Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Looks 'vs' Personality

Hi Christiana,
I currently like this guy, he is really sweet, we have good conversations, problem = he isn't very good looking, now I wanted to know your thoughts on nice guy vs. good looks? should it matter that he isn’t good looking... I guess it is most definitely something I could answer myself! just a second opinion??

It’s the classic scenario. You meet a great guy but he has a not so great face. Since being openly superficial is frowned upon, most women bury their reservations. Yet secretly you loathe the fact you fancy him and you feel guilty that you’re considering deleting him from your phonebook due to a factor he had no hand in creating.

My response to this email should be a blog post reminding us of the virtue in looking deep inside a person. I should implore the young lady to stop being so superficial. Remind her that life is too short to get hung up on minor details like physical appearance and what should be paramount is his character not his face. That she should focus on what he looks like on the inside because that’s what will make the difference in the long run.

And it would all be true.

However it would be hypocritical of me to spread a message I’m yet to fully implement in my own life (emphasis on the word fully). You see I’m a sucker for a handsome face!

Experience has taught me handsome men are akin to a beautifully wrapped gift. Nice to hold and look at, but no proof that the gift it conceals has any value. Despite this fact (sadly) I’m still more likely to miss the call of the unattractive man with a great personality for the handsome man I can’t help but like even though he has an attitude that stinks more than a crack head.

Yet I know for a fact I’m not the only person who often lets how a person looks cloud my judgement. We don’t live in utopia, where teenagers put posters on their walls of famous people they adore because they have great personalities. We live in the real world. Dystopia. A place where looks mater and famous people tend to be pretty people.

When was the last time you heard the chat up line ‘I saw you from across the room and I knew I had to walk over to take a better look at your gorgeous….personality’. Unless you have a super power which enables you to glare deep into a persons soul, the chances are you’re initially attracted to a person’s appearance not their personality. In fact there’s nothing wrong with being drawn to a specific physical aesthetic. Preferring a particular look is no different from favouring a particular type of food. It’s simply an expression and reflection of your personal taste. However it becomes wrong when how a person looks is the sole impulse behind whether we keep them around or get rid!

In many ways we’ve been taught to view looks and personality as adversarial concepts. More often than not when we debate the two, the typical discourse runs along the ‘looks versus personality' lines. We view the two factors as parallel lines that’ll never meet. When in actual fact they tend to overlap and inform each other.

A few years ago I noticed a common thread that running through men that always seemed to get amazing women. Subtracting the men that were attractive, rich or famous, most of the men didn’t fit the mould of what's viewed as conventionally attractive. In fact many are what the world would deem as distinctively average looking (or even below average). What was the common thread? They all had a personality trait that gave them a certain magnetism. Whether it was being witty, funny, charming, audacious or sarcastic, men that wouldn’t win any beauty pageants got the best women because of their personalities.

This caused me to conclude that if you have a good enough personality it will make you (more) attractive. Contrarily no matter how beautiful you are, if your personality is ugly eventually those around you will view you as unattractive. It’s one of the universe’s balancing mechanisms. Minus the minute percentage of people that are deemed universally attractive (there are very few. The media has set the attractive bar so high, pretty people are the new average). Most ‘attractive’ people are attractive because they make an effort with their appearance and crucially radiate great energy.

Contrary to the typical discourse it’s never really a matter of looks vs. personality. They aren’t warring cousins, constantly pitted against each other; they’re more like conjoined twins who work interdependently. Chances are the people we find attractive have something inside that enhances (or detracts from) what they’re working with on the outside.

Now back to the young lady who emailed me! Even if a man’s personality is perfectly compatible with yours, if the idea of him being in bed with you makes your womb hurt, it’s probably not the best idea to pursue a relationship with him. Why? Because frankly you don't have the character necessary for such an arrangement to work. And most humans don't!

Ideally what we find attractive is a perfect blend of personality and looks. Disproportionate emphasis shouldn’t be placed on either factor .I often hear the phrase ‘beauty fades’ which is annoying because it implies that personalities/characters are immutable and on that basis they should be held in higher esteem. That's nonsense. From experience personalities/characters change (and diminish) at a far quicker rate than physical appearance. The bottom line is both factors matter and for some people they matter equally.

Or am I wrong? Is one factor more important than the other? What are your opinions on the ‘looks vs. personality’ debate? Am I correct in saying they overlap and work together? Are you a person that only likes good looking men/women?! Or is it the ‘inside’ that counts? Let me know!



  1. I was just having this same conversation with my friend the other day. I totally agree with you that looks and personality go hand in hand. However, like you rightly said if you cannot fathom waking up to this person for the rest of your life, then.... But i find that there are some people who despite not having the most amazing face make up for it with a great personality. They are NOT ugly but they are definitely not the most good looking person in the room.
    I think it comes down to attraction. There has to be something that attracts you to that person even if you are the only person that sees it and overtime, you find out that one will overshadow the other (hopefully)

  2. Yes, I think having a great personality will make u seem BETTER looking, but not necessarily beautiful. And I know a lot of awful, cruel horrible people who are stunning. But the universe is indeed a fair place and karma does exist. Because those beautiful ppl only stay beautiful for so long. After a while, after they hit their prime, their evilness literally starts to show on their face. I swear they age faster (maybe their bad deeds start to catch up with them), and have u ever seen a rlly pretty girl who is evil become angry? i had the twisted pleasure of seeing back in secondary school. Lets say this girl was like the head cheerleader in American films. Like, she was hot stuff. But one day she got angry and when this girls face contorted all of a sudden she didnt look so pretty anymore. In fact she looked like what she was on the inside. And now she is 21 and looks like 35. Karma is a bitch. So live your life right.

  3. They work together, it isn't either or for me. If a guy is drop dead gorgeous but has zero personality or is arrogant, rude, horrible etc then he immediately becomes unattractive.
    Some people can over-look horrible character traits if a person is nice to look at. But for me the looks would fade and their nasty interior is all I would see.
    However if there was zero physical attraction but they had an amazing personality they would be attractive but only ever on a friendship level.

    Women are so much more forgiving when it comes to looks vs personality debate. Thats why you see drop dead gorgeous women with not so gorgeous men with great personalities. Men are able to woo women, whereas women are on the whole judged solely by their looks.

  4. Albeit looks is what makes an impression, surely personality is what makes a relationship meaningful?

    People always mention a good personality as a trait that attracts them to someone.

    Think about the Beauty and the Beast story!!

  5. I agree with ice queen. women on the whole are soley judged by their looks.

    How often do you hear a man sayin' "i wasnt even attracted to her at first?" but some how the she just grew on me. (I have never heard a man say this) women never grow on men as he is either on it or he's not.

    Personally it isnt 50/50 for me. personality scores higher for me then looks. id say 70% -30%. My advice to anyone in that situation is that if there isnt at least ONE thing you like about his looks then forget are you going to be intimate with someone you find unattractive??

  6. I can't say I agree with this concept that character/personality diminsh over time. Possibly because I've never noticed it before, however, I truly believe that with personality what you see is what you get.

    For instance: if you're aware that whilst dating, your partner has say selfish traits- those same selfish traits will be there when you marry. You cannot change a person or their personality for that matter.

    I really think that a persons personality is 'stuck' or maybe a better word is attached to that particular person. So, weighing up the scale, personality and looks are just as valuable as one another.

    Contrary to that, does beauty fade? According to our world and the powers that be, they do. FHM's sexiest women list for 2010 consists of Cheryl cole and Pixie Lott whereas in 1995 the same coveted list placed Pastie Kensit and Kate bush among a plethora of other "sexy" women. That alone says it all.

  7. Looks vs. Personality, my explanation is rooted in Darwinism - survival of the fittest. Not great looking guys have to "master" their personality to compensate for their shortfall in the Looks department. Great looking guys tend not to work on their personalities because over time, they have easily been welcomed with open arms into every social circle. This is not to say there aren't good looking guys with great personalities - it just happens to be a rarity!

    A "nice" guy can turn into a "bad" guy once he realises he doesn't really have to work hard for the woman anymore i.e. when she is "on it". Or could turn "bad" when a windfall of money comes his way! Likewise, haven't you heard of the bubbly and nice FAT girl who turned into a right bitch when she lost all the weight and could wear a slinky size 8 Karen Millen dress?

    As you quite rightly said, personality is just as transient and fluid as looks! Therefore your choice should be based on a good mix of both!

  8. I completely disagree with IceQueen and MzDevine and I can give examples besides myself and I have friends and male family members who can say the same. Not all us men are as shallow as you think. Pretty girls with ugly attitudes and personality get different treatment and I don't mean that in a good way. I have friends who are players and they do not look at women like these as serious women, in fact these are normally the most self awared individuals and the ones they abuse the most, so they may get some attention in the short term, but it's not real like some of their personalities. Also guys like me and my family and most of my friends have no regards for women with a bad personality for us it's a case of both looks and personality for us to make things work. You have to remember as well guys use the term 'other fish in the sea' literally, while some women feel their options in men are limited (and fight over men that aint even theirs), so would probably have different acceptance levels, where as men are competitive and want to go for what they perceive is the best(*surprisingly even if she's not the best for him or what he really wants in some situations, but that's another story), which is why some women will accept certain advances from some men, because he made them feel like she was the best. Besides would you feel sexy as a woman if you're with a guy who wasn't attracted to you or you couldn't get turned on? I don't think so. Although I don't endorse the show, something caught my attention on 'Big Brother' the other day where there was a Beyonce look alike on the show who tried to play down that she wasn't full of herself (although she checked the mirrors on average 100 times a day) only to find that the guy she was most attracted to in the house (and to some others as well the most attractive in the house) couldn't stand her because he thought she stuck her nose up at other people and expected men to drop to her feet because she was pretty. Believe it or not this does happen in the real world and as a result there are some attractive women who get little respect just because they are perceived as being stuck up and of themselves. As a result some of them actually have a harder time dealing with confidence issues and people pre-judging them. As for me and many other men we don't feed into women who seek to much attention as after a while our attention may not be enough, or so it may seem any way. And it's not just women that deal with this as well. I have friends who would say I have the potential to be a player, but don't realise that whenever I speak to someone or whatever I'm getting judged before people even get to know me. And when they find that I don't meet their own personal expectations they look at me as if I painted an image for them, when I'm just doing me. You find you have people telling you how you should be like, because I'm from here, and I look like this, and people like you normally do this. I completely agree that personality and looks go hand in hand but a bad personality can turn off, while a good one could turn things around.

  9. This very situation occurred to me when I was 16. I tried the relathionship thing for a few weeks but ultimately ended the relationship because of the very image Christiana mentioned (the idea of being intimate with him made my skin crawl). Lesson learned: personality is very important to me but in all honesty there has to be some sort of physical attraction or it will never work.

  10. This post pains me so.
    I'm also a sucker for a handsome face. The idea of me potentially ending up with a man who I'm not entirely attracted to hurts me slightly.
    Let me put it like this. The woman I want to be knows these things don't matter and sometimes the best presents don't come so beautifully wrapped and is okay with that. However the woman I AM doesn't give a damn and thinks "if so and so can find a man who's got looks and personality down then why can't I?". This is a factor about myself I loathe so much and I think about more than I should... All my life, I have liked guys who have been well under average, however when I got to college and started to be around men with good looks, my standards greatly raised and since then being with someone who's good looking has mattered a bit more than it should.

    This doesn't cloud my better judgement, I won't take nonsense from anyone beautiful OR butters, but I know if a guy is beautiful/adorable to me, then it's so much easier for me to like him... ugh.
    Realtalk though, in general, there needs to be SOME level of attraction in order for things to work, otherwise it purely just won't... I guess it's complicated, but everyone needs to be prepared to be a bit open minded.

  11. i think it your age and level of maturity plays an important role here into what matters most to you. if you're 35 your options change. when you're in your 20s and vivacious then you have a different reality to someone who's single and is 35 or 60. I'm 35 and what i wanted when i was 22 has totally changed. i wanted the whole six-pack, rich, good-looking badboy. when i hit 30 i realised i had wasted my youth chasing after futile things. my friends who were smart and caught on earlier settled down with normal looking men who they have now built tremendous lives with. I am at the peak of my career but im lonely because i wanted a certain ideal no man could never live up to. now men my age and my calibre are chasing women in their 25, 10 years younger than me. So ,my advice is it's all relative and you have to put things into perspective. You are not perfect neither is the man you ideally want soo badly. he could be that guy you have been avoiding for 2 years. So women wake up before you end up a spinster with 9 cats

  12. Just be yourself, don't try to be something or someone you are not. People like a person who is honest, and knows who they are. I am sure you are a wonderful person, the right one will come along for you. Just be patient..By the way I found a website that give you prizes for your opinions here is the topic about this:

  13. Why are we made to feel guilty for wanting a good looking man? Women spend effort and money on trips to the salon, gym, clothes, beauty treatments, etc. but all of a sudden we're supposed to pretend that looks don't matter much when it comes to men? Maybe it's because I'm in my early 20s, but I just have to be attracted to you or I won't want to date you. If a man doesn't turn me on I won't really be that interested in him.