Shrink Rap: Importance Of Perceived Attractiveness In Relationship

A Telluride local, Dr. Paul Hokemeyer is an internationally recognized expert on treating the clinical issues at the nexus of relationships and behavioral health. (Scroll down for more on Dr. Paul.)

You might be surprised at what a relationship expert has to say about how much “looks” really matter, namely Dr. Paul, who was interviewed by Julia Malacoff in

Dr. Paul Hokemeyer

Dr. Paul Hokemeyer


Attraction is a huge part of romantic relationships—duh. One thing you maybe haven’t thought about? How “perceived attractiveness” affects relationships. Perceived attractiveness is exactly what it sounds like: a subjective opinion about how physically attractive someone is or isn’t. While it’s obvious that what the people in the relationship think about each other’s attractiveness is super important, you’ll be surprised to hear that what outsiders think actually plays a role, too. Just ask Jenny Slate. (FYI, she’s one of nine female celebs who got candid about sexual health.

The beloved indie actress was in the news (or should we say gossip columns) last year because of her very high-profile relationship with actor Chris Evans (aka Captain America). They’ve since broken up, but she recently opened up to Vulture about why. In the interview, Slate talks about what an amazing person Evans is, but says that ultimately, they were too different personality-wise to make things work long-term. Well, that, and there was some added pressure involved with dating a guy that the *entire* world thinks is pretty much the hottest person on earth. At first, she was surprised that Evans was even into her, saying that “eventually, when it was like, ‘Oh, you have these feelings for me?’ I was looking around like, ‘Is this a prank?’ I mean, I understand why I think I’m beautiful, but if you’ve had a certain lifestyle and I’m a very, very different type of person—I don’t want to be an experiment.” Fair enough. Self-confidence is important and it sounds like Slate has plenty of that, but when two people come from different backgrounds or social stratospheres, there can be an adjustment period when they’re first getting together.

Slate also shared what *really* pushed the relationship over the edge, and, warning, it’s a total bummer. “If you are a woman who really cares about her freedom, her rights, her sense of being an individual, it is confusing to go out with one of the most objectified people in the entire world,” she told the entertainment site. Plus, she believes that in Hollywood’s eyes, she’s not perceived as being in the same “category” as other actresses Evans had dated previously, like Jessica Biel and Minka Kelly. “I’m considered some sort of alternative option, even though I know I’m a majorly vibrant sexual being.” Oof. That made us wonder: Is this issue of different levels of perceived attractiveness something non-famous people deal with in relationships? (It’s hard not to compare yourself to celebrity beauty standards, but here are 10 refreshingly honest celebrity body confessions.)

The answer is a resounding yes. “It happens all the time,” says Paul Hokemeyer, Ph.D., L.M.F.T.  “Typically one party in a relationship is seen as more attractive, either emotionally or physically,” he explains. When you think about it, it would probably be really hard to find someone who is your absolute perfect match physically and emotionally, right? Plus, aren’t things like that totally subjective, anyway?…

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More about Dr. Paul Hokemeyer:

Dr. Paul is frequently quoted in a host of media outlets including The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. He serves on the panel of experts for the “Dr. Oz Show” and is a Fox News analyst. Dr. Paul served on the board of directors for the New York Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, is a clinical member of the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, and received his certification as a clinical trauma professional. He also holds a law degree.

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