Okay, I’m starting to dig a bit deeper into what “attractive” means to me. And even observing men as HOT or NOT and trying to understand even my own scale of what’s important or not. (No, I’m not considering a sexual re-orientation, but merely noticing what I think women might be noticing.)
My own self-image is somewhat mixed, and perhaps it’s time for a hard look at what the disconnect was with my most recent heightened-and-potential partner. (see The Taste of Tail Feathers Again)
First and foremost, even in my own self-assessment, there is a lot more than the physical body in determining my desire and desirability. Let me see if I can distill the non-physical attractions–FOR ME.
1. Enthusiasm – Energy
If you act your age, we’re probably not a good fit. Sure AGE is just a number, but I can count on one had the people I graduated from high school with who still share the same joie de vivre as I do. It’s not about getting older. It’s about giving up on the dreams and goals of becoming a rockstar, perhaps, or a rocket scientist. Bring the energy and joy and I will not even notice wrinkling and other signs of our age.
I loved being asked by a potential partner, this summer, “Are you always this positive?” If you’ve got anger issues or cynicism you might work on that before working the dating scene. Unless you’re happy with that approach to life. I think we’ve got our own path in life, and regardless of the challenges and setbacks, we either grow and move forward or we give up. Don’t give up. You’re attitude, even about your ex, colors your life. Make sure you’re the one that exemplifies positivism.
A smile can set a thousand armies into battle, the same goes for hearts. You need to find your smile and share it. And this is partially physical, but it’s not about teeth. (Of course, if you have teeth problems, you might have those checked out. OK Cupid’s survey on immediate touch points for both men and women when evaluating the attractiveness of the other sex was TEETH. What? I know.)
Whatever your shape or attractiveness, you need to deal with it and LOVE IT. If you don’t love yourself (YES, just as you are right now, not 20 lbs lighter) that dissonance is going to come through. Even in online profiles you can tell the people who are not prepared to stand in a bright room and take their clothes off. Even with 20 lbs I’d like to lose, I’ve got an OKAY vibe about myself. And maybe that’s a problem as I reach for someone at a much higher fitness level, or maybe it’s not.
Now let’s check in with the physical attractiveness for a second. What are the signals that I look for in a woman? What’s intangible? What’s negotiable? What’s a deal killer?
Let’s start with fitness and thinness, as this seems to be an obsession. (And I’m not claiming to be immune to the mass marketing of ultra-thin beauty.) [Of course, the rest of the story here, and in our thin-obsessed media, is that thin is NOT healthy. Ultra-thin, even less so. Many of the things, besides Photoshop, those women go through to look like that, even with Photoshop. It’s unhealthy.] Let’s look at OKCupid’s fitness classes.
- Rather not say
- A little extra
- Used up
Wow, that’s quite a range. I wonder what the difference between Thin and Skinny is? Or Fit vs Athletic? So let’s do a little test. Where would you place yourself? First: honestly where do you fall? Second: what are you going to use on your profile? Third: do you have aspirations to a different category all together?
I’ll go. First: Overweight (or A little extra, but I’m going with Overweight); Second: on my profile, my sales pitch, Athletic (I do have a football player build, have always, since I was a kid.); Third: where I’d like to be FIT. And for me that means getting a clearer view of my abs, and not just when I’m sucking in my gut. And actually, I’d rather not have to suck in my gut anyway.
So, here’s an observation I’m noticing. Folks will date UP, or reach for a higher category then they believe themselves to be, but won’t often reach down to someone in a very different attractiveness category, or in this case, level of fitness.
But for me, that’s only part of the answer. For me it’s a ratio thing, when it comes to fitness and body type. I will admit to be enamored by the ultra-thin. But I’m not so sure this is who I will end up with. In fact, I don’t believe the ultra-thin are into the athletic-build. They probably like ultra-thin guys. I don’t know what this is about. I’m not all that into six-pack abs on a woman, but I don’t mind a bit of definition on the belly. But I do actually like a belly. My wife was most attractive to me after she had our kids and was a bit more curvy. I’m sure there would’ve been a limit to my flexibility if she had grown into a new category, but she didn’t.
And that opens the discussion about what is MY real category. In my mind, with all my positivism and self-confidence engaged I am easily “a few extra pounds” but in REALITY, I’m Overweight. ACK. That sucks. And perhaps when I court the affection of a “thin” or “fit” woman I’m simply asking them to leap down a category or TWO to join my loving heart and brilliant mind. And that might be a stretch. But my limits aren’t that rigid. At least I don’t think they are. Maybe they are.
Let’s gather a few more data points. When seeing a woman from a distance (say a few aisles away in the grocery store) my animal brain begins to do some rudimentary calculations. And here’s how I think it goes. 1. Ratio: is something way out of proportion? 2. Hair style, color. 3. Clothing style, colors, type of clothes.
Then as we get closer the smile and facial beauty take over. But from a distance, MY range is pretty wide. At least that’s how I perceive it. Sitting just inside a Whole Foods about 65% of the women, in this distant assessment, would meet up with my criteria of attractive. (Again, this is more animal and hardwired, than actually evaluation.) BUT then, as we get closer and I begin to scan smiles, eyes, skin color, and overall radiance, my WOW rating drops to about 20%. From there all but 5% would fall into the ASPIRATIONAL rather than RATIONAL category. Oh, so we’re talking 5% of 65%. That’s a low number. (Something like 3 women out of a hundred.) And this is Whole Foods, after all, where the beautiful people hang out. And again, this is just attractiveness.
One of the things I’ve learned from online dating, is to recognize my signals more easily. It’s a bit like house shopping online. You need the curb appeal first before even starting to look at the details. Same with online dating profiles. If someone’s picture is odd, or obscure, or sad, it’s easy to click the hide button. A good portion of my time on OKC is spent hiding the definite NOs. At this point, what’s the risk. The problem with online dating is there are too many people to weed through. Too many houses with keystone windows or Tuscan architecture, neither of which are in my taste range.
Of course, then comes the real work of scoping out compatibility. I haven’t even gotten to start on that yet. All this stuff I’ve been writing… It’s mostly theoretical. I’m ready for the 0.35% woman to come and burn my maps. Within reason, mind you. I’ve learned what torching your plans for infatuation and physical beauty can get you. Two beautiful kids, maybe, but into trouble after that.
The Off Parent
< back to On Dating Again index
- The Promise in a Thumbnail; Online Dating Hits and Misses
- The Malleable Trajectory of Desire in Online Dating
- Online Dating Undercover Revelations: OK Cupid (Pt. 2)
- Negotiating Love and Desire
- Online Dating Undercover Revelations: OK Cupid (Pt. 1)
- The Divorce Library (reading list)
- Songs of Divorce (free listening library – youtube sourced songs)
- Laugh It Off (building a resource library of funny videos and other diversions)
- Facebook (follow us on Facebook and keep up with all the conversations)
- The 5 Love Languages (a book on love styles by Gary Chapman)
image: screengrab after Googling “beauty”