Dear Dr. NerdLove:
This’s the first time I wrote to someone so apologise for mistakes or missed details that are important.
I am 27 year old Middle Eastern guy. Highly educated and have a big circle of friends. I’m currently living in a European country but I lived in few different ones and my dating life sucked in every single one of these countries.
Looks are an issue but not the only. Even tho I have attractive features such as height, dimples, long lashes and I know this because I had so many compliments on them. Yet I do have a lot of poor DNA selections such as balding, dark circles, underdeveloped jaw, no jaw line whatsoever, sticking out ears and developed an overgrown brow line so kinda like horns sticking out of my forehead.
I used to think I was Prince Charming and lived my teen life believing it but was shocked why I couldn’t get any girls. The older I got the more rejected by women I became. It blew my mind when I saw one of my mates chatting to a girl she was drooling over him even tho he was beyond boring! I tried and I tried hard but the rejections I get sometimes are unbearable where women can be rude to me and either physically harass me or verbally. Rejection is not a problem it’s how rude they can be what really gets to me so I stopped trying in person.
Online dating, you can imagine how that is. I succeeded dating few girls from online dating websites but it was out of desperation I was not convinced whatsoever they were what I could get still I tried to make them work but here I am single and struggling more than ever. Duh!
I’m 6’1 and pretty fit as I’ve been dedicated for over 8 months to achieve my current look. Additionally I had jaw and jawline augmentation to make it look a bit better. Despite the time and the effort invested matches on dating apps are either not responding or one strike and you’re out.
I’d have my whole face reshaped if I could afford it but I can’t. I changed what I can but my tries hasn’t made noticeable difference.
I can’t give up I know that as I need a partner but apparently no women are interested or interested enough to even try and get to know me. Am I missing on something or should wait on line until women had their fun with Chad and finally decides to settle down for the ugly?
Rule of Lower Thirds
Welp, I said I was gonna do it last time I got a letter like this…
It seems that it is, once again time to address one of the most frequently recurring letters I get from men, and – as per usual – I want to point out that if I could get a nickel for every time I heard from a dude who was average at worst tell me that he was the bastard child of the Toxic Avenger and Man-Thing, I could single-handedly bankroll The Avengers.
But, seeing as I’m also the guy who keeps saying “if you want different results, you need to do things differently”, I am going to take my own advice and, well… do things a little differently. That is, I want to approach this a little differently and talk less about looks and much more about thoughts and feelings. Because, to be quite frank, ROLT, your issue isn’t your physical appearance. It’s your brain. And while there’re multiple parts of your letter that leap out at me, there’s one line in particular that, I think, points to the core issue.
“Am I missing on something or should wait on line until women had their fun with Chad and finally decides to settle down for the ugly?” (Emphasis added)
To quote the OTHER Savage: “Well there’s your problem!”
This, for the five or six people reading this who’ve managed to be blissfully ignorant of various seedy corners of the Internet, is classic incel thinking – both in the idea of Chad as the made-up avatar of incel insecurities and the idea that women go have flings with the mythical Chad and then later settle down with someone else to raise Chad’s kids like cuckoo’s in the nest. Needless to say, it’s absurdly misogynistic thinking, frequently racist (there’re… interesting names for both incels who are people of color and for those supposed POC Chads)… and also incredibly false. It’s the mindset and outlook of people whose ideas about what women want and what they actually want are so night-and-day different that it’s not even accurate enough to be in the same room as being wrong.
However, while the inaccuracies, misconceptions and mythmaking are bad enough and cause actual harm, part of why the incel mindset is so problematic is the matter of constant reinforcement. Suifuel and ropefuel threads (that is, forum posts and threads that promote, cause or intensify feelings of hopelessness and suicidal ideation) are common in incel communities – not as venting but as reinforcement. Their purpose is, to a large extent, to provide negative validation; why yes, your looks are subhuman, let us list all the ways, look at this entirely made-up example and this misinterpreted case study, this unrealistic “social experiment” where someone created a fake dating profile with cherrypicked responses and so on. While it serves a purpose as a form of emotional self-harm, what the actual purpose of these threads and discussions is actually group reinforcement.
It is – without hyperbole or exaggeration – a form of cult indoctrination. The constant reiteration of “look at how ugly you are, you subhuman freak, no woman would ever possibly love you” from groups that are, theoretically, supposed to be supportive for people with shared trauma and hardship, is about creating trauma-bonds within the group. The whole point of this behavior, with it’s attendant race to the bottom and incentives to be more even more cruel than the last person, is to create a co-dependent ingroup relationship. The entire point is to create an in-group identity – you’re no longer a person, you’re an incel – that ultimately serves to make it harder to relate to anyone outside of that group. If you have put yourself into a position where you’ve subsumed your identity into the group, you’re isolated from conflicting views. You’ve made it so you have a much harder time relating or even connecting to the folks that you don’t have this trauma-bond with. If you can’t relate to the out-group, it’s that much harder to get viewpoints and opinions that contradict the dogma of the in-group. If you can’t challenge the validity of the in-group views – incels call contradictory information “cope” or “copium”, implying that it’s false hope at best – then the message you’re left with is that change is impossible and these ideas are as unbreakable as the physical laws of the universe.
This is a form of giving away your power. You’ve convinced yourself that there’s nothing you can do, and so you’re powerless. You’ve tied your sense of self-worth to the approval of others, and the only people giving you any sort of approval or validation are other incels… who are giving you negative validation, telling you that you’re fucked and hopeless. If you had hope, you might challenge the group beliefs. If you challenged the group beliefs, you might actually succeed… and if you succeed, that forces everyone else in the community to acknowledge that success is possible and so their own failures are about the choices they’ve made.
Nobody wants to face that. Better, then, to reinforce the hopelessness, to convince you that your self-limiting beliefs are actual limits, that hope is just pain and dreams of success are just impossible fantasies. The idea that there are traits that mark you as “genetically unfit”, the idea that phrenology literally controls your love life, combined with bullshit ideas about women’s experiences, dating and sexuality all serve to cut you off from the outside world. There’s nothing you can do, there is no hope and you may as well lie down and rot.
This, ROLT, would be why your biggest issue isn’t in your face; it’s in your head. Everything stems from this, and this mindset affects how you see the world, how you see yourself and how you interpret everything. Facts get disregarded for feelings, because those feelings tie into confirmation bias and epistemological masochism. Losing your hair, for example, has a multitude of causes including stress, nutrition, pollution exposure, skin and scalp health, even how healthy your prostate is. What it isn’t, is a sign of faulty genetics, nor a sign that you’ve been singled out by God to never know the touch of a woman.
Especially when, say, Patrick Stewart, Avery Brooks, Yul Brenner, Arnold Vosloo, Ed Harris, and Stanley Tucci all exist.
Similarly, all of the things you list are things that you can address. It’s all a question of what you’re willing to do about it. You’re losing your hair? Well, you can use Propecia and Rogaine (along with the attendant side-effects that include erectile dysfunction and an inability to orgasm) to hold on to what you have and regain some of what you lost, you can get plugs and implants a la Elon Musk, you can get a close-cropped haircut to make it less noticeable, or you can shave your head and decide to be bald and beautiful. Dark circles under your eyes? More hydration, better sleep and less stress all help, and there’re any number of under-eye creams and concealers that will help there. Jawline isn’t what you think it could be? Browline or face shape seems out of whack? A well-maintained and shaped beard can help provide bulk and glasses with the right frames can give your face structure and balance your features out.
But none of that is going to help when you’re still stuck in that incel mindset. I mean, you already know this; you got jaw augmentation surgery and hey, it didn’t actually solve your problems! And you’re hardly the first to learn this lesson; lots of folks have thrown new-car levels of money at cosmetic surgery, only to discover that nothing changed because the call is coming from inside the house. The problem isn’t your looks; plenty of folks who are homely at best get laid like bandits. The problem is in how you feel about yourself. That is going to affect literally everything else. Women aren’t going to respond to you because you think you’re inherently undesirable. Not only does this mean that you’re going to miss signals from folks who are attracted to you – because you won’t believe that they could like you – but you’ve primed yourself to see any response that isn’t “take me now in a manly fashion” to be the harshest rejections possible.
That same mindset affects how you see others as well. You see your bud as being terminally boring, but that hardly means that he’s boring to other people. What some find boring or pedestrian, others find fascinating. I’ve hung out with folks – popular, charismatic people, names you would recognize – and the best conversations we had were usually their weird niche interests or experiences, the ones that they’d apologize for boring me with even as I was riveted. You may think your mate’s dull, but clearly his ladyfriend didn’t. That’s not a case of “what’s he got that I ain’t got,” that’s “wow, we have so much in common!” which is far more important when it comes to attraction and compatibility.
This is why compensating for your supposed “deficiencies” is ultimately a losing game. Even if you feel like you’ve successfully ‘hidden’ them or disguised them… you’re still going to be convinced that all you’ve done is tricked people and if they ever saw the “real” you, they’d run screaming into the night.
So rather than put the focus of this on your presentation and grooming, I want you to do something much more significant. I want you to learn to love yourself. Not some fantastical, “ideal” self, but you. Exactly as you are right now. I want you to break the chains that you’ve put around your own neck and actually thrive, rather than trying to measure up to literally impossible standards – standards that only exist in your head.
Normally I say “the first step is a social media break” but honestly, in your case especially, that’s the “session zero” step, the prep-work that preceeds learning to love yourself. Cutting off the incel community and all connections you have to it, including books, forums, Twitter and Instagram accounts, isn’t the first step, it’s scrubbing yourself down before you get started. Leaving the constant reinforcement of your fellow blackpill pushers will do wonders, in and of itself; they’re they ones telling you that you can’t be loved and aren’t deserving of it. Use browser extensions to block the sites, get an accountability buddy who can change your passwords and delete your accounts… put as many steps and barriers as possible between you and the communities that keep telling you that you’re hideous.
The actual first step is going to be to start changing your language. One of the things to stop doing is externalizing your feelings or projecting them onto other people and start framing them as “I” statements. It’s not “Other people think I’m ugly”, it’s “I think I’m ugly.” It’s not “Other people don’t like me because I’m not handsome”, it’s “I feel like I can’t love me because I don’t think I’m handsome.”
Harsh? Yes… but it’s a reminder of where the locus of control is. It’s not with other people… it’s with you. Once you recognize that these feelings are projections, you’re in a position to redefine and reframe your situation. If your issue is that you don’t feel like you love yourself and you’re treating external validation as the marker by whcih you can be “worthy” of loving yourself and being loved, then obviously the key is change how you feel about yourself. After all, there’s no such thing as univerally attractive. What we consider to be ‘attractive’ changes constantly; all you have to do to see that is look at hair and clothes from the 90s compared to today. Hell, even body types go in and out of fashion. The Kardashians and others kicked off a trend towards curvier builds when previously, rail thin was en vogue. Same with body types for men; look at pictures of hunks from the 60s, 70s and 80s, compared to today. You’ll see radically different body types; the “more cuts than a dull razor” Marvel superhero look is nowhere to be seen and body hair is everywhere.
Basing your idea of being handsome or attractive on the opinions of others ultimately means that you will never feel attractgive for long, in no small part because even people who may currently think you’re attractive may change their minds. Or you’ll encounter other folks who don’t think you’re hot… so now whose opinion do you listen to?
Answer: your own.
Hence, step two: you look at yourself in the mirror, daily, and tell yourself five things you like about yourself that day. Maybe your hair is particularly on point that day or your shirt brings out the color of your eyes. Maybe today you’re especially fond of how expressive and unique your face is or how your body moves or something you accomplished at work the other day. Tomorrow, it may be your fashion sense or how graceful your hands are or how strong your legs are. But each day, you spend that time looking at yourself and listing things about you that are great.
It’s cheesy. It’s cringe. It’s embarrassing to even think of and leads to images of old Stuart Smiley sketches on Saturday Night Live. All of these are true. And yet, doing this, every day, out loud, will start to change your mind. If you feel hesitant to do it or you’re convinced that it’ll never work… ok, cool. Do it anyway. In fact, do it out of spite; do this every day for three months, just so you can prove me wrong. You have literally nothing to lose, after all and everything to gain if you take a three-month challenge and prove I’m wrong.
While you do this, you want to take step three: do things that make you feel good about yourself. Not things that focus on other people’s opinions about you, but that you do for you just because it makes you feel good about yourself. Going to the gym to get hot in order to attract women is the opposite of this. Going to the gym because you like how you feel when you get stronger or going for a jog and setting a personal record for distance or endurance, on the other hand, is. So is dressing up in clothes that make you feel like a sexy bad-ass; not clothes that you think other people will like, but just for you, regardless of the current fashions. Throw on your favorite music and dance around your apartment because the music moves you. Start a window garden and enjoy tending to living creatures. Redecorate and organize your bedroom to feel more like a sanctuary, start writing a novel just for the sake of writing one, even if it never gets published. Do things that make you feel like you’re doing good things for you helps change how you choose to treat yourself. You are treating yourself as someone who deserves good things, who deserves to love himself and appreciate himself, instead of someone who has to reach some arbitrary state or standard in the eyes of others.
Similarly, step four: you’re going to practice some radical self-acceptance and self-compassion. Are you where you wish you were? No… and that’s ok. Accept yourself for who you are. Tell yourself, out loud, that it’s ok that you wish you’d achieved more; you’ve made the best choices you could at the time with the information you had at hand. There’re things that you wish you’d done differently, but that’s how everyone feels; you can accept that and acknowledge that today is the day you can start to make new and different choices and turn things around. You’re going to forgive yourself for making choices that didn’t align with your highest good or that were in alignment with your integrity and your principles and recognize that you can change all of that starting right now. And if you stumble, mess up or fall back into old negative habits or old negative thought patterns? You’re going to accept it, forgive yourself for having done so and gently redirect your thoughts to the new, more positive ones.
Step five: you want to surround yourself with love and support – the antithesis of what you’re doing now. Part of why it’s hard to leave cults or communities like the incels is because they become your social structure. Even if it’s a community bound by shared self-inflicted trauma and misery, it’s still a community. But that community is in alignment with your least-loving, least compassionate self. Instead you want to build a new community – people who love you and want the best for you and cheer you on as you reach for it. You want the folks who you can be real with, who you can be vulnerable with and who are real and vulnerable with you, too. The people who push you to be your best self.
And while you do all of this… I want you to start paying attention to what inspiration you’re feeding yourself. Rather than looking at aspirational figures and saying “I need to look like this”, or letting Instagram and TikTok tell you who’s hot and who’s not, be your own media director. Create and curate the media that shows you people who look like you, in all your imperfect glory, and validates them for being awesome and sexy. Instead of “well, I need to squeeze myself into somebody else’s face, body, ethnicity and beauty standards”, you want “wow, I see myself here and that’s amazing.” Look at other men – men with different faces than the “standard”, different body types and realize that you can look at those without nitpicking or insisting they’re choads instead of Chads… and realize that you can do the same for yourself.
Inspiration is great, but inspiration doesn’t matter if it’s telling everything about you is wrong and needs to be fixed. Having a solid foundation is crucial to any building; your foundation needs to be love of yourself and reinforced with images that show you to yourself.
Yeah, I know, this is all weird, woo-woo, “say affirmations and you’ll manifest what’s on your moodboard” feel-good bullshit. But here’s the thing: you’re already doing all of this; you’re just doing the inverse. You’re listening to the folks who tell you that you’re worthless, you’re surrounding yourself with media and images and representation that tell you that you’re a problem that needs to be fixed and that you need to be beaten until you finally give up and force yourself into being like them. All these exercises are doing is changing the story you’re telling yourself. They’re telling you that you’re better than you let yourself believe. They’re teaching you that loving yourself makes it that much easier to accept love from others and that kindness works so much better to motivate you and to improve you.
After all, you’ve been criticizing yourself constantly for years now, to the point that you’ve tried to change your very bone structure and it hasn’t helped. Years of harshness and judgement have only made you feel worse, not better.
Maybe it’s time to start loving yourself, approving yourself and validating yourself.
You know. Just to see if that makes a difference.