On Being Attractive

attrac­tive |əˈtrak­tiv|
• pleas­ing or appeal­ing to the senses
• appeal­ing to look at; sex­u­ally alluring


How impor­tant is it in a rela­tion­ship that one is attrac­tive? I’d say VERY impor­tant. But, what does it really mean – beyond the dic­tio­nary def­i­n­i­tion – to be attractive?

My obser­va­tions have con­vinced me (I am not aware of any sci­en­tific research) — and it is summed up in a say­ing “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” — that beauty is really the indi­vid­ual inter­pre­ta­tion of real­ity. Just look at the cou­ples you know and the ones walk­ing down the street. Don’t you often won­der how these peo­ple are together, how ANYONE can be with this “ugly and revolt­ing” per­son who you would not touch with a ten-foot-pole.

Yes, it is per­sonal, but not all of it is in the eye of the beholder. And, a per­sonal vision can change. To my eye, Cather­ine Zeta-Jones is one of the most attrac­tive women I know of. I am sure she was attrac­tive enough to Michael Dou­glas at the time they got mar­ried. What hap­pened? They are going through a very ugly divorce and attrac­tive­ness has dis­ap­peared and been replaced by repul­sive­ness. How did eyes stop see­ing beauty and see the oppo­site instead. Does beauty that we get attracted to actu­ally exist “out there?” Obvi­ously, or not so obvi­ously, NOT. The eye of the beholder is a crit­i­cal com­po­nent. But, is it only the eye, or is there more to it? Well, you guessed it: all senses are ulti­mately involved in choos­ing a part­ner: touch, smell, words said, even taste.

But, that’s not all. What about the well-known but not eas­ily describ­able sixth sense, intu­ition? What is it? In our case of attrac­tive­ness it’s often called “inner beauty.”

This inner beauty seems to be a deci­sive fac­tor, but what is it? Can we put our fin­ger on it? It is not easy to define, but it seems to be much more attrac­tive, con­sis­tent and long-lasting than the fleet­ing beauty of the prover­bial eye. After being with the per­son you love for a long period of time, looks become less and less impor­tant. And luck­ily so, because we get older and looks are very dif­fi­cult to main­tain, despite all the advance­ments of plas­tic surgery, hair trans­plants, potions, crèmes and the mil­lions of prod­ucts and pro­ce­dures of the beauty indus­try. A youth-glamorizing cul­ture com­pletely ignores inner beauty because it can­not be sold.

In a strong rela­tion­ship “outer beauty” is not nearly as impor­tant as the media would have us think. Good rela­tion­ships are strong because part­ners rec­og­nize and appre­ci­ate the inner beauty in each other.

Although outer beauty is impor­tant for an ini­tial attrac­tion, inner beauty is what keeps rela­tion­ships strong. Males and females have a some­what dif­fer­ent take on outer or exter­nal beauty. Men are attracted mostly to beauty per­ceived by the senses while women often want more than that. Women often look for a man’s abil­ity to sup­port her. That’s why men, regard­less of their looks but with a fancy car, money, a pow­er­ful posi­tion, intel­li­gence and con­fi­dence, are often more attrac­tive than a good-looking man with­out those qual­i­ties. This is one of the rea­sons that men think of women as “com­pli­cated,” and women know how to attract men just by their looks because men are “simple.”

Back to inner beauty. As with exter­nal beauty, the inter­nal one varies from per­son to per­son. Here we talk about com­pat­i­bil­ity. The inner qual­ity of a per­son is one of those inde­fin­able and highly per­sonal cat­e­gories. The elu­sive­ness of how to define “qual­ity” is beau­ti­fully demon­strated in a famous book, Zen and The Art of Motor­cy­cle Main­te­nance by Robert M. Pirsig.

Here is the link to one of the web­sites list­ing per­sonal qual­i­ties, good and bad:


It is impor­tant to under­stand that there is no such thing as “good” qual­i­ties and “bad” qual­i­ties when it comes to per­sonal attrac­tion. The choice depends on the “per­son­al­ity of the chooser” as in the eye of the beholder. And even more than that, the choice depends on the inter­pre­ta­tion of, or the mean­ing given to par­tic­u­lar qual­ity, which may depend on the con­text of the sit­u­a­tion (cul­ture, par­tic­u­lar cir­cum­stances, per­sonal back­ground, etc.).

As you can see, there isn’t such a thing as per­fect beauty, a per­fect rela­tion­ship, or per­fect any­thing. And at the same time (also depend­ing on how you want to inter­pret it), real­ity or “what is,” is always per­fect, because who are we to chal­lenge and ques­tion real­ity and the per­fec­tion of cre­ation of which we are only a tiny part?

In sum­mary, a per­son is not his/her qual­i­ties. A per­son has qual­i­ties. Accep­tance of your part­ner (as well as every­one and every­thing else) exactly the way they are and exactly what they are not is what is called love. If there are some qual­i­ties of the per­son that you can­not live with or accept, so be it, but it does not mean that you have to aban­don love.

Love equals hap­pi­ness, and aban­don­ing it to your inter­pre­ta­tion of the qual­i­ties that a per­son has instead of appre­ci­at­ing who a per­son is, will rob you of your hap­pi­ness whether you are in a strong rela­tion­ship, or if your rela­tion­ship is not work­ing out.

What are YOU attracted to?




On Being “Nice”

Here is the dic­tio­nary mean­ing of nice.
pleas­ant, lik­able, agree­able, per­son­able, con­ge­nial, ami­able, affa­ble, genial, friendly, charm­ing, delight­ful, engag­ing; sym­pa­thetic, sim­patico, com­pas­sion­ate, good.


In this arti­cle I’d like to look into what being nice actu­ally means in a rela­tion­ship. All the above applies and there is more. You can be pas­sively nice and actively nice.

Pas­sive nice­ness is when you react to your part­ner “nicely.” If you are made wrong about some­thing you don’t need to imme­di­ately become defen­sive and counter-attack. You can be nice about it and take the crit­i­cism, under­stand where your part­ner is com­ing from and offer, but not insist on, your expla­na­tion. If you are asked to do some­thing you don’t want to do, you can be “nice” about it and refuse politely and make a counter offer, if appro­pri­ate, being mind­ful of your partner’s feel­ings. Being nice in this cat­e­gory also includes not speak­ing your mind as a reac­tion to your partner’s behav­ior (such as: you’re fat) lest you hurt their feel­ings. I am sure you can come up with more exam­ples of nice reac­tive or pas­sive behavior.

Now, what does it mean to be actively nice? Active nice­ness requires a con­scious alert­ness to other people’s feel­ings and state of mind so that you can jump in and offer your help, assis­tance, or con­tri­bu­tion with­out being asked to. Yes, in dif­fer­ent cul­tures and cir­cum­stances this may come across as intru­sive on their pri­vacy, and some­times it may well be, but that is what is often required in true rela­tion­ships and true friend­ships. Per­sonal “pri­vacy” bound­aries shrink the closer we are to each other.

We are often bet­ter equipped to bet­ter see what’s “wrong” in cer­tain sit­u­a­tions that our part­ner or friend may be in than they can because we are usu­ally more emo­tion­ally dis­en­gaged and can see a sit­u­a­tion more “real­is­ti­cally.” We may see a sit­u­a­tion from a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive that is unavail­able to the other, or have some­thing to offer (knowl­edge, insight or a mate­r­ial object or skill) that the other per­son does not know we have, doesn’t want to ask for, or didn’t think of at the time.

There is a fine line between being nice or help­ful and being pushy. Offer­ing your help or assis­tance with­out the other person’s con­sent may be very annoy­ing or even rude — in fact, quite the oppo­site of “nice.” Griev­ances with which your friend may come to you may not require your help at all. In fact, the only help and the nicest thing you can do is just lis­ten. (Men are par­tic­u­larly good at offer­ing unwanted help and solu­tions, which can be very annoy­ing to women.)

The say­ing that you should “treat oth­ers the way you want to be treated” may apply to some very lim­ited sit­u­a­tions among the peo­ple of the same cul­ture, age, gen­der, etc., who more or less share the same out­look on life and the world view. But, in the world of diver­sity in which we live, to “treat oth­ers the way THEY want to be treated,” is much more appro­pri­ate. For this you need to be much more sen­si­tive and alert to other’s needs and wants if you want to be “nice.”

Now, is being “nice” such a good thing to be that you should always be nice to every­one? NO, vehe­mently it is NOT. All peo­ple, includ­ing strangers, deserve to be given the ben­e­fit of the doubt and be treated nicely (pas­sively) and with respect of their per­sonal bound­aries to start off with. The closer you get, the more active nice­ness you will be allowed to demonstrate.

On the other hand, if you are threat­ened or bul­lied nice­ness will just get you into more trou­ble. Also, you need to beware of cer­tain types of peo­ple, such as psy­chopaths, sociopaths (cor­po­rate or crim­i­nal), and oth­ers with severe per­son­al­ity dis­or­ders, who do not appre­ci­ate nice­ness and will only use it to their advan­tage and ulti­mately to your demise.

I am sure you’ve heard about the con­cept of “tough love.”  On the sur­face, tough love cer­tainly looks any­thing but nice. Tough love may not look nice, but it cer­tainly demon­strates your com­mit­ment to the well­be­ing of another. And I think that that is nice.

In con­clu­sion, being nice is not the same as merely being polite. Your par­ents can teach you to be polite, but being nice is your per­sonal trait and can­not be taught, but it may be devel­oped. Close­ness and inti­macy in a rela­tion­ship is cre­ated and allowed by “niceness”.



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