Every time I hear this famous Harry Belafonte song, it makes me think about the importance of looks in romance:
"If you want to be happy for the rest of your life
Never make a pretty woman your wife
So from my personal point of view
Get an ugly girl to marry you!"
I always wondered if Belafonte was married, and if so, what his wife thought of that particular ditty! Because it seems like there’s nothing in the world worse than being considered unattractive by the opposite sex. But is that actually true? Are looks really so important? Or does personality have a greater effect on attraction in the long run?
Looks vs. Personality
We are all drawn to the people that we find physically attractive. That’s why Brad Pitt is constantly covered by the paparazzi and Tommy Lee Jones is never in the tabloids – looks really count. When we meet – no, when we see – somebody for the first time, all we have to go on is how they look. And our bodies work this way for a reason. Women are biologically programmed to want the man with the large shoulders and well-muscled, hunter’s arms. Men are likewise programmed to want the woman with the shiny hair, nicely-curved bum, and full breasts. All are symbols of health, of the ability to feed and provide.
From birth, human babies are attracted to clear glowing skin, large bright eyes, and beautifully balanced features. They react more positively to good-looking people – they look at them constantly and move more often to touch them. What does this mean? It means that our reactions to good-looking people are ingrained in all of us.
And it seems like there’s no way out.
Except that we’re not infants, nor are we apes in a zoo (even if they’re our close relatives). And while we’re never going to be physically attracted to somebody that we’re not physically attracted to (duh), we are thinking creatures with an ability to look beyond appearance and…see what we want to see.
Which is why, for those of use who aren’t totally shallow, personality plays such a big part in attraction. Everybody’s had an experience where they’ve chatted up a person who’s seemed incredibly attractive…only to find that person shallow, or idiotic, or just…not at all desirable. And for most of us, a not-great personality is a bigger deal breaker than not-great looks.
Perhaps I’m biased because I’ve always gone for geeky guys. And lots of people may disagree with me (and if you do, comment and tell me so!), but…I honestly think that, in the long run, personality plays greater part in physical attraction than looks. Because when I talk to that sexy guy in the slim jeans and cocky smile and find that he can’t string two words together, I won’t touch him with a ten-foot pole (even if he has one). But that nerdy-looking guy that has me falling off my bar stool with laughter? That’s another story.