Why Do I Only Attract Girls I'm Not Attracted To?

Dear Elana: 

Why do I only attract girls I'm not attracted to? I'm not horrible looking, but I'm not movie star handsome either. I know I can't get a supermodel, but I want a girl who I'm attracted to. 

- Still Trying Under Duress

Dear STUD,  

Beautiful women tend to want to date handsome men. But, if you happen to be a shorter, stouter, balder man, there's still hope. You might just need to adjust your expectations.

It's human nature to try to attract the best possible mate. Men who want to date women who are more attractive than they are often trade a winning personality, wealth, or status for looks. However, if you don't have these social resources to leverage, then you might need to shift your perspective. If you can't get the one you love, then love the one you can get. When I was a teenager learning to accept my changing appearance, I had a John Cage quote taped to my bedroom mirror: "The first question I ask myself when something doesn't seem to be beautiful is why do I think it's not beautiful. And very shortly you discover that there is no reason."

We tend to think of sexual attraction as being biologically determined, as if there were a hierarchy of sexiness that correlates with better genes and greater happiness. In fact, much of your perception of beauty is culturally-defined. You might think that a woman in a Rubens painting is overweight, but your ancestors would have considered your Tinder crush waifish. Similarly, you might view body modification as grotesque, but the Kayan Lahwi women of Burma and Thailand elongate their necks with copper rings because long necks are a sign of beauty in their culture. Who you get the hots for is greatly influenced by your socialized beliefs about beauty. If you learn a new way of seeing, you can fall in love with a non-traditional beauty. Maybe she doesn't fit your physical ideal, but she has stunning eyes, elegant style, and graceful posture. And who knows, your great-grandchildren might consider her the gold standard of beauty in the future. Whatever you do, don't wallow in vanity for too long. Remember that looks fade, but having a partner and best friend to share your life with is irreplaceable.

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Elana Hunter started KickStartLove when she was single, and after years of dating she is now happily married. She provides individual dating coaching for private clients who are ready to change their lives.