How to Pick a Lover

Posts tagged ‘physical appeal’

Finding Love: Making Mistakes

Love is like mushrooms: One doesn’t know if they belong to the bad sort until it is too late.
—Tristan Bernard

When you are assessing a man as a potential friend or lover, you unfortunately don’t have a crystal ball to tell you the truth about him. You cannot look into his past or know what he is thinking or use second sight to second-guess him. Nevertheless, you do form an impression; and right or wrong, you have to act on that impression.

Most often, your instinctive reactions to someone are sound; but sometimes, you will make a mistake. When you’re wrong, there are two kinds of mistakes you can make. Suppose, for a moment, that there was an omniscient person, a fairy godmother to advise and decide just which men out there are right for you and which are not. To keep it simple, let’s just divide them into good prospects and bad prospects.

One mistake you could make would be to pick a false positive—that is, you could pick someone who seemed like a good prospect but who, in fact, turns out to be a loser, a turkey, a real dud. The wonderful traits you thought you saw might have been wildly exaggerated in your mind or maybe even made up entirely. It ‘s in this sense that people say love is blind. It sees things that aren’t there and refuses to see alarming signals that are there.

English: A site and time specific stencil from...

Photo credit: Wikipedia

Alternatively, a second kind of mistake you could make is to not pick a false negative—that is, you reject someone who would have been great. The fairy godmother is saying, “Go for it, girl! I conjured him up just for you.” You are saying, “Forget it! I can’t stand men with buckteeth!” A false negative is someone whom you reject before you have a chance to realize that he might have been a good prospect after all.

To put the same dilemma in a different way: with false positives, you start out thinking that someone is pure gold and then discover that he is actually made of brass. Not only made of brass but with feet of clay as well. You’ve said yes too soon, and you are disappointed and disillusioned. With false negatives, you reject a prospective lover who seems to be made of brass. Underneath, however, he’s really made of gold; and you never discovered it, or discovered it too late. If you had not been so quick to say no, you might have found a worthwhile friend, if not a lover.

Sadly, you never even get to know what you should have done because although you might wonder what would’ve happened if you had done this or done that, you can never know. The amount of risks you take depends on your personality and your options.

If you’re very attractive, sort of a princess who has many suitors swarming around, then you can be very picky. A few lost false negatives won’t bother you as there are many more where they came from, and you can be very
sure of not getting a false positive. However, if you are not quite a princess but rather an ordinary stepsister of a princess, then you may be more reluctant to waste your opportunities and more ready to take chances.

Taking chances involves taking risks, but as the American philosopher Elbert Hubbard, in his famous Scrap Book, warns, “The greatest mistake you can make is to be continually fearing that you will make a mistake.”

If You Must Be a Body Freak, Be Broad-Minded

There’s one thing about baldness—it’s neat.
—Don Herold

If you are so programmed that you can only love beautiful men and if the nonbeautiful are simply not appealing, then you have to think very carefully about what constitutes beauty. You have to contrast what would be ideal with what would be good enough.

Here is your exercise: think in your mind of whoever you consider to be physically the perfect man. There is any number of celebrity sex symbols you could choose from. George Clooney? Brad Pitt? Antonio Banderas? Warren Beatty when he was younger? Denzel Washington? Adam Levine? Any of the Backstreet Boys? Leonardo DiCaprio?

English: George Clooney at the 2009 Venice Fil...

English: George Clooney at the 2009 Venice Film Festival (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To keep him generalized, let us call him the all-star man. Think about the all-star man and ask yourself: if he were only five feet six, would he still do? The list of men whom many women would dismiss as too short includes such luminaries as Burt Reynolds, Dustin Hoffman, Richard Dreyfuss, and even the great Humphrey Bogart.

A lot of people who loved Clark Gable would have had trouble coming to terms with his false teeth. Sometimes, he would shock recalcitrant fans by taking them out in public. And the story goes that Bogey always licked his lips in his movies because he had a very irritable stomach and had to take Maalox all day, which left a white coating in his mouth.

How would you feel about your all-star man if he happened to be bald, or balding? According to Vidal Sassoon, who perhaps speaks from a biased position, “Hair is just another name for sex.” Many bald men, however, report that having a baldpate is an unfailing sex magnet. Perhaps women who find Andre Agassi magnetic and sexy are responding to something other than the absence of hair, but even if this is the case, they apparently are able to consider hair expendable. Indeed, many men are now shaving their hair completely off because a number of movie stars and athletes have once again redefined being bald as being sexy as Yule Brenner did in the 1960s.

There are many kinds of beauty. If you insist on using beauty as a criterion because that is how you are programmed, then at least try to include as many men as possible within the definition of “attractive enough.” If you have only
one type—if to be attractive to you a man must be tall, blond, strong, athletic, with blue eyes, a movie-star smile, and no moles—then perhaps you should consider as your next holiday a bicycle trip around Sweden. If you can love tall or short, dark or blond, blue eyes or black eyes, you can go to Italy as well, not to mention Argentina or Israel.

To this, as to every rule, there is an exception. If you are so imprinted on one particular body type and so conditioned to respond to it that you cannot have an orgasm unless you are holding on to muscular arms that are seventeen inches in circumference, well . . . then you are going to be stuck with bodybuilders and weight lifters. You will have the same limited range of erotic relationships as does the man who can only be turned on by a blonde with long legs and big breasts.

In all likelihood, you will find yourself turning down real men only to end up mooning over your favorite movie star or sports figure or over Playgirl magazine pictures of beautiful young men who, dressed or undressed, are equally unavailable except as fantasy playmates.

Don’t Be a Body Freak

The price of perfection is prohibitive.
—Jayson VanVerten

In the past, women complained that the image of the ideal woman was the Playboy model: eighteen or nineteen years old with gargantuan breasts; a vacuous, cocotte smile; and smooth, unblemished skin. She was young enough to give the illusion of virginal innocence but old enough to give consent. She was epitomized in the sort of showgirl made famous by Vargas in his provocative cartoons for Esquire magazine years ago.

Today’s ideal image is that of the Barbie doll with huge, surgically augmented breasts, legs that go on forever, and an anatomically impossible tiny waist. Whatever the ideal image, such women are quite unlike the girl next door and, in fact, are quite unlike even very beautiful women seen in real life. All of their imperfections and flaws have been airbrushed away by an army of photographers and technicians using the latest photographic equipment and digital software. As the noted sexologist Simon Van Velikoff observed, “The Playboy bunny discreetly has no pubic hair. She also has no moles or stretch marks or vaccinations. In the heat, she does not sweat. In the cold, she does not shiver; and probably, she never has a period.”

In real life, real women—like real men—are a walking collection of imperfections. Do you have fillings in your teeth? Do you have crooked teeth or braces to correct them? Do you wear glasses, or have you settled instead for contact lenses and tears? Do you have bags and dark circles under your eyes from insomnia? Do you have worry lines on your forehead? Do your feet sometimes swell? Can you pass the pencil test for sagging breasts and buttocks, or does the pencil you place there nestle in snuggly. Do you have scars from a trauma, appendectomy, or C-section? Do you sometimes feel like the “before” part of an Oprah glamour makeover? And even if you are cursed with all the above, do men still love you? Of course they do.

A man cannot go to bed with the idealized Playboy bunny unless you are willing to count the imagined couplings of his juvenile fantasies. That paragon of airbrushed perfection does not exist. And even if she did exist and even if he could find such a paragon of female beauty, he would not necessarily want her.

Too much perfection is intimidating and is in itself a barrier to intimacy. It is more than possible for a lover to flinch slightly at some of your imperfections (without making it apparent, of course) while still accepting you as a whole
and desirable woman and loving you both erotically and tenderly. “Love me, love my nose,” says Barbra Streisand, and so we do. It is important for all women to learn to do the same.

English: Screenshot of Barbra Streisand from t...

Image via Wikipedia

No one denies that a beautiful body is a wonderful thing. Yes, a man with a flat stomach and washboard abs is nicer to look at, and nicer to touch, than a man with an abundant jelly gut so common among middle-aged men. Yes, strong arms that can sweep you off your feet, literally and figuratively, are nicer than the undefined and soft arms of a desk jockey. But neither wonderful arms nor a full head of hair are essential. In fact, some women even prefer a little extra flesh on their men. Many women even refer to that extra weight affectionately as “love handles.”

If you want a loving lover who provides fulfillment on many levels, you cannot afford to be a committed body freak. Your lover does not have to have the body beautiful; he only has to have some features you consider exactly right. A teenager, proudly showing her boyfriend’s picture, mooned to me, “Doesn’t he have the most divine earlobes?”

Your lover doesn’t have to be physically perfect: he only has to have enough attractive characteristics that make him physically appealing to you. He does not have to have the whole package and certainly not the whole package as judged by the standard of the beautiful boys that adorn the pages of Playgirl magazine. In fact, it is rumored that many male models are gay, but since it is all fantasy anyway, perhaps that does not matter from a purely aesthetic standpoint. What you need in a lover is warmth, tenderness, passion, versatility, and sensitivity. A great body is merely icing on the cake.

What Gives a Man Sex Appeal?

Wine comes in at the mouth
And love comes in at the eye;
That’s all we shall know for truth
Before we grow old and die.

—William Butler Yeats, “A Drinking Song”

If you pick up any anthology of sayings or jokes and look up the topic of sex appeal, you will find lots of references to physical traits: perky breasts, long shapely legs, full lips, and round buttocks. There are laudatory comments about long blond hair, or long hair of any color, and effusive praise for peaches-and-cream complexions and big blue eyes with long
black eyelashes.

What you will not find, interestingly, are many direct references to what makes a man physically attractive. What gives a man sex appeal? If women have had opinions about a man’s sex appeal, they seem to have made it secondary to their opinions about his material standing. More often than not, a man’s appeal seems to be based on his pocketbook.
Traditionally, as many women have recognized, and rightly so, her fortune is often dependent on his. If his bank balance is large enough, he is attractive; if he is poor, he is not. As the saying goes, “There ain’t no such thing as an ugly millionaire.”

I laughed so hard I was crying during the whol...

Photo credit: Wikipedia

Maybe not. But what happens when women begin to focus on the attributes that constitute masculine appeal rather than on an assessment of wealth or achievements? The idea that women should do so at all is somewhat revolutionary for many people. The standards for what is or is not sexy or appealing in a man vary widely from one woman to the next, just as they do when men are judging women. There’s an inexplicable alchemy that is enhanced by a combination of basic physical equipment, clothes and sense of style, and a certain kind of personality and manner.

Let us begin by considering masculine magnetism in terms of its most obvious component—that of physical appeal—because, in truth, love really does “come in at the eye.”

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