Dear Dr. NerdLove:
So I was wondering how does an ugly guy navigate things like wanting casual sex or a friends with benefits kind of arrangement? A lot of these interactions tend to prioritize looks, but what if you don’t have the looks? I don’t know any examples of ugly guys getting anything casual, it seems like one of those things where if you don’t have the looks, then you’re kind of out of luck.
I am trying to lose weight and gain muscle, but you can’t exactly change your face as much as you can your body. What if, even after that, I’m still unattractive? How would I communicate and vocalize wanting something more casual or a friend with benefits arrangement without it being creepy? How would someone like me be able to find someone who wants me sexually when there are probably more handsome men out there who also want the same thing. There are probably more men who want something casual than women, so wouldn’t that make it even more likely that ugly guys won’t be able to have something casual if there is a better looking guy willing to provide the same thing?
It feels like women would rather only have me if I commit rather than be casual with me when there are possibly better looking men wanting the same thing? Same for women who are “in my league” so to speak.
You can’t exactly “fuck” a personality as they say.
Also in general, it looks like it’s mostly guys who have trouble getting laid, so wouldn’t that also lend credence to the fact that maybe there are some guys out there too ugly to be wanted sexually?
It just feels like I won’t be able to experience casual sex or FWBs and will only be able to sleep with women if I commit to them or if I hire a sex worker. I don’t wanna lead women on or lie to them, but I also don’t wanna sleep with someone who’d only sleep with me cause they need the money.
Thing From Another World
I think I’m going to have to implement a macro of Idris Elba yelling “reset the clock”, because this is quickly becoming the most common genre of letter I get from guys. And as I’ve said pretty much every time, if I got a nickel for every dude who insists to me that he’s the fetal-alcohol-syndrome spawn of Quasimodo and Deadpool, having being raised by the Toxic Avenger, but turns out to be perfectly average, I’d have to move to another state just so I’d have enough room to build my second money bin.
There are a lot of things that all of these letters have in common — most of them assume that their weight (whether over- or underweight) is a disqualifier in and of themselves. Several bring up their ethnicity. Many assume that because they don’t have the right brow-to-jaw ratio, the right chin, the right cheekbones or nose-to-temple ratio, they are screwed by genetics. Many complain that women only want one particular body type — usually one of the Marvel Chris’ — and many, many of them insist that they’re too short. Hell, in one memorable instance, I got a dude who insisted that his index-to-ring-finger ratio meant that no woman would ever love him.
But the one thing that all of these dudes have in common is very, very simple: they have never, ever actually talked to women about this. And I don’t mean “random usernames on the dodgy subreddit where you’ve been doom-scrolling for emotional masochism,” I mean actual women, in the flesh and in their lives. A lot of guys don’t actually know what women find attractive and make a lot of assumptions based on what either they think or some random asshole on a MGTOW subreddit tells them. Because, my dude, I can tell you from decades of personal experience: ask five women about what they find attractive in a dude and you’re gonna get six answers. The folks who insist that women only want 6′ tall white dudes carved out of marble and abs tend to have never encountered the Dev Patel thirst club. The ones who insist that you need whatever weird-ass phrenology the incels have come up with this month have never seen how many people go bugfuck for Benedict Cumberbatch. The ones who worry that they’re not sufficiently masculine don’t seem to understand why women lost their goddamn minds over Harry Stiles in a dress. Hell, Peter Dinklage — already a popular guy before Game of Thrones, not to mention already married with children — got catapulted into the stratosphere as a sex-symbol after playing Tyrion Lannister. Vincent Cassell looks like a pencil topper with a crippling addiction to Gitanes and can most charitably be described as “very French” has his own wide swath of conquests. Michael Berryman literally has a face for radio and uses to play monsters and serial killers with minimal make-up but has been married for decades. Henry Kissinger is the human equivalent of the carpet at the dollar cinema, but he got more strange ass than a farmer at a Pripyat donkey auction.
And of course, there is my eternal go-to of Serge Gainsbourg, a man who radiates sex like a janitor at Three Mile Porn Island, despite having spent his life trying to hide the fact that he was clearly at least half-Deep One, and had moved away from Innsmouth as a child.
(And to forestall the inevitable “yes but these are all celebrities, so that doesn’t count”: I reference celebrities because you know who they are. I could tell you about the sex-gettingest man I know who was short and fat, but seeing as you don’t know him, it’s far easier to assume that I’m making him up.)
I mean, it’s almost like women aren’t a monolith and that they have a wide variety of tastes. Most even find multiple types of men attractive at the same time, being perfectly capable of having a thing for Joe Taslim and Jay Baruchel. Go figure.
Alright, with all that in mind, it’s time for some tough, even harsh truths.
The biggest issue you’re having, TFAW, is two-fold. The first is that you have invented an imaginary woman in your head and you’re getting upset by having been imaginary-rejected by her. This isn’t even about actual lived experience, it’s about what you think is going to happen based primarily on your assumptions and your anxieties. And while yes, the pain caused by those anxieties is very real… it’s still mostly you hurting your own feelings. You have created these scenarios — ones you haven’t encountered but anticipate encountering — and you’re reacting to those. And moreover, these aren’t anticipated encounters based on experience and knowledge but more assumptions.
Despite what you’re assuming, it’s not true that there are more men than women looking for no-strings sex; it’s just that it’s more acceptable for men to openly look for no-strings hook-ups. There are a lot of women — far more than you think — who would be down for something casual, if it weren’t for the fact that society has stacked the deck against them to the point that it’s not worth it to try. After all, why would a woman want to go home with someone who is likely to treat “casual” as meaning “disposable”, not bother bringing his a-game because it’s not like she “counts” and then call her a slut because she did the thing he was trying to get her to do?
The theoretical more-handsome-man you’re worried about is not only not real but that’s not how the vast majority of women looking for casual sex choose their partners. It’s not about holding out for the top shelf guy, it’s about finding someone who they think would
So, yes, you very much do “fuck a personality” — that personality dictates literally everything about how enjoyable the sex is going to be — before, during and afterwards.
And believe me: the fact that a dude looks hot doesn’t automatically clear any of these just by existing. It doesn’t take much at all for a dude to render himself instantly unfuckable, no matter how hot he is. Consider, for example, Rufus Sewell in The Knight’s Tale. Yes, he’s very classically good looking… but literally everything about the way he acts to the way he treats people in general and women in particular puts him on the list of “not even with a borrowed vagina and Michael B. Jordan doing the pushing.”
Mark Addy, on the other hand, has quite the number of people who want to roll him in butter and stick him on a bun.
Just as importantly, yes, women have a hard time getting laid. There is an entire industry devoted to helping women find sex and boyfriends. Hell, women regularly write in to this column to ask for help! You’re basing definitional, existential determinations about sex and sexuality the shit going on in your own head, not facts on the ground.
Do women get more offers than men do? Yes — that’s because it’s socially acceptable for men to be up front about looking for sex, even if they do so by being complete assholes about it. But having dick thrown at you doesn’t mean it’s dick anyone would want, any more than the green bologna at the bottom of the dumpster is something people would want to eat. Yes, it’s technically food, but it’s still food that even the roaches passed on in order to find something more upscale. And, if you’re wondering what that looks like for men… look at the way you talk about women “in your league”.
The second issue is that you don’t get what makes somebody attractive, never mind sexually desirable. It’s not about being “good looking”. Most “good looks” aren’t about bone-structure or fat distribution, it’s about presentation, style, hygiene and posture. Being good looking is almost always a decent set of clothes, a hair cut and really rudimentary skin-care away. Hell, if you want to go the extra mile, a little tinted moisturizer, even a smidge of eyeliner can make a dude go from nice to “niiiiiiiice”. I mean, if you want to see the transformative power of presentation, just google “celebrities without makeup”.
No, what makes a man attractive is about attitude, personality and connection. A good looking guy can be incredibly creepy and unfuckable; all you need to do is look at, say, Kalifornia, Red Eye or Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile. A guy who knows how to make a woman feel good, on the other hand, is incredibly attractive. A guy who makes women feel safe is even more so. And a guy who can do all of these things and radiate sexuality and sensuality without being weird about it? That’s a guy who’s going to get laid like cheap linoleum. If you ever spend time in, say, a salsa club or other latin dance venues, the most popular men there are rarely the young strapping lads, it’s the older gentlemen. The young men may have youth on their side, but the older men who’ve been dancing for decades can do things with their hips that make women’s eyes bug out at the thought of it.
I bring this up because, quite frankly, your letter reeks of a crappy attitude like a spilled bottle of designer-clone perfume. There’s that clear resentment of the imaginary Handsome Man stealing your imaginary Hot Girl, and the bitterness that she’s letting him get away with it. There’s denigration of women who might want you to commit or the ones “in your league”. And of course, there’s the shitty way you think of yourself. I mean, setting aside the way you seem to feel about others… if you feel this way about yourself, why should anyone else want to get close to you? You’re poisoning the metaphorical well long before you talk anyone because you’ve convinced yourself that being with you would be unbearably awful, and that affects literally everything you do, from the way you stand to the way you talk to people. That whole “I don’t want to join any club that would have me as a member” creates a no-win situation for you, my dude. It means that even under the best of circumstances, you would never be able to accept that someone would want to hook-up with you. So either you will miss the people who clearly would give you a chance if you didn’t pre-reject yourself, or you’ll assume that anyone who would give you the time of day must be trying to trick you somehow.
I mean, come on, chief. The way you refer to commitment like it’s awful is kind of the give-away here. A woman wanting commitment isn’t a trick, it’s her telling you that she thinks you’re fucking awesome and wants a relationship with you, not a one-night stand she may well barely remember a week later. Acting like that’s a bad thing is the strongest example of “it’s ok, I wouldn’t fuck me either” I can think of in your letter.
Now, I’ve written a lot about casual sex and how to find it, and you can read all of it in the archives or check out my videos and podcasts on the subject. But all the technique in the world isn’t going to help you with the way you are now, even if you magically turned into Tom Cruise tomorrow. The issue isn’t your face, it’s about your attitude — towards yourself and towards women. Until that changes, that’s going to constantly knee-cap you, no matter what you look like.
You need two things.
First: you need to worry less about your face, and more about cultivating those qualities that make a man desirable. Getting comfortable with your body and knowing how to move it, cultivating passions and hobbies — especially ones that convey positive qualities like nurturing and connection — and learning to actually love yourself is going to be vital. If you don’t believe in your own value and desirability, other people won’t either. And trust me: people can tell when you’re faking it to try to get into their pants. Honesty and sincerity are gonna count for a hell of a lot more than any technique I learned from the Pansexual Nuns of Our Lady Of Gutta-Percha.
Second: you need more women in your life. Not as potential dates or sexual conquests but as friends. Real, sincere and platonic friends, not would-be friends-with-benefits.
The biggest sticking point you have is that you’re dealing with your idea of women, rather than the reality of them. Reacting to the women you’ve made up in your head is going to make it next to impossible to connect with actual women because they’re going to stubbornly refuse to follow the script you wrote for them. Making friends — and again, real, genuine friends — with women will do many things for you.
First: it’ll demystify them. By having a genuine friendship with them, you’ll get to know women as people, rather than these semi-mythical beings who just float through life with no problems whatsoever. They’re human as you and even the most classically beautiful fart, scratch their pits, pick at bits and scabs and otherwise act like literally everyone else does. Next: it’ll make it easier for you to actually talk to them. That whole “women as people thing” means that you understand that hey, talking to women and making friends with them isn’t different from talking to men or making friends with them. The more comfortable you become with women, the easier it is to talk to the ones you want to bang. And finally: it’ll change your perspective. The best and most successful lovers out there — whether they’re married or have strings of partners — aren’t successful because they’re handsome or have the gift of gab or the right car. They’re successful because they genuinely like the people they sleep with. That genuineness, that ability to connect and that desire for everyone to have a good time is why they never lack for company. Women want to be with them because those men make them feel good — not just physically but emotionally. And that requires an attitude and personality that can’t be faked; it can only be developed organically.
If you want to find more eager casual sex partners, you don’t want to be a better looking man. You want to be a better man over all.
Hi Dr. NerdLove!
My boyfriend and I (F) have happily been together now for over 12 years. We do not plan on marrying but plan on being with each other until the day we die. My question is this: As we get much, much older, do we still refer to one another as “boyfriend and girlfriend’? I feel like this term would seem juvenile or unacceptable to others when we reach a certain age. Do we switch to “partner”?
Is any one term more socially acceptable than the other?
Y’know, honestly, other than a few labels that I find somewhat absurd or off-putting, I’m label agnostic. Yes boyfriend/girlfriend starts seeming a little weird when you’re past your 30s, but calling someone “my ladyfriend” just makes me think of Bruce Campbell as Sam Axe, and referring to someone as one’s lover tends to sound alternately old-fashioned or like a couple in the 70s trying to convince you to try swinging.
Really, you can call yourselves whatever you want. There’re no rules except the ones you decide on for yourselves, so if you want to call yourselves Aes Sedi/Warder, then by all means, go for it. But if you want something that suggests commitment and a long-term connection, partner definitely works. And as a bonus, straight people using partner normalizes the term, makes it less stigmatizing and less of a signifier of being LGBTQ in places where it wouldn’t be safe to be open or out.