Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Should I Date a Less Attractive Man?

Dear Jocelyn,
For several months I have dated a wonderful man who actively (successfully!) seeks to make me happy. Why I write: he does not have conventional movie-star good looks. When we started dating I considered whether looks were important to me, but since I am definitely attracted to him I focused on the fact that he is wonderful and makes me happy.

While he has always been self-conscious about his appearance I have been fortunate to have never worried too much about my looks, which makes for a weird power dynamic in this area: I even wondered recently if strangers wonder why we are together.

We have physical attraction, which is important. However, a friend once asked if my new beau was hot and I didn't know what to say: "Not according to society"? How important is it for your significant other to be found attractive by others? I love him and would like to compliment him on his appearance but don't want to be insincere.
-More than Skin Deep

Dear Skin Deep,
You are not alone in being self-conscious of the disparity of attractiveness levels. It is a common joke in our culture to wonder how a nerdy guy "scored" a hot woman, or what a handsome man sees in a homely-looking lady. While this makes for a funny sitcom plot, it is a terribly shallow way to see a relationship.

Yes, it is nice to date an attractive man or woman. Beautiful people are nice to look at. And if you were buying a piece of artwork, looks would factor most heavily into the decision. But you are not buying art, or arm-candy. You are dating to find a potential spouse. Character, goals, religion, and the like all are important factors to consider. Beauty will eventually fade, but character, humor, and a shared set of values will not.

This is not to say that attraction is not important. Attraction is very important, but (as you have found) is not necessarily based on looks. Something wonderful happens as we get to know a person—our familiarity with and appreciation for their good qualities can produce a powerful attraction.

Looks are not important when dating a person. As to how to answer a well-meaning, but misguided friend who asks if your boyfriend is a "hottie," you can take one of two approaches—super honest or super sweet. "Nope!" said with a big smile and a laugh, or "He is to me!" are both good responses. (Guess which one is which!) Both must have confidence behind the answer, and an unspoken "Don't push this!" to make them work.

For your last question, you can compliment him in whatever way you find honest. Do you enjoy his smile? His eyes? His biceps? One thing to remember is that something does not have to be objectively true (regarding looks) for it to be true for you. If he dresses in a tux and you love how it looks, tell him how handsome he looks. Or squeeze his bicep after he lifts something heavy and say how sexy he is when demonstrating his strength. Stop being concerned about society's standards, and I think you'll find you have plenty to compliment him on.

Should We Allow a Drunk at Our Wedding?

Dear Jocelyn,
I have a dear friend, whom I adore, but her husband (who is working on his sobriety for the last 5 years) got drunk last time he was invited to a party we hosted. He broke a couple of glasses and made everyone feel uncomfortable. My problem is that I am getting married in the summer and my fiance said I can't invite my friend if her husband will come too. Help! They are always together. What do I do?
-Scared of a Scene

Dear Scared,
I'm afraid that there is no easy answer for your situation. You can either just invite your friend, and have a difficult conversation with her about why her husband isn't invited. Or, you can not invite both of them, and either have a difficult conversation with her about why, or just hope she never asks. (Although she will notice, rest assured.)

Do you agree with your future husband about this decision? You said your fiancé said you can't invite them both, so is this a unilateral decision made by him, or is it something you both agree on (but just wish you didn't have to do)? If you really disagree with him, you could try to reach a compromise where the husband is invited, but someone is assigned to be a "bouncer" and keep an eye on him. (This is, in general, a good idea for weddings where alcohol is served, and guests who may have difficulty controlling their intake are attending.) Or, you could not serve alcohol at the wedding, and hope this prevents any problems.

As far as the difficult conversation, here is a rough outline: "Susie, I'm sorry, but I'm afraid I can't invite Bob to the wedding. I know he has been working on his sobriety - and we are happy for him - but given how he acted at the party we hosted, we can't risk him slipping up and causing a scene at the wedding. We would still love for you to come, but understand if you don't feel comfortable doing so."

I'm sorry for the situation you are in, and I hope you are able to find a good solution.

Is This Party For Just Anyone?

Dear Jocelyn,
We invited a very close family friend and her husband to my parents "60th" Anniversary Party. The husband could not attend. The friend asked if she could bring a friend of hers that we did not know. We told her it was a small intimate party with only family and the oldest, dearest friends. We're we wrong in saying no? The mother of our friend who was also invited got very upset that we told her daughter she could not bring her friend.

Dear Hostess,
No, you were not wrong to say no. You are, of course, allowed to have anyone (and refuse to have anyone) to a party you are throwing. In addition, when you invite specific people, they are not interchangeable with whoever they want to bring instead. If you had invited "Sarah and guest" she might have had a reason to assume she could bring whoever she wanted, but not if you invited "Sarah and Mark."

Should My Stepson Be Invited To a Wedding?

Dear Jocelyn,
I am remarried, and my husband is offended because his 22 year old son is not invited to a wedding for my niece on New Years Eve. Of course their guest list is limited, but I am wondering if it appropriate for me to ask her if she can invite my step son?

Dear Stepmother
Thank you for your question. While typically a whole family is invited to a wedding (it would be rude to invite a husband without a wife, or kids without parents), this situation is a little different because it is a stepson, and he is an adult. Has your niece met him? Interacted with him? Is he included in family get togethers? If he is typically not around, then I wouldn't expect your niece to invite him. (And I would wonder why your stepson would even want to go!) But if he is included usually, then yes, it is appropriate to ask if he can be invited.

Should I Pay For My Son To Attending a Wedding?

Dear Jocelyn,
My 20 year old son was asked to be the best man in my nephew's wedding. The air fare to travel there is 650.00. Because of the cost of his wedding, I was not invited. Is it right to expect my son to pay? He works, but he is still saving for a car. And his dad is wealthy.
-Not Invited

Dear Not Invited,
Your adult son was asked to be the best man in your nephew (his cousin's) wedding - it is up to him to decide if he can afford to travel there. While it is kind to offer to pay, you are under no obligation (and no expectation) to pay for your son to attend. I would not recommend saying you are doing this because you are not invited, since that will sound bitter. Simply say that he can decide for himself whether he can afford this trip or not.