    I don’t remember where I read this but it makes perfect sense to me:

    I spent many years searching for the perfect women.  But when I finally found her – alas, she was searching for the perfect man.

  22. 80

    I don’t remember where I read this but it makes perfect sense to me:

    I spent many years searching for the perfect woman.  But when I finally found her – alas, she was searching for the perfect man.

  23. 81

    I ask of those who search the 10– could you HANDLE being with a 10?  Be careful what you ask for!

    I routinely get asked if I am a model.  My parents wouldn’t allow it; and then life just went on. ..

    I married a 6 who started to go down from there… he was insecure and would try to put me down.

    I have dated some men who were models.  Evan is so spot on!  The last relationship HE kept telling me he wished I was not so beautiful and would fly into a jealous rage if HE thought another man was staring at me.  I would reassure him also that I had eyes only for him; he was my dream man in the looks department, being a gentleman, very wise, but also extremely insecure.  He would brag about how many women would hit on him at work when we would have a bad argument.

    Now that I am looking again, it is hard to not look for another 10… but finding one means that he is probably vain etc…. But if I find someone less attractive, they will need good self esteem to not feel that they are going to lose me to someone else more attractive… it’s not easy being on this end either….

  24. 82

    The problem in dating a 10 is that many other people also want to date your 10. 🙂

  25. 83
    Sara Malamud

    I still don’t know what makes someone a 5 or a 10. A friend of mine was leaving her boyfriend because she didn’t think he was good enough..his answer was ” sweetie, what you see as canned-tuna others see as caviar”.

  26. 84

    I generally write off guy 10s right away as eye candy but unlikely to have “game” when it comes to intelligence and conversation. Sometimes one will surprise me, but mostly they’re either talking to chicks who are prettier than me (fair enough) or they’ll just start talking and expose themselves as, well, idiots.
    I’ll talk to anyone who’s not an idiot. If he’s smart, interesting, interested, polite, well-spoken, and not clingy, then he’s got a shot with me.
    I’d have no problems dating a big guy who ate a basically healthy diet and wouldn’t blink at a 4 mile walk up and down an easy mountain trail. It’s not about the size, it’s about the habits.

  27. 85

    I will date a 5-7 anytime anyday. 10’s are boring. Who needs a eye candy with filthy attitude. I have never liked pretty boys and I am a pretty girl. I actually find that 10’s are always in competition with their 10’s girls. I’ve been past the looks for a very long time. I just would like if my man is neat, grooms himself properly, speaks well with a nice attitude and you are a keeper. And did someone say Nicholas Cage. yes my typical example of a 7 I will date. There is something appealing about underrated guys in the looks department who exude charisma, swageer and charisma.

  28. 86

    “I spent my life looking for the perfect woman but alas, when I finally found her, she was searching for the perfect man.”   Anonymous

  29. 87

    Julie, you are so exactly right. My advice is to not even look at the 7-10s. Go out with the 1-5s. Find one with the same values as you who is kind, loving, affectionate, confident, is a hard worker, treats others well, has a positive attitude, a good kisser, who treats you like you are a ten even if you aren’t one. Treat him just as well as he treats you, and strive to be every bit as good of a person as he is. If you have sexual chemistry (Has NOTHING to do with looks. Trust me.) then soon those little things about his appearance that might have kept you from approaching him won’t even matter to you. Looks fade anyway.
    I went out with any guy who asked me out and didn’t have any deal breakers (conflicting religious or political views, major differences in values, married, criminal record) at least once. If I didn’t absolutely hate him I’d go out with him at least two more times as long as he kept asking me. I found someone over a year ago, and I’ve never been happier. I know that objectively most women would not give him a second look, but to me he is a 10.

  30. 88

    My friend was dating a woman recently who he admits is way out of his league. At first, it was fun. But because she was so “hot” she was incredibly insecure and feared he was just using her for sex. So it became a constant chess game. She wanted him to prove how invested he was and not just with her for her looks. It got so annoying for him that he had to break up with her. I think a lot of men and women like the idea of dating someone “hot.” But when they get it, unless they’re “hot, too they aren’t prepared for what’s involved.

  31. 89

    I am 9 (a girl). if i were 4 inches taller, i would be 10. But i get a lot of options anyways. i was never into pretty boys/handsome men. I always liked confident, cocky, smart 7-th. the guy i am with now looks like Shrek. I am laughing how ugly and well “lived-in” he looks (drinking, poor dieting, etc amde its imact on originally good genes). And you know what, it doesnt matter at all to me. He is a MAN. He grabs my hair, commands me to do this and that for him….at certain moments (you know what i mean). and this all that matters.

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