This has come up in several discussions and I find it difficult to communicate what I mean without explaining the whole scale, so I’ve decided to put it in a separate posts.

I believe that discussions about relationships are incomplete with defined terms of “attractive” and “unattractive”. Most people talk in binary terms, some have scales from 1-10 and some have three labels (top, middle, bottom). After much contemplation of the issue, I have determined that there are four worthy castes.

The way that people end up in one category or the other depends not so much on how attractive they are to me (if they are female) or would be to me (if I were female and they are male) but rather on how many options they have romantically. For instance, a guy that’s really smart may be extraordinarily attractive to a small quadrant of women, but they still won’t have as many options as the guy that is as physically attractive as they are smart (even if the options they have may be better). This was initially a way of discerning someone’s looks, but as I’ve gotten older it’s taken on more in the way of non-physical properties such as income, intelligence, charm, and so on.

The things that matter are too many to mention and some, such as ethnicity and religion, are deeply unfair. But what matters to large numbers of people matters according to the system. The good news is that even if you are in the lower categories there is no reason you can’t find happiness. It only takes one, after all. It does make it harder to secure a long-lasting relationship with someone in the upper categories, however, because they have more options and are more likely to chose someone of similar social standing.

So my system is divided into four categories. I’d call them quartiles, but they’re unevenly distributed. So here we go:

Station One: These are the creme of the crop, so to speak. Some would call the male variation alpha, but very, very few young women hold out for this group. They know better. These are the people that would stand out as attractive in almost any social setting. They’re physically attractive to make it in Hollywood (albeit not usually on their looks alone), have good jobs, are smart and accomplished. They most likely do not adamantly hold any unpopular political beliefs and are not devout towards a non-Christian religion. They comprise of about 5-10% of the population.

Station Two: Rather than being defined as what they are, they are defined as what they are not. They have nothing physically wrong with them (they may have extra weight, but it’s not poorly distributed), they’re not unintelligent, they are not unemployed or in dead-end jobs, they’re not uncomfortable in social situations, and not socially ungraceful. If they fall short in any one of these categories, they make up for it in two of the others (or in categories I haven’t mentioned). They typically excel in one of the catagories above, however. They may hold unpopular beliefs, be a disfavored minority and attractive and yet be hollywood handsome or particularly successful (or maybe both). They comprise of about 25-30% of the population.

Station Three: These are your average joes and joans. They are a mixture of positive and negative and how attractive they are will vary greatly from individual to individual depending on what they are looking for. They may be overweight, but not significantly so. Few would look at these people and say either “wow” or “ewww” (though some probably will). They’re socially awkward but accomplished or unemployed but charming or some combination of traits good and bad. These are the types of people that Hollywood uses Station Ones and Twos to try to portray. As this is the biggest group there is the largest disparity from one end to the other (I sometimes refer to there being “High Threes” and “Low Threes”), but couplings within this group rarely lead to head-scratching among one partner’s social coterie and celebration by the others, as is the case between Twos and Threes, Ones and Twos, and Threes and Fours. They’re about 40-50% of the population.

Station Four: These are people that have overwhelming physical problems or their lives are a reck to the point that they are drug addicts or homeless. At best they live with their parents, have no prospects, and are middling in terms of appearance. Fours are often contemptuous of other Fours even if they don’t hold delusions about their position. The most common characteristic is that they are not just overweight or fat, they are morbidly obese. Often they are not physically ugly but have some piece of their personality that is entirely unconducive to starting and maintaining a relationship. They are about 10-20% of the population.

Category: Coffeehouse

About the Author

Will Truman (trumwill) is a southern transplant in the mountain east with an IT background who bides his time taking care of their daughter while his wife brings home the bacon. You will probably be relieved to know that he does not generally refer to himself in the third-person except when he's writing short bios on his web page.

4 Responses to Trumwill’s Attractiveness Scale

  1. Peter says:

    Very good descriptions. I disagree that only a very small number of women hold out for Station One men, but whatever. One other thing I’ll point out is that some mobility among stations is possible, though except in very rare circumstances it will be limited to going up or down one station.

  2. trumwill says:

    The number of women is large in the statistical sense, but (in my observation) small in proportion past 25 or so and probably about equal to men doing the same. I’ve actually seen it more with 3’s holding out for 2’s rather than people holding out for 1’s. We’ll probably have to agree to disagree here.

    Social mobility is definitely possible A guy simply losing his job runs the risk of pushing a guy down a rung. Gaining or losing weight affects both significantly. Having children and getting a divorce also move people downward. On the other hand, mobility is greatly restricted by personality factors, interests, and demographics.

    I’ve never witnessed anyone moving more than one station, though it’s conceivable.

  3. Peter says:

    I get the impression that different factors are more or less important in determining one’s station depending upon location. In big cities, for example, a high income is particularly important, while in places like Southern California or Miami looks are especially significant. In smaller communities, one’s character and reputation may be the biggest factor.

  4. trumwill says:

    Different factors are also less or more important with age. You can be the exact same person at 15 and 25 and have very different fortunes amongst your age-appropriate group, romantically speaking. That’s what happened to me, anyway.

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