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Bonny Albo

How Much Do Looks Matter?

By October 17, 2009

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A new, short lived series called Dating in the Dark (6 episodes in its first season, pending the ok for season number two) has gotten me thinking about attraction, chemistry, and how much looks really matter to singles and dating couples.

In the show, a three men and three women date each other, literally, in the dark. They all meet in a group setting initially in total darkness, then the singles each choose who they'd like to go on a private dark date with. Then another date takes place where the singles get matched by compatibility, and the last date is singles' choice. In the meantime the singles get to see an aspect of the opposite sex that is normally quite private, such as their luggage or a tour of their home, and they also are asked to draw what they think their favorite match looks like using a professional sketch artist. At the end of the show, the singles choose one person they want to 'see' are shown each other, and then they decide if they'd like to date some more or go their separate ways.

I'll be honest: in the five of the six shows I've watched, I've been shocked almost every episode with the reactions and deal breakers. Men who were adamant they'd never date a woman who was 'thicker around the middle' didn't care when they found a connection, women walked off the set because their date was an inch too short even though the mutual attraction was obvious, and people who made out with each other extensively in the dark and pegged their date to a tee in the sketch artist portion of the show suddenly questioned their interest when they saw their mystery date for the first time.

I'm of the camp that although attraction is important, it can change and evolve based on how you know a person as well as how you feel about them. I'm also of the belief that people can change the factors of attraction (initially at least) and using techniques like those discussed in the show The Pickup Artist or the book How To Instantly Connect with Anyone by Leil Lowdnes. But take out one's looks and the whole situation changes, much like how online dating changed the face of how we connect and mate as a society today.

What about you? How important are looks to you, and would you not date someone based solely on how they present? Have you been able to change how people perceive you socially in order to attract someone? How did you do it?

October 19, 2009 at 9:47 pm
(1) Susan B says:

I feel that a lot of men have a pleasing physical appearance, but not as many carry themselves or treat other people in a way that is as pleasing. And these aspects of a man are more important in my book. If a man is sweet and thoughtful, his appearance becomes less important.

October 22, 2009 at 11:30 am
(2) Calin C says:

We as humans tend to be very very superficially and looks orientated, therefore if you think that look is not important you have to argue our nature itself, and you’ll have a strong battle to fight..

October 25, 2009 at 11:05 pm
(3) Rio says:

Looks can be a deal breaker. Just because a person acts one way in the dark does not mean that they will be the same in the light. The old adage of “a bag over her head”applies.
There is also the warning bell /alarm inside the head when a person for some reason sets these off. To observers they can’t seem to comprehend why that person is rejected.

October 29, 2009 at 12:40 pm
(4) Ryan Mullowney says:

I think that looks absolutely do matter, and that if looks matter to you it doesn’t make you shallow at all.

Compatible personalities are important, but this alone is what creates friendships. I have a number of great friends with awesome personalities, but they’re just friends simply because I don’t find them attractive. Good looks are what take that good personality that makes them a friend and it takes it into the realm of attraction, and therefore makes them somebody you’d be willing to date.

Long story short, good looks make the difference between friends and dating prospects.

November 4, 2009 at 8:29 pm
(5) christy says:

I think its hard to find a nice man anymore..they may look good outside, but the inside is bad… I could never take them home to my parents… So I decide to try online dating, because you can get to know the people first from chatting with them online and have a lot more to choices….

November 11, 2009 at 2:20 pm
(6) Angela says:

I have been on the dating scene for almost five years. Although I am dating 1-2 times per week, I have not had a steady boyfriend during this time. At 46 years of age, I have dated men in the range of 21 through 50 (age is not a factor) and have found that I agree with Ryan Mullowney in that “Good Looks make the difference between friends and dating”. I will go a step further to say that good looks make the difference between friends, dating and marriage. I am still friends with the majority of my dates and love each one for their own identity, but the fact remains, I would not want to wake up each morning lying next to them for the remainder of my life. I am still seeking that person who puts me in total awwwe each time he walks through the door.

November 24, 2009 at 6:48 am
(7) Paris says:

If at 46 you are comparing apples to organges still, you’ve not learn much from life experiences because, looks are temporary, from the minute you walk out the door anything can happen to that so call “goodlooking person”. When a person places all his “will ask, won’t ask” mentality on a person looks, that just tells me that that person is very insecure within themself. This is why older men (and now some older women) continuously go for the younger person. They can’t admit that they’re getting old fast and probably not very well. If you hook up with that person for looks, you have to also assume that she’s hooking up with you for the same, but once your looks are gone, there is always someone younger and better looking then you are. And no one can take a self esteem hit from a person they love if that person tells them, I don’t want to be with you anymore, found someone better looking then you…no one.

January 3, 2010 at 2:05 pm
(8) Karen says:

Wow! I’m simply shocked by the shallow comments posted here, although they really confirm what I already know after 6 months on Match.com. Yes I’m overweight. Yes I’m plain. But there’s a lot more to a person than what you see on the surface.

And let me tell you, after 6 months on Match, I despair of ever finding someone.

October 12, 2010 at 12:20 am
(9) debbie says:

6 months on Match is a marathon. I did it for 1o days and decided I wasn’t interested in a relationship, just sex. I looked back on my life, and I am like you, but I can’t seem to forget the great looking actor or the perfect 10 who paid attention to me in May. I am independent enough to be fine without someone, always have been, thank God, because I am a little nervous realizing all of this.

January 30, 2010 at 4:26 am
(10) nametso says:

u knw wat guys,i dnt thnk looks matter that much as long as u love tha person,once u love the person and appreciate them the way they are then al u gonna c is glow and radience on them.i believe if u r afta klooks then u r just lusting ova the innocent person

January 20, 2011 at 4:48 am
(11) rc says:

nice observation

March 4, 2010 at 6:42 am
(12) Minnie says:

I would say that up until recently, at 45 (looking bearly 34), looks were very important to me and as a result i found myself dating much younger men with far less gravitas than i would hope for, surprise, surprise. Recently, I met someone on the internet who I engaged in about 12 hours of very deep conversation and was totally convinced this guy ticked all the boxes, he was younger than me by 11 years but seriously had all the other attributes. From his photo I was not convinced I would fancy him, when I met him, he was really nothing to look at, but because of the time we had spent getting to know each other, I just did not consider this a problem. so it’s safe to say that I now know where the bar stands in terms of what I am looking for in a man and really have got over the looks thing. The date didn’t work out in the end because he was younger than me and probably just after sex with an older woman but now at 45 having realised looks don’t matter, perhaps I might consider the bald, corpulent , pasty guys that are available to women of my age, subject of course to them meeting all my other criteria.

June 20, 2010 at 11:16 pm
(13) pffft says:

yes and they have sagging tit cellulte old batttleaxes like you. Grand

October 12, 2010 at 12:14 am
(14) debbie says:

I have been so busy with other issues in my life and so independent, I thought my attraction to an actor was because he was Unavailable to Me, an old therapy theory. This is probably correct in part, but when a perfect 10 paid attention to me recently, well, I haven’t gotten over either one of them. And I am not a 10. As I have more time to investigate loves, and I am not young, I find out the looks thing, a trophy, means more to me than anything, and that tells me I should be doing something else entirely with my life.

April 10, 2011 at 10:59 am
(15) Eugene. O says:

Looks is important. And if anyone ever tells you there not, they are lying. Unfortunately there is not enough really beautiful women in the world to go around for every guy, who wants one. So he settles for second best. Most really attractive women feel more comfortable with an attractive guy, because there’s already a likeness. Believe it or not, most really attractive women are quite intelligent, and know what they want and will not waste their time dating a guy that dosent place all the ticks in their list. Too them, it makes more sense to date a guy who’s tall, exersizes consistently, eats healthy and has a positive outlook on life just like they do themselves. It’s a maternal instinct, to reproduce a healthy outcome. I have always shaken my head at some of the choices really attractive women have, in their taste of men. Short bald, fat or ugly. Is it the money? For some of them sure, but to an attractive healthy mature minded women, not so. Money is not everything and it sure dosen’t buy love, and to them, looks and personality is actually important. After all, it is how we make them feel. That initial emotional connection that separates us from all the other guys weather it’s looks, money, personality or status. So my message to all you guys, is to never be afraid of dating an attractive women. Be very afraid of dating an attractive woman for the wrong reasons!

April 16, 2012 at 1:15 am
(16) matt says:

Pretty people get more options and easy things thrown at them. My brother and I both enjoyed our youth and the extra attention our looks got us. He actually really excelled in the dating arena. Life was great in our teens and 20s. Only peril was my brother didnt develop business skills, he relied on the jobs that hire young people. While I was better at school I cant help but think life was too easy for big bro. I am not rich but I did fine. My brother never made it to first base financially. We spend about 80 percent of our adulthood after our twenties. The media likes to focus on young adulthood but really its a fraction of our lives. We have so much else ahead of us after looks are center stage.

August 16, 2012 at 3:06 am
(17) Rocky says:

I wasn’t particularly attracted to my partner – he’s cute though not dropdead like my previous boyfriend. Hey, I’m nothing special to look at!

But he was so nice. In fact, the nicest guy I’ve ever met.

And interesting! He’s knowlegeable about science, current events, politics, music and more…

I have been rewarded a hundred times over. Thank God I was smart enough to get with the most charming, positive, loving, creative, intelligent person I’ve met.

We’ve been together 20 LONG YEARS and I love him so. We’re not rich but we have good times!

If you’re shallow, you may miss out…

September 1, 2012 at 10:32 pm
(18) Hmm says:

To all those, who feel looks, are important:

I ask you this directly. Does your love for your mother matter upon her looks? Your father? Your Grandparents? Is your love affected for the looks of those influential people in your lives?

{Obviously not attracted to them, but your emotional feelings are NOT governed by their looks}

Although this argument is slightly irrelevant, my theory still stands – emotions are emotions, feelings are feelings. You may like the look of someone, but to love someone, to truly love someone is a totally different story to ‘fancy them’, to find them ‘attractive’.

I’m in a long-term relationship with a man I met using lets say, unconventional means. My personal appearance (I consider myself VERY ugly) didn’t come into it, my personality was what captured his heart. Baring in mind, this man labelled himself as heterosexual before he met me & got to know me. Now, I’ve been in a long-term relationship with him for a VERY long time. Looks never came into it. My personality and sheer pure love was what made him attracted to me.

Further to my point, would you leave your ‘good-looking’ partner if they became blind? Bald? Fat? Ugly? Deaf? Vegative? Comatose? (All EXTREMELY physical things)

If so, you, yourself are a VERY, VERY ugly person. I believe physical appearance is nothing more but DNA. Sexual, emotional chemistry is much, much, much more.

People with ugly personalities, are ugly people, nothing more, nothing less.

If appearances were everything why are ‘beautiful’ celebrities divorcing? Why do people who undergo £1000/$1000 of surgery to look ‘perfect’, still struggle to find?

Your argument is flawed, you’re all shallow – step back and take a good, good long look at yourselves. You’ll end up alone, for overlooking that beautiful person inside.


October 7, 2012 at 4:41 pm
(19) adam says:

Appearance definitely matters. You can judge and analyze a lot about who a person truly is by how they take care of themselves. 95 times out of 100, a person is obese or overweight because they don’t take care of themselves. They are too lazy to wake up 30 minutes earlier 6 days a week to do some cardio on a treadmill, they don’t have enough discipline to diet properly and they aren’t educated enough or intelligent enough to realize that those two tasks will change one’s life. Exercise provides much higher average dopamine levels and happiness, while increasing blood flow to the brain- a side effect being good comfort and energy levels. That combined with nutrition amplifies these effects and has been proven to increase quality of life, health and longevity.
It really does confuse me when people say “appearance” or “looks” don’t matter. They absolutely do, for so many logical reasons. On top of that, appearance is a good indicator of healthy genes. I don’t necessarily mean facial appearance.
Fact is that overweight/obese people: die earlier, live unhappier lives, have less energy, accomplish less, are less intelligent, have a higher chance of imbalanced hormone levels (men and women), are lazier and less active, have worse hygiene and cleanliness and have lower income (only women). This isn’t even a comprehensive list.
SO, to all of you saying “appearance doesn’t matter”, don’t come back, reply to my comment saying “you were right, my wife/husband died at age 57 from a heart attack because he/she didn’t give two shits about his/her physical appearance and by extension, wanted to die early and leave his/her entire family in disarray”. Obviously, obese people don’t CONSCIOUSLY make the choice to die so that their family will go through hardship- but at the same time, with all the health warnings and advice from doctors on exercise and diet, they kind of do.

October 30, 2012 at 2:00 pm
(20) Karen says:

I always preferred an intelligent man with a good sense of humor who respects me over just a good-looking man. Kindness and thoughtfulness are extremely important to me. Men who love to explore but who also are responsible are my cup of tea. Manners are important!

March 10, 2014 at 6:37 am
(21) Sherri says:

I am a 53 year old woman who always been considered very attractive since I can remember. I’ve always had many choices. The choices thin a little as I’ve gotten older. However, one of the beautiful things that has come with age is that I’m much less shallow. In the last few years I’ve fallen for men who are really not that much to look at, but usually there is something about how they treat others or how they treat me that has really impressed me. Without certain qualities – kindness, generosity, intelligence – it doesn’t matter to me what they look like. I’ve been contacted by some gorgeous men on the dating site – some quite a bit younger. But I can tell they are primarily interested in sex, and this puts me off. On the other hand, if an average looking guy behaves like a true gentleman and shows sincere interest in me as a person, I am more inclined to give him a second look. It always surprises me when my friends think my love interests are unattractive. To me they became attractive because of their qualities. But one I’ve fallen, they just become attractive to me period.

One thing worth a mention is that for women who are accustomed to getting attention based on their looks, as I always have, it is truly refreshing to find a man who really respects me and likes me for other reasons besides sex or the promise of sex. And these men are few and far between. I’m glad I’m finally mature enough to know what qualities to look for in a man.

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