‘The hot chick clock’

My friend Moira once sent me a text so insightful and useful that I screenshotted it so I could re-read it often. It read, in part, “You think that time — not the availability of men — is limited. On some level, you think your looks are the only way to get a man, and you worry that the hot chick clock is running out.”

I was worried about that as a newly divorced 37-year-old, then as a 39-year-old with a broken engagement, and I confess I worry about it still as a 41-year-old.

It has been a blessing to have a pretty face and a nice figure, in many ways. (And this is something that’s difficult to talk about with many people, because not only does it sound awfully egotistical, but complaining about it sounds worse yet. “Oh my gosh, it’s SO hard being conventionally attractive!”)

if-you-value-yourself-you-understand-that-you-are-a-gift-to-anyone-you-meet-quote-1At the same time, it frequently attracts the wrong type of guy. And when you spend enough time being valued primarily for your appearance, the message eventually sinks in that that is where your true worth lies. (As if society doesn’t push that idea on women enough!) It doesn’t matter if you’re funny, or kind, or intelligent — that isn’t the reason this man is with you.

He doesn’t care about your kids, or your day at work, or your thoughts on politics. He may put on a good show … but only for so long, before it becomes clear that what you like and what you need aren’t terribly important to him. Or maybe he does care about your views, your family, your job, to a certain degree, but they’re just the icing on the cake. Your looks, of course, being the cake — the real reason he’s here. And what happens when those fade, or you put on a few pounds from stress or babies? Or he sees a slightly tastier-looking cake? Real love can’t be built just on physical attraction, because that’s building on a foundation of sand.

When I was engaged to M., a friend asked me once, “What would he do if you were in a disfiguring accident?” And I had to admit (to myself, if not to her) that I didn’t want to think too hard about the answer to that one. It was a sickening feeling, and one that I never want to experience again.

(I should add here that this post is not about C. in particular —  I never believed he was with my primarily for my looks — but it does reflect my experiences with many of the other men I’ve dated.)

I want a man who sees ME as the cake — my heart, my mind, my soul, my personality — and the rest as the frosting. But I’ve realized that as long  as I was putting my value in my appearance and made that the thing that I most felt would get me a guy, I was going to end up with a man who valued me for precisely no more and no less.

Your heart is the gift. Don’t give it to a guy who only wants the wrapping paper.