When I was 22 and a senior in college, I briefly dated a man who was, as a friend of mine put it, “in the top ten percent of looks.”
Tall with dark hair, piercing green eyes and perfect six-pack abs, he was arguably the most physically attractive man I ever dated.
He knew he was handsome and so did everyone else around us.
Although I didn’t consider myself ugly, I felt very much out of my league with him. Whether it was true or just my own insecurities being projected upon other people, I felt that many times people would look at us and wonder why on earth he was with me.
In fact, on more than a few occasions, mutual friends of ours commented that they never thought he would go for “a girl like (me)” and noted that I certainly didn’t look like his previous girlfriends.
While the idea of dating someone who looks like a movie star or a model is a dream of many people, the reality is that it can be a challenging if one of the pair is not as attractive as the others. This is especially true if it the less attractive of the two is female.
It’s a cliché, but an older, wealthy man who may not have much in the looks department can attract a much younger wife or girlfriend. However, the same does not hold true when the situation is reverse.
While society can accept the fact that women are often attracted to men for something besides looks, the same does not hold true for men: a woman who is not as attractive as her partner had better be charming, exceptionally accomplished or have something going for her in order to “prove” to the world she is worthy of him.
Dating an incredibly good-looking man, though, did teach me a few good things including proving that the old adage is true: looks aren’t everything.
The fact is, while looks may originally attract someone, they generally aren’t enough to keep them around for the long-term. Eventually, I did come to love this man and we’ve remained friends to this day, but I can honestly say those feelings had nothing to do with his looks. Rather, it was all inside—namely, his wicked sense of humor and compassion for others.
Furthermore, despite the fact he seemed to be one of those people who had it all: looks, brains and the sort of drive that later led to him becoming very successfully professionally, he still struggled with the same problems and issues that everyone else did.
This in turn helped me to let go of the idea that achieving “perfection” of any sort—physical or professional—would make me happy.
Also, the experience finally allowed me to see some of the beauty that lay within me; beauty that others had told me about for years, but I refused to believe.
The truth is, I obviously had that “something” that attracted this man to me. When I once hesitantly asked him years after we stopped seeing each other why he ever asked me out in the first place, his reply was simple:
“I liked you because you were you.”
It was truly one of the best compliments I ever got, and it meant far more to me than if he had told me he was attracted to me because of my looks.
Frankly, it was one of the most beautiful compliments I’ve ever received in my life.
It was in that moment that I truly realized what it means when they say that eventually beauty does fade, but what’s inside last forever. It also made me see that we were true equals in that regard even though most people wouldn’t have known that just from looking at us.
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Ed: Catherine Monkman