When I first met you: love + physical attraction

Hey, I just wrote this while thinking about my wonderful girlfriend and a mild but persistent conflict in how I feel about her. I think it reflects a struggle that many people share, when they love a person but the physical attraction is not perfect. I wonder what you guys think.

[size=150]When I first met you[/size]

When I first met you, I did not find you beautiful. It was not that you did not meet some public ideal of beauty propagated by our mass media - I’ve never cared for those ideals. And even if I did (for one cannot help being subconsciously influenced by such ideals), you do not fare poorly against that standard. Your face may be plain, your cheeks a little odd, but your body is tight, fit, and achingly desirable. To be frank, it’s hard to look at anything below your neck without intense physiological arousal setting in. And when I kiss you, any hope of avoiding that predictably vanishes the moment our lips meet. And there is nothing in the world that can light up my day like your smile. But when I look at you, I have to admit, there is some small part of me – just occasionally, just for a moment – that is repulsed.

Oh, how I wish that part would die. The love I feel for you is so deep, so rooted in the short and crowded timeline of our romantic history, that I feel like I could prove it as a scientific law under the most rigorous peer review. But I have no need for objective validation - in the court of my own mind, I feel 99.9% certain that no other girl, no other human being, could make me as happy as you do, and to choose not to be yours forever seems certifiably insane. Thus, it seems that I have two choices. I can tolerate this part of me, and never ever ever let you know (I always want you to feel beautiful to me, because in my heart there is no one more beautiful). Or perhaps I can reshape this part, this tiny insignificant part of myself that I loathe… so that I may love you, so that I may be bewitched and utterly infatuated with you, completely, unreservedly, our bodies, our minds, our souls all one.

But I feel I must be perfectionizing. Why would a man focus on the one imperfection in his love - no, the one imperfection in his ability to appreciate her - when the gift of her was more than he ever hoped for from life, more than he ever imagined was possible? Surely there are better and nobler things to think about in life. Like our shared life together. How I will respond to your hilarious prank email suggesting that you are, in fact, a dream concocted for me by a cabal of mad scientists as I have suspected all along? How will I surprise you on Chinese Valentine’s day, or on your birthday coming up a few months from now? These are the questions that matter. I have always been a bit of a perfectionist, to my fault. I am slowly learning that the best is the enemy of the good, and all energy devoted to making one thing better comes at an opportunity cost, a sometimes-tragic surrender of all the other possible emanations of that beautiful human energy. If I wish to break from that ruminative, obsessive part of myself, perhaps this is one of those times where actions will speak louder than words.

So I will act. I will love you, I will be together with you, I will laugh and cry and continue this mad impossible nerd romance that I hope desperately will never end. And if this alien part of me never goes away, so be it. You are my gift. You are my beauty. To me the only beauty in a woman that matters is whether or not she is you.

Hey, long time no see. Now we know why. :smiley: Sounds like you’ve found the right one. Don’t be overly concerned about imperfections. You know it’s right when you want to be with them not because of all their positives, but in spite of their negatives. In fact, it is their being completely vulnerable and letting you see their faults and weaknesses that is the test of loving, not just lusting. And when you return that vulnerability and let her see your faults and weaknesses, then love grows. You become each other’s “person”. And that is the best of all. Congrats!

Hey Tent, always a pleasure. I can’t help but wonder if you speak from experience? :slight_smile:

What’s amazed me is how much the new one (J) has changed my conception of who I want my life’s companion to be.

My last girlfriend before her, E, was physically more my type, and we had amazing chemistry. Like, “you can’t put us in the same room together alone for 5 minutes” chemistry. But she was not at all well suited to be a life companion for me. The problem was that she was pretty emotionally unstable, and would often express it as unprovoked hostility towards me. She wanted to be better but she seemed helpless; she has been in therapy for years for her issues, and she kept telling me she wanted to change, but the same things would happen over and over. It made me miserable and angry, that hurt her back, and after 7 incredible but occasionally unendurable months, I decided that it was over. Ironically, with the new strength and understanding that J has given me, I think that if we were to reset and do it all again, I could probably endure her and help her as she tried to fix those problems (she did love me very much and desperately wanted to). But even if I wanted that (and I do NOT) the ship has sailed: E now responds to my queries on her well-being with silence.

I met this girl, who I’ll call J, about a week afterwards, at a speed dating event which conveniently presented itself in an email after the breakup. It soon became clear that she was just as smart and just as big of a nerd as I was, and there was no deep passion of mine that she would not want to learn about and share her thoughts on as well. Ever since then we’ve constantly been talking philosophy, politics, economics, math, biology (she’s a grad student in evo bio, me in applied math), ethics, and basically just sharing our intense curiosity about the world and its big questions. She’s taught me some Chinese philosophy that I really like and am hoping to learn more about. I’ve taught her about Western philosophy. We’ve compared the historical themes of Chinese and European civilization. I’ve told her about my crazy desire to save the world, to do as much good for the human community as one can possibly cram into some century or so of life - and while I don’t think she shares those ambitions, she is willing to help me figure out what is feasible. Perhaps most importantly, where E was fragile, J is strong. E didn’t take teasing or criticism that well, but J gives just as good as she gets. She can always coax me out of a funk by listening, caring, and laughing at me a bit. We share a deep inner conviction that whatever problems there are in life, no matter how hard things get, if we just keep watching the world around us and within us and thinking hard about it, we will surely solve our problems and find ways to live in harmony with each other and our environment.

The weight of all that and a thousand more things is just crushing me with conviction that this is a woman I was born to love, the one who will help me be the person I want to be and vice versa. Between J and E there is simply no contest as far as I’m concerned. E talked the talk, but J walks the walk. And since my choice to love J is utterly definitive, I can only conclude that physical attraction is only about 5% of what matters between a man and a woman. An important 5% – but if somebody gives you the other 95% better than you ever thought possible, I think you can afford to be a little flexible on the 5%.


:smiley: I do believe you’re ready for the swan dive… for all the right reasons. Yes, you will support each other in your individual aspirations, but the best part is yet to come. It will be the the things you do together, the “we did this” things that create the unique bond of “US”. Love isn’t “and they lived happily ever after”, it is agony and ecstacy - a delightful third dimension to living. It is no longer you-me, it it you-me-us. Focus on the us part and you’ll find contentment together.

I’ll stop before I get too sappy. Again, congrats. You’ve discovered something! :smiley:

95 percent seems like a great place to start.

Imagine if someone came to you and said, ‘you can only either choose 95, or 5 percent. The percentage you pick stays with you for the rest of your life. Oh, and by the way, as time goes, these percentages will depreciate. Ration accordingly.’

Oh, hey Tent. I saw that little blurred dig at me. Don’t make me commission rainey to get all poetic on your behind. You’ll be begging Blurred to change your diapers.

Oh, sorry Aporia, I guess this is not the place for our little squabble. Tent started it.

Okay, I’m done. I’ll now go look for Wonderer (what happened to that kid?).




I’m happy for you.

Xunzian, they’re real and they’re spectacular. :laughing:

OG, thanks man! It’s good to see you! How’ve you been? :slight_smile:

She’s actually made a very similar argument to me, lol. Since J is not beautiful by Chinese mass media culture standards, she has always grown up with the sense that she isn’t beautiful. So she’s spent some time thinking about how she can compensate. One argument that she has made is that a good emotional and intellectual connection is much more important, because that can often stay for life, while looks will invariably deteriorate after a while. I think this is a pretty solid argument.

You know, thanks to you, I just realized something really important.… I think that these feelings only exist when I look at her in pictures. And since she’s been away, pictures have been all I’ve had, except when we Skype, and with Skype I don’t have this problem either. In person, I love her too fiercely to be capable of the sort of cool aesthetic reductionism that I seem to apply reflexively when I look at a woman in a picture. When I see her in pictures, I have these stupid petty thoughts…

“there’s no way I can say she’s hot, how dare I plunge in so deep with her if I’m not really attracted to her?”
“what will my friends think? I’ll be embarrassed to show pictures of her.”

…but when I’m with her, God, it’s like her presence is this ocean of happiness and my consciousness is the beach. When the ocean is close, it conquers the beach so easily and irresistibly. She can do it with a sudden tsunami, or with a slow rising tide, but she puts me under 10 feet of water every time I’m with her; and I feel utterly bewitched, convinced that this is the woman I was meant to love… and we haven’t even gone farther than kissing!

I think it’s time to get out the Mandarin book and get ready to meet the parents sometime in the next year or two :slight_smile:

:laughing: Thought I was on 4chan for a minute there.

Good. Still searching for love, my friend.

Love is not blind. I see with single eye
Your ugliness and other women’s grace.
I know the imperfection of your face,
The eyes too wide apart, the brow too high
For beauty. Learned from earliest youth am I
In loveliness, and cannot so erase
Its letters from my mind, that I may trace
You faultless, I must love until I die.
More subtle is the sovereignty of love:
So am I caught that when I say, “Not fair,”
'Tis but as if I said, “Not here–not there
Not risen–not writing letters.” Well I know
What is this beauty men are babbling of;
I wonder only why they prize it so.

… or Shakespeare’s sonnet 130. :slight_smile:

Nice post.

Wow! That bad, huh? I sure hope she’s not reading this.

She’s not that bad, she’s just plain. Lots of people are plain. My eyes are a little goofy. Turns out that if you can smile, it doesn’t really matter.

My thoughts exactly >_>

Plain with winning personality or not I think you’re asking for hurt feelings in the long run.

You sure are poetic about your feelings, though. You have a way of making the ahem ‘plainest’ of things look grand. That’s talent and beauty all of its own…and so I sincerely hope it’s not clouding reality…so when you aren’t feeling so poetically or intellectually/emotionally compensating…that you don’t look at her with a wedding band on your finger and think “by god Shakespeare, what have you done?”

What makes me so skeptical really is the fact that you felt compelled to share it…that this wasn’t just about how much you love your gf, but about what you want to love about her…and can’t get past.

First of all, this isn’t my talent. She gave it to me. I wasn’t this way before I met her. She has opened me to a side of myself that I had only seen glimpses of before.

Second, it’s hardly even a talent. The things that she has done to me, the things that she makes me feel, are so great and so wonderful that they shape my words into a beautiful form. Writing about my feelings for her isn’t work. I don’t have to play with it or try to calculate the words to maximize impact, like I usually do with prose and poetry. It’s more like inspiration. What you see is almost completely first-draft unedited, and I never stopped for more than a few seconds to figure out what to say next. The words just happened to me.

She is my muse and I am her willing partner.

Anyway, on the advice of a good friend, and due to my nearly insurmountable real-life workload, I think it’s time for me to check out here. I may be back but no guarantees. It’s been great reconnecting with y’all :slight_smile:

See you in a few days/weeks/months/years… I can’t really be sure when I’ll be back, but this place always seems to draw me in again.