A reminder: no blog bullying. Everyone's allowed to be passionate in the comments section, but please, avoid being mean and getting personal with other commenters. I've been getting some complaints about people being unnecessarily ... unpleasant ... so ... be pleasant or, at the very least, respectful and constructive. And clever, as usual.
And RSVP for our next party -- a good, easy, Thursday-night activity with friends.
Q: Hi Meredith,
I have been in and out of relationships for the majority of my life. Although I have had a few successful stints with women, I ALWAYS find a flaw in my partner. It is a real problem for me.
It all started in college when I would ask a girl out for the first time. I would always have certain girls I was very attracted to and would do anything to date. However, when they showed interest in me, I suddenly found them less attractive. I have asked my friends and it makes no sense why this would happen to me. I am definitely attracted to women; I just constantly struggle to stay attracted to a woman for more than a month or two.
I find ridiculous flaws like their chin, their eyes, their figure, teeth and other miniscule things. Women who other men find attractive I eventually find a miniscule flaw with. The crazy thing is that I notice my flaws just as much. (I inherited terrible posture from my father.) I know that no one is perfect on the outside.
My most recent relationship was with "Taylor." She was attractive and all my friends reassured me. However, her chin was abnormally large and I couldn't help but consistently notice it. She also bit her nails. I realize these are two small flaws but for some reason they bothered me way too much to stay with her.
I really would like some advice on this, Meredith, because I am no longer as young as I used to be and want to find someone perfect for me, but I realize I have to reduce my definition of perfect. Please help me on how this could happen.
I appreciate your help,
– MT, Winthrop
A: MT, you don't have to reduce your definition of perfect, you have to expand it. Not once do you mention these women's personalities. I have to assume that you're not really getting to know them. I have to assume that they never become your friends. Men (and women) are visual creatures and looks count for a lot, but personality and confidence can change a person's appearance. Is it possible that these women become less attractive to you because their personalities just don't cut it? Were you bummed about Taylor's chin -- or was it her chin and her sense of humor? Were you turned off by her biting her nails -- or was it that the habit never became endearing because you just weren't connecting with her?
My guess is that you're the kind of guy who's better off falling for a friend. Someone you really know. Someone whose flaws don't even look like flaws because they're a part of one big package.
My advice: Get to know people without thinking about whether you want to date them. Expand your community. See who you fall for organically. Maybe by the time you have a first kiss with a friend, you'll have fallen for her weird chin, her nervous habits, and her whole being.
And for the record, it doesn't bother me that you pick at yourself a little, as long as it's not obsessive (if it is, get to a therapist). And it doesn't bother me that your tastes are unique (I know guys who think Gisele is bony). And when we're young, we often want what we can't have. A lot of what you described is very, very normal.
But now that you're a grown-up, start getting to know people for real. The more you fall for the stuff on the inside, the better it looks on the outside. Think about how the inside is affecting what you see.
Readers? Is he really shallow or are these physical judgments about him not connecting with them as people? Are you someone who notices other people's flaws? Can you help this guy? Discuss.
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Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a new novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith here and on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.