by Marwa Rakha.
“He is too short”, “She is not curvy enough”, “I don’t like curly hair”, etc. All of us have heard some of our friends negatively comment about the looks of the people they date and maybe thought “Wow! That’s superficial”. But is it? We’re visual creatures after all, we can’t always find a flower beautiful just because it smells sweet. And at the end of the day, your partner will be the first person you see when you wake up and the last person you see before you go to sleep, so physical attraction and admiration is indeed important. The question is, to what extent? We reached out to our Relationship Expert, Marwa Rakha, to learn more.
1. Is physical attraction and admiration a must in a relationship? Can it be a deal-breaker?
The first stage of a relationship is indeed attraction; attraction in this sense is physical, mental, or even chemical. It is hormones in action. Some people call it “click”, and others call it “magic”. Without this “magnetism”, the relationship will never launch.
Having said that, there are people who “grow on you”. When you meet, you like their company and by time you get addicted to them. These people are like an interesting story that unfolds bit by bit, and you get hooked on the intricacies of that story.
2. When does it stop being a matter of attraction and start being a matter of superficiality?
Most people know what attracts them to others and what repels them. Some people have lists of things they find repulsive and are very strict about their lists.
“I would never date a person who is overweight”, for example. If we pursue the same example, some people do not like having a partner who is overweight, but they can live with it. They find that person appealing on so many other levels and they do not focus on the weight issue.
Some people believe that “weight” is one the things that can be changed by diet or workout, or surgery. They can motivate their partner, or bluntly force them, to take serious steps towards the weight loss goal.
Superficiality is a totally different thing; a man expects his partner to wear make-up all the time, or to always have her hair done, or to dress-up daily.
A superficial woman frowns upon her partner if he missed a shave or did not look like a movie star at all times.
Superficiality is not accepting the human aspects of your partner; we all pee, poop, burp, fart, sweat, and can look less than ideal on certain days.
3. If my partner pointed out something he does not like about my looks or appearance, how should I take it? And when should I start to have concerns?
A loving partner would always want you to look and feel your best. Many women and men find it normal to add their touches to a loved one’s wardrobe. Some might choose their perfumes and colognes. There are many ways your boyfriend, or girlfriend, could interfere with your daily care routine.
There are two major things to look out for:
How the comment is said and how you feel about it.
If the comment sounded rude, aggressive, disapproving, insulting, humiliating, or offensive; you need to stop and reconsider this relationship.
If the comment was said in a nice way but you are not willing to take that extra step to change something about your looks, you should be open about how you feel.
For example, you have curly hair. Your partner makes fun of your head in public or privately. Think of ending this relationship.
Or, your partner asks you to permanently or daily straighten your hair. If you like your curls, or if you are unwilling to chemically treat your hair, or if you cannot go to the hairdresser daily, then you need to express how you feel clearly.
4. Should I point it out to my partner if there is something in their appearance that I don’t like? Or could this be a sign that I don’t love this person enough?
If you do not like your partner’s teeth, for example. What can they do about it? Your comment will only make them feel offended and, on a deeper level, insecure. If the teeth issue can be taken care of easily by a visit to the dentist, then maybe you can bring it up. The most important thing is to find a decent way to direct your partner’s attention to this issue.
If you have a bunch of things that you do not like about your partner – their hair, skin, body shape, and scent – then you need to keep that person as a friend instead of hurting their feelings brutally.
On a final note, appearance is one of the very first things you get to know/see about a person. If you have serious concerns about that person’s appearance, do not get emotionally involved with them. If you do not find them attractive and appealing to you, do not attempt a relationship with them.
Generally, do not declare your love or attraction to a person before you have given yourself enough time to see them and talk to them several times. Go out for early breakfast, after work lunch, evening strolls, and late-night parties. Meet them early in the morning, after long workdays, on weekends, and on vacations. Take your time getting to know a person, you never know, they might simply grow on you.
I would also advise you to have realistic expectations when it comes to appearances. At one point, you will see one another without make-up, without shaving, ruffled and muffled, sweaty and smelly, bloated and bed-ridden, pregnant and postpartum, etc.
Accepting that your partner’s appearance will change over time is one of the ways to help you shift your focus on core issues like kindness, support, respect, trust, commitment, common interests, and generosity.