Hello, I’m a 17-year-old boy in Korea and my life’s been great, I have many friends, my grades are super good, and I have passion and confidence.
But nowadays I’ve been thinking about love and I have some questions.
You see, I had a crush whom is my close friend. Our personality matched so much and I thought we would be good for partners but it turns out she only thinks of me as a ‘friend’, and am not interested in dating before turning 20. Sooo I was down but now I got over it, but because of crushing and failing questions about love started to linger in me, and then I started Googling about the subject, and I found some articles.
And they were like “Looks are the 80% that determines romance, you only say personality is more important because you want some excuses to lower your look standards, because you can’t date hot buds. Looks make up for flaws and people who says inner self is important are lying to themselves. People date someone who has the same level look with them.”
And I was kinda shocked when I read the article and people saying “That’s the reality, the truth.” I always thought personality is much more important and if the personality is really truly matching I could even date an ugly girl. Sure, a cute face is cool but it isn’t everything.
And I also thought love was something like wanting the partner beyond anyone else, not being attracted to any other more than the partner, and feeling something another level with each other… In other words, your partner becomes the most beautiful person in the world in your eyes.
But what those guys are saying and agreeing with was that you love someone based on superficial attributes mostly, and if you date with an average/ugly girl or guy it only means that you compromised to reality. And that also means you just settled, the partner isn’t the most beautiful in the world in your eyes, you just settled because she’s the best looker in the pool of girls you are able to date. So there are much more attractive girls but they are out of bounds so you choose her. A lot of people were agreeing with this, and the community was a major one, not a small one which only certain types(usually losers) of people gather.
Man, if love is like that in reality it sucks. I found my crush the most attractive girl in the universe even if she isn’t in the eyes of the public. She’s quite cute, but to tell the truth there are some girls who are objectively more good-looking than her. But I didn’t feel anything to them. And if someone whom I have been crushing on has feelings to me too, I thought we could have love like I described earlier.
But if the things they said are reality: Love really seems hollow. It’s not romantic: it’s shallow and strategic. I’m about 6~8/10 when it comes to looks (My opinion) so I wouldn’t have serious damage in my relationship chances even if that was true but the problem is the concept just seems HOLLOW if adult love is really like that.
So Is love really like that? What is it like? Are the things that I said/experienced about love only because I’m teen, and real life and love are just look-based calculations? Am I secretly compromising when I say ‘looks don’t matter’?
And am I look-based too? come to think of it I had 2 crushes, and both of them were at least average looking objectively. So if an below-average girl has wonderful personality and really clicks with me could I love her too? Or I’d just kick her out even if I know right now that I shouldn’t do that? Would I have liked my crush in the first place if she was ugly?? Yes we became BF the day we met and I’ve never found anyone that has personality so similar and matching with me(She agreed on that too). But what if she was ugly? Would I still have been attracted to her? I feel I would’ve, but what if I just think like that because I have been crushing on her? If the answer is no I just feel guilty and such.
My message is kinda messed up, but the main question is about looks and love, and about true love. I hope you could give me wise advice about those topics. Thank you for reading.
Worried About Romance
Before we get deep into this WAR, let me give you a quick rule of thumb: if you see a post or an article that refers to 80% or 20% when it comes to dating — such as “80% of dating is about looks” or “20% of men date 80% of women” — you can pretty much write it off as bullshit right away. This is a common misapplication of the idea of The Pareto Principle which states that 80% of consequences result from 20% of causes. Economist Vilfredo Pareto originally proposed this upon realizing that 80% of privately owned land in Italy was owned by the richest 20% of the population, and that this held true for many other countries. This distribution has been found to hold roughly true in other areas, such as health and safety where approximately 80% of injuries are due to 20% of workplace hazards, or that 20% of video rentals account for 80% of video store profits.
And since some folks love trying to ice skate uphill, people have attempted to apply this to relationships and dating. It’s short, pithy, and it feels true… especially when you’re a would-be tech or finance bro who’s 100% convinced that you have insight into something that nobody else could possibly have thought of before. In reality, however, trying to apply economic principles to things as complex and nuanced as human attraction and relationships is a fool’s errand. But as we’ve seen, there’re always plenty of fools willing to give it a go anyway.
The same goes for the Principle of Assortative Mating — the idea that people date folks who are roughly on the same “level” as they are. Again: this is an attempt by people to take something generally applicable in one area — non-human animals tend to mate with other animals with similar phenotypes — and apply it to things that don’t fit at all, in hopes of giving scientific validity to the things they believe to be true. Once again, this falls apart if you look at it for more than a few seconds because people who buy into this are working backwards. They’re trying to justify their beliefs by saying that X is caused by Y truths and nothing can change that because it’s somehow inherent. In reality, however, this ignores… well, pretty much everything, from cultural forces that define what makes somebody attractive to the socio-economic and class factors that can affect who we meet and spend time with.
Your experience with your crush is actually much more valid. While people may have a general consensus of who is considered to be attractive or what features make somebody good looking, getting to know somebody actually makes them more appealing to you. In their paper Relational Mate Value: Consensus and Uniqueness in Romantic Evaluations, University of Texas: Austin researchers Paul Eastwick and Lucy Hunt discovered that uniqueness counts for far more in attraction than generic good looks. While there may be a group consensus about attractiveness at first, when that group spends more time together and gets to know one another — such as, say, when you’re at school and spending most of your day with your classmates — that consensus disappears. People end up having very different opinions about who’s hot or who’s not once they get to know each other on more than a superficial level.
Plus, while people make a huge fuss about good looks, the Halo Effect (the idea that being conventionally attractive causes people to think that you’re a better, smarter or more moral person) or the Dark Triad’s (psychopathy, narcissism and manipulative personality) effect on attractiveness, the truth is that personality actually has far more of an effect on so-called “mate value” or desirability for relationships. In fact, altruism, kindness and confidence rank far higher in terms of mate preference and long-term relationship success than looks.
Now, does this mean that looks aren’t important? Not really. Nobody is going to deny that being more conventionally attractive is an advantage, nor that it gives people a leg up in making first impressions. But not only is “conventionally attractive” a cultural construct, but it’s an advantage that doesn’t last long. Very few people start relationships with someone who they’ve only just met; those “love at first sight” relationships may start quickly, but they burn out quickly as well. More often than not, they’re based on superficial attraction and not deep, meaningful commonalities; it doesn’t take very long for that initial period of “holy crap, she’s got a body to make a bishop kick in a stained glass window” to fade. As a wise man once said: someone could be the sexiest woman in the world, but eventually it starts to feel like fucking the couch.
(Granted if my couch looked like Christina Hendricks…)
Just as importantly however, is the fact that while we may find people attractive, what makes us want to spend time with them — which, in turn, helps make them more attractive to us and vice versa — is how they make us feel. When somebody’s presence in our lives make us feel appreciated, validated or otherwise feel good, we prioritize our relationships with them. This is why you’ll see people who seem to be dating people who are “out of their league”; they may not be as physically attractive as their partner, but they have other qualities that caused their partner to fall for them. That almost always ends up being something that makes them feel amazing when their supposedly less-desirable partner is around.
This, incidentally, is why people used to joke that rock and roll was God’s gift to ugly people and why there’re so many jokes about girls falling for broke, unemployed dudes who are in a band or play guitar…
So why do all of those folks on those forums insist that it’s all about looks? Well… in part it’s because they’re projecting. They’re prioritizing looks because they feel that having a girlfriend who’s a 9 or 10 or whatever makes them special and gives them social status. They aren’t interested in girlfriends as something other than a trophy that glorifies how awesome they supposedly are. They’re also almost always trying to justify their lack of success with landing 9s and 10s; they insist that it’s because women only want certain kinds of guys (that supposed 20%) and they’re shit outta luck because of the ratio of their brow to their jaw or some other phrenology bullshit, rather than acknowledging that they have awful personalities and think women are just prizes for being The Top Man.
So, yeah, WAR: a big part of why you fell for your crush is because of how much you and she clicked. And it’s certainly possible that you could date someone who most folks would think isn’t conventionally attractive because you got to know her and realized how much she had to offer… and how that made her more attractive to you. The folks who insist that it’s all about looks — or even mostly looks — and define those looks as stringently and conventionally as possible are telling on themselves.
In the meantime, I’ll leave you with some words of wisdom from the sage:
“You know when sometimes you meet someone so beautiful, and then you actually talk to them, and five minutes later they’re dull as a brick. But then there’s other people, and you meet them and you think ‘not bad, they’re okay’, and then you get to know them, and their face sort of becomes them, like their personality’s written all over it, and they just they turn into something so beautiful…”
Hello and first of all thanks in advance for all your work, I’ve recently found this blog and YT channel and I’ve been finding them extremely helpful in many ways.
My question is related to how to deal with the internal pressure to be funny. I can trace the roots of this to my middle – early high school days where I was bullied for my looks. This lead humor to be this thing that got me into the in-group and thus stopped bullying. As long as I entertained others I was safe. It was also my main (and only) way to get and keep attention from girls, and I attribute all the relationships I’ve had to being funny alone.
Now I’m 24, finishing college, and this is taking a very big toll on me. Reasons:
1. I’m seen as the “funny guy”. No intensity, no sexuality, nothing. People have told they see me as an “intelligent creative clown/comedian”. I also hate it when people go “Shh guys let me hear what he has to say, I bet it will be really funny”
2. I’m not always in the mood to be funny. Sometimes I just want to talk but I feel I’m not allowed because if I stop entertaining I will be abandoned. And forcing myself to joke when I don’t feel like it will result in bad or offensive jokes.
3. I can’t make a bad joke. If I make a bad joke and get silence or eyerolls I will take that as a personal rejection and it will ruin my mood for the rest of the day. I also feel my relationship with the person is ruined and I’m on damage control. Gets worse if this happens multiple times in one interaction.
4. I compare myself to other guys. If someone laughs at their joke, in my mind that person is now interested in them and I have to one-up them with a better joke if I want that attention back and be seen as the witties guy in the room again.
5. I can’t compliment people because they will take it ironically. I also can’t create a deep connection because all the conversations will revolve around jokes and getting the other person to laugh.
This causes me a lot of stress. The thing is, reading articles and books only supports this belief. Take your video on how to be a high value man, for example. Making others laugh is the first thing on the list when it comes to bring value to others.
I feel like this email is already too long so I’ll cut it here. Any ideas or suggestions on how to break this? Thank you once again and happy new year!!
Funny Like I’m A Clown?
There’re a couple of things going on here, FLAC.
The first is that you’re dealing with something a lot of folks experience. You found a defense or coping mechanism that got you through a traumatic period of your life… but the problem is that you overlearned this pattern and it’s gone from something that helps you to something that actively causes you distress. This is really common, especially with folks who come from backgrounds of bullying or abuse. People pleasers are a classic example of this; they’ve learned (or convinced themselves) that as long as they’re “useful”, then people will accept them. If they aren’t useful or, worse, have boundaries, then their friends, coworkers, classmates or even partners will abandon them.
The same goes with humor or being The Funny Guy. It gets you out of trouble, it even helps you make friends. But it can also get to the point where you let it become your dominant personality trait, and it’s what most people know you as because… well, you never turn it off. Because, in no small part, you’re afraid that if you do turn it off or spend a second NOT being The Funny Guy that your friends will somehow wise up and abandon you.
Which actually goes to the second issue: it’s been Your Thing for so long that it’s crucial to your identity. Which means that if you make a joke and it goes over like a lead balloon, that becomes a threat to your identity. You’re terrified that if you aren’t always funny, then people will go back to bullying you or just straight-up ditch you. And if someone else is funny or funnier than you in that moment, they’ve somehow usurped your station as the Alpha Funny Guy and now you’re in danger of being abandoned by the pack.
So now the thing that used to help you brings you nothing but anxiety. You’ve built your life around this aspect of your personality, so you’re terrified to abandon it. But at the same time, that identity causes you stress and the drawbacks to trying to maintain it have started to drastically outweigh the benefits…. leaving you in a perverse catch-22.
Look, I get it. I have been there and very emphatically done that. I have been the class clown because of how it protected me through middle school and high-school. I’ve done the “I’m not good looking but at least I’m hilarious” thing, especially when I was out trying to meet women. And I know exactly how soul-crushing it can be when people think that you’re a joke vending machine, where they can drop a quarter in and get some bon mot out of you… especially at times when you’re not feeling particularly funny or don’t like having to perform on command.
And I understand how it’s served you well over the years but like the man once said: “I love my cigar, but I take it out of my mouth every once in a while.”
A lot of what you’re dealing with the result of always being on; that’s both the reason why people don’t take you seriously when you’re trying to be serious and why they treat you like a joke machine. And while being funny and making people laugh can feel great — and make others feel great — the problem is that if you don’t turn it off, it gets really tedious. I mean, Robin Williams was one of my personal heroes, and I’m deeply sad about the fact that I will never get to meet him in person. But as much as I loved and admired him and thought he was one of the funniest and smartest people on the planet, that manic “four days into a five day coke bender” energy and humor can go from charming to “oh sweet Jesus make it stop” very quickly.
When you’re just the Funny Guy, it gets harder for people to take you seriously. One of the things I dealt with, especially on when I was working on getting better with women, was learning how to be funny effectively.
(“Great! When are you going to start? OH HOHOHOHOHOHOHOHOHOHO!”)
To give an example: while humor is incredibly valuable when it comes to flirting and building relationships — it’s actually a highly desirable quality in a romantic partner — it’s easy to use it in the wrong way. One of my early hang-ups was that I would go for the laugh when talking to women instead of trying to connect with them or show actual interest. Getting the laugh was easier and felt safer, but it also created a barrier between me and them. They were never getting to know me, just my sense of humor. And worse, because I was going for the joke so often, I wasn’t coming off like I was flirting or even interested. Every woman loves a guy who can make her laugh. What she doesn’t love is the guy at the bar who feels like he’s workshopping his tight-five for the open mic night next week.
The same is true for your relationships with your friends and potential partners. You’ve created this persona that doesn’t feel like a person so much as a walking, talking Night at the Improv. You never turn it off and be sincere or real with people and so they never expect it or believe it when you do. And of course, they assume that you’re just there to be funny because… well, that’s all you do.
The problem is that to break this pattern, you have to do the hardest thing possible: you have to stop being The Funny Guy. Not cold turkey, mind you; you don’t need to be StoneFace McGee or Paddy O’Solemn for the rest of your life, but you do need to stop relying on this crutch that you’ve kept around long past the point that you needed it. You have to be willing to just drop the humor for a while and be real with people. Horrifically, terrifyingly, pants-shittingly real and vulnerable.
And trust me: I get it. My humor had become such a crutch for me that I was terrified to let it go. I was convinced that my success, what little there was at the time, was going to crater if I stopped being the dancing monkey. But it was either break that routine or never actually improve so I had to drop the metaphorical act. I had to let go of this thing that I thought I needed and I honestly believed that it meant that I was going to go back to being a lonely loser.
But the thing is, by doing this I learned two important lessons. First, I learned that being able to make people laugh wasn’t the only value I had. I could connect with people in an authentic and genuine manner because I wasn’t convinced that I needed to define myself so narrowly. Second, I learned how to use comedy and humor the right way. Humor is great for setting an initial mood and getting people interested in talking to you. It’s also an incredible way to build and break tension; a well-timed joke or comment can provide a massive release that, rather than ending sexual attraction, actually enhances it. Because you subvert their expectations and create this sudden release of tension — especially while flirting — it not only helps generate dopamine and oxytocin in the brain (causing them to feel pleasure at your presence) but creates a sort of vacuum that they, in turn will try to fill.
Similarly, when you use your ability to make people laugh more precisely and in a more targeted manner, it helps people realize when you’re being sincere and when you’re being funny. It also helps you learn an important lesson: irony doesn’t work when it comes to flirting. While teasing is a great flirting tool, you want to use it in such a way that you don’t bring people down. If you’re always using humor in a cutting way — only ever building someone up so that you can undercut them with the punchline — then you teach people that your compliments are a prelude to an insult. If you only ever tease about meaningless or insignificant things, things they don’t take seriously, then it’s much easier for folks to recognize that you’re being sincere.
So here’s what you need to do.
First: dial things back. Cut back on the jokes, cut back on the gags, goofs, put-downs and the like. Just drop ’em. If anyone asks, just tell them that you want to be real with them instead of just trying to keep up the stream of humor.
Second: use your humor carefully and strategically. Don’t chase the laugh, especially to the exclusion of all else. If you can make someone laugh great, but let that be part of how you relate and vibe with them, rather than the end-goal. By being more sparing with your humor, you actually increase its potency. You aren’t shotgunning it all over the place and making weak contact, you’re driving it home like a perfectly aimed stiletto. Less is often more this way; the well-timed joke gets a better effect than just constantly filling the air with verbal flack.
Third: be aware of how you use your humor, especially with people you’re attracted to. Humor that builds people up works far more effectively than humor that insults them or negs them. Similarly, you can give someone a sincere compliment but use humor to undercut you rather than them. This actually lets you both be sincere and create an amount of tension, with a release that doesn’t negate the tension or insults the person you’re flirting with. Craig Ferguson is the master of this; his disqualifying jokes are aimed at him, rather than the person he flirts with.
Fourth: sincerity is your greatest weapon when it comes to flirting and complimenting others. By not making a compliment a joke, you help ensure that your friends understand that when you’re telling them something you admire about them or that’s great about them, you’re being real. Never underestimate the power of “oh, I never joke about X” when it comes to paying compliments.
Fifth: work on having boundaries. The more you can say “hey, I’m not just a vending machine” or “look, I really don’t feel like giving the Funny Like I’m A Clown show right now”, the more you’ll help people realize that there’s more to you than just being a joke dispensary.
I get that this is all intimidating. It requires that you pull down a shield you’ve spent a lifetime building. I get that you worry that if you do this, your friendships will dissolve. But I am here from the future to tell you: they won’t. People may need a little adjustment period, but they will adapt and, in all likelihood, appreciate this new, more vulnerable and more sincere you. And if they do leave you because you don’t want to be The Funny Guy all the time?
Well… that’s a pretty good sign that those were friendships that needed to end in the first place.
Trust me: it’s hard, it’s scary, but it’s worth it. Letting go of that crutch will help ease the stress you feel, let you not obsess about other dudes out-joking you and help strengthen your relationships.
And as a bonus? It’ll make you funnier than ever.