Too Ugly to Date?

Dear Toni-

I have this problem. Every guy I have ever been with has given me the feedback that I am not physically attractive to them. Some have gone as far as telling me that "sure you are smart, take care of yourself and have a good job, but there are thousands of women like that who are also beautiful." Being considered the homely girl has been an ongoing theme ever since I was 16, and I am now 33. I also am never hit on (only when a wingman is trying to get a hookup for his buddy with a friend of mine). No matter what change I make in my appearance and/or attitude, this lack of interest is consistent.

This may make me a hypocrite, but I like a man who is healthy, takes care of himself, is smart, and has a positive life, and I avoid those men who are not. Yet, I am upset that men don't want to be with me because of my outer appearance instead of what I have on the inside. Could you give me some understanding as to why men feel this way about me? Are looks all that important? What should an ugly girl do? --I Guess I Am Ugly

Dear I Guess I am Ugly--

Wow, your letter really pulled at my heartstrings, and for the record, you sound like a very cool and together woman. It's hard to tease out just what is really happening here without knowing you better--you could be meeting more than your fair share of jerks/immature guys, you could be exhibiting low self-esteem in advance of anticipated rejection, or something else. I must admit it is hard for me to imagine that this is only about looks.

I must/do acknowledge that men are HIGHLY visual. Women perceive the male emphasis on looks as "superficial." However, it is also hard wired and goes back to the first man/woman, and is unlikely to really change. HOWEVER, and this is important--beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder, which is why women in all sizes, shapes, colors and types find healthy, lasting relationships. Certainly you know at least one couple where you have asked yourself; "What does he see in her?" It's even possible that you base your question on the fact that he is more physically attractive, in great shape, and she is overweight, and classically less attractive. Not so much hypocritical as observing something that our culture reinforces--like attracts like.

Which brings me to my next point/question for you. Is it possible that YOU are the one rejecting perfectly acceptable suitors because they don't meet a specific set of criteria? I ask this because you brought it up, and sometimes we unconsciously sabotage our efforts to get something we say we want. It may be that you are doing this, or not. Only you can answer the question. Certainly polling trusted friends and asking for their take on it may be a useful exercise. Often those close to us can see what we are unable to.

Back to the whole ugly thing--yikes, I can't even stand the word and have never believed in the concept. Everyone has the potential for beauty, and what we feel on the inside impacts what others see on the outside. If you feel good about the way you look, others see a more attractive person. That is why self-esteem is so important. My concern here is that if you have always been reinforced to see yourself as ugly--this will be your belief, and you will project it when in meeting and dating situations.

One final point is that if you have a particular feature or physical attribute that you hate, know is not your best--you may be able to do something about it. Many a woman has had a nose job, major dental work, has followed a special (and healthy) meal and/or workout plan supervised by a professional, in order to change or alter something about her looks. By the way, one change like a smaller nose can bring about an amazing change in the way something feels about his/herself or carries his/herself. Don't view this as giving in to societal pressure--see it as taking a step towards feeling better about yourself, after all, this is all about you.

(from November 2010)

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"Missing the Right Chemical Connection"
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"Attraction and chemistry"

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Toni Coleman, LCSW
Phone: 703-847-1768


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