Should I date guys who I don’t think are hot?
September 21, 2019 3:59 PM   Subscribe

In my search for my next long term relationship partner (f seeking m) I’ve noticed I’m quite particular about looks - I tend to swipe left on guys if I don’t think they are “hot”. My sister says I should broaden my search to include guys that seem like “nice guys” from the profile (I’m on tinder and bumble) but are maybe only “kinda cute” instead of hot. Should I?

I don’t want to end up in a relationship with a guy who I don’t see as handsome because I’m worried that if I’m not sexually attracted to him the sexual part of the relationship will not be adequately satisfying. I can see her point though, because I am 37 and have been single for 14 years (for good reasons but still), I maybe cant afford to be too fussy?? What do you think metafilter? Can sexual attraction grow if the rest is there?
posted by EatMyHat to Human Relations (50 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Probably not really. Date guys you find hot.
posted by stoneandstar at 4:05 PM on September 21, 2019 [5 favorites]

Speaking as a single guy who happens to be blind, I'd find the idea of exclusively dating based on physical attraction to be a little hurtful. This is probably encouraged by apps which put photos front and center, and "swipe culture," if I may be so bold as to use that term.

Nevertheless, if you feel strongly about the sexual attraction you can certainly continue to do as you've been, you might just miss out on guys who are perhaps "cute," but might be a fine match for you personality-wise and in other respects.
posted by Alensin at 4:08 PM on September 21, 2019 [17 favorites]

Just to clarify I’m not dating exclusively based on physical attraction, rather that if the physical attraction is not there I usually swipe left. If it is there that is not a guarantee that I’ll swipe right.
posted by EatMyHat at 4:14 PM on September 21, 2019

Some people take bad pictures but are good looking or compellingly interesting in real life. I would give the merely cute a shot if their profile was otherwise great.
posted by blnkfrnk at 4:14 PM on September 21, 2019 [77 favorites]

If you’re making the judgments at the “swipe” stage, yeah, don’t dismiss the kinda-cute guys. Some people don’t photograph well, and attraction is mostly determined in person.
posted by Metroid Baby at 4:15 PM on September 21, 2019 [60 favorites]

I would say in this context to give it a shot - I had a great relationship in college with someone I thought was actually kind of weird looking at first and the chemistry grew as we got to know each other. I wouldn’t be too strict with yourself about it though - if you’ve done a couple of dates and still don’t feel attracted then let go with no guilt.
posted by brilliantine at 4:15 PM on September 21, 2019 [6 favorites]

My first instinct was to say, of course include the "only cute" ones, because you can't really tell physical attraction from 2D photos. On the other hand, if you are having as many dates as you'd like, then why worry about adding more people? If not, then add them. At least give a couple a try.
posted by Glinn at 4:16 PM on September 21, 2019 [5 favorites]

Agree with what some people here are saying—rather than thinking of it as lowering your standards, I think you should think of this as a nod toward the imperfect relationship between "attractive/not attractive in photos" and "attractive walking around in the real world."
posted by Polycarp at 4:19 PM on September 21, 2019 [12 favorites]

I’m pretty sure the science says that people become more attractive the longer we know them and the more we love them. I have experienced this very phenomenon toward past partners where a physical thing that was kind of a turn off disappeared from my awareness as I grew to know and love them.

Also, I think it’s hard for many of us to accurately judge sexual attraction via images alone. So I am on team sexual attraction can grow. Consider experimenting and if it doesn’t work for you, then you can go back to your usual approach.

Please note that sexual attraction can wane for a variety of reasons, even when you think your partner is hot. It is great to have a partner you find hot but that in and of itself does not guarantee sexual satisfaction (as anyone who listens to Dan Savage knows by now). Good luck!
posted by Bella Donna at 4:20 PM on September 21, 2019 [37 favorites]

I’ve never been able to tell from a picture whether I’ll find a guy hot in person. It’s so dependent on personal chemistry. I’d keep an open mind but feel free to cut people quickly after a first date.
posted by sallybrown at 4:21 PM on September 21, 2019 [11 favorites]

Attraction can definitely grow for me, though I'm in no position to say what might cause it to grow for you. That said, a policy of trying to be interested in people that your friends and relations suggest you should date can backfire. Or at least -- don't let it go past a couple dates just on the strength of other people's opinions, if your own interest isn't there.
posted by eirias at 4:25 PM on September 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

I’m continually surprised by the horrid photos of some hot men I know irl. You can’t go by photos.

Not even touching the attraction vs looks thing (only tangentially related in my experience.) Not even touching the attraction grows thing (which is 100% true.) I do think you may be missing out on some guys you may find hot.

I mean, are you happy with your current results, or looking for a change? If it’s the latter, yes, you have to change your selection to change the results.
posted by kapers at 4:28 PM on September 21, 2019 [15 favorites]

Chemistry is about so much more than looks, and the hottest people I've ever known were not really conventionally attractive.

I think you're missing out on an entire world of attraction and connection. You're going to get old. The hottest guy on the planet today is going to get old. Expanding your repertoire is going to become necessary.
posted by Lyn Never at 4:32 PM on September 21, 2019 [34 favorites]

I am truly attracted to people of all gender, races, and ages; in fact, I now am finding people attractive from their 20s and 60s, and it's awesome!! I've found that what I consider "hot" has evolved over the years. I used to definitely be more attracted to someone with a super fit body whereas now I'm more attracted to people who are very smart and kind and tell good stories. Oh, and who are into me as someone who is also not super fit but very smart and kind and tells good stories. I was once "hot" but now I'd consider myself to be more "kinda cute", which is fine because I've grown as a person just as I've grown in age.

However, there has to be a potential physical spark for me to be interested. It's never a six-pack -- because, dear god, I'm tired of shirtless photos -- but it could be a kind smile or a sparkle in their eyes or something else that pulls me in. A lot of men on social media, especially those who are not obsessed with their looks or who are not used to taking selfies, do NOT have good pictures. Yes, be openminded but don't force it either. If you find someone "kinda cute", then chances are you may actually find them quite attractive in person!

I think this roadblock may be about much more than simply physical appearance for you, which is OK but may be worth looking into. What and what kind of guy are you attracted to? Do you think you're self-sabotaging because you're anxious about a potential relationship or simply having high standards, which are good? No judgement because it's often a bit of both for me.
posted by smorgasbord at 4:37 PM on September 21, 2019 [10 favorites]

I am not conventionally attractive. My partners (mostly female, for what it's worth) have not necessarily found me physically attractive when first meeting but with time have grown to appreciate my appearance and find me genuinely attractive. YMMV.
posted by Candleman at 4:59 PM on September 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

Yeah, I'm definitely jumping in on team Expand Your Repertoire. It can be really difficult to tell if you are attracted to someone, or if there will be any spark, just from looking at a few photos. If you think someone seems really interesting and you don't specifically find them unattractive, why not meet up if your initial texts seem promising? Just like guys you think look "hot" can later make you want to barf because they're such assholes, you can end up having amazing attraction and sexual chemistry with people you would have only considered average (or slightly cute or whatever) before you met them. Also, pheromones. You can't get those from pictures! Expanding your initial pool doesn't mean you'll end up with someone you're not attracted to, it just means that you're giving the chance to more people to show how attractive and awesome they are.
posted by DTMFA at 5:02 PM on September 21, 2019 [4 favorites]

I one hundred percent believe that a gut feeling within a few seconds of meeting someone is a good indicator of whether there is or could be that sort of magic sizzling, not just attractive but this is the one forever kind of feeling.

Not a few seconds of seeing their photo. A few seconds of meeting them. A demeanor, a scent, a voice--any of these can take cute over the top into sexy or can diminish sexy into not-for-me.
posted by Former Congressional Representative Lenny Lemming at 5:13 PM on September 21, 2019 [20 favorites]

I don't think you should date guys you don't think are hot, but considering that you have been single for a long time, most of your adulthood, I think you should go on some dates with guys you don't think are hot from their tinder pictures. Not in some "lower your standards for nice guys who aren't [whoever the current generic male hearthrob is] so you can find someone" way but as a way to learn about how attraction actually works for you experientially, not just theoretically. I don't think it works the same way for everyone. Also for some people (myself included) being able to identify and articulate that someone is "hot" (as in, attractive visually) doesn't necessarily mean I will want to sleep with them, and vice versa.
posted by needs more cowbell at 5:17 PM on September 21, 2019 [31 favorites]

You can try going on one or two dates if the guy seems to have an interesting personality. But don't feel obliged to drag it out any longer if you still aren't attracted. Life is too short for that.
posted by winterportage at 5:23 PM on September 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

I think there has to be something in their photo and profile that you're drawn to and that it's ok to heed that gut instinct - maybe they're not "hot" overall but have a nice smile, or great eyes, nice hands, etc. My partner (who I met online) didn't have the best/clearest photos but I liked his eyes and smile and was drawn to him, we got along well via text, and in person I felt a definite "yes I can be attracted to this person" on our first date that's grown with time.

When I've met up with someone in person I was iffy about looks-wise (or otherwise) I usually find they are less attractive to me than their photo indicated. I've never had the phenomenon of someone with a horrible photo surprising me positively in person although I agree a straight webcam shot is usually not doing anyone any favours, but if they have a few photos up showing their face and body from realistic angles and I'm not feeling it it's unlikely to change in person. And yes of course people can become more or less attractive depending on how they are as human beings and it's not the only thing that matters. I have girlfriends who say looks play no part of their dating strategy and they are capable of finding/creating the spark dependent on the whole pieces being there, I admire them but their boyfriends still tend to be fairly attractive fwiw, like I think on some level they do find them attractive physically they just don't elevate it above character.
posted by lafemma at 5:26 PM on September 21, 2019 [5 favorites]

if you are consistently physically attracted to men who look handsome to you in thumbnail pictures on a screen, and consistently have good sex with them, you have terrifically good instincts and you should keep on doing what you're doing. few of us can say that and I am impressed.

if you doubt yourself on this point to such an extent that you'd consult other people on the question of whether attraction can grow, it makes me wonder if you have, in your life, been close to many men you didn't pick off a website. because if you had had a lot of male acquaintances and friends not pre-selected by looks, you would already know the answer to whether a "just cute" guy could captivate you, because it would have happened by now. inconveniently, probably.

and I don't mean that the answer ought to be yes, attraction can grow. your answer could be no, this doesn't ever seem to happen to me. it's not bad if this doesn't happen to you, it's just significant information. and if you really don't feel like you have that information yet about yourself, that's interesting and important. how well you know yourself and how you managed to get to a place of not knowing yourself is much more important than whether you "should" be attracted to any particular type of guy.

(do not listen to people telling you what chemical attraction is about, as if they know more than you. you know when you are attracted and when you aren't. if love for you is born in the eyeballs, you will just have to follow your eyeballs. for some of us it starts in the ears, or the chest, or other places. this isn't about standards at all, it's about desire. if you are trying to understand what you're capable of desiring, you can't find that out from anything people tell you, only from yourself.)
posted by queenofbithynia at 5:38 PM on September 21, 2019 [29 favorites]

I have never once found attraction to "grow" where there was previously not a spark. I *have* been in at least one awkward dating situation where the other person was really attracted to me, and I really wasn't attracted to them. It was hurtful to both of us to find that I couldn't return their feelings.

Don't date anyone you're not attracted to, full stop. "You can't afford to be too fussy"? Who the fuck told you that?! You're not a pair of clearance pants. You're not a house that's been sitting on the market for 6 months. After 14 years of being single, I'm sure you have your life basically the way you want it, and why blow it up for just anyone? Nope, this is your LIFE we're talking about here, and the person you share it with should be someone you think is special.
posted by Autumnheart at 5:44 PM on September 21, 2019 [21 favorites]

Online dating has lead to an "in group"/"out group" of conventionally hot people never before seen beyond high school or famous people. The good thing is many of us are having a grand old time really connecting with lovely, interesting partners we never may have been brave or lucky enough to meet before. But if you're sticking to a very narrow and ultra predictable idea of who is hot, you are only playing in the cool group, so are a bunch of other people and you're far more likely to end up with a pool of flighty smug potential dates with no incentive to change cos there's 100 more dates where that one came from. I have several lovely hot friends who want to a long term relationship who have fallen into this trap of online dating being an endless carousel of entitlement/being screwed around by the disposable mentality of part-time-model-esque dating partners.
So maybe get a reality check from your sister as to whether you're only going for the online "cool boys". If not it's probably fine to go with your gut, although I have found cute can definitely become hot in person.
posted by hotcoroner at 6:08 PM on September 21, 2019 [7 favorites]

What if I told you guys that look hot can be awful in bed?

What if I told you an average-looking guy might knock your socks off, in terms of sexy times.

And let’s not even talk about compatibility in life partners, emotional connections and all that bullshit.

You’re playing a literally superficial game, imo. Continue at your own peril.
posted by SaltySalticid at 6:28 PM on September 21, 2019 [22 favorites]

Not only do I think sexual attraction can grow, I have found that interpersonal chemistry is a much better predictor of sexual compatibility and enthusiasm from me. The folks I connect with the most tend to have similar educational backgrounds and I’ve noticed I connect most easily with men who, like me, aren’t from the area where I live now.

I’ve been online dating off and on for about the past two years. The hottest guy I dated did not look hot in his photos. His photos were fine but he’s not photogenic at all. I went out with him because he seemed friendly in our messages. He was astoundingly hot.

And the best sex I have had hasn’t been with the hottest guys. One guy I almost didn’t go out with (his photos were only okay) and we connected incredibly well.

So I’d say to swipe right on guys who might be cute but not super hot and see how that goes, especially if they seem compatible in other ways. Go on a few dates and see what you think.
posted by bluedaisy at 7:24 PM on September 21, 2019 [6 favorites]

There's nothing wrong with only swiping right on people you find attractive. That's kind of how dating apps work. I don't think you should be dating somebody if you're not attracted to them, and that's not just for your own sake. How do you think somebody would feel, finding out that you're dating them despite not finding them attractive? It would be cruel to tell them that... so, what, you're supposed to just lie for the duration of your relationship and say you find them attractive, even though you never did?

I'm certainly not saying you should value looks over everything else. But if you look at somebody's profile and don't feel any spark, don't try to force something.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 7:43 PM on September 21, 2019 [5 favorites]

No, you probably shouldn't swipe right on guys you aren't attracted to. My experience doing that was that if I swiped right on more guys, it led to going on more dates, but those dates were often blah at best because there wasn't really any chemistry. Which...what's the point?

In retrospect, I think that if you're not attracted enough to someone to even bother moving your hand in one direction instead of another, you're probably not attracted enough to them to outright go on a date. YMMV.

That said, if you're 37 and have been single for 14 years, something is going on other than just that you haven't been swiping right on the "right" guys. So I wouldn't worry too much that you're missing someone when you're swiping. Maybe your sister is right that you're not giving people/relationships a chance, but that's more about your attitude and not so much about whether you swipe on this guy or that guy.

Something that helped me was actually listening more to my heart (and thinking less about what I was "supposed" to want or do). So, I would say embrace your desires more, not try to channel them in the directions you think they "should" go. But everyone's experience is her own...

On a practical note, you might want to try speed dating events instead of or in addition to apps. You sit there and a bunch of guys rotate around one by one to flirt with you, so if nothing else it's a fun night out. And honestly, you'll know by the end of the night if you have chemistry with somebody.
posted by rue72 at 7:53 PM on September 21, 2019 [6 favorites]

[Deleted a rude comment from an answerer, and a response from the OP. OP, feel free to post the rest of your clarification again if you'd like, but you can ignore the deleted rudeness.]
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 8:15 PM on September 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

FWIW, you can have amazing in-person chemistry with someone who isn't hot. I don't care how hot someone is as long as they make me hot.
posted by DarlingBri at 10:24 PM on September 21, 2019 [11 favorites]

I guess this all depends on what you consider the ingredients of hotness. If you judge hotness solely on looks, then yes, keep swiping left.

But if hotness is also a matter of intellectual stimulation, ability to tell and take a joke, interest in current events, passion for the arts, mutually interesting hobby, compassion towards others, depth of feeling, ability to express emotions...well then there's only so much of that you can tell from a photo or dating site profile.

You shouldn't continue dating someone who you don't feel a spark for and find desirable. That's not good or fair to either person, but you really cant tell whether or not you'll feel a spark until you go out with someone.
posted by brookeb at 10:29 PM on September 21, 2019 [7 favorites]

Just something to think about and not guaranteed to be 100% true in all situations.

But if perchance your particular preferences in male looks correspond with the preferences of a large portion of the female dating population, it may well be that the men you are most interested in based on the photos, receive a considerable amount of female attention.

Just for example, per this article, the top 1% of guys (according to appearance ratings by the women on the site) get fully 16% of the likes.

My point is, if your preferences happen to line up with that 1% who are getting 16% of the likes, and you are almost all of the time matching up with them, those people are pretty flooded with potential partners and that is bound to have a strong effect on them. Both in terms of their personality and in terms of how they view potential partners and relationships.

It's just one reason to consider sampling a somewhat broad swathe around the area of your "photogenic attraction" rather than just keeping a very narrow focus on only the very, very best matches from the photogenic point of view. And, as a result, they are getting a *lot* of likes and approaches all the time.

If those people are your very, very best photogenic attraction matches, I can almost guarantee they're going to be so for quite a lot of others as well.

Just something to think about.
posted by flug at 10:46 PM on September 21, 2019 [12 favorites]

You don't have to try to force attraction to men you're not into, but if you give a try to dudes who seem cool/interesting/cute but not immediately super hot you might find that their IRL interaction with you actually does make them attractive, even if you're not really into their photos. This is especially a good idea if you're new to online dating and not having much luck with it! You might be swiping right on fuckboys you don't have much in common with because they take the best pics and missing out on all the normal dudes who aren't used to selfies!

If you use Tinder and want to save time, I recommend getting Tinder gold for a month, scrolling through the people who liked you, and arranging to meet up with everyone you think you could have a good conversation with. You might not be into the cute-ish dudes you meet up with, but there's no guarantee you'd be into the super photogenic guys you like, either. Maybe your attraction is more wide than you previously thought, maybe you actually are only into the handsome photogenic type, maybe there are certain dealbreakers for you in terms of looks but a bad haircut isn't gonna kill the magic! You won't know unless you try it out.
posted by storytam at 11:33 PM on September 21, 2019 [4 favorites]

If everyone right of the line is who you'll go on a first date with, I think you need to draw your line here:


Instead of here:


Maybe visual attraction is all-important to you. I doubt it. What other qualities get you fluttery? Anyway some of us are more beautiful in motion! A 2D image compresses so many vital details.
posted by aw jeez at 11:55 PM on September 21, 2019 [4 favorites]

Apps are best for being a little shallow, imo. I don't think dating profiles are great at giving a sense of how well you'll click with someone, so you might as well focus on the (visual) aspect of attraction that you can start to suss out digitally. So I don't think you're doing anything wrong, and if you're happy with the number/quality of dates you're having, I don't think you should change anything.

THAT SAID if you feel like your well has run dry or that you consistently have disappointing dates, you should try stretching your standards to see if your dating life improves. (And if you have a lot of time and energy, you might try joining some kind of singles activity group to see if you're attracted to a wider variety of people in person than you might be via app.)
posted by grandiloquiet at 7:19 AM on September 22, 2019

Some people take bad pictures but are good looking or compellingly interesting in real life. I would give the merely cute a shot if their profile was otherwise great.

This. My partner's photos on the site where we met did him no justice at all. But the message he sent me made it clear that he'd actually read my profile instead of just looking at the pictures, so I answered him instead of ignoring him. The first thing I thought when we met was that he was so much better looking in person, and we just had a great time at dinner that evening. That was 11 years ago, and we're still together.
posted by SisterHavana at 7:30 AM on September 22, 2019 [5 favorites]

I think the reason there are so many comments here, some of them conflicting, is that there are a few different questions underlying your question.

- Can attraction grow? Anecdotally but with strong conclusions from a huge data set: yes.
- Should you be going on dates with men who seem cool and okay-looking? Yes, but this is separate from whether attraction can grow. This is because people are sexually attracted to people, not photographs.
- Should you be lowering your standards because you can't afford to be fussy? No. You can have whatever priorities you like in a relationship, and there's nothing wrong with "strong sexual attraction" being one of them. The problem, such as it is, is only that you're limiting it to "strong sexual attraction to a set of maybe three still photographs."

I am a super fussy online dater so I get the desire to have a finely-tuned "nope" function here! It always felt like a huge waste of a good evening to go out with someone I didn't like. This wound up working out for me because I was noping out on people I didn't think I'd enjoy spending time with. But unfortunately, if your deciding factor is attraction, you can't wriggle out so easily, because it truly does depend on so many factors that aren't conveyed in a photograph. If you're serious about finding someone you're attracted to IRL, you have to put in the legwork to meet them IRL.

I'd add that if your idea of "hotness" CAN be conveyed in a photograph, you may be deceiving yourself about why hotness matters, and it's worth spending some time with that. Do you really care about sexual compatibility, or is it more about display? But I'm taking you at your word that it's about attraction!
posted by babelfish at 8:31 AM on September 22, 2019 [12 favorites]

Data point of one: I'm attracted to an ultraspecific type, and I've not got the patience to pursue outside of that. My dating is low volume, but I am getting the men I am looking for.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 8:49 AM on September 22, 2019 [1 favorite]

I have a boozer-science theory that our deep attraction is based in part on scent — you know how there are conventionally attractive people you could take or leave? Maybe scent is a shorthand or abstraction for something else similar, but without smell-o-vision, I wouldn’t be too hasty about discarding folks who don’t have obvious Hell-No’s.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 9:12 AM on September 22, 2019 [7 favorites]

Well yeah, but I have to be at least superficially attracted to them before I huff their pubes.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 9:30 AM on September 22, 2019 [4 favorites]

I will also point out that, while it is certainly possible that a person might be hot in real life and just take bad photos, it is far more likely that a person might not be hot in real life, and is using an old/fake/heavily edited photo, or are otherwise not presenting themselves truthfully.

So basically it’s still a crapshoot, but you have to start somewhere, so you may as well weed out the people who do nothing for you visually, and then refine down for further compatibility. Might you be including people who don’t belong in your dating pool, and excluding people who do? Yeah, but so what? That is unavoidable. You can only choose from the people you see and get to know. For all I know, my soul mate is currently chillin’ in Bangladesh or Canberra or Shenzhen, but I’ll never know because I don’t have any way to interact with them. That’s just life. You work with what you have.
posted by Autumnheart at 10:26 AM on September 22, 2019 [1 favorite]

I second the suggestion above to get Tinder Gold for a month and focus on the guys who like you. Even if you don't find most of them attractive, there's bound to be one or two you like. The younger me enjoyed the challenge but the older me likes to start on sure footing.

Also, I thought about this more last night: the article shows that the top 1% of "good looking" guys get all the attention on the apps, which makes sense considering my single male friends' experiences. Their pictures are often just so-so but they are kind, smart, successful, and actually quite attractive in person! Full disclosure: I first focused on the super hot guys (and women) on Tinder: the guys sometimes had mutual interest but were so self-absorbed and boring, like one suggested our first date take place as he got a tattoo removed. (For real!) He then proceeded to send me five photos of said tattoo and tried to assuage my concerns for not being as, um, aesthetically-focused by telling me "Don't worry, I'm a fit fatty." That date didn't happen because, in an ironic twist, the decided I was too superficial about his being superficial. Two of those kind male friends were there for the entire text exchange. They laughed with me and said "Yeah, he's definitely a narcissist but at least you know and didn't waste your time." I'm sure some of those model-esque types are wonderful in person but probably not. It reminds me of another guy who told me he was an "expert at Tinder." What does that even mean?! I've learned a lot and have switched my focus and am much more satisfied with the results. Just because a chat doesn't result in a relationship or even a date doesn't mean it was a waste of time if the person is kind!

I live in a big city and am busy so I want to be really motivated to put in effort. I'm willing to set a firm day and time -- people here tend to keep things flexible -- and take the subway across town. Lot of people I date are willing to travel, too. If you decide to give some of these "kinda cute" guys a chance, you can make the first date convenient for you: a café near work, your favorite spot for ice cream, the pizzeria one block away, etc. You're giving them a true chance but also giving yourself a break and easy exit.
posted by smorgasbord at 10:33 AM on September 22, 2019 [1 favorite]

Just a data point, but I did exactly this. It worked for me and I’m very happily married now to a guy my former self would not have considered. It was probably the best decision of my life, fwiw. (happily married includes great sex and attraction, btw, just not conventional photogenic attraction)
posted by stockpuppet at 11:27 AM on September 22, 2019 [3 favorites]

I’ve met attractive people who got uglier the longer I knew them.

I’ve met plain people who became more attractive the longer I knew them.
posted by The Deej at 11:44 AM on September 22, 2019 [8 favorites]

In my anecdotal online dating experience, a lot of straight guys are bad at picking out photos that actually communicate what they look like in a realistic way. (like, a lot of them are better looking than you think they're going to be.) I wouldn't go out with guys you think are unappealing, but I think it's probably smart to widen your parameters to people who seem like they might be cute, rather than are definitively hot. Especially if they seem like they might be cute, and they seem like they could be cool.
posted by Countess Sandwich at 12:19 PM on September 22, 2019 [2 favorites]

I came to say what Former Congressional Representative Lenny Lemming said above. And a quick anecdote: I have "a type" that is pretty visually homogeneous. A pretty reliable age range, a pretty reliable amount of facial hair, a pretty reliable grizzled factor, yadda yadda. I'm aware of how much this "type" plays into app-based introductions, so I've tried to branch out from it. Slowly and not by much. Because, honestly, if I go too far outside that range I don't feel turned on enough to want to engage. BUT, recently, I met up with a guy who was about as far outside "the type" range as I was willing to go, and when we met in person? WOAH, HIS VOICE AND THE WAY HE WALKED AND HELD HIS BODY. WOAH. +10 attraction points, pretty much instantly, based on factors that an app simply can't capture (would that apps let one record a short audio introduction!). His distance from the visual type was maybe a -6 attraction points. Net effect was on the positive side. I was happy to be surprised about this.

So, maybe consider going a little bit outside your target features with the awareness that you can hedge bets on whether other hidden features might make up for the flexibility.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 1:16 PM on September 22, 2019 [3 favorites]

That said, if you're 37 and have been single for 14 years, something is going on other than just that you haven't been swiping right on the "right" guys.

If someone's been single for 14 years at 37, it's often because they've been actively not-dating. Which also (probably, don't want to make too many assumptions) means not interacting in people in ways designed to spark and test your physical/sexual chemistry with others.

People who don't have a lot of romantic/sexual experience sometimes don't have a well-calibrated sense of what they personally find sexy so they defer to whatever "conventionally attractive" is. I'm not sure if this is your issue, OP, but if it is, you probably want to be open to dating people who make you go "hmm". Not people who make you think "nope". That said, through this process, you need to learn what you're into and what you're not, as well as figure out when there's not enough desire on your end to bother proceeding. Something that happens with inexperienced people is that they'll continue to date someone they're not into sexually because they struggle with understanding that broadening your scope of attraction still means you're supposed to listen to that visceral part of yourself.

People who are a bit more experienced tend to get to a "when you see it, you know" place in terms of gauging their attraction so they don't worry so much about insufficiently attracted to someone to successfully date them.

Also, read needs more cowbell 's comment.
posted by blerghamot at 1:54 PM on September 22, 2019 [5 favorites]

I think you do yourself a disservice only swiping left on guys you think are hot. First, as has been said, not everyone photographs well, and the odds of swiping right on a guy who would be an excellent partner but just doesn't look super cute in photos are high enough to matter. Second, every time I've swiped left on someone I thought was hot, one of four things has happened: I've met up with them in person and discovered their photos are several years old and not representative of how they really look and while they may have been hot five years ago in the split-second in which that specific photo was taken, in person they look nothing like the photo that got me all excited; I meet up with them in person and they are indeed hot, but there's something missing -- they don't really take an interest in getting to know me, they're not that interesting themselves, there are red flags that weren't apparent from hot photos, or what have you, and it just sort of fizzles out; they sort of string me along for a bit and avoid setting up a date, so I dig through their social media and find that the photos that got me all excited are several years old and not representative of how they really look (also they often turn out to be emphatically not a good fit personality-wise); they sort of string me along for a bit, then disappear, and I see a new profile pop up later (same app or a different one) with the same pics -- in other words, ego-farming.
posted by palomar at 6:06 AM on September 23, 2019 [1 favorite]

"Hot" is such a charged word in our culture and this context. I thought my partner was very cute from her photos, but the second I saw her I was actually unable to form a coherent sentence for a bit. She's not objectively the hottest person on the planet, but for whatever reason, she is to me. So that's nice.

My dating experiences only went way, way up when I raised my own standards because I have struggled often with self esteem. You have to really identify what is "hot" to you because it probably isn't totally conforming to our society's overall expectations.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 6:59 AM on September 23, 2019

Data point; I was not immediately attracted to my now-husband's pictures on a dating site but he was not unattractive, just didn't jump out with WOW effect. He was much handsomer in person upon meeting. Also, you cannot know how hot someone will be (and how much this impacts overall hotness) without any clothes on, if you are only looking at a picture with their clothes on.
posted by juniperesque at 8:14 AM on September 23, 2019 [1 favorite]

My other half (together now for 11 years, married for 7, two kids) still laughs about how bad my photos were on my dating profile (I thought they were good!).

In previous relationships I 100% experienced someone becoming more attractive to me the better I got to know them (and the more I liked their personality).
posted by EndsOfInvention at 5:50 AM on September 24, 2019 [1 favorite]

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