Back in those days when dating was done via online profiles, where the first thing you were encouraged to do was to list the physical attributes of the person you were looking for – height, eye and hair colour, body type – all higher up the list than personal qualities. Did I consider it odd? No. For putting aside arranged marriages, we all accept that there has to be some form of physical attraction – the spark, chemistry, lust, whatever you call it.
The selection process for our Neanderthal ancestors was based upon men being the fittest and strongest, while women were valued for their childbearing potential. When only men went out to work and women stayed home to mind the children, the concept of the good provider made sense. But is that now the case? Nearly half of first marriages end in divorce, and as not marrying in the first place isn’t uncommon, why would it still be all about that Neanderthal criteria?
This quotation at the head of this post appeared in the novel Tom Jones thus:
I never thought as it was any harm to say a young man was handsome; but to be sure I shall never think him so any more now; for handsome is that handsome does.Henry Fielding
Yet the concept ‘that handsome is as handsome does’ first appeared in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. As that dates back to the 14th century, you’d think it would be something we’d have learned by now. But the proliferation of TV shows like Love Island and Married at First Sight seems to suggest our society has become even more obsessed with looks than ever.
Before you think I’m saying that looks shouldn’t matter – I’m not. But how about we move to a place where it’s a concern rather than the sole or primary concern. This would seem even more important for those of us who are more mature in years with the spectre of being old not that far away – that time when the exterior packaging simply cannot be what it once was.
And if you’re saying to me “but men value looks over character”, I’m afraid I’m going to reply by using that statement I find annoying when used in another context: not all men. Could it be time to take a fresh look at some of them? Although naive in not realising the negative life experiences of women, that’s often because they’re not the ones perpetuating the negative behaviour.
I’m not saying he can’t be attractive (to you), just make sure his behaviour is attractive to you too.
I’m over here giving a shout out for the value of personality and personal qualities over looks – what say you?
© 2022, Debs Carey
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