The words in the title of this post come from a response to a comment I left on Rural Gay's blog last week. Rural Gay is a forty-something male who, like many others these days, gay and straight, has turned to online dating sites to meet someone presumably as interested in coupling as he is.
Sadly, he hasn't had much success finding a potential partner, despite putting himself out there and going for coffee with a number of men. One of the reasons Rural Gay gave for the lack of success is "there just isn't a physical attraction," on one or both sides. Which got me thinking...
When I met Chris, I wasn't physically attracted to him, either. Just twenty-three years old, he was a little boy, really; he hadn't yet grown into his looks. He was skinny, his glasses were too large for his face, and his hair was coarse and unmanageable. He reminded me of several geeks I'd seen back in high school. The only physical feature of his that appealed to me was his five o'clock shadow. And that's about it.
Chris was not at all the hunky Adonis I'd always imagined myself with, I'd dreamed would fall all over himself when he saw me for the first time, wondering where I'd been his entire life. I'd seen a good many cute, handsome, and hot men over the years, but they paid little attention to me.
And my physical appearance? My body was no specimen, that's for sure. My hairstyle was fussy and plastered into place with too much hairspray. I tried to sport sideburns then, but the hairs on the right were sparse, and, on the left, they didn't meet up. I'm sure my face had recently broken out, and, to top it all off, I had braces on my teeth. Not a pretty sight. Not a pretty sight at all.
Yep, Chris and I were quite the pair. And if, as too many gay men do, we'd relied entirely on what both of us looked like to decide if we were interested in each other, it wouldn't have happened. We would not have pursued anything else we saw in each other, and we would not have been together a total of nineteen years this last month.
In truth, we were ordinary, everyday, run-of-the-mill schmoes. And I hate to burst anyone's bubble, but that's all most of us are. So why do so many hold out for some physical ideal, someone we've always seen ourselves with or hoped we'd end up with. What makes average looking men think they're going to land Brad Pitt? It's time to get off your high horses. Do you want to be alone or do you want to be in love?
Guys, here's the thing: Physical attraction? It's not everything. It's only a small part. Of course, if, when you see someone for the first time, his appearance completely repulses you, there's a good chance, no matter how long you spend getting to know him better, he'll never be more attractive to you. If that's the case, move on. Don't beat a dead horse.
But, beyond that, as far as looks are concerned, everyone else is in the running. Because, on a strictly superficial level, every person has at least one outstanding physical attribute, something you can find attractive, something that captures your imagination--whether it's a thick head of hair, or long eyelashes, or a great set of eyes, or whatever the case may be.
Find that one attribute, that one thing you consider physically appealing, and you find the portal to giving that person a fair chance, to giving yourself permission to discover him beyond his looks. Honestly, unless he thoroughly disgusts you, a quick first meeting over a cup of coffee isn't nearly enough time to get to know the complex human being sitting across from you, and whether or not you might have a future together.
That first time I asked Chris to dance? Let's say I hadn't, so turned off was I by his geeky appearance. Or let's say he had shot me down, deciding he didn't like anyone who wore braces on his teeth. Either way, I hope you see how arbitrary those rash decisions would have been, and how much we would have lost out on over the subsequent nineteen years.
How much do you really and truly want to meet someone to spend time with, maybe even to spend the rest of your life with? How motivated are you to take the risk, to put yourself out there? How important is it to you to experience deep and abiding love, to find "the one," to know what happily "married" couples experience every day they're together?
All I'm saying is, give people a chance. True, you can't control how others come across, but you can control how you do. If you approach every potential new friend with a defeatist attitude, with cynicism and negativity, he'll know what's going on. He'll read it all over you. The energy you give off will turn him off, and, if he's smart, he'll run in the opposite direction because no one wants to be with someone like that.
I don't care how many times you've been shot down. Do you want to be with someone, or don't you? That's the bottom line. If you don't, this post isn't for you. But if you do, every time you're shot down, get back up on that horse and ride. Never let anyone know you've been disappointed in the dating arena. Be positive, be open, be yourself, and approach each new person as though this is the first time.
Last week, I wrote that my fervent hope is every single one of you reading this will experience the kind of love Chris and I have in our relationship. Because there is nothing in the world like it. I want that for you more than you know. It's why I spend hours every day working on this blog. It's why I keep writing about how important accepting and loving yourself is. It's why I want you to see what really matters.
Love is out there. Right now, someone, just like you, is waiting to be loved as much as you're waiting to be loved. Just remember, real and true love has little to do with physical attraction and everything to do with a meeting of minds and souls and intentions. Our bodies are mere containers. It's what's inside those containers that really counts.
Never forget, I'm on your side. I want your life to overflow with the love you want. I'm rooting for you. Now, go out there and give 'em hell.
(Rural Gay's blog is located here. Check it out.)