“Hi Celes, I have been reading your blog since 2 years ago. Your tips are amazing and have helped me a lot. There is one problem about me that I haven’t read in any article on PE or any other site.
This is shameful to admit. Whenever I see a handsome man, I feel that he should like me and fall in love with me. I feel terrible to think like that. I don’t do anything to impress the guy because I know it is wrong. I have a boyfriend and I want to live with him.
I don’t want to get affected by handsome men. I don’t want such feelings to exist. What should I do?” — Kristi
Kristi’s problem raises a very interesting question for all of us, which is: Why do some of us feel nervous, or behave very differently, when we see handsome men and beautiful women?
Imagine this: You go to a party and you see someone good looking. You start to feel nervous, unlike yourself. You contemplate speaking to him/her. For guys, maybe you get sweaty palms. For girls, maybe you play coy and hope that the guy comes over to talk to you.
Why? Why does your behavior change based on the person’s looks? And it doesn’t have to be in a party setting too. It can be anywhere, at work, when meeting someone new, when going on a blind date, etc. Perhaps you see someone good looking and you get nervous, excited. In Kristi’s case, she’s anguished by these feelings and she doesn’t want them.
The Truth about Beauty
To understand why such feelings get triggered, we need to first understand the fundamental truth surrounding beauty.
The reality is that everyone is beautiful. Not more or less beautiful, but equally beautiful. This is something that I’ve shared before here. You are beautiful in your own way. I am beautiful in my own way. We are all uniquely and equally beautiful, not more or less than others.
Unfortunately, this message runs counter to everything you learn in today’s world. The basic message surrounding beauty today is that some people are more beautiful than others, and some looks are more attractive than others. If you don’t look a certain way, you are deemed ugly and unattractive, and you should do everything you can to change your looks to fit a beauty mold. Why?
A deep look into the history of beauty tells us that beauty ideals historically started as a way to separate the have’s and the have not’s. When you trace the evolution of beauty standards over time, you will see that
- Being weighty used to be regarded as attractive during the Renaissance era, as food was scarce during those times, and only the rich had plenty to eat.
- Subsequently, being skinny became seen as very attractive when food became abundant and widely available. As everyone started gaining weight, and people became educated about their health and diet, being skinny became seen as the gold standard.
- During the 1800s, very pale skin was seen as beautiful as only the rich could afford not to work and stay out of the sun. Pale skin was associated with the aristocrats.
- But when tuberculosis becoming the second-leading cause of death in the U.S. in 1900, and doctors in Europe and America began to prescribe sunbathing for tuberculosis, rich people flocked to resorts to suntan. Tanned skin now became seen as beautiful in the West.
- In ancient China, tiny feet became a symbol of beauty as the only women who could painfully bind their feet to keep them tiny were from wealthy families, since they didn’t need to work in the fields.
- Western features like tall nose bridge, deep-set eyes, fair skin, and angular features are generally regarded as more “beautiful” in Asian countries, and you can see this line of thought pervaded in much of mass media advertising here. This is partly because many Asian countries used to be under the Colonial rule (the Philippines was under Spanish colonization for almost 400 years for example), which created a deep-set mentality of white superiority, and an association that Caucasian-like features are “better” and “more beautiful.” You will never find a person saying that because the conditioning exists at a very implicit level, but more in the form of “Such features are more beautiful, and I’m so envious that [Caucasians] have them but not us [Asians].”
As you can see, beauty standards have historically been used to differentiate one group from another. The attributes of the affluent would be used as the starting point for what was considered beautiful then. The features considered beautiful would change over time, based on whatever was associated with the rich. This was to sieve out the “elite” and “more worthy” from the rest.
How This Relates to Anxiety Around Attractive People
Of course, this segmentation is faulty and not true. Whether a person is born with XYZ features has no bearing on their beauty or worth. Every look is beautiful, and a person’s worth and value is so much more complex than just something defined based on how well a person conforms to a beauty look — and this beauty look is in turn defined based on socio-economic factors that are outside of a person’s control.
This brings me to my main point. If you feel nervous around attractive people, or you feel negatively affected by handsome men (or beautiful women) like Kristi, it boils down to your underlying associations with attractive people.
Let’s say you feel nervous around beautiful women. When you dig into this nervousness, perhaps you perceive beautiful women as better, more worthy than other women. Attractive women are sought after by other men, and they turn heads and are desired by many. This makes you feel inferior because you are worried that if you’re rejected or spurned by an attractive woman, you will be seen as lousy and undesirable. Of course this isn’t true, but your subconscious beliefs are such.
Or let’s say you feel nervous around handsome men and you often wish that every handsome man you meet will notice you and fall in love with you. Why, though? Why would handsome men make you feel this way, but not “regular” men? When you dig into this feeling, it’s because you perceive handsome men as “better” than others because of their good looks. Girls swoon over them; people regard them highly because of their looks. They are the object of attention and affection by other women (and even men). If a handsome man falls in love with you, that means that you are desired, respected, “seen.”
And why would this matter? Because you sometimes feel “unseen” in your life. You wish that you can be “seen,” recognized, respected. And the attention of someone who is visible, desirable, and respected will make you feel that way.
In either case, is the answer to seek affirmation from an attractive person? Of course not. For some people it is, and they spend their entire lives chasing after the affections of so-and-so attractive people, without ever knowing as much as the personality and true self of the person they are in love with. The real answer is to understand your stories surrounding attractive people, and to address your inner voids triggering these feelings. Because it is your stories surrounding beauty and yourself that you are reacting to, not the supposed attractive people.
For example, if you don’t feel “seen” in your life, understand why. Maybe you don’t know who you are and your place in this world. You feel that you are following a trajectory in your life that you didn’t really set for yourself. Uncovering your inner self, and discovering your life purpose and values, is a good start. My Live a Better Life in 30 Days Program is a great kickstarter program to get you moving towards your ideal life.
Or let’s say you feel low in self-worth. Understand why you have a low self-worth. Perhaps you were never taught to develop your self-worth, but to look to others’ affections, your status, and your achievements as a way of validating your identity. An attractive woman is like a validator of your worth, because she is recognized as worthy by others. Of course this is not true since your worth is not defined by others, but yourself. Read How To Be The Most Confident Person In The World
This is the same for any gap or deficiency you feel in the presence of attractive people. If an attractive person makes you feel negative, nervous, or even unattractive, understand why. Dig into this feeling. Usually it’s because of an unhealthy belief you have surrounding attractive people — perhaps that they are better, superior, more worthy, more desirable, etc. — which isn’t true. Your nervousness mirrors a feeling of deficiency in your life. Understanding it, and addressing it from within, will help you remove this endless push-pull feeling you have when meeting such people.
In the end, your goal is to feel neutral when meeting “attractive people,” just as you would with any other person. Or rather, to feel excited meeting them simply because you are excited to meet someone new. You want to connect with people authentically, as themselves. To see someone as who they are, not based on a fantasy or conditioning. Even though majority of society look at people with tinted glasses based on how they fit a beauty mold, these people also struggle with push-pull feelings of infatuation and projections surrounding attractive/”non-attractive” people. In the end they are just living in their own mental projections.
When you do feel excited, happy, or nervous when you see someone, these feelings should come from your personal connection with him/her and your genuine interest in him/her, not based on the projections in your mind. That’s when you see someone for who he/she really is, rather than what you think he/she is. 🙂
Lastly, remember that every look is beautiful, equally beautiful. You have been taught to perceive conventionally handsome men and beautiful women as attractive, and they are indeed attractive people. The next step is to open your eyes to see other looks as beautiful too — because they are as beautiful as the conventionally attractive people you see. When you do that, you will see that everyone is special, different and just as beautiful, and perhaps that’s when you feel nervous/excited meeting everyone — because you are genuinely excited to get to know them and their story, the same way I feel when I meet everyone in my life. 🙂
For more reading:
- The Beauty of Self – Why I Used To Feel Inferior about My Looks and Why I No Longer Feel That Way
- Are Looks Important in a Marriage Decision?
- How Can I Stop Feeling Lonely?
- What If I Lack Physical Spark with My Partner?