Real stories about dating and relationships in New York City. Truth is more interesting than fiction.

Beauty and the Beast

I was reading this post in Lemondrop called Men Agree on What’s Attractive, Women Don’t (don’t ask me why, I skim through all kinds of nonsense in an average day).  It seems that there’s lots of consensus among men about what they find attractive but not so much among women.

OK. I’ll buy that.

Anyway, here’s the part of the article I found interesting.  This is the closing paragraph:  “On the other hand, some women gave high attractiveness ratings to the men other women said were not attractive at all. We guess that’s why you see so many hot chicks with ugly boyfriends and never see it the other way around.” (I’ve added the underlining.)

Really?  They think the reason we see so many hot chicks with ugly boyfriends and never see it the other way around is because women don’t all agree on what’s attractive?  Um, no.  I don’t think so.  I have a couple of personal theories as to why that’s such a common occurrence and that’s not either of them.

Now, I’ve actually been thinking about the hot chicks with ugly boyfriends phenoma for years.  Ever since I first moved to Manhattan in my early 20s and one of my first bosses was this totally beautiful woman with a completely dumpy husband.  Once I noticed them and started to think, how’d that happen?, I started to notice lots of similar couples.  And in NYC there are lots and lots of similar couples.

So here are my theories:

Theory #1: The hot chick was the type of woman who found financial security a lot more attractive than actual physical attractiveness.  There are several studies that claim that women seek partners who are financially stable over all other traits.  And it’s certainly no surprise that some women choose to marry for money.  And I’m not judging them.

Theory #2:  The hot chick got to a place (probably in her 30s) where she realized her time was running out and she needed to .   The ugly guy was so struck by his luck at getting the hot chick that he proposed quickly.

These are my theories.  I’m sure there are many other ways of looking at it, many other possible truths.  And I’m sure that lots of those couple are deeply in love.  But I also know that I’ve never seen a really great looking guy with an ugly wife.  Never.


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31 to “Beauty and the Beast”


  1. aguy says:

    Why don’t you think it’s possible that there’s also some truth to what the article says. That women don’t agree what makes a guy hot, so the hot woman you think is with an ugly guy actually doesn’t think her boyfriend is ugly at all.

  2. @icounsel4food says:

    There’s always the “The Science Channel” theory:
    Attractive women may choose a less attractive male because he has features that stereotypically suggest security and fidelity (i.e. round face, soft features, etc.). Some studies found that female participants rated males with “feminine” faces (i.e. softer, rounder jaws, brows, and cheeks) as long-term partner material while “masculine”-faced men (i.e. Brad Pitt, Matthew McConaughey, etc.) were mainly rated as potential sexual partners but “unsafe” to keep around for the long-haul (perhaps because they would be attractive to other females as well). In other words when looking for long-term love, men will use their eyes/genitals whereas women will likely base their decision on traits that suggest loyalty, fidelity, and security. OK, I’ll stop getting all science-ish now.

  3. DentalBabe says:

    Well, I HAVE seen hot guys with ugly wives! Let me just say it’s kind of disturbing. As a single girl who considers herself attractive (so have some men), it’s just darn -right upsetting. I just attended a wedding with a man I was dating. When I met the groom I thought “Wow, he’s pretty darn cute”. Then I met his bride…Yikes! I thought to myself “Perhaps this is the twilight zone,or maybe a bad dream”. Thank goodness this wedding was out of town, what a bummer it would have been to have to run into them all the time.

  4. Singlegal says:

    I agree with your theories (similar to why a younger woman may potentially date a much older man). I also think if the relationship has been long term, one has aged much better than the other.

  5. Veka says:

    Ok I have two different things to say here that have already been touched on:

    1) Women do have very different tastes in men. One of my best friends and I have total opposite tastes in guys. I mean, really. The guys she dates I would never touch with a 10 foot pole, and she would probably say the same thing about the guys I date. But she thinks her guys are attractive just like I think my guys are attractive.

    2) This does not apply to me, but I do know of some females that date unattractive men strictly because they have money. There is one girl that I know of (I don’t want to say I “know” her) that jumps from one guy to the next to the next. Most of them are unattractive (only one guy I’ve seen her with was decent looking) and she only dates them because of how much money they have and the expensive cars that they drive. She’s even married–she married a foreigner so he could have US Citizenship, and in return he buys her anything she wants and he even lets her date all these other guys.

  6. pansophy says:

    People have 4 primary motivations with one usually being the dominant one: status, security, sensory experience, emotional connection.

    From a woman’s perspective status, security, and even sensory experiences (ability to do more things like travel) are all impacted by the amount of money their male partner has. So in almost every way a woman chooses a relationship money matters or at least impacts the decision.

    For a man status and sensory experience (sex) are impacted directly by a woman’s hotness. Two big ones for most men.

    In a city that is driven by status and consumption I’m never surprised to see a hot girl with a dumping guy, in fact I expect it.

  7. Tokyo Cowgirl says:

    I’m surprised no one has raised this yet so I will.

    Theory #3 : Hot girl dates unattractive guy because he treats her really, really well, much better than a man of equal attractiveness would probably treat her. Sure, this can relate to money and therefor Theory #2, but it doesn’t have to. It just seems like common sense to me, but if an ugly dude gets his hands on a beautiful woman, he’s going to work twice as hard not to fuck up, whereas the hot dude will care less since he has more beautiful women throwing themselves at him every day.

    Does that make sense? I hope so.

  8. Hammer86 says:

    This article is presuming that men and women think alike, which couldn’t be farther from the truth. For men, spreading their seed was evolutionarily selected for, which is why certain visual child bearing characteristics are selected for. Women have totally different reproductive drives that have been selected for, so while there are plenty of women who are settling, there are plenty of other women who are incredibly attracted to ugly buffoons with game.
    As far as visual attraction in men and women, men are actually attracted to the physical characteristics of a woman, while women are attracted to what those physical characteristics represent about that person. Alpha, socially calibrated, healthy, interesting, fun, powerful. These are what are actually attractive to women.

  9. onedatewonder says:

    The suggestion that women pick men always based on money is just downright insulting. And I’m a little sorry for you that you believe that. (Ironically, I could have avoided the entire debacle known as my first marriage if we were all truly as shallow as you would like to believe. Alas, the proof is in the pudding and I did not avoid it at all.)

    Back on topic, this actually can be explained by simple stereotypical gender differences. I will not claim all examples of either gender follow these rules (not by a long shot) but they’re widespread enough to make me feel safe generalizing a bit.

    Men are for the most part visual creatures. This explains the plethora of porn aimed at men, all your exes who liked to do it with the lights on, and why they will sometimes get distracted by a miniskirt while out to dinner with you. All jokes aside, it is something nearly fundamental about the male brain. Which isn’t bad, it just is.

    Women are not as tied to visual stimulation as men are. Which is not to say we can’t appreciate a fine specimen of hot hot man. It just means that some of us are more easily swayed by other factors. A great sense of humor, intelligence, or the way a man is with children perhaps. These factors can override a dumpy face or a beer belly for some women.

    Anyway, I think that’s what the article meant to say. And that’s what I always think when I see a couple that seem mismatched to me.

  10. Simone Grant says:

    -aguy
    It’s entirely possible I’m wrong. That the range of what’s considered attractive amongst women is so wide that some of those “ugly” guys are seen as attractive by the women they’re with. I just think it’s improbable.
    -@icounsel4food
    That’s a good a theory as any. That the round guys represent stability in some biological way. Why not?
    -DentalBabe
    Wow. I really have NEVER seen that. I thought a while about this this morning and can’t think of a single case. Hmmm.
    -Singlegal
    Good point about one person aging better than the other. I think that probably happens a lot, as there is SO much pressure on women to stay in shape and not so much (in my experience – in my little NYC world) for men.
    -Veka
    Of course it’s true that there is some variation in what women find attractive. I don’t dispute that. I know that there are men I’ve dated that my friends thought weren’t all that, and I can think of a few friends’ guys who I find kinda icky. Anyway… As to the women going for men thing – we all know someone or some women who do that. It is what it is.
    -pansophy
    Yeah, I read a couple of studies that said that women were primarily motivated by security whereas men were primarily motivated by looks. I don’t know enough about how those things are conducted to feel comfortable with that kind of data. Although, my life experience tells me that many women are motivated by security and many men by looks. That’s as far as I’ll go.
    -Tokyo Cowgirl
    Yes, you made sense and it’s an excellent theory. I’m sure it accounts for some of those matches.
    -Hammer86
    “game” – really?
    -onedatewonder
    Who said always? I think you need to take a step back and breathe a bit. Up til this point this has been a relatively civil discussion (at least for this blog) and I’d like to keep it that way. I no longer have patience for people being rude to one another here.

  11. Veka says:

    As a woman, I do not feel offended in the slightest with the statements that some women date ugly guys because of money, because the statement said “some” and was never stereotyping “every” woman. As I said in my above comment, I am not this way. I am not shallow and I do not date men based on their financial circumstances. However, I do know of one woman that does, and was merely giving an example. I don’t think that onedatewonder should feel insulted because it was not intended as a blanket statement. I also don’t think that Simone believes it as a blanket statement either (I could be wrong though).

  12. onedatewonder says:

    I apologize to both you and pansophy for the kneejerk reaction. Apparently that ISA personal hot button but that’s not the fault of anyone here. I hope that doesn’t discount the rest of my comment in your eyes.

  13. Cute~Ella says:

    Money aside (I think security is a viable theory.)Don’t forget my favorite theories of “Laughter Makes the Heart Grow Fonder” and simliar theory of “Dorks are Seriously Awesome in Bed”

    “Laughter Makes the Heart Grow Fonder” works on the theory that people who make you laugh make you feel good and therefore you want them around to make you laugh more and feel good. A funny guy has a better chance of getting in my pants than a hot guy does. Hands down. (No pun intended.)

    “Dorks are Seriously Awesome in Bed” is based on the fact that by sheer traits of being a “Dork” they’re going to be good in bed. I can’t remember all 10 reasons I came up with when I realized this YEARS ago, but here are a few:
    ~Willingness to please.
    ~Focus on a goal
    ~Want to know how things work to make that goal happen
    ~Willing to be a little different, try different things
    ~They want to be there with YOU because they like YOU.

  14. happsgirl says:

    hot women go with ugly men because 95% of good looking men are…well, assholes.

    thanks for stopping by my blog simone ! i’ll link you up on mine :)

  15. dmplgrl says:

    I can’t speak for anyone but myself but all my life I’ve had a ‘type’; tall(ish) fit, dark hair, light eyes, handsome… Yet except for the dark hair my ex-fiance was none of those. We met online and talked on the phone for weeks before actually meeting – he lived several hours away. I’d found myself ‘in love’ with him before ever getting a current picture. And when he finally sent me current photos I actually cried because I did not think he was the slightest bit cute.

    Then I had a crisis of self thinking – OMG am I that shallow? Do looks *really* matter that much? Does his face not being cute/sexy/hot make him any less the guy I love? I decided no. In hind sight I should have run like my ass was on fire but that had nothing to do with his looks (which tons of other girls thought were super cute) and everything to do with the fact that he was a grade A loser.

    And now – my current boyfriend. When we first met (with the intent of being friends) I thought, man he’s kind of dorky looking. Not at ALL my type. But the more we hung out the more I was drawn to the man he is. He treats me better than anyone I’ve ever met, he loves me for who I am, he encourages me and supports me in every way imaginable (except $$ – I actually make more than he does so there goes the $$ matters theory). Long story short I found myself wondering what it would be like to date him and now we live together. I still don’t look at him and get all hot and bothered (that happens when he talks – he’s SO smart and it’s SO sexy), and I still think he’s kind of nerdy lol but he’s my nerd and I love him.

    So from someone who used to think looks mattered more than anything… it’s really about how the guy treats you… looks help, but in the end they really aren’t everything.

  16. OpinionatedGift says:

    First the serious point, then the joke. A tasteless and rude joke at that, but the subject stuck it in my head after decades of not thinking of it.

    1- I don’t think the why is remotely important. Physical attractiveness in and of itself is reliant on so many different factors and is so entirely subjective that I don’t see how it can be reliably quantified under less than a hundred perspectives. All that matters is what’s between lovers.

    I think the only reason we ask why is because we are projecting ourselves into the situation, as in DentalBabe’s apparent depression from one less hot guy in the world now married to a woman she found unattractive.

    But the bottom line is whether that couple are happy or not. At that point, that apparently unappealing bride gave the groom something he needed so much that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her so he could feel that all the time, and she said yes, presumably for similar reasons. Maybe it was because he was attractive, or maybe he gave her something else she needed. It doesn’t matter.

    I think we would all do ourselves a bigger favor by keeping our eyes on what we want, what we offer and what we have to give than worry about why some things that seem odd to us are what they are.

    2-
    Costello: I want to marry an ugly woman
    Abbot: Why would you want to marry an ugly woman?
    Costello: A beautiful woman might leave me.
    Abbot: So? An ugly woman might leave you too.
    Costello: Yeah, but who cares.

  17. pansophy says:

    - onedatewonder No worries at all. Most of my female friends fall under the category of ‘emotional connection’ for their primary motivation, so I wasn’t trying to imply that such women didn’t exist. Most often though such couples are in the same ballpark looks wise. At least that has been my experience.

    Don’t know where you live, but money is the defining characteristic of NYC so we see this play out a lot. When I lived in the midwest it played out very differently and ‘money’ to most was enough money to buy a house and be stable, so the focus was more on security.

    Personally I find these conversations more interesting than truly illuminating. It’s a glimpse of a truth, but hardly defines something as complicated as relationships. There is always more.

  18. 5Horses says:

    I think that a lot has to do with the confidence that the man has which eclipses his personal appearance. I’ve often heard from women that a very confident man is very sexy. I know that this will only go so far and I do believe that a great personality means something very different to women when they say it, as opposed to when men say “she has a great personality”.

  19. Anonymous says:

    I know a very attractive woman who always dates ugly losers (she once dated a guy who had no job and picked his food out of the trash from time to time!!!). I found it baffling until a mutual friend explained that she picks guys she knows are beneath her because she thinks they won’t leave her. Whereas a guy who gets a woman way hotter than he is sometimes ends up mistreating her anyway, thinking he’s got the goods to get women like this all the time.

    Sometimes it’s not about money but self-esteem. A beautiful woman might not realize she can do better or deserves better, so she goes for a mediocre ugly schmo who has nothing to offer.

    And I strongly agree with folks above who say women have much more varying tastes in what’s attractive than men.

  20. onedatewonder says:

    Pansophy – Hey, thanks for understanding and giving me the benefit of the doubt. Like I said, that had more to do with me internally than with your comment, I think. For what it’s worth, I totally buy into the security argument though. And, to be perfectly fair, I know that for some people money does equal security. For me security is weighted a bit differently, that’s all.

  21. alfabeta says:

    It’s all about money. Many very attractive women only go for rich men, just because they can. It doesn’t matter how ugly or how old you are (just look at Anna Nicole Smith).
    Also, there are hardly ugly rich men out there when the wealth has been in the family for generations as the rich fathers and grandfathers have always chosen beautiful women that resulted in beautiful children.

    On the other hand, men are not interested in money, so that’s why you never see a goodlooking guy dating an ugly woman. For a man a woman is like a gem, something to show off. That just doesn’t work with ugly women.

  22. sparklytosingle says:

    I am surprised nobody’s brought this up yet. Maybe this is side effect of being a bit younger than most of the readers here (I’m 29), but throughout most of my dating life, I’ve been more comfortable in a relationship if I’m the more attractive of the two people. I’ve never met a guy who has this issue, they seem totally comfortable dating girls who are hotter than themselves. But if I date a guy who’s obviously more attractive than me, I find it hard to relax into the relationship. I feel a lot more self-conscious about my body than if I’m with someone of the same or lower level of attractiveness than myself. I guess it’s a fear that they’ll always be on the lookout for something better, whereas I don’t worry about that if I’m a good catch for the guy because I’m better looking than he is. Maybe it’s shallow, but it’s truthful and I think it’s the case for many women.

    Other than that, I also do think that personality plays into my personal perception of someone’s attractiveness. An ugly guy who is very confident about himself and his looks somehow just seems more attractive than an ugly guy who is really insecure.

  23. iamalejandra says:

    I am too tired and lazy to make my own comment so: I agree 100% with sparklytosingle. My observation is that girls date ugly guys because they want to be the “hotter” person in the couple, and then they can turn around and say “Do xxx because if you don’t then I’ll leave you and you’ll never be able to get another hot girl like me”. Well, not all of them are that mean, but I’m too lazy right now to make an intelligent comment :)

  24. browolf says:

    I think, women are attracted to alpha male qualities such as leadership, self-confidence, congruence, security providing(money or otherwise) etc and I think you all have slightly different ways of supposing these things subconsciously from images. Perhaps there’s a father connection there…. as these qualities are of importance to you they counter-balance the effect of physical attributes. In some cases tipping the scales more in favour of supposed qualities than looks. The differences in how you subconsciously determine qualities would explain the differences in who you find attractive.

    Guys on the other hand, whatever qualities we’re perceiving subconsciously, they’re obviously not that deep since despite having different upbringings and no doubt seeing the world in slightly different ways we’re all still agreeing. :D

  25. aguy says:

    sparklytosingle raises a good point. I think relationships work better if the girl is hotter and the guy is a little more into the girl, than the girl is into the guy.

  26. darkheath says:

    Well.. I think that theory #1 is spot-on in a lot of cases.

    I also think that SparklytoSingle has a great point, tho’ I would be an exception to that issue as I would be a bit uncomfortable dating someone obviously out of my league.

    I’ve had this theory for years that’s based on the “rating scale” (think Bo Dereks’ “10″). What ever your self-perception rating is, you’re probably comfortable dating people you consider either the same, or within one. So, for example, if you feel that you are a “6″, you’re probably comfortable dating people you consider a 5-7. If you manage to date someone you consider an 8, 9 or oh shit, a 10… you’re probably going to feel a intimidated and insecurities will settle in. If you end up with a “4″ or less, you’ll probably feel you’re dating beneath yourself and you’ll more than likely wander, whether mentally or physically.

    As for theory #2, I’ve just never been in the right place at the right time, I guess. Alas…

  27. darkheath says:

    “So from someone who used to think looks mattered more than anything… it’s really about how the guy treats you… looks help, but in the end they really aren’t everything. ”

    dmplgrl… could you get on the horn and start broadcasting this to females everywhere? Seems not so many ladies appreciate the “being treated well” thing as you do. Thank you.

    Also.. I want to bring up one other thing. I think a lot of people are using the wrong term here. I don’t think we’re talking about “security” so much as we’re talking about “rich”. There’s a difference and when I see someone I might like to contact on a site like Match.com, I generally look to see what salary they require. d’oh… sorry. Next.

  28. Simone Grant says:

    Alright – back to this. Just as onedatewonder had kneejerk reaction to the topic, I had a kneejerk reaction to the sign that there might be some conflict/nasty disagreement in the comments. I appreciate how quickly she clarified her position.

    For the record, I have been deleting some of the nastier comments lately and will continue to do so (especially when they come from “strangers”). And I plan on being more vigilant about policing the comments. I’d rather have fewer comments and lower ratings than a comments section that is dominated by people saying mean things to one another (not that onedatewonder said anything mean – but I was afraid things were about to go in that direction, as they have many times before),

    Now, back to the topic. Her point was a good one, that men are more visual. I think my dating habits demonstrate that perfectly. I frequently date men who look nothing like their online dating pics but who are good guys. I care more about their personalities.

    -Cute~Ella
    I buy laughter makes the heart grow fonder but have yet to find any personal truth in “dorks are awesome in bed”. I don’t doubt that it can be true sometimes. Just not in my experience.
    -happsgirl
    Thank you for putting that so bluntly. You know, I stopped dating the really pretty boys about a year or two ago after my last fiasco with a former actor. He was STUNNING and a total jerk. And it hit me, I’d never dated a really, REALLY hot guy who wasn’t a total jerk. Never again. Oh and welcome to the blog, sweetie. I hope we’ll be seeing more of you.
    -dmplgrl
    Hmm. Thank you for sharing your story, hun. I guess I can’t exactly relate because while I’ve always factored in looks they’ve never been the most important thing to me. I can’t imagine anyone not thinking how they are treated is more important than how someone looks – including a guy. Are you suggesting that guys care more about a woman’s looks that how she treats him?
    -OpinionatedGift
    You’re asking ME not to ask why? That’s like asking birds not to chirp. But of course you’re right. These things happen and whether or not a couple is happy is what’s important and finding someone I can be happy with (or not/maybe being happy on my own) is what’s important. The why is ultimately irrelevant.
    -pansophy
    As someone who’s lived her whole adult life in NYC, I’d say that security is probably as relevant a goal here as it is in the midwest. Money and status is a world that only a fraction of the people here play in, For every investment banker there’s a social worker. For every golddigger there’s a kindergarten teacher.
    -5Horses
    Welcome to the blog. I’d agree with you. Confidence counts for a lot.
    -alfabeta
    Men are not interested in money? You’ve got to be kidding. They might not be interested in dating for money. But there are just as many money obsessed men as there are women. It just plays out differently.
    -sparklytosingle/iamalejandra
    You completely shocked me. I have never heard anything like that before. And I’ve never heard any of my friends say anything like that. I’m ten years older than you but have friends your age. I find this really kind of odd and scary. Not in a judgy way (I know that calling something odd and scary sounds judgy). I’ve been thinking about this for the last couple of days and still can’t get my head completely around it. Hmmm.
    -browolf
    I’m so not a fan of the phrase “alpha male”. I’d just love to get through a week w/o hearing it. Anyway, yes, most women are attracted to confidence and as studies have shown security and for people who like the alpha male paradigm they can put it together with a bow in top and give it a name.
    -aguy
    Relationships work better if the girl is hotter? What? How does that help the relationship work better?
    -darkheath
    Ugh, it makes my skin crawl that there are women who put down salary requirements for men, But then, lots of men put down ridiculous requirements for women (like men in their early 50s/late 40s looking to meet a woman no older than 34). Icky.

  29. Singletude: A Positive Blog for Singles says:

    Alas! When I first tried to comment on this post just hours after it went up, I lost my Internet connection and the comment, so now I’m late to the game. But, anyway, I too am one of those who has seen her share of fugly girls with hot men as well as the more traditional fugly dude/hot woman pairing. I DO believe in social exchange theory, which posits that there are trade-offs in relationships, so a beast may be offering a beauty financial security, social status, a sparkling personality, intellectual stimulation or something that he or she really needs on an emotional level like a sense of unconditional acceptance, maternalistic/paternalistic nurturing, a wild streak, or what have you.

    I also think there’s truth to what several of the commenters above said about insecurity. I think some women (and even some men, too) feel insecure when they’re with someone they perceive as much hotter than they are, so they tend to pick less attractive partners. Even people who are aiming for someone who is about the same on the attractiveness scale may get it wrong because they underestimate themselves. One of my exes used to say, “It’s always the beautiful girls who think they’re ugly.” I’ve heard both women AND men express this kind of unease about dating someone who is more attractive than they are.

    Finally, I also agree with those who’ve said that women DO have very different tastes in men, and although this study may have found that men’s tastes didn’t differ as much, they DO differ to some extent. I’ve known guys who specifically said that they preferred girls who were “quirky” or “well-rounded” (meaning BBW, not just shapely) over more conventional beauties. And, no, they were’t just saying that to avoid offending me because I’m neither quirky nor well-rounded.

  30. Karol S says:

    I know several super hot guys with truly unattactive wives. it happens more than you’d think.

  31. hot guys says:

    There are lof of guys that are truly attractive . Its mainly due to their body language and features.