Your per­sonal worth doesn’t hinge on whether you per­fectly match a con­structed stan­dard of beauty

IN Magazine - - RELATIONSHIPS - By adam Se­gal

I met my boyfriend at my reg­u­lar cof­fee shop, where I had no­ticed him sev­eral times be­fore and was stunned by how good-look­ing he is. He ap­proached one day and asked me out, and we’ve been see­ing each other for four months now. I of­ten feel like this can’t be real—he is kind and in­cred­i­bly at­trac­tive, and it’s hard to imag­ine what he sees in me. There are those ‘out of my league’ guys who I wouldn’t even con­sider pur­su­ing and he is one of them. It’s not that I think I am hideous, but I don’t think of my­self as hand­some and can’t imag­ine why some­one like him would be choos­ing me. I feel mis­trust­ing of his in­ten­tions and am wait­ing for some­thing to blow up in my face. I’m self-con­scious when we are out in pub­lic and can tell that other peo­ple are ques­tion­ing what some­one like him is

do­ing with me. Can you help me out?—Mario Dear Mario: There is no doubt that we live in a world that el­e­vates peo­ple who re­flect a cer­tain no­tion of beauty—and this has an ef­fect on all of us. it does, how­ever, sound like you have an es­pe­cially strong ten­dency to put men on pedestals—above your­self—when you think they are bet­ter look­ing than you. if you don’t find a way to shift this per­spec­tive, your guy is al­ways go­ing to tower above you and you will feel like all of the power rests with him.

i won’t ar­gue that you are just as hand­some as he is be­cause i don’t think that’s the true an­ti­dote here. For you to re­lax into this re­la­tion­ship and truly en­joy it, you will need to rec­og­nize that your per­sonal worth doesn’t hinge on whether you per­fectly match a con­structed stan­dard of beauty. i’m not sug­gest­ing that this is easy to do, con­sid­er­ing how much pres­sure we can feel in the gay com­mu­nity to stay youth­ful be­yond our years and carry around a pack of teenage mu­tant abs. But be­yond the im­me­di­ate so­ci­etal pres­sures, there’s a good chance that your sense of ‘not enough-ness’ goes way back and it will be up to you to sort out how this be­lief got in­stilled and whether you are will­ing to shed it—no mat­ter how com­fort­able it has be­come.

This won­der­fully hand­some and charm­ing man isn’t strug­gling to find you at­trac­tive—you are the one re­fus­ing to let this re­al­ity in and con­sider that the world is see­ing you through a dif­fer­ent lens than you are see­ing your­self. The gift of this new re­la­tion­ship—if you don’t run for the hills and the safety of your self-loathing iso­la­tion cham­ber—is an op­por­tu­nity to let go of a sense of un­wor­thi­ness and con­sider the pos­si­bil­ity that noth­ing was ever truly wrong with you.

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