Sex and the Single Mom: Looks Aren’t Everything


looks aren't everythingI once dated a tall, dark, and handsome doctor. He was so good-looking that he was on the cover of a magazine. Not People or anything (although believe me when I say he could have been) but a magazine nonetheless.

His physical attractiveness surely drew me to him, but even incredible good looks can’t hold together a relationship.

I began dating Dr. Handsome after I separated from my ex-husband. Looking back, it was probably too soon to be dating as I was not over my ex. But this man was too tempting to pass up. Maybe it was the optimist in me (or perhaps the narcissism in all of us) because when we started talking, I thought, well, maybe this is why my marriage didn’t work out; I was meant to be Mrs. Dr. Handsome.

I picked him up for our first date because he’d recently had shoulder surgery and couldn’t yet drive. He also needed my help buckling and unbuckling his seat belt, cutting his food at dinner, and then wanted to go home early because his pain meds were wearing off. Such behavior from a less attractive plumber, let’s say, may have been a turn-off, but from Dr. Handsome, it was endearing and adorable.

We went out for a few more months. His shoulder slowly healed, and I continued to overlook things that maybe would have annoyed me in someone else. I found myself nodding and smiling a lot or asking, “Huh?” because he was a low talker. His busy schedule meant he made the plans, and I had to work around them. (I once commuted all the way to Brooklyn to see him and then waited in a bar, reading a book, for almost an hour while he got a haircut).

The most egregious offense, upon reflection, was the distance he put between me and the rest of his life. I felt I knew him because we often spoke about all sorts of things (politics, past relationships, social justice, movies, and music), but he didn’t try to integrate me into his real life.

None of this overshadowed his perfect smile and the feeling I got walking down the street as his chosen mate. I started to relate to men I used to judge, like Hugh Hefner or Ice T. I never understood what they saw in their rather dim and certainly gold-digging partners.

Now I got it. A certain euphoria comes with dating someone who is incredibly good-looking. You feel more beautiful, powerful, and worthy standing next to them. That and the fact that he chose me when I felt rejected by my ex-husband was enough – for a little while.

One night, I finally removed my average-looking head from his perfectly toned butt. I was excited to spend the weekend with Dr. Handsome. I asked him Friday if he wanted to go to dinner on Saturday, and he said coolly, “Of course.” I spent much of the day primping. With my hair done, nails done, everything did – I waited. I texted him around 4 p.m., asking where we should meet. No response. I called a few hours later, and it went directly to voicemail. Finally, when the growls from my stomach drowned out the movie marathon I put on to distract me, I ordered takeout.

It was there, laying on the couch, surrounded by Lomein and negative self-thoughts, that I realized no one, not even Ryan Reynolds in The Proposal, was worth what I was feeling.

Dr. Handsome finally texted back around 11 p.m., apologizing for “falling asleep.” He asked if I could come to Brooklyn, and, for the first time, I said no. Something told me he hadn’t heard that word often because he seemed shocked. Then, I broke it off with him. It didn’t matter how great I felt when we sat across from each other at dinner.

I couldn’t be with someone who didn’t value me as much as I did them.

His sense of self, although admirable, didn’t cover the other people in his life – or maybe didn’t transfer to me. Either way, I knew I needed much more in a partner than good looks and a Ph.D. I gave up on the thoughts of being Mrs. Dr. Handsome and opened myself up to being Mrs. Average Plumber or even Mrs. Has a Great Personality Manager at The Gap.