Earlier in life younger men and younger women will focus on externals. Is my boy/girlfriend attractive? Are they hip? Are they impressive? Do they dress well? What kind of job do they have? What bands do they like? Do other people think they’re cool?
By the time some life experience has smoothed off our edges a bit, both genders are far more interested in temperament than anything, because that is ultimately the quality that you actually live with. Because who really cares how attractive someone is if they make you feel ugly? And it doesn’t really matter if they’re rich if they make you feel poorly.
Has advertising and commercial aspects of society trained us to look for the wrong things? Of course it has. Because they’re not interested in showing us what we need to know. They’re interested in showing us what will convince us to buy their product. So they’ll focus on things they can sell us. But life experience will expose that those things aren’t what we will ultimately care about. Because you don’t live with someone’s looks. And it doesn’t matter how much money they have if you don’t have fun or feel beautiful when you’re with them.
In the end what matters is, can this other person forgive your mistakes, and do they treat you in a way that encourages you to be generous with them? Because the best relationships are about giving and appreciating, and they exist in a framework of forgiveness. If no one is expecting perfection, then there will be a lot of happiness. But if someone is thinking that good looks or money can save you from hassles in a relationship, then they’ve misunderstood. There is no one being saved from hassles, period. Life is really just another word for growing by facing hassles.
So when someone more mature is looking for beauty, they’ll look for a face that’s quick to smile, or a body that’s quick to dance. They’ll look for someone’s capacity to have fun, and they’re willingness to forgive others. They’ll look for optimism and humility, not ambition and power. Because in the end there is nothing to achieve anyway. We simply all just die. So how nice your house is, or what you drive, or what you wear is a blip in time.
Within a few dozen years after your death there will only be a handful of people that will even remember that you existed or who give you a moment’s thought, so what you achieve is meaningless. What will echo going forward, is the tone you set with your life. Were you a good example of happiness and forgiveness? Did you help to build a more tolerant, constructive society? Those effects will live on subtly in the people that come after you. But no one will care what you wore, how nice your breasts were, or how much money you made.
Never let outside forces dictate to you how you should be. Because no one should be any other way than the way you naturally are. Because unless you are actually being who you truly are, the people that would be naturally attracted to you won’t be able to find you.
Shine like a beacon. Let the world know who you truly are. Because that kind of authenticity is both attractive and powerful. And it will hold a relationship together with far more strength than any amount of physical beauty or any amount of wealth.
To be rich is to treat others generously. To be beautiful is to treat them lovingly. So when you’re looking for who can improve your life, look for people who look like they already know how to enjoy theirs.
Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations locally and around the world.