Physical Attraction is Not Shallow

November 19th, 2014 by Nick Notas 19 Comments

Shallow Attraction

Why is there so much judgement towards the physical preferences of others?

We’re all guilty of it one time or another. Think about these scenarios…

  • A girl who has specific height requirements for suitors in her online dating profiles
  • A guy you like who always chooses blonde girls with big breasts instead
  • A girl who dates a perfect guy and breaks up with him because of his small penis size
  • A guy who only flirts with fit, athletic girls

What do you think of these people? How do their actions make you feel?

Are you angry that they could be so shallow? Do you feel disgusted with how superficial they are? Do they make you want to throw your hands up and say, “That’s why I think dating is such bullshit”?

Why?

Why do you feel so threatened by other people’s desires? 

Someone being attracted to something you’re not makes you feel inferior. You take it as a personal attack. Your brain tells you, “That means I’m not good enough.”

Your harsh judgements stem from your own insecurity.

Of course, you wouldn’t admit that. You’re judgmental and attack others for their “poor” choices. You shame people about their desires. And you become resentful towards all the things you’re not.

You protect yourself from acknowledging you don’t fit someone’s idea of attractive. You don’t want to think about how you’re not doing enough to make yourself more attractive to more people.

Instead, it’s easier to just tear others down.

This is classic “crab mentality”. Which as Wikipedia says, can be summed up in “If I can’t have it, neither can you.”

But maybe you still think you’re right…maybe other people are shallow.

What if I told you, you were a hypocrite?

Whenever I challenge people who shame physical attraction, they always reveal they’re no better than the people they judge.

Take being a short guy, for example. A lot of shorter guys get angry at women who like tall men. This is something I personally struggled with as well.

They’ve heard the old saying, “I want a man who’s tall, dark, and handsome.” They read women’s online dating profiles that talk about their height preferences. They get frustrated when some girls don’t respond to their OKCupid messages.

Then they come to me with…

“These women are shallow bitches. They won’t even give me a chance. If they stopped obsessing over height, they’d see how great of a guy I am.”

Then I flip the script on these guys. “Let me ask you…do you message or talk to girls you’re physically unattracted to? What if a woman was severely overweight? What if she had messed-up teeth and stringy hair? Would you look past those things to give her a chance?”

The answer is almost always no. Then they start backtracking and trying to justify how their situation is different. 

No, it’s not different. Because we’re all attracted to different things. We all prioritize certain values higher or lower on our list.

Much of this is built into our biology or upbringing. We don’t choose what we’re attracted to.

People might argue about the girl, “She was willing to overlook many great guys over something as stupid as height.”

Again, it’s trivial to you but it may not be to her. Maybe she wants tall children. Maybe she likes feeling small and protected by her big man. Or maybe she just wants someone who can reach the pasta box from the top of her fridge.

Whatever the reason, why should she settle for less than what she wants? Would you?

Why you shouldn’t listen to what everyone else thinks about your desires 

I have an Indian client who always dated women his friends thought he should date. He believed he couldn’t see women outside of his ethnicity. He went out with girls he wasn’t physically attracted to.

If he didn’t feel attracted to a certain girl, his friends would say, “Don’t be so shallow, she’s a sweet Indian girl.”

His friends spoke from their own insecurities. They were brought up in a culture where you chose one person to be with. And that person was supposed to be of Indian descent. Other types of women were out of the question.

My client felt so guilty that he continued year-long relationships with women he wasn’t attracted to. He struggled to feel a physical connection. When he couldn’t fix things, he broke it off and blamed himself for the failed relationships. 

This left the girls feeling devastated. He couldn’t date again for a long time afterwards because he thought it would always be like this.

Was it the right decision to listen to his friends? Or did it just end up hurting everyone involved?

Since we started working together, he’s now in the first relationship where he truly feels happy.

I recognized that he’s a healthy, successful, driven man who holds himself to high standards. And he has the same expectations in someone he wants to be with. I told him he shouldn’t settle for what everyone else wanted, but who he felt met his standards and he found attractive.

You can hear your friends’ advice, but be skeptical. In the end, only you will know what makes you truly happy.

How I turned my insecurity into strength and how you should, too

I used to obsess about how short I was and how all women wanted tall guys. This was especially tough for me since I liked taller women. 

And you know what? I let that belief prevent me from meeting a lot of women. I made it a reality. 

When I finally stopped complaining about what those women didn’t like and started focusing on finding women who did like me, the problem resolved itself. I dated many tall girls who found me attractive.

Acceptance is how you find your own fulfillment.

I had to to accept that attraction is subjective and not always a choice. Therefore someone’s physical preferences are not shallow.

I had to accept that because attraction is subjective, nothing is absolute. Yeah, some women won’t be attracted to me as a short man, but plenty will be. Every attractive woman in the world doesn’t only want tall men. 

And most importantly, I had to accept that someone choosing someone else doesn’t make me less of a person. It’s a reflection of their preferences, not my self-worth.

My job isn’t to convince those uninterested people to want me. Or to make them see how wrong they are. Or to wallow in self-pity and play the victim.

My job is to find people I’m physically attracted to and who are physically attracted to me. And to be glad other people are doing the same, because we’re all better off for it.

  1. Kevin on November 19, 2014

    I’m living proof everybody is attractive to somebody. I like curvy, thick women. Some of my friends bust my balls about it but I’m the one laughing. I have no competition and have more ladies to myself.

    • Nick Notas on November 19, 2014

      Haha that’s awesome. I’m a fan of curvy women (and many other types) as well. You’re carving out your own niche 🙂

  2. Pete on November 19, 2014

    Hey Nick,
    Great little read. Ive definitely been and still am guilty of this mentality. I’ve found myself feeling bitter and then ultimately defeatist in future endeavours, hampering my chances before I’ve even said a word!

    • Nick Notas on November 19, 2014

      Hey Pete,

      Thanks! Self-analysis plays a major role in overcoming our insecure mentalities. You’re already there and know what’s holding you back — that’s a great start. Now it’s just about taking action, finding more fufllment, and internalizing a healthy mindset

  3. Paul on November 19, 2014

    Hey Nick, I’ve been following your blog for tad more than a year now. I gotta say you’ve both brought in refreshing new perspectives (referring back to the Why You Should Learn to Walk Away article) and challenged common beliefs (which is this very article here) very delicately but thoughtfully at the same time.

    Just wanted to leave you this note here. You’re an incredible coach, and from one man to another, you’re much appreciated.

    • Nick Notas on November 19, 2014

      Paul,

      Thank you so much. I’m honored to have you reading my work for so long.

      I try my best to cut through the BS in the world in an encouraging way so we can all grow together.

  4. Scott on November 19, 2014

    Another thing that maybe noteworthy is that people’s physical preferences aren’t always fixed for life, the can change at different times (I know mine have). Also some of it can be experience as well like if someone had a bad experience with a certain physical type then that could put them off and reverse could be true if they had an awesome experience with a certain physical type. To be honest I think us men have it slightly easier because women tend to be more likely to overlook this kind of thing depending on how someone makes them feel, in fact the vibe you’re giving out can have a big impact on how physically attractive you are.

    • Nick Notas on November 19, 2014

      Everything you said is spot on. My tastes have changed over the years. I used to primarily date Asian women when I was in high school. Since then I’ve dated and been attracted to all types of women.

      I’ve never had that experience personally but I imagine it’s similar to taste aversion. A bad experience can sour future ones.

      And yes! This is something so many guys don’t understand. While looks are important to a degree with women, there are so many more qualities they find attractive in a man.

  5. BLT on November 19, 2014

    Hello Nick,

    New reader here, just starting to look through the archives, but this article caught my eye as it’s a concept I’ve often struggled with. Physical attraction is in itself a key component to overall attraction, but it certainly does become shallow when one utterly prioritizes it over personality. I may not want someone I find physically unattractive, but I equally don’t want someone who is physically attractive but whose personality is destructive/imbalanced/dangerous/petty. Even so, there’s no denying that physical attraction is often the basis for initiating contact, since there’s not much else we can gauge before speaking with the other person.

    Still, is there no point at which ones physical preferences become unrealistic, or when one should reconsider the basis for these preferences?

    • Nick Notas on November 19, 2014

      Hey BLT,

      Welcome, happy to have you here.

      I definitely agree that personality needs to be there. Physical attraction is just often the first stage of the screening process. My point is it’s damn near impossible to stay fulfilled with someone you’re unattracted to.

      I’ve written extensively about whoever you choose, they should treat you well. Respect and honesty are cornerstones of any relationship.

      I originally had, “However they look like doesn’t matter as long as they respect you and treat you well.” after “In the end, only you will know what makes you truly happy.” But I decided to remove it since I’ve hammered that idea in so many times in recent posts.

      There isn’t necessarily a limit to one’s physical preferences. It’s more about holding yourself to the same expectations you want from someone else. If you have high standards, you need to be willing to put in the work to earn those standards.

      So if you’re looking for an athletic, stylish, career woman, you should strive for that in yourself. If you’re out of shape, poorly dressed, and without a job, it’s going to be MUCH harder to get that woman you desire. Either be willing to elevate yourself or drop your standards.

  6. Ash on December 4, 2014

    “My job isn’t to convince those uninterested people to want me. Or to make them see how wrong they are. Or to wallow in self-pity and play the victim.

    My job is to find people I’m physically attracted to and who are physically attracted to me. And to be glad other people are doing the same, because we’re all better off for it.”

    This is a really good statement. I’ve found too many people focus on people who’ve rejected them and they’ve missed a lot of opportunities to meet people who are interested in them.

  7. Kimberly on March 17, 2015

    I’ve been struggling with this for a while. My type of guy is someone who is decent looking, and is fit, not 6 pack but fit. But I always pick at the little things with every guy I talk to! Whether it’s the gap between their teeth, or their hair isn’t perfect, or their face isn’t what I expected it to look. I hate that about myself, because those guys actually like me, and allow my shallowness to take over instead of accepting it. I wish it was easy as just telling a guy off. But I realized that sometimes I’m hurting so many people by doing that.

  8. Brandon S. Pilcher on March 26, 2015

    I’m a white dude who’s really in black ladies and has sought a long-term relationship with one ever since I got out of high school (unfortunately to no avail yet), but honestly I’ve struggled with guilt about having such a strong physical preference. My mom keeps telling me I should date women for their personality and ignore appearance, but honestly that sounds no different from an everyday platonic friendship to me. I’ve certainly never wanted to date a female friend I didn’t consider good-looking. But then, I have Asperger-style autism, so maybe my emotional workings are different from those of most other people.

  9. Amish Computer User on April 1, 2015

    What many of your holier-than-thou insensitive types either don’t get or just disregard is just because person X doesn’t meet societies definition of “attractive”, doesn’t mean that person X doesn’t have needs that aren’t being met. I’m not just talking about the physical.

    After many years of constant rejection, and being told by seemingly the entire female gender what a great “friend” he is, of course he’s going to get angry. And, for better or for worse, that’s going to affect him. He’s only human. Of course that’s going to cloud his perspective. Perhaps you shouldn’t be so quick to judge someone like that until you’ve been through what he has.

    I personally learned that the shallowness is a good thing. I think of it as women being self-filtering. If they’re so superficial and shallow that they’re going to disregard things that are important in a person, what SHOULD be important to them, just so they can focus on the exterior…then that’s not someone I want to be with. I want to be with someone who is smarter than that, with more depth and more soul.

    When I get a gift, I don’t care about the wrapping paper, ribbons, or bows. I throw those away about a minute after receiving the gift. I care about what is actually in the box. It is a crying shame that so many people don’t get this concept.

    When I read stuff like this, it makes me even more grateful for my wife and my marriage than I already was. I am so happy that I don’t have to date any more.

  10. emily on September 15, 2015

    I’m a short girl who i think has a pretty face but has recently put on some wieght due to some surgeries and other physical ailments. And since I put on this 30 or so lbs guys don’t look at me the same way, i’m always getting the i think your a great friend. And it’s so hard because i’m so insecure because I know that the kind of guy i’m attracted to don’t find me attractive and I feel like I don’t deserve the kind of guy I want because i would be a complete hypocrite… but i’ve tried so hard to date the kind of men that like the way i look now and I just can’t find myself attracted to them though i’m trying so so hard not be such a vain person, i don’t now what to do.

  11. John on December 23, 2015

    Height cannot be changed but hearing woman complain about men not being attracted to cury and overweight women is borderline pathetic and at worst disgusting. Losing weight and remaining a decent body shape is not hard at all in any damn way. Many people do not have medical conditions that cause weight gain for many it is simple greed and laziness. So in that respect i can understand men’s frusttrations regarding height as it is unchangeable being a fat mess who cant be bothered to work out or stop being greedy IS NO WHERE NEAR the same and is quite offensive for me as a man and many other men that it is considered to be on the same level.

    Pathetic to be honest.

  12. Max on February 16, 2016

    Truth is, I mostly agree with John. I am gonna try to be a bit more polite. People are stuck with their height after certain age. Weight can be changed to much greater extent, unless some genetic fault or other severe illness is involved. Most men in the world are not 6 feet. Most overweight women can lose weight. No short men can increase their height, unless some surgery is involved. So, yes getting ditched for something that’s 99% out of your control; as a Man is irritating. But at the same time, there really is no point bitching about women’s preference for taller men, they won’t change just because men don’t like it. Just like women bitching about men wanting sex isn’t gonna change. I do personally prefer taller women, I had better luck with them than shorter women. Seems taller women prefer me too. Think of it this way: if you are with a taller woman, you’ll get to put your hands in places that’ll earn many other men a slap in the face! Just something to think about if you are having problems with shorter women. There are plenty of women for pretty much all of us to go around. In case anyone’s wondering, I am 5’6″.

  13. KRose on February 19, 2016

    I look for articles whenever I have a question about something related to my life, like changes or my relationships with others, when I need to understand why something is the way it is. I recently tried to have a relationship with someone who was very physically ideal (with some small exceptions). At first it started off well, but I did notice that he had some quirks that were opposite to my personality, such as lifestyle choices and levels of maturity. He took a while to admit that he didn’t feel as strongly for me as I did for him, and he also was pretty careless about answering texts. It seemed that the only thing he had to offer me, was motivation- like for the gym (he’s a body builder) and finances and he seems pretty positive overall about many things. We recently shared an intimate time together as friends, and he repeated that he didn’t feel the same way I did, as well as mention his concern that I might meet someone soon and that he may hurt my feelings if we shared this time together. I assured him that I wasn’t worried about it. This week, I met someone on a site who seemed to have a lot in common. We went on a date the same day we chatted (he’s fast paced, like me) and we seemed to hit it off well. He has all the attributes I was looking for, except I notice that he’s sorta pillowy in some places (neck and torso). He and I have talked a lot about what we are looking for, and he admitted to wearing his heart on his sleeve, but assured me that he wanted me in his life. Everything about him still surprises me, and I tell him whenever he does something I’ve been wishing for for a long time, or when I’m not used to something (in a good way). We have seen eachother twice so far, and have been making future date plans for the next couple weeks. I am also focused on a partnership setting, therefore I don’t count on him to pay for everything (although he does when he’s in charge of the plans). I realized a while ago that if I want a stable relationship, I have to be willing to contribute. I’m beginning to wonder now how to accept the fact that I am letting go of a ‘Greek God statue’ for a man that is the pillowy version of my ideal Lover. I’ve had a vision of the ideal man, in my head for the past 13 years. I know that it’s better to go for the best personality, but I’m a little concerned about how long I’ll be willing to accept this slight imperfection. I seem to be doing okay so far..

  14. Marie on September 5, 2016

    Hello Nick,

    I am an african-american woman living in Florida. Where I am from, many black men dated black women. Especially curvy women. Living here for over 10 years, I have only dated a few people. I see that many men prefer either white or puerto rican women. People have the right to choose who they want, at the same time I am disappointed and want to move out of the city. I am discouraged that this is just not the place to meet my mate. Any thoughts? Thank you 🙂