Posted: 25 Feb 2018 05:27 AM PST
In my office, many gay men complain about being rejected for not having the right sort of body, clothes, face and job.
I agree that we should do our best to look presentable (unless we want a partner seeking otherwise). But the guy who wrote me complaining that he can’t get a date may well be doing that. He reports that his non-stunning appearance isn't attracting any takers, at least where he is hanging out and looking for a partner. If I suggested a makeover, I would be buying into the rigid definitions of attractiveness that enslave many gay men.
Somehow this guy has wound up in a crowd whose standards of attractiveness rule him out as he is. So yes, I think it's a good idea for him to broaden his search beyond the people he's currently being rejected by. There are gay men out there with broader standards interested in a great interior that may be covered by a modest exterior.
As you note, we have the faces we have. Even if we go to the gym and dress well, many of us may not be able to push our exterior beyond a certain level. Most people do, in fact, have average bodies. For what reason should we be striving for standards to which almost no one actually conforms? Why should a "gym body" be the definition of attractive?
Making matters more complex: inevitably all of us will confront the ravages of time as we age. Many of us will suffer illness that will take its toll on our looks. So we've got to be able to consider more than outward appearance in our criteria for who we'll date, have sex with or settle down with. And we have to derive our self-worth from inside.
I think the dateless guy who wrote me makes a great point in challenging all of us to reconsider our stringent standards of attractiveness. The gay male world can be really harsh about this. Judgment about appearance can be a sort of tyranny.
Sometimes I think that our common experience of having been outcasts when we were young can lead us to want to feel like we are now "better than" by finding others to reject and put down, just as we were once rejected and put down. One way to do this is by looking down on others' appearances.
It may be an impossible goal, but in this world that can be so harsh, why not consider reaching toward a more generous view of others?
Michael Radkowsky, Psy.D. is a licensed psychologist who works with gay couples and individuals in D.C. He can be found online at michaelradkowsky.com. All identifying information has been changed for reasons of confidentiality. Have a question? Send it to Michael@michaelradkowsky.com.
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