The Handsome Man-Ugly Woman Couple Syndrome

I was participating in a mobile conference which included question and answer periods, and I noticed an odd couple standing to my side. He was youngish and good-looking — most women would agree on his physical attractiveness — and his wife was a snout-nosed, inbred-looking, stringy-haired, big fat pig dressed in sweatshirt and ill-fitting jeans. In other words, the typical American woman. I assumed they were married because I saw their rings and she had her hand on a stroller with an infant tucked away in it.

What abomination is this! I thought. But then the reason became crystal clear after only a few moments watching and listening to them interact.

Speaker: Any questions?

Big Fat Pig: [nudging her hubby with her elbow] Honey, remember…

Handsome Husbandry: [tentatively raising his index and middle finger, and haltingly talking] I have a question… I have a…

Speaker: Yes?

Handsome Husbandry: [his question-asking hand lingering in mid-air, other hand stuffed in pocket] What did [X] bring to the event that caused [Y] to happen? It seems like.. it seems as if…

As he asked his question, he kept looking over at his wife — in fact, staring at his wife more than the speaker, although he was ostensibly addressing the speaker. One would be forgiven for having the impression that he was seeking constant real-time assurance from his wife that his question was acceptable for public discourse. Nervously shifting from one foot to the other, leaning into his wife, gazing downward when the speaker responded to him, his body language was so beta it was painful to watch. No, it was repulsive to behold, almost as repulsive as the visual effrontery of his wife’s blubbery carcass.

The wife, meanwhile, assumed the posture and countenance of the alpha male. (Never trust a power vacuum to be left unfilled by man or woman.) She looked straight ahead when her husband was simultaneously asking his question of the group leader and craning his neck to her for approval, and she never once softened her expression into a sympathetic, let alone loving, smile at him. (Some men go through life never knowing the exquisite pleasure of a woman’s appreciative gaze of admiration.) There was no unspoken, feminine job well done crease of the eyes on her porcine face. Just stone cold indifference, spiced with a hint of contempt.

Yep, like I said… CRYSTAL CLEAR.

It’s illuminating to compare our reactions to different mismatched couples. Think about what you say to yourself when you see the following pairings (remember that you have nothing to go on except what they look like):

Handsome man with beautiful woman

All is right in the world. You infer the man has alpha characteristics to complement his good looks, and he has cashed that in for a hot babe. You would be surprised, were you to talk to him, if he wasn’t charming and a bit arrogant. You do not doubt the woman’s judgment.

Ugly man with ugly woman

All is right, if depressing, in the world. You infer the ugly man has beta or even omega characteristics, and that an ugly woman was the best he could do. You assume the ugly woman resents him for having to settle, but knows she has no other options. Love between them is less about passion than it is about task delegation and avoidance of suicidal loneliness.

Ugly man with beautiful woman

Wow, he is shooting out of his league! But then, thinking on it a bit, you recall that you saw quite a few couples like this mismatched pair during the week. It’s less rare than popularly imagined. You may ask yourself “What does she see in him?”, and from that you infer the ugly man has compensating alpha attributes to snag such a hottie — maybe he’s wealthy, or slick, or funny, or a dominating asshole, or some combination of each. You assume this ugly man has options to be able to choose a beauty for a girlfriend.

Handsome man with ugly woman

Whoa, what is he thinking?! An uncommon sight, (occurrence less frequent than its polar opposite), you presume the handsome man has some debilitating personality flaw — maybe social awkwardness, or shyness, or micropenis — that prevents him from fornicating with his true potential. Unlike the mirror image couple of the ugly man with the beautiful woman, you do not give the ugly woman the benefit of the doubt in assessing why she was able to catch a handsome man. You simply conclude, reasonably, that the handsome man is not the alpha male on the inside that he looks like on the outside, and therefore the ugly woman is not really dating out of her league. There must be something wrong with him, you think.

***

The last mismatched pairing is the subject of this post because it so powerfully illustrates a fundamental tenet of game: a man’s looks are of limited utility as a measure of his alphaness and, hence, his attractiveness to women.

When we see couples out and about we usually resort to sizing them up based on immediately discernible criteria like looks and style. This judgmental shorthand works well on women for whom looks are their most salient sexual currency, but shows its limitations as a method of discerning a man’s dating market value, as exemplified by the couple in the story above.

This is why most people have a tendency to assume the best about ugly men who pair up with beautiful women, and assume the worst about handsome men with ugly women. There is an instinctive, deeply primitive understanding chugging away behind the prefrontal cortex in every one of us that women sexually respond to a suite of male attractiveness traits, of which looks are only one desirable male quality. It is therefore not inconceivable to most non-brainwashed observers that an ugly man might have other characteristics that appeal to a beautiful woman on his arms, or that a handsome man might be crippled with weakness and self-doubt that constrains his ability to attract no better than a big fat pigwoman.

Contrast that instant appraisal we all have of the men in mismatched pairings with how we think about the women in such relationships. A beautiful woman with an ugly man does not have beta characteristics; she is simply drawn to other attractive attributes in him which we are not as privy to as his looks. (E.g., He must be a rich/famous/funny/charming dude!) An ugly woman with a handsome man does not have positive compensating alpha female attributes; she is simply settling for a beta who happens to look good. (E.g., What’s wrong with him?)

In the mismatched couple I witnessed, it was clear that whatever good will or tokens of desire that the handsome man had inspired in his pigwoman were completely squandered by his beta behavior. It was easy to see by her loathsome demeanor that his looks no longer held — if they ever did beyond the first couple of dates — any sway over her feelings for him. But being the big fat pigwoman she is, she knew she could not do better.

And that is why the generational increase in human beauty is a slow, painstaking process, punctuated by tragic reversals to a sloping brow norm (see: Appalachia, Detroit). Handsome betas are polluting the gene pool with pigwoman blood.

Maxim #59: We tend to defer to looks as a judgment of a man’s sexual market value because that is what is most easily observable given situational and time constraints, but a man’s looks are only one male attractiveness trait among many that account for his desirability to women.

Corollary to Maxim #59: A woman’s sexual market value is more accurately judged solely by instant appraisal of her looks.

The next time you see a handsome man with an ugly woman, before you scratch your head in confusion remind yourself that you are not seeing the whole picture. A beta male’s soul is not always judged by his cover.

Then parade your hot girlfriend in front of him and his pigwoman. Hopefully, it will ignite a spark of manly fortitude, and his sack will grow three sizes that day.

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