How do we know when an attractive person might not be right for us?
Here are some suggestions with visual aids for identifying men to avoid.
The fellow above is up in the air, feet not close to the ground. He believes he possesses many ideas and schemes to make him rich, but few, if any, are realistic.
Such people tend not to take responsibility, instead blaming others for the endless failures of plans whose time never comes. Take special care not to lend these fellows money. The promise of sure-fire success is usually too good to be true.
We live in a world where drugs and alcohol are everywhere. Numerous websites list the signs of alcoholism.
Some alcoholic men are charming, hold down decent jobs, and tell you they can quit at any time. Denial is a hallmark of the condition. Unfortunately, as the old play on words tells us, “Denial is not a river in Egypt.”
The addiction can creep up and overtake life’s every aspect but is challenging to reverse. The ancient Chinese proverb states, “First the man takes the drink, then the drink takes the man.” Women, too.
The sculpture depicts a man who cannot keep his pants on. While a healthy sex life is an evolutionary necessity, I have met ladies who knew the totality of their worth beyond appearance and allure. They also desired respect for their intellect, artistic giftedness, career, sensibility, and kindness.
Once past the honeymoon stage, a relationship must include more than the flesh. You might want to find out early whether the gent considers you more than a plaything unless you conceive of that as an acceptable long-term role.
If you wish your male partner to leave you alone and focus on his career, the chap above is the man for you.
Whether he is interested or capable of offering more than a paycheck remains an open question. Nor will the preoccupied gentleman share in the responsibility and joy of parenting his children.
The sculpture is intended to represent any man standing near and viewing it. The nameplate behind the bronze figure in the right corner of the photo features the following poem by Philip Levine:
They said I had a head for business They said to get ahead I had to lose my head. They said be concrete & I became concrete. They said, go, my son, multiply, divide, conquer. I did my best.
Reading it on site requires a position similar to the one displayed by the incomplete metal man in front of you. The viewer bends over just behind the thing he imitates.
In a well-functioning twosome, we must listen to our lover.
Many people attempt to impress by speaking. More than a few seek to influence another.
Of special value is a rarer person who listens with quiet intensity. Such a one evaluates the moment and what the other needs rather than jumping forward for the next thing he wishes to utter. Slowing the conversation and thinking through what has been said allows him to learn more.
Beware of anyone who talks over (or interrupts you) with regularity. It is a matter of incivility and disrespect in failing to allow you to finish your thought.
Words needn’t collide. In some moments, silence draws us closer. Ludwig Wittgenstein, the philosopher, understood there were limits to what speech could communicate by itself. His most famous quote was this:
Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.
The top sculpture photo is called Slight Uncertainty by Michael Trpak. It is located in Prague. The picture below it shows Two Friends Enjoying Their Belgian Beer in 1971, sourced from History Daily. The next figure of the Man Who Can’t Keep His Pants On is by Jean-Louis Corby. It is followed by Corporate Head by Terry Allen, at the Ernst and Young Plaza in Los Angeles. Finally, Le Silence (An Homage to Salvidor Dali).
The legend tells us that King Midas, given a choice of any reward in the world, requested “the golden touch.” The fulfillment of his wish left him overjoyed.Everything at hand could be turned to gold!
When dinner arrived, however, the greedy regent discovered a downside.The food, once meeting his flesh, became the inedible precious metal.
He starved to death.
With Midas as an example, we might ask ourselves what becomes of those who receive another much wished-for gift: beauty.
The upside is well-known:attention, popularity, crowds of suitors, and more.Data suggest this group gets higher ratings on a wide range of characteristics.More social and career doors are thought to open, too.
The challenges of being adorable receive less comment.Here are a few of the problems attached to living inside a lovely face or form. Not every such individual suffers them all, but please imagine I’m talking about you.
Start with stereotyping. Think of golden curls atop your head.Some will suppose you are foolish, scatterbrained, and insubstantial. Thoughtless discounting of your loftier attributes must be overcome, at least in the USA.
What happens when you speak?Will your voice and words alter your appeal?Might dullness downsize the appraisal?
Acquaintances sometimes think physical charm places the lucky one at the front of every line. Such onlookers suppose your innate power to enchant obliterates all obstacles. They misunderstand your life.
Jealousy follows from the idea of “unearned rewards.” Some conclude your professional achievement came because of a “special relationship” with a supervisor or boss. Sexual harassment and gossip remain a hazard for all women.
If you are introverted, the buzz of attraction you create might overwhelm and fatigue you.The world expects you to be delighted to mingle among multiple eyes and swiveling heads.Refusal to attend group events can label you as rude or “stuck-up.“
The potency of physical allure lays a trap for the gorgeous.Shall you depend on your attractiveness alone to generate a satisfying life?Perhaps you can prosper without much education, wit, or humanity – for a while.You would do better to recognize your season comes – and goes.
Aging for the comely one, when her self-image depends too much on the mirror’s reflection, carries dreaded anticipations of future invisibility.The male gaze includes no lifetime guarantee.Cosmetic surgery can slow but not stop the clock.The battle with a younger self is unwinnable.
A life graced by a perfect “package” does not eliminate all the hurdles and heartbreaks suffered by homo sapiens.Work, dating, friendship, athletics, and raising children offer satisfaction, but also potential woe.This fact remains unknown to those who think your angelic wings lift you beyond everyday travail.
Comparisons abound.You will be compared to your friends and offspring by the friends and offspring themselves.Observers note the pecking order in any lineup and coworkers join in the chorus of the judges and the judged.Many will name you a blessing, some a complication to their place in the world.
Your life as an object of desire means categorization as a competitor.The insecure will be troubled by your presence.If you divorce, do not expect your position within your community of friends to go unaffected.You are now a threat.
The exquisiteness of a woman both enhances and complicates the search for a mate, scares some men off, and causes commodification by the players. The role of a trophy – shiny, polished, and metallic – won’t keep you warm inside.
All of us understand society through the lens of personal experience.With enough time and interaction with people, we begin to fathom those who are different from us.
The magnetic life of a radiant creature presents her with the task of grasping the psychological state of peers who sit below the radar she never escapes herself.Since ravishing visions are always in short supply, those who are “easy on the eyes” tend to lack a confidant who identifies with being “the fairest of them all.“
Even if you are a member of the club I’ve described here, you needn’t fit my description.On balance, it is thought far better to be attractive than not, just as it is preferable to be the tallest candidate for President of the USA. He wins the popular vote in most elections.
Few of us would turn down a pleasing combination of body and brain.I’m not suggesting you should.But when we think of the best-looking mermaids in our pool, perhaps we might recall they occasionally envy our safety from fishermen and their hooks.
The three images above are publicity photos sourced from Wikimedia Commons. The Ingrid Bergman picture was used to promote her 1944 MGM movie Gaslight, for which she won the Academy Award for Best Actress.
Next comes Joan Crawford in a 1936 shot taken by George Hurrell. Finally, Dorothy Malone as captured in 1956 by Universal International Pictures.
A therapist learns more about private lives than almost any other professional. Such knowledge informs him of the double-edged nature of many glorious qualities.
Take beautiful women.
The upside of their charm is well-known: admiring glances, an expansive range of potential suitors, the possibility of marrying into a superior status. People who will do more for you, show you great kindness, pick up what you’ve dropped, and make exceptions for your failings because you dazzle them with bright eyes, a smile, and the symmetrical proportions of your face.
The genetic wheel of fortune blesses some of us, sideswipes others. One does nothing to earn this. Gifts of intellect, athletic talent, and disposition are subject to random distribution, but none more nakedly evident than how you look.
What of the downside of this accident of birth? As the Greek myth of Prometheus relates, we must be wary of a gift received from the gods. Here are a few observations about those complicated presents. One cautionary note: these remarks do not fit every one of those who make men look twice:
A number of the gorgeous ones become accustomed to the unearned advantages bestowed upon them. Some believe they needn’t develop other facets of themselves: education, tenderness, social intelligence, or financial independence, etc. Life demands less, so they give less.
An additional factor contributes to their confidence in a seemingly permanent entitlement. Few can grasp the reality of future unwanted changes to their physicality.
All of us believe advanced age is our destiny, but the idea is an abstraction. The magic mirror, like the one possessed by Snow White’s evil stepmother, reflects an everlasting prime. Time stretches when a rose is in bloom. Its alteration is imperceptible. A different life is unimaginable.
Perhaps we survive as a species because aging long remains at a distance, beyond the horizon, an affliction without application to ourselves.
An enchantress wonders about something else, at least early on: why does he love me? Everyone thinks about the reasons for another’s affection, but a beautiful woman confronts the plausibility her pulchritude alone is paramount.
Along with the power conferred by her sexuality, she regrets that her lover values her without knowing her. Perhaps she is an objectified prize to be displayed beside his most conspicuous trophies; as a testament to his worth and his victories in a chest-pounding macho competition.
The totality of the female as a unique, self-created, moral, emotional, perceiving entity might be obscured by the man’s singular focus on her arresting face and form. The woman’s periodic dismay at the irony of being “unseen the more she is seen” betrays the existence of an invisible depth.
The fetching lady is like a bejeweled well, so breathtaking and artistically constructed on the outside no one thinks to examine what is inside.
I met movie-star-beautiful women whose personalities, wit, imagination, generous humanity, and brains were more impressive and magical than anything else about them. And yet the floodlight of their externals blinded far too many who were already blind to the possibility something more was more important.
If a damsel’s charms are also long-lasting, females share the tendency to discount her strengths.
I recall treating a gynecologist whose appearance suggested early-20s though she was 45. Upon acquaintance, patients did not believe she was a doctor.
Once persuaded, a minority continued to question whether her medical experience justified trusting her. The physician’s presence confronted them with the contradiction between what she was and what she appeared to be.
To the extent one retains youthfulness and allure, an evergreen body postpones the portion of maturational instruction a fading flesh provides. How one adjusts to its transformation and the changing reactions of others to its metamorphosis influences everything else.
Aches and pains aren’t fun, but they are informative. Prolonged youthful skin plays the trick of extending the period in which you can act asyou did in your chronological springtime.
Any of us might wish for this blessing, but wisdom is acquired not only by exposure to events and the passage of time. Sages achieve enlightenment, in part, by adjusting to alterations in the package containing their soul.
A significant number of good-looking members of the fair sex find relationships with their same gender comrades challenging. Rivalry for the male gaze creates unease among possible friends. Would-be chums and colleagues hesitate to stand in the shadow of an apparition more magnificent than the hanging gardens of Babylon.
If these captivating creatures get divorced, married women guard the home turf against the temptation they represent. Dinner and party plans leave the insecure wondering if they would do better not to invite a Trojan horse into their walled dwelling place.
The signs of seniority and declining loveliness inevitably arrive, even when late to the game. The loss of a man’s instinctively turning head is still a loss, however long the delay. Grief is enlarged when self-concept is too dependent upon the vanishing thing.
Comparisons can’t be escaped. For one who caught every eye, she not only measures her effect on neighbors and friends but judges her current self against what she was.
If you are beautiful, you are aware of the downs and ups of nature’s largesse. A sense of well-being is enabled by gratitude for whatever one has. Those women who hang on to their appreciation of the whole of themselves will handle both their sexual objectification and its departure as well as possible.
When considering the beautiful, do remember that the higher they climb on the list of bathing beauty winners, the farther they must fall into the water.
While no one escapes gravity, some qualities defy it. Shoot for the stars with whatever excellences best define you today.
All of the images above are sourced from the Art Institute of Chicago. The first is Three Beauties of Yoshiwara (1793) by Utamoro. Next comes Madam Pampadour (1915) by Modigliani, followed by Dorothea and Francesca (1898) by Cecilia Beaux. Finally, Two Sisters (On the Terrace) (1881) by Renoir, Bust of an African Woman (1851) by Charles Henri Joseph Cordier, and Celestial Beauty from 8th century India.
How much of others’ misery can you stand? How much of their success? How much of their sexuality?
Television has an answer for us, but more about that a little later. First, let’s look at our private responses to the fluctuating fortunes of ourselves and others.
Dan Greenburg and Marcia Jacobs in How to Make Yourself Miserable, recommend your life should stay within the “Acceptable Failure Range.” Exceeding the limits in either direction — repeated success or endless unhappiness — will alienate some people, so the authors tell us, tongue in cheek?
I’m comfortable with this idea. Few wish to fall into the shadow of a friend who glories in his achievements. You know the type — towering SAT scores, career victories, and trendy restaurant visits are not just reported but repeated.
If the old saying, “Misery loves company” is true, one should limit being too full of yourself and your good fortune around friends.
Others in a fraught personal moment hesitate to describe their raw misfortune for fear of stressing out their social network. They anticipate compassion fatigue and expect to be shunned — the “Debbie Downer” of their group. USA society encourages an upbeat, “can do” attitude and expects us to “move on.”
We have an ambivalent relationship to fortune’s two-faced coin. First we separate the people we know well from everyone else. A different set of rules applies to each of these groups.
A celebrity’s high-flown lifestyle might intrigue us rather than generate jealousy, but headlined heartache is addictive so long as harm doesn’t happen to someone for whom we care.
A calamity in Uzbekistan is one thing. Distance is built-in. The disaster is both out there, thousands of miles away; and “in there” — inside the TV set. Moreover, when the media inundate us with tragedy stacked liked chipped dishes one upon another, the individual damage of each one makes little impression.
The lives of others — their “reality” — no longer seems quite real once we have become habituated to it. Our unconscious defenses protect us from recognizing that, we too, are subject to the sword of a savage Fate, both random and indifferent. In effect, the broadcast disaster is like a stage play, entertaining but soon forgotten.
That is, unless your brother-in-law calls with a message so painful even the smartphone is stupefied.
The 1950s first revealed our fascination with the sad lives of strangers, unrecognized until a national network TV program called “Queen for a Day” became a hit. Prior to the middle of the twentieth century, public sorrow was thought unseemly except at funerals. QFAD turned forbidden self-disclosure into entertainment. A forerunner of the ubiquitous reality TV of today, the show featured “real people” (women who were not celebrities) telling the emcee the unfortunate circumstances of their lives and sometimes breaking down while doing so.
This was preceded by an unconscionably upbeat welcome from the host, Jack Bailey, a pencil-mustached man with glistening black hair and the attitude of Harold Hill in The Music Man: a fast talker far too cheerful and insincere for the occasion, whose pores oozed Hill’s flim-flam slipperiness. Four “contestants” sat behind him, all looking as if they awaited crucifixion, chests heaving, scarcely in emotional control. Each was about to bare her tragedy to a theater/restaurant audience of ladies having lunch with a side-order of Schadenfreude, the German word that describes our amused, but guilty reaction to watching someone else slip on a banana peel.
This was pre-civil rights television. White women desperate enough to endure this humiliation were asked what they would like if crowned; usually medical equipment or household appliances.
Once all the tragedies had been recited Jack Bailey requested applause for the opponents in the order in which he’d interviewed them. A meter registered the audience’s measure of their pain’s sufficiency. Sort of like a latter-day Roman Colosseum, the spectators determined who among the lady “gladiators” got a “thumbs up.” The program was some form of “See if you can top this,” with each contestant hoping to surpass her competitors in terms of desperation and heartbreak, diseased children and poverty.
Once coronated, the “Queen” was robed and seated on a makeshift throne to the tune of “Elgar’s Pomp & Circumstance March #1, better known as high school graduation processional music. Her majesty then received not just the requested item, but a carload of other things, often including a vacation.
I can only imagine how the losers felt, having once again been consigned to the anonymous trash heap of human misery. Perhaps they wondered, “Wasn’t my life bad enough?” Defeat added to their already long list of disappointments, despite a few consolation prizes.
The TV writer Mark Evanier called this program “one of the most ghastly shows ever produced,” further finding it “tasteless, demeaning to women, demeaning to anyone who watched it, cheap, insulting and utterly degrading to the human spirit.” A confession here: I viewed it as a kid.
Of course, the misfortune itself was not demeaning. But, the fact that these women had to plead for and parade their need in front of a national audience and strangers nearby — all in the hope of some material reward (however, necessary) — was lamentable. The discomfort of the contestants was not disguised. To add to the irony, they were surrounded by beautiful models in skimpy outfits, all wearing their own crowns. Every one of them looked ready for the Miss Universe bathing suit competition. Compared to these youthful and comely human stage props, the rest resembled victims of a recent mugging. The objectification of all the featured females, from the leggy sexuality of Bailey’s nameless assistants to the throw-away dismissal of the three losers, was appalling.
Many of today’s reality TV “stars” require no such financial incentives to lay bare (sometimes literally) whatever is most personal in this more shameless moment in history. TV channel VH1 debuted a new series called “Dating Naked” on July 17th. Three couples quickly go on nude dates in this cut-rate version of the Bachelor/Bachelorette enterprise. Surely this is the final defeat of mystery in romance. To their credit, the producers blurred the naughty parts and included contestants who look like real people, not models.
Think about it. We are scandalized if someone finds a way to watch women in the shower room without their knowledge. We find it outrageous, and welcome the legal prosecution of the “Peeping Toms” who do this. Yet, when the TV reality participants agree to national emotional or physical nakedness, many of us salivate in anticipation. Yes, there is a difference between the “Toms” and the rest of us, but not in terms of our curiosity and prurient interest in behavior once thought of as private. Are we better off today than before “Queen for a Day” led the way to “Dating Naked?”
In fairness, “Queen for a Day” wasn’t the real starting point. One could go back to the gory glory of the Roman Colosseum, whose inaugural games in the first century A.D. are said to have involved the slaughter of 9000 animals in hunts staged before tens of thousands. We know about the gladiatorial contests of the time, while boxing matches and bull fights continue in the present day.
People can and should learn from the lives of others — what to do and what not to do. What seems a shame — but oh, so human — is our penchant for paying attention to things from which we can learn little. A more charitable stance, however, is to recognize we need the distraction. “Gapers’ blocks” produced by “rubbernecking” happen despite knowing we are contributing to a traffic jam. By comparison to “Dating Naked,” actions worth emulating are usually quiet, private, and boring. The class clown gets us to laugh, while the valedictorian goes home and reads.
Having said all that, should you dare, you can witness various episodes of the show that picked up and transformed the voyeurism of the Colosseum and adapted it for television. The YouTube link at the top of the essay includes a complete 1956 QFAD show. When it is over, you might think a second about today’s reality entertainment and the Roman audience 2000 years ago. For me, there is one conclusion: Darwin was wrong!
The publicity photo of Jack Bailey and his “Queen For A Day” assistants was uploaded to Wikimedia Commons by We hope.