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:
GENERALLY SPEAKING, UNATTRACTIVE PEOPLE DO NOT FIND OTHER UNATTRACTIVE PEOPLE ATTRACTIVE, JUST LIKE THE REST OF US.
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: