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 They are going through a very ugly divorce and attrac­tive­ness has dis­ap­peared and been replaced by repul­sive­ness.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?





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