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Are You Too Shallow? The Truth About Attraction

If you’re a single guy, you might have noticed a little pattern whereby you avoid women whom you’re attracted to so that others don’t think of you as “shallow.”

I’ve noticed this come up with quite a few of my clients lately – an avoidance of people they’re attracted to because they don’t want to be judged as being superficial, or as somebody who judges people based on their looks.

Ironically, these clients then deliberately focus on talking to and spending their time with people they don’t find attractive (people they judge as unattractive) – which is ironic because they’re still judging someone based on looks and making decisions based on their appearance alone.

If this is you, I’m betting that in your head you’re a noble knight who only judges people based on their personality and doesn’t take looks into account, because you’re above all that. In reality,  you’re dishonest about it because you’re scared of two things: other people judging you, and actually going for what you want – following through on your desire and facing rejection from someone you find attractive.

That’s the real reason you’re avoiding hot people.

The big lie

To have a clear preference for someone and then not show it (or deliberately pretend to not have that preference) is a lie. Your nobility is really nothing more than dishonesty.

To deliberately deceive people into thinking that looks don’t matter to you and are not important choosing who you like is another lie.

If you’re going to break out of this pattern of sabotaging your potential for romantic connections, you’re first going to have to face the truth and stop lying to people.

We have to acknowledge you do have a healthy idea in mind. Deep down, you know it’s fucked up to judge people based on their appearance and to get so worked up about someone just because of their physical aesthetic. But you don’t really know what to do with this knowledge, because you can’t help but prefer attractive people over others.

It might help if you understood why attraction occurs in the first place.

Who are you attracted to… and why?

The way we perceive someone’s appearance – the attractiveness rating that we give to someone – is almost 100% conditioning.

Only a few hundred years ago, what we in the West considered attractive were super overweight and pasty white women who usually wore wigs. Why? Because that’s how rich women looked. They looked like that because they didn’t have to do anything (they had servants).

The kind of tanned and toned body that we generally appreciate nowadays is what peasants used to look like. We used to think that was ugly.

For those of you thinking that physical attractiveness is some objective biological truth, history and anthropology show us attraction is actually something we’re largely been trained to feel. What you think of as attractive is a direct result of the culture you’ve been raised and the media you’ve been exposed to.

Some extremely short-sighted and biased studies (usually based entirely on the opinions of US college students) claim that certain ratios suitable to childbirth determine attraction, or that face symmetry is the big game-changer. But these claims fall apart once you start traveling beyond USA’s borders.

If you’re raised as a Maasai warrior in Africa, you will find tall, skinny and bald to be very attractive. If you’re raised in Samoa you’ll think that big is beautiful – you’ll find people who are considered “overweight” in USA to be attractive. If you’re Russian, you’ll probably prefer stern women with robot-precision make-up and the flat body of a 10-year-old.

It really just comes down to where you’re from. We mostly like what we’ve been taught to like.

A great example in the image that you can see above is Anis Al-Daleh – a Persian princess. The story goes that up to eight guys committed suicide because of her rejection. If you’re looking at her and you don’t find her attractive, then you must acknowledge that different parts of the world, different cultures and different times have differing views on attractiveness. It’s totally subjective.

So on one hand, you realize that judging people based on their appearance is basically a form of hypnotism – you’re just following the conditioning and programming that you’ve had drilled into you.

On the other hand, if you want to deal with this properly, it’s not going to happen by being dishonest about it – you’re gonna have to face the fact that while rationally you can say it’s ‘wrong’ to judge people on their looks, emotionally you are doing it anyway. Attraction doesn’t change with rational awareness.

Face the truth

First, you have to start with what’s true for you, which is you find certain people more attractive than others and that you feel preference towards them. You’re worried about being judged for that preference.

With appearance comes a whole range of narratives. I know some guys who view attractive women as bitches or stuck-up. There are others who seem to worship attractive women as if they’re goddesses. Other guys see them as a piece of meat that they need to have sex. And so on.

What all these narratives have in common is that someone who’s attractive is somehow different from other normal human beings.

And that’s your problem.

People are just people

Once you start engaging more meaningfully with people you’re attracted to, you’ll slowly start to see the truth: that they are a wide range of normal human beings. Some of them you like, some of them you dislike, some of them have personalities you admire, some of them have personalities that bore you to death.

Attractive people are a range, a mixture of personalities and traits just like any other person.

Someone being attractive to you personally doesn’t tell you shit about them. They’re just another human being – you were just blinded by your conditioning into thinking otherwise. If you can learn to engage with people you’re attracted to as if they are human beings, you’ll start to see their humanity.

You’ll see that physical attractiveness is a distraction. It doesn’t tell you anything meaningful about them and it really has no weight in the future of a long-term connection. Once you get used to the way someone looks, it doesn’t dazzle you anymore, so there better be more to them than that if you want this to last more than a few weeks.

Overcoming attraction obsession

I have a five-step solution on dealing with this. It’s a long-term piece of work that will put you in good stead for great connections with people of all varieties for the rest of your life.

#1 Admit it.

You have to admit it, at least to yourself, that you’re all fucked up about people being attractive. You’re obsessed with it. You prioritize it. You get all nervous about it.

Understand that this is conditioning. You’ve been trained to view certain people this way and conditioned to have an emotional response to an optical stimulus. Your preferences for “beautiful” have been taught to you by the area you grew up in and by the culture you were most influenced by.

#2 Stop being so serious about it.

Once you acknowledge this conditioning, you need to acknowledge how seriously you take it, how someone being hot is such a big deal to you.

You have to acknowledge that engaging with them and learning curiously – trying to find out who they are as a human – is how you’re going to desensitize yourself and stop taking physical attractiveness so seriously.

#3 Express attraction as if it’s normal

This is the tough part: act honestly on your desire. You’re going to risk being seen as shallow so that you can be honest about how you feel. Express attraction in all its forms as if it’s normal to do (which it is).

An interesting dilemma that kept coming up with my clients (and reflected my own life) is guys who get into social dancing – Zouk or salsa any of that partner style dancing: They’ll go to the dance class or social event and they’ll deliberately only dance with girls they don’t find attractive. They won’t dance with the “hot” girls. They do this to show everybody how noble they are, and how they don’t care about looks.

This is a lie because you’d rather dance with the girl you find attractive, it’s as simple as that.

You might be ashamed of that, and other people may judge you for it, but you’re not going to be able to deal with your attraction-obsession properly unless you follow through on it and start to learn that you’re living in an illusion. If you’re in the dance class, go dance with the girl you find attractive. Follow your desire. Go talk to the girl at the party you’re attracted to. You can say “I like the way you look.”

You need to become okay with this fucked up conditioning that you’ve got before you can recover from it.

#4 Challenge your preferences.

Once you start following your desire, start spreading out and deliberately interacting with a wider range of people, both attractive and unattractive by your judgment.

Start to behave as if all humans are the same – like they’re all equal in their potential for value, like anyone could be a good fit. You don’t know which one it’s going to be.

Act as if you’ve been hypnotized into seeing people based on their appearance – like Shallow Hal – and you’re blinded to who they actually are (which is pretty close to the truth) so you’re going to just interact with everybody to figure out who’s actually a good fit.

We can see evidence that in a courtroom somebody who’s deemed as socially attractive gets more lenient sentences than those who aren’t. We’re all blinded by this attraction thing. We’re putting criminals out on the streets simply because they look good!

You’ve got to go to a party or a social event and think “I don’t actually know what people are like. I just guess based on their appearance and I’ve got to correct myself.”

Speak to a broad range of people: men, women, old, young, attractive, not attractive, interesting, boring-looking. Assume you’re wrong about your first impressions and go find out the truth.

#5 Go beyond the skin.

Once you’ve got this flowing – once you’re the kind of person who socializes with everyone, giving no preference necessarily to someone who’s attractive but not avoiding them either – start acknowledging how you feel about everyone.

Start looking closely for the good in people beyond their appearance. Try to recognize them for inner qualities you like in them.

Get really curious about someone. Let’s say you meet someone who is very beautiful to you physically; ask yourself “What else? What else have they got going on?” Explore their hobbies, dreams, preferences, beliefs, politics, and everything. Try and find something in them that you admire – anything you find fascinating beyond their looks.

And the same goes for people you’re not physically attracted to. Okay, this person doesn’t look like someone you want to sleep with right now, but what else? Do you have anything in common? What beliefs do they have? How do they feel about your goals? And on and on.

There’s an interesting phenomenon: you will find people more physically attractive the better you get to know them – the more you like them personally. And vice-versa – somebody who’s originally physically attractive to you might become repulsive physically if their personality really jives with your values.

So just imagine you’ve been brainwashed and need to correct it accordingly.

hashtag me too

I swear, I had to go through all of this myself.

I used to be obsessed with appearance when it came to women. And I was just so wrong.

I was wrong in two ways: I’d think that they’re either stuck-up and snobby – that they thought they were better than people. Or I thought that they were actually better than other people – that they were goddesses who need to be worshipped.

What I found time and time again as I got to know them is that they’re just people. They are a range. Some of them are dicks. Some of them are amazingly awesome. Some of them are kind of interesting. Some of them are a bit too much like me for me to get along with them. Some are compassionate, others are mean, and some are both depending on context. And so on.

I came to realize the truth: someone’s physical appearance tells me nothing about them – okay, maybe their hygiene tells me a little bit, but generally my attraction to certain bone structure, skin tone, fashion, boobs – I’d been taught all of that and it was blinding me to the truth of who the really beautiful people are.

Thank you for having the courage and the humility to read this post. I definitely want to hear what you thought of it, so put your comments below and share it around if you liked it.

If any of you are really struggling with your dating or love life because you have some messed up beliefs around women or fears and social insecurities, get in touch – dan@brojo.org – I can help you with this if you’re willing to change your views.

Sources:

Attraction is heavily influenced by your culture

Attractive people get lenient sentences in Court

Attraction increases with getting to know someone

Persian princess so “beautiful” she causes suicide

 

2 Responses

  1. I have a problem obsessing about beautiful women. My girlfriend I find attractive but I don’t think she’s really hot like some other women I want to be sexual with. What do I do?

    1. Hey Shaun. Obsessing over attractive women can happen for a number of reasons. One is nearly always that we’ve been trained to do it – since we’re young we were conditioned to worship physical beauty. But another even more powerful reason can be having what’s called an “Avoidant Attachment Style”. Guys who are afraid of deep and intimate attachment tend to check out other women more – part of the brain’s strategy to keep a distance away from our partners. I recommend you read the book “Attached” by Amir Levine and Rachel S. F. Heller

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