Wow! Hot chick! But why is she going out with that monkey face?" "Such a good looking boy, what did he see in her? His parents could have found him better looking girls." How often have we heard these lines? Or similar ones. Be it friends, relatives, acquaintances or even strangers; they take it upon themselves to pass judgements on how someone looks and how she/he would have been better off with someone else. And while we claim in loud voices that it really does not matter what our partner looks like, in reality, it does.
Good or bad, we get affected both ways. "And how!" says Mumbai-based psychologist Seema Hingorrany. "It is a problem zone for many relationships. I have seen many relationships fail because either of the partners is better looking," she adds. Both parties – say experts – suffer just as much.
A complex problem
In a society where good looks and fair skin are some of the essential components of a person’s self worth, one’s confidence level drops by 50 per cent when these first two qualifiers become ‘not applicable’. "Add to that comparisons made by ‘other’ people and you. If siblings can be compared and discriminated against, the spouse definitely will be," says psychologist Namrata Shah. "This leads to huge complexes. The not-so-good-looking partner generally tends to go into a shell. From avoiding social contact with the outside world to blaming the better looking partner for all his/her misery, they do it all," adds Shah.
In the negative zone
Looks or the lack of it can make love generate negative emotions. "A low confidence level immediately leads to insecurity," says Hingorrany. "And that can spell doom for any relationship. Obsession, possessiveness, jealousy and casting aspersions on the other partner’s loyalty all manifest from it."
Sometimes, people feel that being ‘bad looking’ is their fault. They tend to feel guilty about it and go out of their way to grab attention from others and from their partner, say experts. In the process of over compensating, they lose their self worth. Software engineer Prashant Kumar, who went through the exactly same situation, says, "I always knew I was ‘bad looking’. So when I started dating this pretty girl, I went nuts. I was ready to do anything for her. From serving her food, carrying her bags to enduring her tantrums, and it wasn’t out of love. It was more out of fear of losing her. My confidence level was zero and it seemed like I was constantly pleading her to not leave me." All this did not stop Kumar’s girlfriend from walking away. Her reason: He was a puppy and she wanted a man!
On a guilt trip
While one person in the relationship goes through his/her own set of insecurities, the other (the good looking one), more often than not bears the brunt of it. Your better looks in comparison to your partner may end up being your biggest dampener.
Homemaker Sandhya Mishra could never understand how her looks, that her husband once loved, could become the bone of contention between them. "My husband isn’t very good looking and I never had a problem with that. But he would make his displeasure very evident every time somebody complimented me. Every time, I dressed up for a party, he told me I was doing it just to make him look ugly. I stopped dressing up. Now I wear the shabbiest clothes possible so that he doesn’t feel bad," says Mishra. That wasn’t all. Mishra even quit her job as an interior designer to assuage her husband. "Peace at home is very important. Damn my looks!" she says.
The ‘Social misfits’
Mishra may not care for looks, but there are others who react differently, especially when it comes to networking in real life or online. "Having a good looking partner seems to have become a greater necessity now that we have ways to show them off on social networking sites," says Hingo-rrany. "Many people feel embarrassed to upload pictures on Facebook or Twitter because they feel their partner is not good looking. Others avoid going to social dos with their partners, asserting them as social misfits."
There’s a way out: Here’s how to cope
Sadly, today we have to accept that looks do matter and that most of us don’t look like Angelina Jolie or Brad Pitt. That’s all right. Start by gaining some confidence. There’s more to us than just looking good.
Nurture your talents and don’t let them go to waste. Explore all possibilities and pursue whatever you are good at.
You don’t have to know it all, but grab a book and improve your knowledge base. Knowing what is happening around you won’t hurt you. It will make you smarter.
Stop wallowing in self-pity. Since you can’t do much about your ‘bad looks’, learn to laugh at yourself. Only that will stop others from poking fun at you.
Get the basics right. Take a bath, wear clean clothes and be presentable.
From HT Brunch, January 29
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