I remember a time when meeting someone who was just as damaged was a bit of a relief. Everyone walking…
He was tall, handsome, and built. He had a deep voice, confident gait, and perfect hair. The kind of guy who looked ridiculously handsome in an old white tshirt and jeans. He had visible muscles without working out yet was humble enough to not have to brag. He exuded testosterone but never started fights or went out of his way to be an obnoxious knucklehead. He had an advanced degree from prestigious university, wrote poems that weren’t embarrassing, knew how to change a tire, and could quote Hemingway without sounding pretentious. All of the guys we hung out wanted to be around him and all of the women wanted to date him.
We were all slightly jealous of him. Like he had almost too many amazing qualities. And the list of women he dated was like everyone’s top 10 women who we ever came in contact with. His ability with women was uncanny. The most brilliant and stunning women would throw themselves at him. He was always the guy who ended things, and if you were ever around him you knew instantly he was not the kind of guy a person breaks up with. So it shocked us all when he married… her.
She was short, overweight, and fashionably frumpy. We were his friends so we supported him – even if we were giving each other side eyes in private. But the majority of hate came from his ex-girlfriends. Online shade came pouring in. Mostly consisting of passive aggressive tweets and Facebook rants. We’ve all seen it before. When jealousy, insecurity, and getting dumped collide, it makes for the perfect salty ex. And these women, these insanely beautiful and intelligent women had taken to the internet to slam this cute, yet very unassuming new woman. Most of the hate was directed at her weight and the fact that she was “average”, as they put it.
As we got to know her, everyone fell in love with her. She was charming and funny and insightful. She was the kind of woman who actually listened to your story and gave solid advice. She was passionate. She loved to travel and had a warm positive glow about her. And after a short time, I felt bad for ever questioning his love for her. But I was raised in this culture just like you. As much as I would like to believe that I am not superficial and shallow, I was raised on the same movies and indoctrinated by the same media culture as we all were. So yes, I tend to initially be attracted to pretty people. We can’t change what we find attractive, no matter how much we educate ourselves. And when you stand back and look at the world, it really is a shame that most people don’t give the “socially unpretty” the same respect.
But for all the “internet models” he dated, he ended up choosing one of the most unlikely women as his forever. They have been married for almost a decade now and have two children. They own a nice upper middle-class house in the suburbs and he posts pictures of him running marathons on his Facebook regularly.
What I think is the most shocking aspect of this is that we still find unlikely couples shocking. We look at someone who is a 4 who is dating a 9 and say, “Well, that one must have money.” Like, there has to be some reason for the discrepancy. And let’s be real – there usually is. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard a guy say, “Well, she’s a bitch but she’s really hot.” Or a woman say, “Well, he’s kind of gross but he buys me things.” And as shallow and vapid as those excuses are, they are almost passable in our culture as being understandable. But the truth is, I envy the people who transcend social pressure. Those who have the ability to look past what we are constantly taught, day after day, from magazine covers and sitcoms. The couples who love the people their hearts are attracted to regardless of how anyone else perceives them. Because it doesn’t matter if you date 9’s and 10’s if they leave you feeling hollow inside. What does matter is how that person complements your life. How they support you. How they make you feel wanted, needed, and appreciated. That there is no one out there that could possibly replace you. That no one makes them feel as inspired as you. And that they crave your essence and your glow. If someone doesn’t make you feel like that well then it doesn’t matter how thin they are, how flawless their makeup, or how large their bank account. And that was why he picked her. Because she wasn’t the kind of woman who would turn to social media to bad mouth another person based upon out of style clothing. She was the kind of woman who would congratulate an ex for finding someone who could make them happy. And that is telling of a person’s character.
You can’t expect to find happiness if you’re not willing to make yourself happy first. But you certainly won’t find happiness in another person if you’re looking in all the wrong places while being attracted to all the superficial attributes. And true compatibility knows nothing of an arbitrary rating system – I will take a frumpy 5 over a shallow 10 any day. Because at the end of the day, I will only invest my time, energy, and love into someone I know who will appreciate it. And if that means neither one of us fit into the expectations of our ex’s, well, that is even better.