Dr. Seth Meyers, Clinical Psychologist

Dr. Seth Meyers, Clinical Psychologist

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


How Much Do Looks Matter?

Beauty is a cultural obsession. We are flooded with information, images, and products designed to encourage us to ask, “How can I make myself more attractive?” This focus on the superficial makes me ponder the interplay between attractiveness and romantic relationship dynamics.

This is a complicated connection. How we feel about our physical selves has a profound effect on everything from our shopping habits to our self-esteem. We literally cannot escape the reminder of our physical vessel. And even though there is a lot of lip service to the idea that “what is on the inside really counts,” everyone knows that the outside package does matter.

A client recently said that she wants a boyfriend who "loves me for my heart and spirit instead of the circumference of my thighs." I completely agree that it is important for romantic partners to value the person beyond the superficial.

But realistically, most people do connect to their partner’s physicality before they get to know them on deeper levels. (And let us not forget that beauty is thankfully subjective. Someone in the universe doesn’t think that Angelina Jolie is really all that gorgeous). I think that my client represents a lot of people who wish that they could find a partner who loves them absolutely unconditionally despite age, weight, or any of the other variables that shift with time.

Is it realistic to hold out for this love? Does it even exist? I believe that your partner may love you even if you dye your hair green and gain three hundred pounds, but they might not remain physically attracted to you. My view doesn’t fit with the fairy tale of unconditional love. I'm very interested in others’ opinions.

ANGELINA JOLIE Photograph by Patrick Demarchelier; from the July 2008 issue of Vanity Fair.

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