The Rational Basis® of Happiness Podcast

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I deeply love a woman whom I find very unattractive.























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


Dr. Kenner:      Luke, you have a question about your relationship?


Luke:               I do have a relationship question. I’m sure it’s the first one you’ve ever had!


Dr. Kenner:      Well, shoot then! I’ll give it a shot.


Luke:               It’s about a girl, imagine that. There’s a girl. I love her to pieces. She’s phenomenal. I’ve known her most of my life and we’ve been together a couple of years. The issue being, I just do not find her attractive. I don’t. I try. I love her so much. She makes my life phenomenal. I can’t imagine not being with her.


Dr. Kenner:      But you don’t find her sexy or appealing physically?


Luke:               No. And I don’t want to say she’s unattractive, because she’s not on paper, but she’s not – I hate to be so shallow as to say she’s not my type – but that’s really the truth. She’s not. And I’m trying to overcome this mentally and I guess I wonder, can a person change their type? 


Dr. Kenner:      Well, one thing, if you never think about it, you won’t change your type. But if you give it some thought, what would help you change your type so that she is your type?


Luke:               I have wrestled with this so much before I called. I didn’t just try to call somebody for an easy answer. I’ve wrestled with it and I’ve read article after article. I’ve tried to do soul searching. I’ve consulted the philosophy books that I read and for the life of me, at the end of the day – 


Dr. Kenner:      If she were to walk out of your life and let’s just say that somebody else falls in loves with her and happens to love her looks, and now this guy is with her and you’re saying, “Phew. I didn’t like her looks, even though she was everything I ever wanted. The looks were a relationship breaker for me and I’m so glad she found someone else because I didn’t have to necessarily hurt her feelings on something that’s outside of her control, her looks.” I’m assuming it’s not just that she’s overweight or something. I’m assuming it’s something about her physically that she can’t easily change, is that right?


Luke:               A little bit. I mean, no, she’s not obese or heavy or anything like that. Maybe compared to my history, yeah. But in the example you just gave about her walking away, that would not be a relief to me. That would be devastating. I don’t want her to do that. I love walking, holding hands with her, snuggling up with her, a smooch and whatnot. But in terms of, “Roar,” there just is no roar factor. To the point where anything, like sex is forced. I just don’t really want that from her. And I feel like – 


Dr. Kenner:      That’s a big problem.


Luke:               That’s a huge problem. And I feel like someone I love that much I should want.


Dr. Kenner:      One of the things that’s crossing my mind, is there something else apart from her looks that you’re not naming that’s there that you don’t like? That when you dated other women, they had this factor X or something that this woman doesn’t have?


Luke:               Not that I know of. I mean, if I were to create my ideal on paper, aside from the attraction, she would be it.


Dr. Kenner:      Have you watched the movie Cyrano de Bergerac?


Luke:               I have not.


Dr. Kenner:      I recommend getting the original black and white one. A more recent one was made with Steve Martin and you can imagine that I would not get that one! It’s funny, yes, and the woman is beautiful, but it also makes a mockery of Cyrano de Bergerac, the original, the classic. Get the original one and watch that, because it’s dealing with the same type of theme. That’s one thing you can do. 


The second, we just ran what is called a thought experiment. I said, “What if she walks out of your life?” That’s a thinking skill. You play around with the different facts. If she would walk away from you, would you miss her desperately? Would you get longings? Would you get any sexual longings? Another question to ask yourself – you don’t have to answer them all here – have you ever had sexual longings for her, when you first met her or maybe just on a particular night? If so, what caused those longings? And where have they gone? Is there anything you can picture, another thing, anything you can picture to do in the future that would make her more appealing to you? For example, I’m pretty petite, however, when my husband and I first got married, I decided to play housewife and I cooked up a storm. Really gourmet food and guess what happened to both of our physiques?


Luke:               They deteriorated rapidly?


Dr. Kenner:      Yeah. My husband put on 20 pounds in one year and I was putting on weight around the mid section and I wasn’t pregnant, so we both gently told each other, “You’re not looking as attractive, or I’m not feeling as attractive to you.” I don’t know how we did it back then.  You can’t say it, but, “I feel more attractive to you when you were a bit slimmer,” and that’s painful. It’s a delicate moment. But something my husband and I did made it fun and open and neither of us felt good about our own bodies either. Maybe that was the situation. If my husband didn’t like my face, that’s a problem. I once had a phone conversation with a guy back in high school and he was the nicest guy, just sweet as could be. We talked on the phone. We had never met each other. And guess what happened when I opened the door to meet him for the first date? 


Luke:               Somebody put the fire extinguisher on the candle?


Dr. Kenner:      You bet. He was not my type of guy. And he didn’t look anything like what I imagined. I felt awful. He must have seen it in my face and it was a relationship breaker. It is okay to break up a relationship if you don’t like looks and you want the sexual issue. You don’t have to feel guilty. Of course you want to deal with it delicately, but if you’re very mixed, maybe you both can do something heroic together and see how you feel about her after that? Because sometimes when you have a good experience with each other, the looks kind of take a backseat, which is why I’m recommending Cyrano de Bergerac. 


Luke:               And if I may ask – I don’t know if this is a psychological or philosophical question – but I feel like, or I think I should say, if a person loves someone as strongly as I do, that should be a source of desire. 


Dr. Kenner:      You can love her and it’s also true you may not like her looks. Again, if you can see the character behind the looks and come to love that, then it works. If you don’t, and you can get some help with this, if there’s something going on with you sexually – maybe there are some hang-ups you have, I don’t know you obviously – but maybe there are some hang-ups, saying that her looks might just be a smoke screen? If you can hold on, I’ll talk to you during the break.