As it happens, my answer is an unequivocal yes. But also, that guys should get over it. My more general believe is that women are more interested in looks than stereotypes suggest, that, men are less, though that the relationship (men more interested than women) is still true. Given this, men collectively don’t have a whole lot of room to complain about woman superficiality.
This view gets a fair amount of pushback from both sides of the spectrum, and not because of the last part. A lot of women don’t like it because it suggests that women are more superficial than their stereotype, and that a lot of guys who complain about being treated poorly because they’re unattractive aren’t wrong. A lot of men like it because it allows them to believe they will be able to peg up when it comes to getting a woman because women place less of an emphasis on looks than men do. I further believe that this myth (that women don’t just care less about looks than men but don’t really care that much) is a pernicious one, because it places a burden on women to be more than they are, and more than we ask men to be.
So yeah, of course attractive and unattractive men are gauged differently. This is true in dating criteria generally. If a woman is interested in a man (or vice-versa) she is more likely to forgive awkward moments, interpret what he says charitably, and so on. This is true regardless of the source of the interest, which includes a lot of things other than looks. The year before she met me, my wife met a guy at the same venue who put a lot of the same moves as I did. She never described him as a creep, but she was made rather uncomfortable by it. Along comes me, who does the same things, and we’ve been married for over a decade. The criteria there wasn’t looks so much as age (he was ten years older than myself), biography (he was a former alcoholic), and other such things.
But come on. Of course it applies to looks, too. And when we’re talking about initial encounters, it’s the cover of the book and people do judge by it. There are things guys can do to make a better impression, but there is only so much that a guy can do. If a guy at the lower-end of the attractiveness spectrum is approaching a woman at the higher end, he is far more likely to be considered creepy rather than charming. And that’s a reason why it’s important that we be honest about this. Because if a guy doesn’t want to be creepy, he ought not aim high unless he has very high confidence in his social skills (and depending on the context, even then).
Talk about how there aren’t universal standards and how one person’s eight is another person’s six is some combination of trying to muddy the waters and clinging to grade school fictions. Yes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but there is a reason why Hollywood actors and actresses tend to look a lot more like one another than they do like you and me. There may be opportunities to swing for the fences, but it’s a bad idea to do so regularly.
At some point, I started using as a gauge “Would I be doing this if it were an unattractive woman or a guy?” when striking up conversations and the like. If I never would, then I wouldn’t with some attractive lady unless I was willing to admit that I was making a move (however minor). That admission would become important because it meant that if she blew me off I wouldn’t be able to say “How rude.” I swung, I missed, life goes on.
At some point later than that, I realized that was insufficient. That it’s often not appropriate to do towards a woman even if I wouldn’t have a problem doing so towards a guy. That’s where Twitter comes in. Liking every tweet someone tweets (or liking every picture on Facebook) is just not something that a normal person does without some… other motivation. But sometimes on Twitter I do find myself in someone’s timeline and running across several comment-reply-like-retweet worthy tweets. If it’s a guy, I might do three or four or five.
Yeah, but probably not if it’s a female. Not unless it’s one that I have conversed with pretty regularly and have some sort of indication of “Hey, we’re cool.” If they don’t follow me, or my contact with them has been relatively minimal, I will probably pass. This applies especially to young women I follow. Though comparative appearance isn’t an issue (my avatar is a cartoon character, after all), the dynamics between men approaching 40 and women a little past 20 is pretty straightforward. There are a lot more of my type hitting up their type, than vice-versa. And while I am not hitting them up, it’s best to just go ahead and avoid any discomfort they might feel if they even suspected this old geezer was demonstrating a prurient interest.
It’s entirely possible that I am being too deferential, and that I am doing them a disservice by not charming them with my banter or my retweets. But you hear enough stories and think “Yeah, I don’t want to be a part of that” and so you don’t. I don’t necessarily follow all of the rules of the original piece, but they’re worth at least considering. Whether you’re a 20-something stud or a 40 year old dad. But especially the latter.
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