The extent of attraction

There’s been some good discussion over at Jack’s on attraction:

Scott’s video garnered some attention, and there was some concern over the fact that it might only be about 13% of marriages where the woman is ‘madly in love’ with her husband after a determined amount of time.

My perspective

I don’t claim to be an expert on these types of things, but I have worked decently close with the fitness industry in the past. I feel confident in these assertions:

  • The amount of attraction generated from both male and female transformations vastly outweighs the things you can’t change such as your facial genetics. In other words, any obese or overweight woman or man who loses substantial amounts of weight becomes much more attractive and gains substantial attraction interest from the opposite sex.
  • This is multiplied if the fitness or muscularity is significantly increased especially for men. I’ve never seen any man (short or ugly or otherwise) who has gotten to a Greek god level of physique or more have trouble getting at least a few women who are interested in him. Maybe not a lot, but at least a few. This is not that hard for most men with a dedicated fitness program and nutrition for a year. Michelangelo’s David is an example.
  • If there are other issues like poor hygiene, very awkward at conversations, can’t hold a job, or things like that then that can cancel out the interest. This is usually what stunts most men with women. It’s what they do and say, not how they’re looking most of the time.

I stand by my previous assertions in this post on how attraction works. It’s a percentage based probability.

Someone with natural height and good looks will start from a higher percentage. Maybe 6’0″+ and very handsome and natural semi-muscular or husky body may start from a place where 15-20% of women are naturally attracted to them. Someone who starts from somewhere like very skinny or obese, less than normal height, and relatively non-attractive face would be starting from a much lower point like maybe 1-2% or possibly less. Possibly less. Celebrities generally start from a place of 30-40+% of women are naturally attracted to them because of the status, fame, etc even if their looks aren’t that great.

We all know the “marriage market” has broken down substantially at this time. However, if we look over the past societies and marriage statistics, we see that about 95% of both men and women got married in the past. This is fairly consistent across cultures. Some percentage of this was men and women who didn’t want to get married for whatever reason (asexual or wanted to put their career first) and some small percentage was also probably men and women who wanted to get married but didn’t for whatever reason (yes, you can throw very bad personalities, old maids, and ugliness in here I guess?). From this we know that unless you’re in the extreme bottom percentile of men and women, there’s no way you are not attractive to at least some men and women.

Even the obesity marriage rates show this. Obesity, overweight, and underweight all decrease your likelihood to marry, but they don’t make it go to zero. The ratio of underweight, healthy weight, overweight, and obese is about 8:10:8:6. This means 8 underweight people, 10 healthy weight, 8 overweight, and 6 obese people marry in about those proportions.

14 overweight and obese people marry for every 10 normal weight people. This is shocking to most people who read online blogs too much because they get the impression that “you gotta be in top 20% to even have a chance,” but the reality is that many men and women don’t place supreme importance on looks. However, the main issue the calibration of expectations — the apex fallacy for both sexes. Both men and women that are looking for a spouse above or far above their own attractiveness level are in for a rough ride.

Looks are helpful, even substantially helpful if you hit the Greek god looks break point, but they are far from being something that determines your ability to get married. The only people approaching the bottom 5% are those who have multiple things that are working against them. Even so, there are those like Nick Vujacic (the guy without any limbs) who break the mold for disabilities.

As this applies to marriage…

I think it’s very helpful if you can get a woman that’s head over heels for you, but I doubt most men are able to do it. Even so women’s attraction may be very specific to things like PSALM – power, status, athleticism, looks, and money, but things like status comes in all shapes and sizes. Not everyone can be a pastor or worship band leader, but there are women that are head over heels for men in all different types of sports and hobbies. Heck, there are girls that are Dungeons and Dragon’s groupies. If your hobby is D&D and you’re one of the best at it, find a girl who loves God and D&D. I know some marriages like this.

Of course, head over heels is not what makes a godly marriage, so one must be careful not to elevate this to the pedestal. It’s great if you have it, but it’s not something that is needed for a godly and successful marriage. Most men are unlikely to find a woman who is head over heels and have a high enough sex drive that they want to jump your bones all the time.

In conclusion…

  • Attractiveness is still a probability game. Good looks can give you a natural head start and advantage, but it’s nothing in surmountable for many/most men.
  • You generally have to have multiple things working against you to have a very difficult time generating attraction from at least a few members of the opposite sex.
  • Looks matter, but they also don’t. What probably matters most in terms of getting married is calibrating your own expectations to your own level of attractiveness. Just as most men can be invisible to the American Evangelical Princess, men can fall for the same apex fallacy disregarding women who are interested in him because they don’t meet his attraction standards (usually obesity).
  • If you want to be with someone “more attractive” generally you have to work on your own attractiveness yourself.
  • Avoiding behaviors that decrease attraction are generally the biggest things for most men who are “bad with women” to work on. These both eliminate interest as it is happening and sabotage dates and relationships as well.

All of this matters only a little bit to some for having a godly marriage.

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8 Responses to The extent of attraction

  1. @ Sharkly

    LOL, thanks. Maths is hard

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  4. Novaseeker says:

    The point in calibration is where I think the decline in marriage rate is coming from. We live in a world where no-one likes to compromise on anything — we are encouraged to “go for it” and not to settle, and that it isn’t only, or even mainly, in the context of dating/relationships, it’s in all contexts of life. So it spills over into the relationship space, where people aren’t really interested in pursuing or being pursued if the person isn’t quite special (regardless of how special they may or may not be themselves, objectively speaking).

    I also think that this phenomenon, which most people experience in the behavior of others even if they discount it in themselves, leads to people dropping out of the market altogether. That is, they are not getting what they want from the market (probably due to overshooting), and they are not interested in improving themselves to the point where they can achieve something closer to what they want in the market, because the work vs reward ratio isn’t working for them. In other words, the degree of improvement in what they can access in the market isn’t sufficient to justify doing the work for marginal improvement (whether that is physical, social skills, sartorial or what have you).

    It remains true that those with lower expectations are well able to pair up with each other regardless of being objectively unattractive people. The local Wal-Mart will prove this to anyone who disagrees. But I do think that there are fewer of these people in ever generation, and people are becoming pickier in all aspects of their lives and less likely to settle or accept lower expectations — again, regardless of what they, themselves, are objectively bringing to the table.

    All of this impacts men and women alike, albeit differently because each sex is differently situated and differently attracted.

  5. @ Nova

    I think you’re spot on for all those points.

    I think in general that a majority of men just don’t know where they need to improve, but also that a significantly percentage just don’t want to make the time or the effort to improve or have just given up.

    I’ve seen this mentoring men and giving out the book. There’s some who take a bunch of the things to heart and work on being excellent in everything (spiritual, physical, emotional, mental, etc.) and then there are those that just don’t want to make any effort whatsoever or just have the leave it up to God attitude still. I rarely encounter men who think these things just don’t work.

    Occasionally you see some recalibration of expectations, but that’s not most men and women regardless of if they know they should or not. It’s neither a good or bad thing, but it does narrow the pool of potential candidates significantly.

  6. Novaseeker says:

    Occasionally you see some recalibration of expectations, but that’s not most men and women regardless of if they know they should or not. It’s neither a good or bad thing, but it does narrow the pool of potential candidates significantly.


    It’s certainly the case among a significant number of men, especially younger men.

    I have also noticed it in recent years as a growing phenomenon among women in the 40ish+ age range who remain single. In recent years a growing percentage of these women are opting not to recalibrate their expectations, or make other changes, but are opting to remain long-term, perhaps lifetime, single … and the fact that they have increasing numbers of other women who are choosing the same thing reinforces their choice. These women are attractive (certainly attractive enough to find a man to marry them), while not super-attractive, but for various reasons they were not able to marry a top shelf man like they wanted to, probably because of calibration problems at least in part. Eventually, at their ages they realize that this guy is now either married to someone else, or he is coming off a divorce and therefore is less appealing. So rather than recalibrating expectations, they opt for singleness, shared with other aging women singletons.

    The fact that they are growing in number reinforces the trend among this age of women as well, because women are not lone wolves (in general, there are a few exceptions, but they are exceptional), and need social support — if almost all women are settling and marrying, almost all women will settle and marry as well, rather than be a lone wolf who is isolated from other women. So, as the number of these women has grown, so has the attractiveness of the opt-out option, because now there is a female social support group for this life as well, which then creates a self-contained peer-group feedback loop of the type that women generally need to feel well, socially.

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