Skipped Weddings, the Sex Talk, and Attracting the Attractive

I would appreciate a woman’s perspective on something. Here’s the situation. I feel like I’m a pretty nice guy who has a lot going for him. I’m polite and respectful. I’ll hold the door open for you and give you my jacket when you’re cold. I’ve got a masters degree and a great career. I’m not rich, but I live comfortably and can afford nice things and frequent vacations without having to be a workaholic. I own my own home and a good car. I love to cook and I keep a clean house. I take care of myself (as in exercising regularly and brushing my teeth and all that). I’m as comfortable in jeans and a t-shirt at a barbecue as I am in a tuxedo at the opera. I like to think that I’ve got quite a bit to offer, except for one thing…

I’m ugly. That’s right, on the classic 1-10 scale, I’m probably a 3. This isn’t a self-esteem thing. I’m a fairly confident person. I have an easy time approaching women and striking up a conversation and asking if I can take them out sometime. I don’t spend hours crying about my looks, or avoid walking by mirrors or anything like that. I’m fine with who I am. It just so happens that who I am is a balding 30-year-old with a gut that won’t go away, and several other features that make me empirically unattractive, many of which I couldn’t change without resorting to surgery. But that’s not the problem. Despite being aesthetically challenged, I get plenty of dates. The problem is — and this is the part where I hope you don’t write me off as a shallow jerk — the dates I get are with women who are also 3’s. Any woman who’s even moderately attractive to me usually replies with a polite, “Oh, you’re such a nice guy, but I just don’t feel any “spark.” I’d love to be friends though!” And more often than not, we do stay friends. And they’ll invite me over for a party and introduce me to their unattractive friend and then go off and dance with some attractive guy who will soon be their boyfriend. This happens ALL THE TIME! So I go on dates with these other women and I really WANT to like them. I really, really do! But knowing that I’m unattractive doesn’t suddenly make me attracted to unattractive women. And at the same time, I know it’s unreasonable to expect an attractive woman to be attracted to an unattractive man. So I turn to you, oh lady who knows everything, for advice on how to fix one of those two things. How can I either A) attract an attractive woman, or B) become attracted to an unattractive woman? Any help is greatly appreciated.

So, here’s the thing: You’re right. I was inclined to write you off as a shallow jerk. But I understand Society and Standards of Beauty and blah blah blah. So let’s see what we can do!

But first let me just note that “attractiveness” isn’t an objective thing. I mean, don’t you have a friend who thinks, I don’t know, Jennifer Aniston is just the hottest thing ever, and another one who thinks she’s just OK? And she’s “attractive” enough for Hollywood. But different people have different types, are into different looks, etc.

On to your questions: The answer to question A is to become rich. I mean, right? When you see a more-attractive woman with a less-attractive man, usually he’s rich. Or super-compelling in some way. I have this theory about everyone’s assets adding up, and in couples that make sense, they add up equally. Not the same way, but more or less equally. So he’s better-looking, but she’s smarter, or something. If you’re trying to date up, looks-wise, you need to bring something exceptional to the table.

But I don’t really think that’s your problem. I think your problem is snap judgments, on both sides. That, or terminal shallowness. But are you really only attracted to a person’s face/body? I’m guessing no, that personality also plays a role. And maybe — MAYBE — your opinion of your looks has become a “self-esteem thing,” making you hold back with women you think are out of your league or whatever. Are you making moves? Being noticeably flirty? When they say “let’s stay friends,” have you ever said, “No, I don’t want to be your friend, because I want to date you”? Maybe try that. It may not work, but at least you won’t be set up with someone’s “ugly friend” again.

In the meantime, give the “less attractive” women a chance. A real chance. Maybe her face is just OK, but she’s sexy as hell when she dances. Maybe she makes you laugh so hard you can’t breathe. Maybe her face will grow on you!

But maybe you are just a shallow jerk, and need to wait it out until you get over it. But for the love of god, please don’t settle for someone you think is unattractive when you’ve decided it’s time to settle down. That’s no good for anyone.

How do you deal with your friends in far-away places bringing along their SOs every time you see them?

My current problem is with a close friend from university. We’ve stayed in touch — weekly emails and chatting — over several years and I’m heading out his way for a business trip next week. We had discussed splitting the distance between my destination and his city to visit with each other and I would like nothing more than to hang out with a great friend for a few hours. However, he recently told me that he’s got himself a girlfriend. I don’t really feel the need to meet her, especially when I’ll only have a few hours to spend with my friend. To be clear, this is not a jealousy thing — we are really just great platonic friends, I’m glad he’s found someone who makes him happy, I’m dating an amazing guy right now myself — but when I have a limited amount of time with my friend, I want to spend that time with him, not getting to know someone else who in all likelihood I’ll never meet again, given that we live on opposite sides of the country.

Is there a tactful way for me to say, yes, I’ll rent a car and drive for two hours to have some dinner with you in the middle of nowhere, but please don’t bring your girlfriend? And in general, because I am sure I am not the only lady out there with this problem, how do you politely tell your friends that you are thrilled they’re in love but please, can we hang out just us right now?

Oh, girl. You really just have to talk to them and say that. And you already know the polite way! “I am thrilled you are in love but please, can we hang out just us right now?” Seriously. It’s that simple. If you’ve never told them that, they have no idea. They think you are SO PSYCHED to meet their Snookums, because no one is more awesome than Snookums and who wouldn’t be psyched to meet him/her! She/he is THE BEST!!!! asldkfjasdflkj Really, that’s it. Just tell your friend you want to hang out with him alone.

Now, given that he is a dude and you are a lady, there may be added complications in this case, but I hope his girlfriend is cool enough to believe him when he says you are just friends and not a threat to her/their relationship. In the male/female friendship situation, you may have to make concessions to the girlfriend and at least meet her once, but maybe not?

(As a lady does) I am overthinking something that I really don’t even have to think about at all for a few years, but I was interested in getting the Hairpin perspective (both of the Ask A’s and of the readers) on this. I would like some advice on giving The Sex Talk to my kids (of both sexes). A little background: I was given the book “Where Did I Come From” in lieu of actually being talked to about sex (classic my-family avoidance move). That’s all fine and good, but it only covers the strictest sense of “natural” conception, and our kids were not conceived that way. So I feel sex can’t be approached from a “makin’ babies” standpoint (and perhaps shouldn’t be?). And yet, it makes me feel squicky to think about telling a five-year-old (for example) that sex is about feeling good, or whatever? Like, as kids I want them to know it’s not for them yet, but as teenagers I want them to feel good about approaching sex (although please gods not too early!!! I’m not for abstinence, just taking one’s time and being ready). Plus whatever orientation they turn out to have, or that anyone else has, is completely fine and cool.

Good on you for thinking about it ahead of time, because does any parent do this shit well? The thing is, I’m pretty sure there can’t just be one Sex Talk. Kids need to hear different things at different ages. When they are little, it will probably start with asking where babies come from, probably when a friend gets a younger sibling or you know a pregnant woman. Then you can give them some level of information about the mechanics, both the P-in-V way, and the more scientific ways, but it’s not really talking about Sex, and Why People Do It. But then as they approach puberty, you want to give them moral advice, letting them know that sex is fun, but maybe not age-appropriate, includes an incredible variety of acts beyond the P-in-V, etc. Myself, I am a big fan of encouraging younger teens to explore masturbation and dating simultaneously, so they aren’t driven by their hormones into doing sex too early with other people. I have no idea how I’d approach that as a parent, sorry, since OMG what is more embarrassing than being a pubescent child and talking about sex with your parents??? Maybe being a parent and talking about sex with your child.

But yeah, I don’t think you’re going to need to tell your five-year-old much about doing sex. You’ll probably want to throw in that people do enjoy it, but if your child is anything like I was as a child, there is no way they will believe you, until they are older and actually understand what you were talking about.

How do I tell my friend I can’t afford to (don’t really want to go to) her wedding? I am supposed to be a bridesmaid, but I really don’t get any room in my budget to travel at all, ever. I’d have to be pulling money out of my ass to go — it’s a destination wedding, and I will have to fly myself there, dress/feed/makeup myself, and pay for my dress and hotel. There’s not way I can manage to afford it, but the wedding is in November. When should I tell her? Is it tacky to be like “girl, I don’t have money for that wedding shit”? I am dreading how much it’s going to cost me, and I already have had to make cutbacks on my own in order to save up for anticipated expenses. It’s not fair! I don’t take vacations! I’m poor! Now I have to go do this wedding? There is no way I am putting it on a credit card.

Yeah, much like the lady above with different friend issues, you just have to tell her. Tell her you can’t afford to go to the wedding, much less be in it. And do it soon, so she can rearrange her plans for attendants. Were you surprised she asked you to be a bridesmaid? Because that seems like something for a BFF, spend-money-you-don’t-have type of relationship, not a casual friendship, but maybe you are just more financially responsible than I am, and she is totally your BFF and you just don’t have the money. Speaking for myself, I have spent plenty of money I don’t have on my best friends’ weddings, due to generally being the poor friend. But it is totally a legit choice not to! So anyway, you just have to tell her you can’t afford to do it. Maybe don’t call it “wedding shit” in the actual conversation? Have a nice talk — in person, if at all possible, or over the phone if not — where you tell her how much you love her and are happy for her, but how you are just not financially able to make the trip. And that’s it!

Previously: Revenge Tips, Infertility, and the Lumpy Lumberjack.

A Lady is one of several rotating ladies who know everything. Do you have any questions for A Lady?

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