I was sitting in a Spanish restaurant in Alphabet City with my little sister.
She was in town for the weekend from Boston, and I was treating her to shrimp stew, churros and the tales of my not-so-glamorous life in NYC.
As we sat sipping coconut broth mixed with rice, I looked up and noticed three couples enter the restaurant, waiting for the hostess to return from the kitchen to seat them.
I’m a naturally observant person, and I tend to stare at people without really caring if it makes them uncomfortable.
I took this group in through my peripherals and noticed the ladies were all wearing sky-high stilettos and ultra-chic outfits.
I also noticed their husbands were all shorter than they were; I wondered if it was because of the heels.
Something suddenly dawned on me after a few seconds, something obvious and slightly disturbing.
All of the women were beautiful, and all of their husbands were not.
I’m not talking supermodel hot. I’m not talking about a Donald Trump and Ivana Trump situation.
I just mean these ladies were normal, pretty women, and their partners were so very on the opposite side of the spectrum.
I pointed out this realization to my sister and asked if she was as unsurprised by it as I was. She agreed that this was always how it went down: Hot women date ugly guys.
I know you’ve seen it before: an attractive woman on the arm of a markedly less attractive man.
It is easy to just jump the cuff and think, “Oh, he must be rich” or “Oh, she must be really stupid.”
That may be the case in some instances, but it certainly is not the case for all couples -- or even MOST couples.
I myself have always dated men who are less attractive than myself. It isn’t because I’m a gold digger.
For me, I don’t rate looks that highly on the list of qualities that I find important in a partner.
I’ve seen the same thing time and time again with my beautiful, intelligent girlfriends.
Don’t even pretend you haven’t witnessed the same thing. We all know it’s true. Hot women are always dating less hot men.
Do women just value looks less highly than our male counterparts?
It really got my inquisitive brain wondering. So, Elite Daily went to the best experts in the field to try to get to the bottom of this conundrum.
We all want different things out of relationships.
According to relationship and sex expert Dr. Logan Levkoff, the stereotypical bimbo, model arm candy next to the balding millionaire is just not as simple a situation as it seems:
I think that we tend to find men who are interesting, talented and charismatic more engaging than someone who is completely handsome but with no substance beneath him.
Generally, women don’t put such high stakes on a man based on his looks.
We’re looking for more than that. We’re looking for compassion and emotional fluency when seeking out a potential partner.
[Women want] men who take responsibility for their actions and contribute to the relationship not just financially but, more importantly, emotionally.
There is no arguing that there are benefits that financial affluence can provide, but that is not the predominant reason for selecting a mate.
We need someone who deeply cares about us and can communicate with us.
Looks take a back seat to personality.
Society has defined what is considered “beautiful.”
The media and magazines constantly tell women we need to put serious effort into our appearances if we want to attract a potential mate.
We’re told how to be thinner, how to make our skin look more flawless and which lipsticks will make our lips more kissable.
As Emmalee Bierly, a marriage family therapist and co-founder of The Westchester Therapy Group told Elite Daily:
An important thing to keep in mind is that women receive messages all day, every day from family, friends, social media and society in general about how to look ‘better.’
There is so much pressure from society when it comes to beauty standards.
We’re constantly reminded and told what makes someone “beautiful” and how to make ourselves more beautiful, however, men rarely meet the same kind of scrutiny.
Our looks are put under a microscope on a daily, if not hourly, basis.
If we’re told the only way we’re going to be appealing to the opposite sex is to “put our best face forward,” we’re obviously going to see personal maintenance as a high priority.
This can completely muddle the scaled difference in appearances for male and female partners.
As Jennifer Chaiken, a marriage family therapist and co-founder of The West Chester Therapy Group put it:
[The] tremendous emphasis that society places on ‘outer beauty’ sometimes clouds our ability to focus on an individual’s ‘inner beauty.’
We’re so focused on what we look like on the outside that we forget what is happening on the inside.
Inversely, men are held to a different standard. They are told NOT to put too much effort into their appearances because that wouldn’t be “masculine.”
As Bierly tells Elite Daily:
Many times when men spend an increased amount of time on their looks and bodies, they are shamed for it.
So, while women are busy primping to be attractive, men are busy shying away from it to be considered attractive.
Hence the disconnect between the two, no?
Unfortunately, looks matter… at least in our minds.
According to Caitlyn Caracciolo, a marriage family therapist and co-founder of The Westchester Therapy Group:
Women tend to consider their own looks and ‘attractiveness’ far more important than men, probably because society tells us to and because, ultimately, they do matter more for us. We’re already the minority, and unfortunately, another aspect of social interaction that research finds is that more traditionally ‘attractive’ women are generally treated better and do better in a work environment.
Sadly, when it comes to being a woman in this harsh, cruel world, looks really do carry weight.
Being beautiful is clearly not all that matters, but there is little use trying to deny that it doesn’t give you a leg up in society.
Being the more attractive partner makes women feel more secure.
Research has suggested that women tend to put a lesser value on attractiveness than males do.
We tend to choose partners who are less gifted in the looks department, and that fact has actually proven to foster the most secure relationships.
As Caracciolo affirms:
Studies in the realm of attractiveness and coupling do tend to show that women in heterosexual relationships in which they are the more ‘attractive’ partner tend to have more supportive partners overall.
Women “are evolved at seeking out what we need.” We have an understanding of what qualities make a man the best candidate for mating.
We look for emotional wherewithal, solid critical thinking skills, fatherly qualities, etc.
Looks just don’t play a role on the forefront because in the end, beauty doesn’t put food on the table, and it doesn't teach your children valuable life lessons.
So, before you shudder in disgust the next time (and there will be a next time) you see a beautiful woman toting around town with an ugly (sorry, but not) guy, don’t be so quick to judge.
There is definitely more than meets the eye.
He could be sweet, caring and have a sense of humor akin to that of Jim Carrey. It isn’t necessarily superficial. Think twice before you cast your judgment.
Disclaimer: The answers given to this interview reflect a socially constructed and mainstream idea of physical beauty or “hot.” The West Chester Therapy Group believes that beauty is subjective.