Really Good News If You're Not That Young and Hot

I’ve written before on sexual market value – how we “rate” other people in comparison to others. It’s crude math, but it serves an important purpose:

It lets us know what we can realistically expect from dating.

A man who is a 2 – because he may be short, heavy, uneducated, unintelligent, unsuccessful, and insensitive – will probably not look in a mirror and see a 2. Chances are, he is attracted to (and feel like he “deserves”) a much more desirable woman than another 2.

Reality will likely prove him wrong. And that’s when he needs to adjust his standards.

For the most part, if you look around, people tend to match up pretty evenly.

Most people end up with people at their same “level,” in some respect. Wealthy men who are not particularly attractive may end up with women “above” them. Attractive women who are not particularly smart or kind may do the same. But, for the most part, if you look around, people tend to match up pretty evenly.

There’s been a lot of commentary on this blog about how the rating system is somehow “wrong,” because one person’s 5 is another person’s 9. Well, that’s somewhat true, according to recent psychological research. Stick with me here:

First of all, there really IS a pretty universal standard as to what’s attractive, so let’s not sweep that under the rug. According to a recent New York Times piece.

“Psychological research on first impressions has shown that men and women do, in fact, reach some degree of consensus about each other in precisely this way. During an initial encounter, some people generally inspire swooning, others polite indifference and others avoidance. Desirable qualities like attractiveness, charisma and success — the features that differentiate the haves from the have-nots — are readily apparent.”

At the same time, even if we can all easily pick out the Clooneys and Albas from the crowd, there is something very powerful that gives lower ranked people an edge:

“Yet alongside this consensus is an equally important concept: uniqueness. Uniqueness can also be measured. It is the degree to which someone rates a specific person as lower or higher than the person’s consensus value. For example, even if Neil is a 6 on average, certain women may vary in their impressions of him. Amanda fails to be charmed by his obscure literary references and thinks he is a 3. Yet Eileen thinks he is a 9; she finds his allusions captivating.”

People who are hot and charismatic will always attract people – online and in person – at alarming rates.

This makes perfect sense and tends to get lost when we talk about dating, mating, and sexual market value. My wife might see me as a 10 but some woman who values guys with tattoos, Harleys and guns probably wouldn’t even look twice at me. Similarly, look around a dating site: part of the reason some people succeed is because they STAND OUT. Their profiles are funny. Their photos are memorable. They list interesting hobbies. They are unique. Hell, I built an entire business out of helping people capture their unique qualities in their profiles, and yet this study is a very useful reminder – people who are hot and charismatic will always attract people – online and in person – at alarming rates. But for the rest of us, there is hope as people get to truly know you:

“The old axiom says beauty is in the eye of the beholder. When it comes to initial impressions, this statement is not really true: Consensus about desirable qualities creates a gulf between the haves and have-nots. But the truth of this maxim increases over time: As people get to know each other, decreasing consensus and increasing uniqueness give everyone a fighting chance.

So if you do not have a high mate value, take heart. All you need is for others to have the patience to get to know you, and a more level playing field should follow.”

Your thoughts, below, are appreciated.