I got irritated reading your advice to “More To Love,” the wife who went from size 3 to size 14. Your contention: She needed to lose weight because her husband couldn’t change what he was attracted to. My view?
Men are shallow because we allow them to be. If her husband is justified in not loving her for better or worse, isn’t a woman equally justified when her spouse loses his Wall Street job and she claims she can’t “push a button” and be attracted to a high school math teacher? I’m glad we’re learning about how we’re wired, but the last thing we need are all these reasons why blindly following our instincts is perfectly normal, and why any attempts at improvement are futile. Where, in your model, does rational thought come into play?
—Let’s Get Modern
What makes more sense for “More To Love”: cutting back on Fritos and joining a gym ... or shrinking herself down to nano-size, going in with a tiny screwdriver, and rewiring her husband’s DNA?
Sure, her husband vowed to love her until the earth becomes dust in some Martian’s eye. Unfortunately, you just can’t control whether you continue to love somebody. What you can control is whether you act lovingly; in this husband’s case, by subtly suggesting his wife drop pounds, not blurting out “Look, Chunkerella, I signed up for a woman who looked like a model, not a model of the new Airbus.”
There are those men who like the larger ladies. Chances are, they aren’t the ones who married a size 3. By the same token, a woman who tied the knot with some high-powered suit probably wouldn’t be too thrilled if he quit his job and sat cross-legged in sandals and a caftan, explaining that he can’t send out resumes because “it’s not part of my higher purpose right now.”
Forget marching around like some Fidel Castro of the libido, insisting that men “should” be more high-minded about what turns them on. This is not an “improvement,” it’s an impossibility. While an increasing number of people have jacket-pocket computers capable of spamming the entire Kremlin in seconds flat, psychologically, we’re all still stuck with the same old operating system we were using in cave days.
Evolutionary psychologist David Buss studied 10,047 of us neo-knuckledraggers across 37 cultures. They aren’t reading Vogue magazine in Zambia, but men there are still as hunter-gatherer hot as men here for female fertility high-signs like youth, beauty, symmetry, and hourglass figures. Women around the world (even those popping birth control pills like M&Ms) are still driven to seek high status men who show the potential to provide for the cave-lings. (Do note that “high status” doesn’t necessarily mean the richest guy on the planet. If you’re a poet, a day-trader is likely to make you hurl.)
Think about what you’re asking: Why can’t a person spot somebody across the room and tell himself, “I bet I could learn to stomach that third eye!” I know everybody wants to believe they can train themselves to lust after somebody they love. This notion of unconditional attraction is as realistic as the fuzzy wuzzy fantasy of unconditional love. Come on, if your husband hits you over the head with a frying pan, are you really going to keep the Hallmark cards coming? Or, let’s say you hate celery, but you wash up on a desert island with only sand and a celery jungle. Chances are, you’ll find a way to choke the stuff down — which isn’t quite the same as lusting for it and longing to rub it all over your body like melted dark chocolate.
This isn’t a question of what’s “justified,” but a question of what is. There’s power in knowing what the other half wants. The rational approach would be acknowledging it and using it to your advantage.
Of course, beauty isn’t only skin deep. But, what else is a guy gonna look at? And, no, money isn’t everything, but if your husband blows your nest egg at the craps table, you might find yourself stumbling over the words “my love,” and accidentally referring to him as “that bum!” It’s one thing if your spouse gets sick, but something tells me “in sickness and in health” wasn’t supposed to extend to getting sick of making an effort. In responding to “More,” I cited two studies showing that men are most satisfied with their marriages when they find their wives hot.
Maybe “More’s” husband won’t make a break for it, but if she’s trying to tell him how much she cares, perhaps she should send a more endearing message than “I’m fat, you’re stuck with me, deal with it.”