Better to up yourself than lower your standards

Better to up yourself than lower your standards

I have so often seen on GAG and elsewhere that lovelorn people are often told, "Well, you must lower your standards or be alone." Whereas sometimes that is sound advice, I feel more often than not that it is lousy advice to the people who are constantly alone. Better by far to up yourself than lower your standards.

First, I would like to clarify some things.

  • There are times when it becomes necessary to lower one's standards
  • There are times when it isn't realistically possible to make one's self more attractive (fortunately those circumstances are quite rare for the human species)
  • The author recognizes that the words "expectations," and "desires," and "standards" do not mean the same and they are not interchangable.

We can control what we expect and what our standards are, but what we desire and what we find attractive are much more difficult to control. It's always curious to me why people tell physically unattractive people to lower their expectations (when in fact they mean "desires," not expectations). I have said this many times, and will continue to say it many more:


There's 2 million years of human evolution behind why we find attractive people attractive. Now, hairstyles and fashion have changed since we hunted smiledons, but the basics (facial symetry, a desire for faces with few unusual features, hip to shoulder or hip to waist ratios) generally haven't. Unattractive people, just like average and attractive people, want to be physically affectionate with someone they find attractive, again just like the rest of us.

I'll tell you a chapter in my life of which I am not at all particularly proud. In my youth, I once dated a woman I wasn't attracted to. At that time, I was very lonely and I thought perhaps being with her would be better than being with no one at all. I also thought that perhaps if I tried, I could find her attractive in some way. As it turns out, I was gravely mistaken. Within a few weeks, I felt more alone with her than I did when I was alone. In spite of her good nature, her good heart, and her kindness, she actually became less physically attractive to me. It felt like a chore to be physical with her. Moreover, she was very attracted to me and was very hurt when our relationship ended. I learned that it is not at all better to be with someone you're not attracted to than being alone. I also learned that for the most part, people cannot just will themselves into being attracted to someone (this is in fact what many people are idiotically suggesting when they say, "lower your expectations"). Aside from the fact that I felt more sad and alone with her, I wound up needlessly hurting another human being. I resolved never ever to do that again, for my sake and for any other woman's sake.

Very often on GAG, it seems that a frequent response to the chronically single is, "Lower your standards/expectations." (I've yet to see ANYONE say, "Lower your desires," when this is in fact what they are telling the asker to do, even though that is often what they really mean). GAGers, people can't just suddenly find people attractive like it's flipping a lightswitch on. It is often impossible to become attracted to people we find unattractive (please note I said "often," not "always").

What is probably more possible is to increase your own attractiveness, and yet this advice is seldom given. In a research study which appeared in Psychology Today (which I'll link to at the end), it was found that most of the things that makes us physically attractive ARE WITHINT OUR ABILITY TO CHANGE. That's right. It's not all genetics. Furthermore, other aspects which make us attractive are tied to our personality and attitude, which is also well within our ability to change.

I believe that it is in most cases (please note I said "most," I didn't say "all") actually easier to become more attractive than make yourself attracted to someone you're not into. Therefore, wouldn't the best advice be to encourage people to make themselves more attractive and/or interesting? Of course I am not suggesting self improvement is easy, but I believe it's probably easier than forcing one's self to become attracted to someone that one finds unattractive.

I'll end with the story of Gus. Gus is the friend of my friend's daughter. He was attracted to my friend's daughter, but she wasn't attracted to him. At that time, Gus was overweight and had a cloud of doubt and gloom following him everywhere. I advised Gus, when he asked, that he should give up on my friend's daughter and move on. He did, and he disappeared from the radar for about two years. When I finally saw Gus again, HE WAS UNRECOGNIZABLE! He had lost a considerable amount of weight, he wore fashionable clothing, had a posture of confidence, and an optimistic smile that never left his face. He was with a girl who was far more physically attractive than my friend's daughter (who is, by the way, not very physically attractive in the opinions of many). As for this woman's personality, I couldn't speak of very much because I didn't get to know her. He set out to improve himself, and it was mission accomplished. I believe he is a great example to us all. Better by far to improve yourself and be attracted to the one you're with than having to settle for someone you are not, and could never be, attracted to.

Here's the Psych Today link:
Here are some Wikipedia articles on human and animal attractiveness:


Join the discussion



What Girls Said 5

  • I get where you're coming from but there's also a thing as being realistic. Being realistic means knowing that if you're unattractive yourself that dating outside of your own league will be very very difficult.

    Most men always aim for someone way out of their league while they have nothing to offer. No great looks, no great personality, no power, no talent, etc.

    People need to start being realistic.

    • "Most men always..."
      I cannot agree. Most men I know don't (most by definition meaning more than half) don't aim for someone way out of their league any more than the women I know.

      What if being realistic means dating someone you are absolutely positively in no way attracted to and can never be attracted to? Let's do a little thought experiment. Take a look at this guy...

      Now suppose by some unfortunate event (disease or accident) you are rendered as physically unattractive as this guy. Do you honestly think you would somehow sexually desire him, now that you're in his league? Can you imagine yourself WANTING to be affectionate with him? Do you think that if you were rendered physically unattractive, you would (by act of will) find yourself physically attracted to this person? I am well aware about being realistic. I'm also fully aware that unattractive people CANNOT just will themselves into being attracted to other unattractive people, no matter how realistic that might be.

    • You know what kills me about this? I had the shit luck of meeting the best girls I'm ever going to meet when I had nothing to offer but conversation, common interests, and my dreams. I set myself up for failure long ago, because growing up I didn't feel like I was gifted or talented. I felt like I was stuck being average, stuck at the bottom. I never felt gifted so I never learned confidence. And although I had interests and dreams, I never really pursued them because like I said, since I never felt talented, I never felt like I could be better than average. I didn't work on my identity all those years like I should have. If I had never learned to think of myself as untalented, if I'd worked on building up my identity, then maybe I'd have had a chance with those girls. One of them was the complete package of everything I ever wanted, and the other was really sweet to me, talking to her was so easy. It kills me to think that maybe I could have been with them if I'd only been different.

  • Yes I think there needs to be a fair standard. I'm diverse, he either needs to be smart and have a job or strong career, the other option is that he needs to kinda be good looking and works (presuming he isn't career-driven). As for race I would prefer if he was in the Caucasian range, but since I have Greek and Russian, those races that is closely resembling to mine is fine as there should not be a big deal of cultural barriers. I always said she should be no more than 4 years but I am starting to reconsider as I've only met immature guys (least no more than eight, but I really hope he is in that original rule). As for religion I don't really care as long as he isn't extreme or into voodoo. I think I covered everything. So yes, I agree with your take.

  • I've worked on making myself more attractive, but it doesn't help because of my facial features. I have a very masculine face. I look more like my father than my mother. He's dead now, but I have pictures of him from when he was about my age. If you take a picture of him and me and put them together, I look like him with long hair.

    I do whatever it takes to look more attractive. I keep myself fit and thin. I eat healthy and I exercise everyday. I keep my hair styled nicely. I wear nice clothes. I get my eyebrows done. The problem is, despite how well groomed and clean I keep myself, it doesn't make my face more feminine looking. Guys don't want to date a girl who looks more like a guy than a woman.

    I'll never stop with self-improvement because of that, but it's going to take a rare guy who can look past my face.

    • Make up. Look up contouring. You may have to lay it on heavy but if drag queens can make themselves look more feminine than most females, so can you.

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    • I've seen the same thing on this site too, but I am not one of them. I've seen pictures of girls on this site who call themselves ugly, but then you see a picture and they're far from ugly. Unfortunately, I am not one of them. I've been bullied most of my life for my looks. This isn't a case where I just feel insecure and think I am ugly. Even people who know me will acknowledge it. That's the problem with it.

      There are beautiful women who feel insecure and ugly, so when people actually acknowledge that they themselves are truly ugly, people don't take them seriously. People who are truly ugly can't talk about it because people will say it's unlikely that it happens. I have not once in my life been called pretty. Even my mom and sister tell me I am ugly. They acknowledge that I look exactly like my dad. If I am wearing baggy clothes, I can be called "sir" by people who don't know me. Someone once thought I was a transgender male to female.

    • Would you prefer to appear more feminine?

  • I once dated a guy whom I'm not physically attracted just for the sake of having a boyfriend hence everything he does when he try to get closer to me I find it annoying, I don't like when he calls and I feel uncomfortable if he try to touch me even when he just want to holds my hands, three weeks latter he wants to break up and I couldn't be happier, because I can't say it myself that I want that too.

    Years after that I found his Instagram and he become a lot hotter than when he was mine, and I may give him another shot if only he want me back.

    • Hopefully he doesn't

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    • @Brenden4202 thank you, I know that I'm attractive, your life must be bitter because you got turned down by someone like me. Get a life bro, attacking someone appearance over comments section won't get you a better life and better look.

    • I hope for Christ's sake he turns you down. You sound horrible.

  • I love how every kid on your pic has similar shoes.


What Guys Said 11

  • Thanks I needed this.
    I was actually thinking of lowering my standards and going for an above average girl just because she seemed interested but you have helped reaffirm my stance that I should only go for girls that I find hot.

    • Well, I didn't actually say "hot." I would say, "someone you're attracted to."

    • For me there are 4 types of women
      1. Ugly
      2. Average
      3. Attractive - lacks either large breasts or a big butt but is overall good looking
      4. Hot - has all the physical aspects I'm looking for

      I almost went for the 3rd category until I read your take. Thank you.
      Some may call me shallow, but the way I see it you either "go big or go home"

    • I understand that you have your preferences and all that, but to turn an Attractive (Category 3) down because she doesn't have a big bum or big tits is CRAZY.

      I wouldn't be surprised if girls looked straight through you.

  • Totally agree. In high school I was a skinny, awkward, shy and beta as fuck. Now, I'm not. I completely changed when I was like 20-21. The difference in dating/attention from girls is NIGHT and DAY.

  • I love this take. Always improving myself. Money.. Education.. Training my body. If a girl breaks up with me the next girl will be an upgrade.

  • Question. How do you improve yourself when the one thing that you could improve cannot be physically changed. I'm talking about height. I believe this is the only thing stopping me from being attractive to girls. However, it's also the one thing I cannot change.

    • Sorry it took a while to get back to you.

      I suppose you can improve your appearance in other ways, but you can also understand that being short doesn't always equate to being unattractive, though granted it is for many somewhat of a handicap.

  • Physical appearance doesn't even matter so much to women, does it?

  • these kids that "date" in the photos are brainwshed and immature. they are brainwashed to believe they are obliged and able at their age to have a partner. while they are not. and thus breakups and misery comes along. people should not hurry, and should develop as human beings before they date others.

    • Thanks for sounding off.

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    • I tend to agree with Azara

    • showing off, playing "cool", being "in fashion", smoking, drinking and exploiting girls' bodies from an early age, doesn't count as "working things out with other human beings and development", its more like a degeneration. but as a wise man said "a time wil come that when you speak the truth you'll sound like crazy or eccentric/old fashioned"

  • Great take, I often give people advice to work on themselves and not worry about changing to suit other people. Not only does investing in yourself give you confidence, it makes you a more attractive person 100% of the time. It also makes you a happier and more fulfilled person (which is also attractive.)

    I was pretty nerdy growing up. I was very introverted. I did ok with women. Now, I'm earning a lot of money, I dress nice, have a lot of confidence, and get a ton of interest from women. The difference is this; I used to waste time, doubt myself constantly, and just didn't do anything to build my own self esteem. These days I'm always picking up a new hobby, trying new things, and am just generally trying to get the very best experience out of my life. Even my old nerdy pursuits bear fruit now : )

    Would I go back to the way I used to live, hell no. All it took was a choice and a whole lot of effort.


    Dude, unattractive people get boyfriends/girlfriends all the time. We don't live in a world where only good-looking people can find love

    • Dude, I know unattractive people get so's. They do so by finding something attractive in their so, or some don't care so much about physical attraction (a minority), or some are in sad relations where they are simply not attracted to their so at all.

      None of this contradicts what I said in any way. Generally speaking, unattractive people do not find other unattractive people attractive, just like the rest of us.

  • All this tell me is that humans are filthy dumb animals. I can no incentives to be good if this is the limit of our pathetic species.

    Same fucking shit all over the planet. Women go for the alpha while the other males fight to become number one. Female nature starts male on male violence.

    Women are the enemy.

  • The problem I have with this is, what if you've already met and messed up with the girls you would have been the happiest with? Then, by default, your only remaining choice is between settling for someone you aren't attracted to and don't find interesting, or just continue being single forever.

    This is why I have such a hard time motivating myself to do self-improvement. I already met girls who had everything I wanted, and what's more, they were people I could actually hold a decent conversation with. I found them more physically attractive and also more intellectually stimulating and inspiring than any other girls I'd met. But I blew it by not having myself together in time and not playing my cards right to give them the most favorable impression of me. So now, I could improve myself all I want, but there's just no one as good as them left. Sure, there is a chance that they might be single again and there is a chance that I might be able to present myself to them in a new way through self-improvement so that they could see me as more than a friend, but both of those are very unlikely.

    But I've looked and I've looked and there isn't anyone out there who even comes close to them. I've never met anyone like them in school, at jobs, or with my friends, and there's no one like them on Plenty of Fish or OKCupid. It was pure chance that I met them on an online forum and we continued talking outside of it. The hard thing is, I didn't even know that girls like them existed. But now I do, and I just can't be happy with who's left knowing that I might have gotten one of the ones I wanted if I was already a better version of myself when I met them.

    Ultimately, I will try self-improvement, because in the tiny chance they are single again, I probably won't have any better luck with them if I am still the same as I was before. But other than that, there's really no good option. I can't count on meeting someone like that again. That's why I hate the phrase "move on" - what do you already met the best, and there's nothing to "move on" to?

    • I understand that it can seem like there's no one to move on to, my friend. Believe me, I do.

      However, I can't bring myself to ignore the fact that there are 3.5 billion women in the world. The evidence is overwhelming that there are other women to move on to. At the age of 24, I thought something very similar when a lovely (and I mean that inside and out) young woman told me she didn't feel it for me. This was after a string of women who said something similar.

      And then I met my wife.

      I would encourage you whole heartedly to improve yourself. I readily acknowledge that the dating pool shrinks as you get older, but it never dries up completely. Most of my friends met their wives and husbands around about your age, anon.

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    • They were taken much younger than my age, they were all taken no later than their early 20s. A change of venue won't help either, since the girls I liked weren't the usual types of people you can look for by going to a physical location. I met them all on an online community and got to know their character over time, and really saw they were different. They also happened to be much more attractive than anyone I've ever met before. It wasn't like high school were I thought the cheerleaders were hot but we had nothing in common. These were girls I could actually talk to, and have an interesting conversation.

      The other thing that kills me is that I just found out two people from this community actually did wind up in a relationship with each other. So that only proves it was possible, that I could have done it if only I had learned to have a more interesting, exciting personality and had myself together in time.

      But for normal, everyday girls who wouldn't inspire me, it's a waste.

    • I find myself trapped in this no-man's-land of wanting to be more interesting and exciting, like I should have been working towards my whole life. But if all I'm going to get out is a boring, average girl who wouldn't really enhance my life, it's not worth it.

  • My thing is right, I did the exact same thing. But now that I am all improved and shit, like I dont except women who go for me now. It's like I had to work my arse off for their approval? That's why I couldn't care now. I will fuck a prozzie tomorrow, date a girl the next day, play a girl online, have sex with my girlfriends mom, like whatever. I feel empty even after I "improved". It's like who was wasn't worthy, and now because I have a six pack, I suddenly fit that which is defined as "worthy". No girl will ever own me... ever. Luckily I'm poly and tell them up front.

    • Do they use "arse" in Australia? Hmm. What does "prozzie" mean? Prostitute?

      I might suggest that the feelings of emptiness stem from a sense of unworthiness that you felt, but the women who rejected you did not feel.

      Please understand that not being attracted to someone is NOT the same as feeling someone is unworthy. Being unattracted to someone is NOT the same as not approving of someone. I've known MANY intelligent, worthy women who I just wasn't attracted to. I didn't disapprove of them. I didn't think they weren't worthy. I just didn't think they were attractive.

      I can't help but wonder if there is a part of you which feels the need to avenge your past rejections.

    • Im South African living in Australia:) I escaped my home country.

      Unworthiness comes from many places. I wasn't even rejected, never had the privilege. I fell for the friendshipzone trap. The result is that I have many female friends but only hindsight showed me exactly what happened. Attraction and worthiness aside, I come from a world where my attraction to someone means nothing, so its weird... a prostitute, a stranger, a crush, a co-worker, whatever, they all are on the same level to me. I just always keep improving myself as its the only thing I am good at doing (except love I suppose and I think you right.. could be my subconscious giving cupid the finger just because I can)