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A Book By It’s Cover

So much of how we form opinions is based on snap judgments, many of which are based on rather shallow criteria. Much of that is environmental; we are limited to the data we have at hand, and oftentimes, when it comes to our opinions on people, it is based on what we see.

People who are physically good looking tend to get more attention from others. The reason for that is genetic; good looks and attractive bodies suggest superior genes, and we want our progeny to have genetic superiority so that they might survive better. That’s an imperative that goes back before we were walking upright.

With modern medicine and modern society the way it is, the survival of our kids doesn’t depend on an excellent genetic background so much anymore. No, the attraction to beautiful people is more an affectation than a necessity, and yet we still do it. However, times are changing and so are the ways that we are finding and selecting mates.

The Internet may very well be the plain person’s best chance at getting laid ever, to put it bluntly. I suspect that if social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, MyYearbook, Bebo, Quepasa, etc. Etc. Etc. Had been around back when I was a young man, I’d have gotten lucky far more often and far sooner. Back in high school, I was shy to the point of paralysis when it came to talking to girls. I was also overweight. The two are a deadly combination if you want to go out socially. I also had very little self-confidence; I didn’t think there were any girls who were even remotely interested in me romantically, and I acted on that. While there were several girls I was friendly with and many I had serious schoolboy crushes on, I didn’t have the nerve to tell any of them how I felt.

That continued on through college. While my self-confidence began to improve, the shyness was still there and my battle with my own personal bulge continued in a losing vein. I tend to be a stress eater and there were some major stressful situations going on during those years, so my waistline suffered accordingly.

Even after college, while I was finally starting to date for the first time, much of that revolved around my job as a rock critic, and even those weren’t really “date” dates. I still couldn’t bring myself to ask a woman out, feeling inadequate in every sense and my shy nature with women getting in the way of me being able to have any semblance of a normal social life. To that point, I was nearly thirty when I had sex for the first time. Considering that I was a teenager in the 70s, one of the most sexually open periods in human history, that’s quite an accomplishment.

It wasn’t until the Internet came along that I found myself able to talk to women at all. It is much easier to chat behind a computer screen where I could be myself and not feel like a fat loser, the way I felt most of my life, that I truly and finally felt comfortable talking to women. Most of my dating success came during that period and of course, that’s how I eventually met my wife.

These days, I not only am able to talk to women, in many ways I feel more comfortable doing so than talking to men. Perhaps I’m making up for lost time, but I have far more female friends today than male. While the flirtatious side of my nature, one I was never really able to express for a good part of my life, has flowered online, I realize that as a married man many of my female friends look upon me as “safe” male company, a fellow they don’t have to worry about staving off the tiresome sexual advances that most women have to put up with constantly both online and off.

Still, I can’t help but believe that had I these tools back when I was single, I would have had more romantic opportunities (as well as sexual ones – might as well admit it) than I wound up having. Some of my female friends may well disagree with me on that one.

In any case, the point of all this personal history was to make the point that much of how I was perceived was based on my looks, which were far from matinee idol. I tended to be the friend (particularly in college and afterwards) that women confided in rather than took a romantic interest in, if I had any relationship with them at all. It was painful at times watching friends go through one bad relationship after the next, always complaining about how they couldn’t meet any nice men and I was thinking all the time, “I guess I’m not a nice man.” You can see where a guy might get a bit of a complex.

Online, people can get to know the person behind the facade, the soul behind the package. Of course, that leads to another part of human nature; making ourselves out to be someone we’re not. The danger of Internet relationships is that it’s very easy to lie about who we really are, and once we actually meet in person, the relationship crumbles because the truth eventually comes out. I will admit that during my early Internet dating era I sent out my most flattering pictures, and described myself as “slightly overweight,” which I suppose was true depending on your definition of “slightly.”

However, I must admit that the most success I had with romantic relationships on the Net came when I was honest about who I was and what I look like. Those who have access to my Facebook account will see me as I am now – in fact, the picture at the top of the article is me taken this past June. While my weight is diminishing (finally), you will see a scruffy middle-aged man with more belly than hair. Of course, the beauty is I don’t really need to impress anyone so I can be myself, and maybe that’s why so many women have become friends with me since then.

Still, the relationship advice I give most of my single female friends is I think pretty good universally; you can’t expect a relationship to be stronger than the criteria you base your relationship decisions on. When your criteria are shallow, your relationship is going to be weak. If your criteria are deep and strong, your relationship will be stronger.

I have discovered in my travels that some of the best romantic partners have been women who are overweight and not conventionally beautiful. That they have also been fantastic sexually speaking is just icing on the cake. The point is that, nothing against the beautiful people out there (some of whom are just as beautiful inside) but those who aren’t going to grace the covers of GQ or Cosmo can be extremely worthwhile romantic partners, sometimes even more so than those who would qualify for cover girl/boy status.

The main point is that the important thing is what’s inside a person, not what they look like or what they wear. Those of you who can’t seem to find a decent man or woman might start looking at other characteristics than the ones you’ve been basing your decisions on to this point. When you widen your gaze, sometimes you discover that the person you’re meant to be with has been right there all the time. When you open up your heart to the pages of the book rather than its cover, you open yourself to not only romantic possibilities but to the potential for lifetime friendships that are just as satisfying. Sounds like a win-win to me.


3 Responses

  1. Your comment on depends on your definition of “slightly” is makes me laugh in a good way. I found you on a FB friend’s site–Michelle Mangrum. I think that you’re comments about getting to know the inside of the not good looking is interesting.

    I think you overate sex sin, though. You might enjoy 2 books by Donald Joy–Bonding, the 12 Steps of Romantic Bonding and Rebonding.


  2. Carlos this blog I can relate with. I met and fell in love with my David on facebook. David was a whooping 388 lbs when we first met. I was honest with him by telling him that the obesity is a turn off. We have worked together and now he is 290 there abouts. He is motivated to lose the weight even more so now. He is the best lover friend I ever had. He is still pure at 34 years of age. We plan to keep it that way until marriage. We are compatible in every way. Thanks for sharing.

  3. I applaud your honesty, Carlos! While I am not proposing a direct contrast of our genetically derived appearances, I must say that the grass is not greener on the other side. I was very skinny growing up and have struggled mightily gaining weight. Perhaps it works well for women to be skinny, but how many females say ‘I can’t wait to meet a scrawny man.” I struggled with confidence issues myself for many years. Slowly, I realized that I simply do not care what people(especially strangers) think of me. Problem solved!

    I do have to disagree with you on one point. Attraction to beauty is not a “affectation”. Genetic predisposition does not understand the effect of a modern society. Attraction remains a human instinct that won’t be going away anytime soon.

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