Monday, 23 April 2012

Blog 16: You can judge a book by his cover...

My friend Anna remembers very clearly the day her ex-boyfriend became ugly.

He hadn’t got fat, shaved his head, or stopped showering.

In fact, towards the end of their relationship Max had only been looking better.

Hitting the sun bed 4 days a week now instead of once.

But as Max began to meticulously mess his hair one morning, ensuring his style looked effortlessly impressive, an overwhelmingly nauseous feeling had struck Anna deep in her gut.

I don’t want to be with this man, she thought.

Anna and Max had been together for 3 years.

She first saw him out-on-the-town watching a mutual friend’s band.

He was exactly her type.

Max was standing at the bar, with all the bravado of a peacock; he had the confidence that most other guys lacked.

He was surrounded by people, each looking as if they were vying for his attention.

Naturally Anna’s competitive spirit kicked into overdrive.

I have to meet him, she instantly thought.

He was just as charming as Anna suspected.  And, as he walked her to the local taxi rank that night, she gloated at him star-struck, and thought to herself this is the one for me.

3 years later, as Max stood at the end of his bed, preening himself in the full length mirror, Anna realised she no longer saw the guy at the bar.

That tantalising image of him was long gone.

Now Anna saw a completely different person.  Hot tempered, egotistical at times, and unable (or unwilling) to do anything that didn't centre on him.

Of course Max did have his good qualities too.

He was wildly romantic and the life and soul of any party.

Everywhere he went, he went in style.

He was a smooth talker and everyone knew him.

But as Anna became more engrossed in Max’s life, she found herself becoming more like him and less like her.

No longer would she sit at home on a Friday night, cuddled up with a good movie and a glass of rose.

Max would think that was boring.

Anna stopped reading chick-lit books too, for fear that he'd criticise her choice of trashy novels.

Max would never read anything that didn't show off his vast intellect and cultural knowledge.

But the worst of it was, Max didn’t like Anna’s friends, and complained about them incessantly.

Even though they made an effort with him, Max preferred to avoid them, and often persuaded Anna to do the same.

So overtime, as Anna grew closer to her boyfriend, she grew further apart from her friends.

3 years later lying in his bed, Anna realised that what she was so attracted to physically, had never quite matched what turned her on mentally.

The guy at the bar, who knew everyone’s name, partied like a rock star, and dressed like a screen star, was not going to be the same man that wants to sit on the couch for hours on a Saturday night watching ‘The Voice’, discussing favourite pastimes and playing Scrabble.

In the months that followed, Anna tried as best as she could to change him. But she soon realised that amongst all the partying, self-indulgent splurges and arrogance, Max was being himself, and doing what he loved to do.

Anna either had to either accept that or move on.

So after endless arguments and heated feuds, they parted ways.

It had taken Anna 3 years, but she finally realised that what you are instantly attracted to isn’t necessarily what’s right for you.

Most women find themselves in Anna’s position at one time or another.

Everyone has fancied the bad boy.

I certainly have.

And after years of falling for the same type of guy I've learnt one very useful lesson:

Whilst you can’t jump to any firm conclusions, you can certainly judge a book by its cover.

And you can certainly make reasonable assumptions of one’s personality based on the outside image.

Until recently, every guy I have ever been attracted to, not only shared the same physical characteristics, but mental and emotional characteristics as well.

I now firmly believe that when it comes to dating what you see is what you get.

Seems judgmental? Yes, but when you really think about what I am saying it makes sense.

Is it really a shock to anyone that a guy who spends £200 on designer jeans is a bit more image conscious then a guy that wears Primark?

Or that the guy that makes a point of ordering Grey Goose to his VIP table gets more excited about a new club opening than your romantic night in?

The reason you are attracted to someone initially is not just about what they look like, it’s also about what you perceive them to be based on the image they are presenting you with.

At first, Anna thought Max was amazing because he was such a lotahrio, but in the end it was that attitude that she couldn’t stomach.

So if like Anna (and most other women), you constantly find yourself always ending up with the same type of guy and hitting the same brick wall in relationships, try changing that initial ‘attraction’ to the bad boys.

Whilst you will never really know someone just by looking at them, (and let me say, I encourage you to always give them benefit of the doubt at first) there are certain external characteristics that can tell you a lot about who a person is.

In Anna’s case, she was always attracted to the party-boy types. She liked men that were lothario’s because they seemed larger than life.  She was attracted to their popularity and charisma.

The problem with these party boys, however, is that they were always at the party.

Anna may be attracted to that kind of guy and the lifestyle they have at first, but at the end of the day, she has other priorities that take precedence over getting a table at the newest club.

So maybe, like Anna, you’re starting to figure out that the type of guy you are attracted to is not particularly good for you in the long run.

But can you really change what you fancy?

Isn’t that like telling yourself not to like your favourite flavour of ice-cream?

Can you really help that you like what you like?

If you ask me, I would say yes, it is possible.

How do I know? Because I have done it myself.

It isn't easy, but it is sure damn worth it.

The first thing you have to do when resetting your ‘that’s hot’ button is take a good look at the shelf life.

Ask yourself is there really longevity in this guy?

Yes, he may be cute, but imagine how he would be in a relationship.

So for instance, instead of looking at the tall dark stallion in a suit at the end of the bar who just sent a bottle of champagne over to your table, think about how many other women he has probably done this to. This man clearly just likes the chase. The charm would all be over once you were his.  Think deeper when it comes to attraction, because if he’s flashing the cash now, he’s clearly using his money as a distraction from his poor personality.

Think about the kind of guy that would make you happy in regards to being in an actual relationship.

Do you want someone smart and successful, that also puts his family and relationship with you before all else?

Then maybe the man with a girlfriend you’ve been openly flirting with isn’t for you. Instead of looking at him as a risk, a undeniable love you can’t refuse, train yourself to see him 3 years down the line. When he’s playing away from your home. If he can treat other women like that now, you’ll only worry that he can do the same to you later down the line.

Are you looking for someone who respects your opinion and values your time?

Then the guy who spends all night flirting with other women to get your attention is only going to cause more trouble in the long run. If he craves this much drama now, then he’ll probably cause world war 3 after a few months dating.  If he’s spending all his effort making you jealous now, then he will probably spend his time promoting similar ill-feelings 6 months later.

Do you want someone who is there for you through thick and thin?

Maybe the multi-millionaire workaholic isn’t for you. Instead of looking at him and seeing your fancy life style, force yourself to see a man who is so busy with work that he can’t spend time with you.

If you are trying to break your old habits of attraction, you have to out smart your heart.

You have to insert some logic into your lust.

Just looking at guy and saying “Don’t go there again, you will get hurt” won’t do the trick.

You’ll be back at his before you can even finish the sentence.

You have to start seeing a different person when you look at him.

You have to see the qualities that make him wrong for you.

At first, you’ll have to talk yourself into it, but as you keep reiterating this over and over again, it will become more natural.

Then when your perception has been rightfully set straight, you’ll finally be cured of fancying the Max, the bad boy, the partier, the high roller, and every other stereotype that is wrong for you.

If you want to find a romance novel, you’ve got to judge the book by his cover.



  1. "Max was standing at the bar"

    I've always wondered why (and indeed how) people get together in bars. For many years I tried going out "on the pull", solo or with friends, to pubs, clubs, or bars. Everything from quiz night at the local, to full-blown "underground" clubs where sex was very much on the agenda, with nothing more than one furtive snog to show for it.

    I came to realise that the relationships I did make were all through shared interests- the University drama club, scuba diving club, sunday school even. And the thing about meeting someone in a bar is that the only shared interest you know you have in common is that you're single. And even that's no longer the case once you hook up.

    So I stuck to doing what interested me, got to know quite a few single young ladies with similar interests, and am still on good terms with most (though sadly not all) of them.

    I guess the upshot is that if you meet someone in a bar, the "cover" is the only thing you can judge them by initially. There's a lot to be said for reading the foreword and the first few chapters before committing to the happily ever after.


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