Hey there Dr. NerdLove,
I’ve come across your site and like your stuff. I read your article “What Do You Do When You’re Too Ugly to Date?” – The way I look and how people treat me has been plaguing me all of my life. Even at work I have people who comment on my looks and disrespect me, upper level managers as well. Saying things like, “It looks like I’ve had a sex change.”
I’m 29 now and didn’t lose my virginity until 25… only due to online and drastically lowering my standards. But I’m not that picky when it comes to looks and would love to have a meaningful relationship… the issue is, I really am ugly and have little success with women. Even with online, it is incredibly difficult to get a girl just to meetup for coffee/drinks. I have tried online a lot over the past 5 years, all different sites, strategies, etc. Usually they just flake or ghost me. There isn’t much I can do with my looks besides losing 10-15lbs and putting on some muscle. I have dark bags/deep wrinkles under my eyes and my hair is slowly falling out. I’m on a hair loss regimen but this hasn’t helped much.
I honestly hate the way I look and the way people treat me. Over the years I’ve become more socially awkward from the way I’ve been treated and feel like I just don’t belong. I’ve been seeing a psychologist but I just feel like this is an issue I’ll never be able to overcome. I’m embarrassed of how I look… I can show you pictures, I’m not overblowing it. I’m maybe a 3/10 if I’m lucky.
All I’ve really wanted/needed to be content in life is a few friends and to be able to date occasionally/find a meaningful relationship. But I’m just starting to feel like I’ll never be able to have things in life I want the most. This honestly makes me feel like it just isn’t worth the effort and causes me to have suicidal ideations (no current/future plans). I’m just not really sure what to do anymore. I feel like an outcast, that my life just doesn’t matter, and that I have pretty limited options.
Man In The Mirror
Every couple of years, I’ll get a letter like this: someone who insists that, unlike all the other people who’ve written in who are “too ugly to date”, is in fact the Elephant Man. And honestly, my response is the same. If I could have a dime for every time someone told me that they were hideously ugly — the human equivalent of a popped zit, Spawn, Freddie Krueger and Deadpool all got dosed with thalidomide and then had a mutant flipper-baby together and gave that baby to Quasimodo to raise ugly — and they were dead-bang average at worst, I’d be swimming in money like it was Scrooge McDuck’s money bin.
9 times out of 10, the issue almost always comes down to presentation, not facial features; little things like a change in hairstyle, clothes that fit and some basic grooming and skin care can utterly transform a person without even the slightest alteration of their facial features. But even on the rare occasions that someone is legitimately unattractive… well, honestly, there’s a reason why “good looking” isn’t the same thing as “attractive”. Now, my traditional go-to when I want to point out that aesthetically pleasing good looks have little to do with attractiveness is Serge Gainsbourg — a man who looks like his dad was a drunken sailor and his mother was a Deep One, a guy who has a face like a bulldog licking piss off a thistle. But he’s not the only one out there. Vincent Cassel can be charitably described as “very French”, and yet does just fine for himself. Steve Buscemi — someone whose eyes became their own meme — is married with children. Henry Kissinger was known for getting more strange ass than a Fallout 76 donkey auction despite both looking like a frog AND being a genocidal maniac. Iraq war veterans who literally had their faces burned off have gotten married. People with dwarfism, osteogensis imperfecta and other genetic issues have all loved and married. Hell, one of the more famous and successful dating coaches out there — Sean Stephenson — was 3 feet tall, confined to a wheelchair and yet had a legendary love life.
So even if you are that rare okapi who actually is as ugly as he believes himself to be, you are hardly beyond help.
And that’s assuming I believe that you’re actually that ugly, MitM.
There are quite a few things you could do — strictly on a material level — that will transform you. If you’re losing your hair, then you may want to consider leaning into it and shaving your head. If your jawline isn’t the greatest, a well trimmed and maintained beard can help give your face definition. There are under-eye treatments for bags and dark circles, there are skin care regimens that can shrink your pores and even out your complexion and yes, there’s always eating well and exercising. In fact, I’d recommend examining your diet and starting a workout routine regardless, because those are simply good for you. Our bodies are built to move and most of us live lifestyles that are increasingly sedentary; regular movement, engaging your cardiovascular system and getting your heart rate up will make you feel better over all.
But if I’m going to be perfectly honest: your problem is mental and emotional, not physical. I suspect that if you were to go for plastic surgery — as many people have — you’d discover that your problems haven’t changed at all.
Quite frankly, I think your bigger problem is that you’re surrounded by assholes. It sounds to me like your job is a goddamn toxic shitshow that should be burned to the ground; when even upper management feels free to insult the employees, it’s time to serve 30 days notice with five gallons of gasoline and a book of matches.
One of the things that people rarely realize is just how much our environment affects our emotions. When you’re absorbing negativity from a thousand different directions — from the fucksticks at work to performative anger and despair on social networks, even the daily news at times — it’s no wonder that hope seems nonexistent and all life feels like a neverending parade of failure and misery. The more you get exposed to it, the more it affects you and, perversely, the more likely you are to keep exposing yourself to it. After all, we have an instinctive negativity bias that makes all those negative emotions feel more real and valid… even when they’re not. It’s a classic case of what Natalie Wynn calls “Masochistic Epistemology”: if it hurts, it must be true, and it’s true BECAUSE it hurts. It’s very easy to get hooked into a self-reinforcing cycle of pain and misery, the emotional equivalent of cutting and self-harm.
That’s why your first step should be cutting out those sources of negativity and harm. Finding another goddamn job — then preferably giving everyone the double-bird and doing the “You’re all fucking assholes and also I quit” dance on the way out the door — is one step. The next is eliminating the other areas you go that cause you emotional harm and trauma. Even limiting your use of Facebook and Twitter can go a long way towards easing the psychic burden and letting your self-esteem rebuild.
But cutting out the negative is only the start. You want to replace them with as much positivity as you can as well. Positive emotional support, affirmation and positive reinforcement are necessary for growth; that’s going to be like watering a parched flower. There are a number of places to start this healing process. Going to therapy is a good start… but it’s just a start, and it only works if you’re actually acting on your therapist’s advice. If you’re just listening to them with the emotional equivalent of rolled eyes or making “blah blah blah” gestures, then you’re not going to improve.
Just as importantly, however, is that you need your Team You — people who care for you and support you and who’ll cheer you on. It sounds like you’re pretty bereft of that right now, and that lack is dragging you down. Getting out there and looking for friends, finding people who will have your back, will do far more for you and your emotional growth and healing than any amount of weight loss or fashion upgrades.
Because right now? A lot of the things you’re experiencing are actually normal; they’re just getting passed through the filter of “I’m too ugly to do X”. Lack of responses on dating apps, people ghosting you or flaking on dates? Unfortunately… that’s dating in the 21st century. It sucks, but it’s become part of the experience. Even folks who are model handsome get ghosted.
The thing to keep in mind: that voice in the back of your head that tells you that you’re too ugly, you’re too weird, you’re too whatever? It’s a fucking liar. It drips poison in your ear and whispers your worst fears while you sleep. Worse, it does so in your own voice, so it sounds like truth, not things designed to make you feel lower than a snake’s ass in a drainage ditch. Learning to shut that voice up is one of the most valuable skills you can cultivate.
While doing a fashion upgrade and getting a make-over will help — quite a bit, in fact — I think you need to prioritize the mental and emotional over the physical. Put your emphasis on eliminating the toxic influences in your life, double up on the positive ones and find the people that make you feel alive and loved. You’ll realize you’ve got far more than you’ve ever dreamed.
You’re stronger than you realize, braver than you give yourself credit for and more desirable than you let yourself believe. You’ve been beaten to your knees… but you can still get back up. The power is there at your command.
Hi Doctor Nerdlove,
I’ve been single for over 3 years, living in a small town, and dating sporadically (taking long breaks). I recently went on a few dates with men who lied or obscured facts about themselves until we met in person. Both men were obviously not going to be a long term match for me and I felt annoyed and discouraged.
I want to meet a man who is career driven, kind, aware of their privileges, responsible, honest, and won’t take advantage of me (financially or emotionally).
Riding this wave of frustration, I googled “dating advice for women” and found a subreddit dedicated to “real dating advice” for women.
This community feels similar to redpill and pua communities. Posts reference the “value” of men and tests to help women size up and establish power dynamics in relationships.
I’m disturbed because I find myself agreeing with many of these extremist posts. The mindset of these people is that 99% of men are dogshit losers who manipulate women by eroding their self esteem and the only way to find romantic love worth having is to be ruthless and lock down your heart. They suggest waiting 3 months to have sex and 6 or more before you divulge anything about yourself that could be used against you (past trauma etc.). And maybe I agree with this??? But something feels off…
My last relationship was defined by being financially manipulated, lied to, and cheated on. I don’t want that to happen again. But now I’m feeling more paranoid than ever.
I know that any relationship of value involves risking intimacy. I’m working with a therapist weekly but keep running into the need to heal relational wounds through a relationship. And I haven’t been able to find a man I feel good about.
I’ve found some feelings of camaraderie with these women, but are they right? According to the subreddit rules, it’s basically sacrilegious to ask a man’s opinion on this topic. But I trust your judgement. What do you think about all this?
Fear and loathing in Flagstaff
So I went and checked out the subreddit, FalF and honestly? I’m left wondering just how many of people there are just guys in sockpuppet accounts. While it functionally presents itself as a gender-swapped version of the Red Pill community — just using The Rules as a guideline instead of The Game — in practice, it’s far more akin to incel boards. The majority of the posts are what incels refer to as “rope fuel” — things designed to rile people up and piss them off, reinforcing the board’s dominant philosophy. In incel communities, these are ways of reinforcing that they’re doomed to die alone and unloved because they’re supposedly genetic dead-ends. In this particular subreddit, it’s to fuel the idea that all men are like that and that you can’t trust anyone. Moreover, it also reinforces the idea that any woman who disagrees with the board’s overarching philosophy is as “pickmee” or gender traitor.
Here’s the thing about groups like this: they’re always going to devolve to the loudest, most vociferous and most extreme points of view. It’s going to appeal to people who are in situations like yours — people coming out of a bad break-up, people who are getting frustrated by the usual bullshit that comes with dating — because it validates your frustration. Yes, they’re telling you, you’re right to be upset and annoyed and frustrated by all of this. You’re being mistreated, you deserve better, why are men great until they gotta be great and so on. Starting from that point, it gets easy to ply that frustration with wave after wave of “look at how awful guys are” with cherry-picked stories from the “Am I The Asshole” subreddit or other ragefuel posts. Questioning the dictates of the group gets immediate and vociferous pushback — if you’re not ride or die for the cause, you’re either a pickmee or a “low value male” who’s lurking with a sockpuppet. Counter-examples are rare and discounted; it’s very much the same strain of “All Women Are Like That” from the Red Pill communities.
When you have that much of a closed ecosystem, an amplification effect kicks in. It becomes almost de-rigeur to want to come back with an even more performatively angry, more extreme position because that gets rewarded within the group, creating incentive to stake out positions that are even further out on the edges. Then the Overton Window moves and those positions become the new normal. If dissent or questioning can be dismissed, then there’s no counterbalance to the loudest and most extreme members of the group, who then go on to DEFINE the group because the more moderate or less invested leave.
And that outrage and extremism can feel good. Venting and rage is seductive because it gets you hyped up. It triggers that negativity bias, which makes it feel that much more real and valid and true. It’s seductive, because it makes you feel righteous and you have a community who’ll be ready to applaud you for being that angry and vituperative.
Small wonder it feels so appealing right now. You’re in an understandable place of frustration and wariness; having people tell you that you’re right, but you’re not wary enough or angry enough is thrilling, almost intoxicating. The anger itself is the goal.
Practically speaking? Well look, I’m biased, seeing as I’m, y’know, a cis, straight male. But honestly: a lot of the advice is just The Rules, reheated and spiced up. Functionally speaking you could get a lot of the same (bad) gender-essentialist advice from Think Like a Man, Act Like A Lady and He’s Not That Into You. It’s easy to say “any guy who won’t wait three months for sex is a LVM” but in this day and age… you’re going to have a very hard time finding men — at least ones, who don’t come from conservative religious backgrounds — that are gonna be cool with that. Treating your past as things that “can be used against you”? The framing of that alone sets off alarm bells for me. While there’s levels of “hey maybe this isn’t the most appropriate topic to bring up at three months”, the framing of this sets expectations that any relationship is inherently going to be a conflict, not a partnership. If you’re coming into a relationship in that frame of mind? Yeah, you’re going to have a LOT of “LVM” in your life, because you’re going to be coming into every relationship looking for “proof” that someone’s about to fuck you over. And if you’re expecting something… well, you’re gonna find it. Even if it’s not actually there. Start off expecting a fight and betrayal and you’re gonna get both.
Which, frankly, is a great way to reinforce the philosophy of the group.
Just like I told Man in the Mirror: I think if you stop going to the group, you’re going to find your outlook is going to change drastically.
Strictly speaking about your issues: you’re not going to heal relational wounds with another relationship. You need to let the wounds heal on their own, and the only thing that’s going to do that is time and effective self-care. Going to a therapist is a great start. But it sounds to me like you’d be happier in the long run — and heal faster — if you took dating off the table for a while. Giving yourself time to reconnect with your own life, your own needs and learning to be happy being single, even if you don’t want to be, will do a lot more for you than a whole lot of guidelines designed for maximum sound and fury and minimal actual help.