Can Handsome Men Be Faithful?

My Tuesday column is up at The Good Men Project: Can Handsome Men Stay Faithful? Excerpt:

…I identify a bit with Anthony Weiner, as I suspect quite a few men do. I was a bright, nerdy kid in high school with grades as high as my dating prospects were low. The girls on whom I had crushes considered me the dreaded “nice guy, but”—the sort in whom they felt comfortable confiding their own stories of heartache over sexy, tough, bad boys. As the pop psychologists would say, I had low social/sexual capital.

In college, things changed. I lost a little weight and got a more flattering pair of glasses. I also found a confidence that honestly seemed to materialize out of nowhere. I remember the shock I felt at 20, standing at a party, clutching a red cup of beer in my hand, and realizing that the pretty girl standing in front of me was flirting with me. Like so many guys who bloom a bit late, I went through a lengthy and regrettable period where my main focus was on seeing just how much my growing social capital could get me.
I was married and divorced twice before I was 30, and chronically unfaithful through both marriages. I wouldn’t call myself a sex addict, but like Anthony Weiner, was hungry—even desperate—for validation. The actual sex I had with women was less important than the thrill I got from knowing that someone new was willing to sleep with me. I was chasing affirmation more than orgasm. The thrill wasn’t in getting close to new naked skin, the thrill was in knowing that yet another person found me desirable. It was as if I were trying to collect evidence that I wasn’t that nerdy, awkward boy whom everyone had teased in high school.

Just as Anthony Weiner was more interested in having women praise his naked body than in seeing their nudie pics, I cared as much about being told I was “hot” as I did about sex itself…

Read the whole thing.

10 thoughts on “Can Handsome Men Be Faithful?

  1. It doesn’t sound to me as if this at all a handsome v. not handsome issue, as the title suggests. The actual content of the post seems to indicate that unfaithful men are self-centered and extremely insecure and in need of vaidation.

    I assure you there are many, many ugly men who cheat.

  2. (I guess Weiner is *really* nacked on some pictures, because he’s always half dressed on those seen in the press. )
    Anyway, i don’t think he deserves such a public take down.
    His wife should kick his ass and have a serious talk with him.
    And this might slow down his career, but there are surely other politicians with far worse dirty secrets than his.
    It’s a private matter, he didn’t his job badly by sending nacked pictures (as far as i understand politics)

    =)

  3. ” I cared as much about being told I was “hot” as I did about sex itself…”

    Mirror mirror in the mall, who’s the hottest prof of all?

  4. John, that’s come back to bite Hugo in the ass:

    http://hugoschwyzer.net/2010/10/12/you-are-so-far-from-hot-the-tiresome-fall-out-from-my-ratemyprofessors-award/

    As someone who remembers Hugo “in the bad old days” and now, I can vouch that he was very seductive and flirtatious, and now is not so at all. Without hurting your feelings, Hugo, you were always handsome but hardly drop-dead gorgeous. It was your charisma more than your looks that made you su successful. (Most of us thought you were too skinny back then, anyhow!)

    All I can say is that if this is all an act, its the greatest act I’ve ever seen. For everyone’s sake, it better not be an act!

  5. Avoiding the “slippery situations” may be the only reason I was a faithful wife for 18 years.

  6. I truly feel sorry for straight women at times. To have to even think about this nonsense within heteronormative oppression is just too tiring.

  7. I’m not entirely sure faithfulness has to do with looks, nor do I think there’s a connection between looks and the ability to bed someone. (I can’t get to the link to the full article from work so you may have addressed what I’m addressed what I’m thinking.)

    To put it simply, sometimes the most successful seducers are not the most attractive people. Flirting is a skill and if you’re good at it or it comes naturally to you, you can be less attractive than someone who is bad at it. Charisma and self-confidence can overcome a less than stellar appearance. Think back in your life – how many times have you found yourself seduced (not just sexually but otherwise) by someone who has tremendous charisma, charm, a gift for gab and a tremendous store of self confidence? Looks can only get you so far. But, if you are at least moderately attractive and have a dynamic personality, you can be a very successful seducer.

    I’m using seducer here in two senses though – the normal seductive get someone into bed sense but also of drawing people in and getting them interested in what you have to say and what you’re thinking – getting them to pay attention to you. A charming, funny, witty, charismatic person draws people and while the experience can be sensual it’s not necessarily sexual.

    Faithfulness to one’s relationships is a choice you make. It’s not a long hard slog through a jungle of sexual temptation, but rather a commitment to deepening and developing your connection to another person. More a walk in the woods than a machete swinging trek through the jungle. It’s also been my experience that opportunities don’t just presen themselves to us like weather happens to us – rather we can choose to create the environment in which they present themselves. At some level, we invite other people to see us as potential partners.

  8. Faithful and looks have very little to do with eachother at all. There are plenty of people, men and women, who are “players” as it were that would not ever, ever be considered conventionally attractive. A lot of their ability to charm people into the sack is exactly that- charm, charaisma, social skills, so on , and not looks. Also, people who are what one would consider conventionally drop dead goregous intimidate other people because of it…the whole s/he is soooo hot they would NEVER want me! thing.

    MOST people want to be able to feel some sort of click above and beyond physical attraction with people they choose to sleep with- and that click has very little to do with actual physical attraction- so I think the whole looks-faithful thing? Eh, kinda bunk. There prolly isn’t any real corolation between the two.

  9. I had an incident, early on in my relationship with my husband, that lead me to steer clear of slippery/tempting situations. For me it was a little different because I never expected the tempting/flirting to lead to actual cheating (and it didn’t). The problem was that I was surprised when my co-flirter expected that it WOULD lead to cheating, and pushed it further than I was willing to go. It lead to an awkward situation where telling my boyfriend what was going on was the simplest way to end it (it became sort of a message to the flirter like, no, I’m really not going to cheat and not into this that way). I realized that men who flirt like that with women they know to be in a relationship are likely to think it will lead to cheating and it’s better just to not get anywhere close. I now don’t flirt at all with male friends/acquaintances.

  10. There was less Poor, Poor Beautiful Me than I was prepared to find. Once again it reminds me of My So-Called Life and “The Zit” episode. This time, though, it’s when Angela hallucinates that the It girl of all the magazine covers is with her in the school bathroom, envying Angela for getting a good night’s sleep every night and telling her how lucky she is not to have a boyfriend, etc.

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