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As a woman, what have you been told over the years about what attracts men to you or not? I’m not sure if other women have heard as much as I have over the years, but I came across this article yesterday. I shared it with my husband, and he had a hard time believing it. His thought was that she must have a really great personality, but it took me a while to explain how women commonly view other women and why or why not they have a man. So we talked about this on and off for the rest of the evening, and of course my husband mentioned the infamous curve (his theory explaining the mind of men when they choose certain women over others to be in a relationship with). Let me explain that now:

The Curve: a linear, inverse relationship between a woman’s “maintenance” and her physical appearance that gives an overall view of how likely she is to be in a lasting relationship. Now by maintenance, I mean a woman’s emotional health (i.e. is she a drama queen, does she get easily distraught in situations, does she actually deal with her problems, is she passive aggressive, is she easily offended, etc) and how expensive she is (literally, does she have expensive tastes and/or lifestyle). Therefore, a woman can be physically attractive by common standards but be really high maintenance, and thus, she can be avoided by a lot of men looking to be in a relationship. A woman that isn’t as physically attractive but is fairly low maintenance can be highly sought after for a relationship by a lot of men. The point is that for most mature men seeking a lasting relationship, a woman’s level of maintenance is a much larger factor over her appearance on any given day.

Now, we both know that this curve does not reflect all men because there are some men who find certain qualities to be more important than others. But I’m sure you can find a number of guys who believe this. But I truly believe that a lot of women don’t believe this at all. I think that a lot of women fully believe that all men (if not all, most) are really shallow and stuck on outward appearances. And if you don’t believe that, you will often get the shallow advice of women telling you to focus more on your external appearance to get or keep a man. And I think that is unfortunate, but it is real common. And I’ll share with you a few examples from my life because most of the worst advice about attracting and keeping a man came from women!

Before college…

  • My mom heavily encouraged me to “fix myself up” during my teenage years. She was shocked that I had no interest in wearing make-up or jewelry at all, and she often told me that I was pretty, but I could do more to make myself look better.
  • My mom also felt like I was too intimidating to guys and that I should work harder to be gentler. In her eyes, being so intimidating was a major turn-off for most guys.
  • My mom also felt it was completely necessary for me to wear a girdle (starting around age 8) every time I wore a dress or skirt to “help my figure”. Later she mentioned that with the size of my butt, it helped to hold things in and that I would look nicer with it on.
  • I was randomly told that if I slept all over my bed at night, then I wouldn’t remain married long because no man puts up with that.

During college…

  • My friends told me that due to my trust issues with men (stemming from my father) that I would be the last person in our group of seven to get married (I moved up to sixth if someone was having a particularly bad day though).
  • Because my clothes were often baggy and big on me, some of my friends often told me of my need to go shopping and get better clothes and stuff because you can’t get a man looking like that.
  • One of my friends also mentioned often how much I needed to get my hair done (though I did her hair when she didn’t have the money).

Leading up to marriage…

  • I was told that I shouldn’t trust my husband completely and he shouldn’t know everything, that a good and responsible woman learns to keep some things to herself and not put all her cards on the table no matter how much she feels in love.
  • I was told that all men wanted a freak, so if I was going to keep my husband and our marriage intact, I needed to thoroughly acquaint myself with all things sexual.
  • I was told that because all men are prone to stray or cheat when they’re bored, I needed to get an armory of lingerie and costumes to keep my husband’s attention on me, otherwise I’m asking him to go astray.
  • I was also told that all men love lingerie no matter what they claim. Even if they say they don’t, they’re either lying or trying to make me feel better, but don’t believe him. Get lingerie and wear it.

Okay, so I hope you get my point here. I got a lot of random advice from women, largely, about being attractive to men, keeping a man, and keeping a marriage. The most useful advice I got as a teenager actually came from my male cousin who told me the difference between the girls guys just date and the women that guys want to marry. According to him, I was the “wifey” type, and he honestly told me that it would be a while before I guy pursued a relationship with me, not because I was unattractive or anything, but because any guy could pick up on the fact that I was not the “casual relationship” type of girl and my qualities would make me a great wife one day. He’s advice was for me to simply be patient and wait for guys to mature.

To this day, that was the most accurate advice that I was ever given. I had tons of male friends throughout college and afterwards, even as coworkers. During my college years I threw my girdle in the trash and refused to wear it ever again. I chose not to wear make-up (unless it was a real serious occasion) but decided to take care of face instead. I learned how to care for my hair better without going to a salon. I remained my usual self even if some guys thought I was intimidating because I knew for sure that I would rather be alone than be with a punk. When I had the money I might have brought myself an article of clothing, but I wore what I had and accepted the fact that I was poor and that it was okay if I looked like it. Preparing for marriage I never ever brought a single piece of lingerie, preferring to believe my husband when he said he didn’t like lingerie at all. He literally said, “Just show up naked.”

All in all, I learned that a lot times women can give really well-meaning but bad advice when it comes to relationships, men, and what they find attractive. I mean, once I moved to Atlanta, I couldn’t go anywhere without some random guys trying to holla, and they didn’t all look creepy either! LOL!!! But seriously, that article made me think a lot about the foolishness I’ve heard over the years and why women will put down other women because of superficial reasons. It’s sad and hurtful, and a lot of women don’t realize that their comments and “advice” can impact a woman’s perception of herself for many many years, and I can personally attest to that.

Do not let your adorning be external – the braiding of hair and putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear – but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. – 1 Peter 3:3-4

I put this verse in here because that is my point with all of this. Now, I don’t know the eternal state of the girl in the article, but I can speak for myself. It took me a long time to realize that most mature men are not as focused on the external things as much as they are focused on a woman’s heart, personality, and character. I am not saying that the external doesn’t matter at all, because we all know that’s a lie. But, for most men, it doesn’t matter nearly as much as we think it does. I mean, my husband saw me with my hair looking crappy for years, dressed in baggy jeans and over-sized t-shirts. But when I asked why he kept talking to me, he said it was because I was down-to-earth, had a great sense of humor, wasn’t easily offended, and I was actually friendly, not walking around stereotyping every man I see because of some tragic event in my past…..just being honest here. In his eyes, that is what made me much more attractive than the rest of my friends and why he still prefers my company today.

So my point with all of this is a couple of things. First, I think it is important to take care of yourself. Be healthy and take care of the body God has given you. You can’t neglect it. Second, realize that if you want to know why guys will or won’t approach or have a relationship with you, ask a couple of honest male friends (several of them) and trust the answer they give you. They are far more reliable than any woman in your life, I’m almost certain of that. Third, above all, realize that God is more concerned about your inner man and your heart. Likewise, a mature, Christian man will be after the heart of God and will likely be concerned about the same things. Fourth, trust God with the timing of your life and how all things work out relationship-wise. I really believe that God will not allow His children to be ashamed for trusting in Him, and He will work all things out for your good in being conformed to the image of Christ. You just have to trust that His plan is for your best.

Finally, with everything I’ve said here, I really want to make this note. I honestly do not believe that every person is meant to be married. I know a lot of people would beat me over the head for that, but Christ spoke of this Himself. In Matthew 19, He mentioned that some people were eunuchs from birth, some made by men, and some for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. That means that there will always be some people who are content to not be married, and have generally always been like that. There are people who will not be married because of external forces (maybe no one was interested or they have been victims of serious violence). There are some people who will choose not to marry by their own choices, and there are some people who will choose not to marry for the sake of the gospel. Whatever the case is, I know that God gives an abundance of grace to all men that perfectly fits and fulfills their needs. It just takes constant humility and dependence on Him alone. But I just wanted to make sure I mention that too because so few people actually do say that or will admit.