The Rational Basis® of Happiness Podcast

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Good looks

My girlfriend is perfect but I dislike her looks.










































(this is raw unedited text transcribed directly from the audio)


Good Looks

My girlfriend is perfect but I dislike her looks.

(this is raw unedited text transcribed directly from the audio)


Dr. Kenner: Here is a question that gave me pause to think about this. Did you ever date somebody that you're so attracted to in terms of their character, but there's just something about their looks that drives you batty? And you start to feel guilty. You should love them. You should be able to just push aside the looks, but you can't. Every time you open your eyes, the looks are right there, the thing you don't like about them is there in your face. How do you deal with that situation? George is having that problem.


"Good afternoon, Dr. Kenner. I am 48 years old. Recently I have fallen in love with an incredible woman. Shelly is everything I could ask for and more. My number one." Let that set for a moment. Now here comes the second part. "Although she's a beautiful and young-looking 54-year-old woman," six years difference between them, he's 48, "Some parts of her body don't fully attract me. My dilemma is that I think I should be picturing my ideal partner and not settle until I find her. The problem is, I know Shelly is the ideal woman when I consider her inner beauty, but not quite when I consider the outer beauty. Yet our sex life is phenomenal. I am absolutely paralyzed by this and can't seem to be able to decide what to do or think about it. I spend so much time thinking about this. On one hand, I think I should end the relationship and pursue my ideal. But I fear I may never find someone like Shelly. And on the other hand, I just want to continue with her, but fear I may wake up one day and feel I betrayed myself. Gosh, I hate having these fears. Thank you for your advice. George."


Okay. My guess is that my husband has a picture of the ideal woman, George. An ideal woman that doesn't quite match what I look like, even though I'm pretty, and even though I'm perky. The ideal may not have my skin. She may have younger skin. The ideal may not have an age spot on my face - actually, that's something fixable. My dermatologist took off that little spot with liquid nitrogen. But my husband has an ideal image of who he would like me to be, and I can't compete with that ideal. There's no way I can compete with it. Because it's in his head. He can imagine it. He can imagine me being much better endowed - you know where - and he can imagine me maybe having a little more weight in some places and he can imagine different eyes. He can imagine that! I can't compete with that. Except I have one big advantage over my husband's imaginary partner. I exist. She doesn't. So, partly you need to recognize that we all have ideal partners, images that we've grown up from childhood. I fell in love with the lifeguard named Saul. I was a little tike at a swimming pool and he was my ideal. I wanted to marry someone like Saul. Does my husband look exactly like Saul? I don't even know what Saul looks like now, it's been so many years. I do know what he looks like, it's coming back with that warm smile. My husband doesn't look exactly like Saul. I love my husband and I love my husband's looks. So when you get to know a person, looks can matter less and less with time, or you come to love the looks of someone whose looks you didn't initially feel so attracted to. Character is fundamental. The fact that your sex life is phenomenal, the fact that you love so much about her, puts a big question mark in my mind. You don't want to drive yourself crazy with thinking there's some imaginary woman out there, some real woman who matches your ideal


Now, I'm wondering if the age isn't a problem? Six years age difference, a lot can happen to skin in six years. A lot can happen to facial hairs. Around the age of 54, women can start getting facial hairs. I'm wondering if there aren't some things that are actually fixable, if you have the courage to speak up very lovingly to her like my husband did with the little brown spot on my face? It's gone. If you're projecting forward and thinking, "Oh my God, a six year age difference might be a problem moving forward," yeah, it might be. The wrinkles, she may age faster or slower. Some people do age slower. So the physical, it's not terrible that you're focused on the physical with her, because you wake up with the person. You're with that person day in and day out. You want to like their looks. But the figure skater Scott Hamilton, I never liked his looks, but when I got to know him as a skater and as a person, I loved him and then I started just loving his looks because it was Scott. That can change over time.


I'm wondering if there is something more? If you're focused on the physical because it's covering up other problems in the relationship? Maybe fears of commitment or communication problems? Maybe you want out. Sometimes people focus on physical problems when there's really something deeper. You can also watch the movie Cyrano de Bergerac, because it's exactly the theme you're talking about. I would sit down with paper and pencil and write down everything you don't like about her looks and everything you love about her and then weigh them. I'm Dr. Ellen Kenner on The Rational Basis of Happiness.