Carolyn Hax is away. The following first appeared Nov. 12, 2003.
Dear Carolyn: Why are all nice girls ugly and all the pretty girls not nice? (Though I suppose it's true of the guys, too, but personally I'm less interested in them.) Someone once explained to me that pretty girls get so much attention because of the way they look that they never needed to be friendly, while the ugly girls know the only way they'll get attention is to be charming. I hate buying into these kinds of generalities, but I must say, as a 20-something on the front lines of the dating war, there seems to be a certain truth in it.
Washington: So, being female, I’m either ugly on the inside or ugly on the outside.
Same to you, cowboy.
Your theory, at least, is both untrue and ugly throughout, and your disclaimer doesn’t impress me. Does attention come more easily to people who are born beautiful, and does that stunt their character growth? You could argue that. But if there’s a generalization to be made (and then insincerely lamented), maybe it’s that pretty women develop defenses against relentless attention from guys who judge them solely on looks. Gets sloppy, that there battlefield, doesn’t it?
If you want genuine kindness, then show genuine kindness, in venues where that has some value. Otherwise, don’t complain when you go out and get what you get.
Dear Carolyn: Three weeks into dating a guy, how do you know if he is after a relationship or just some bedroom fun?
D.C.: Oh, oh, I know this one! Decline to be a source of bedroom fun until you’re confident he wants a relationship. If that’s what you want from him.
Sound like your granny? Maybe. But only if your granny believed in making choices based on immutable human law instead of fungible social mores. If you want to be treated a certain way, which approach makes more sense: insisting on it and then backing that up with your actions, or putting it entirely in someone else’s hands and hoping fretfully for the best?
Dear Carolyn: How do you know if someone has "changed"? My boyfriend used to belong to a naked hippie co-op and now he's an "I [heart] globalization!" MBA student. I don't mean to generalize (there can be naked business jerks, too!), and it's not as pat as saying his politics are different, but there are other manifestations — less time and consideration to "old" friends and to me, less caring about issues he used to care about (feminism, environment, etc.). Should I be more open-minded? He doesn't think he's changed and says I should be more understanding.
— Bay Area, Calif.
Bay Area, Calif.: So, overboard liberal goes overboard stiff? I’d say he’s changed . . . not at all.
Our choices may define us, but that doesn’t mean you can know someone by parsing each little choice. Step back, and what do you see? I see a guy caught up in getting caught up. When the MBA fury fades, expect some other extreme will be next. NASCAR, perhaps, or the lead in a drag cabaret.
Look past the surface traits and prevailing breezes, see who he is at his core, and then ask if you’re really in love.