Australian comedian Jim Jeffries does a stand up piece about the secret of happiness, which he claims "it's being beautiful" (it's worth finding on Netflix). He argues that on a scale of 1 - 10, 10 being the most beautiful, that 95% of people fall on a bell distribution of being a 4, 5, or a 6. It's absurdly hilarious, but it gets people to think about how we treat others and how others may also treat ourselves. That leaves 5% of the population as either a 1 - 3 or the blessed 7 - 10.
Psychology teaches that humans attribute a "halo effect" to attractive people which means people tend to think of them as more honest, kinder, and even go so far as to treat them special. This constant 'special treatment' can lead to people living in a beauty bubble where they cannot perceive being treated any other way (30 Rock does a hilarious show on this topic that's also worth checking out on Netflix). Those who live blissfully unaware of how the world works in actuality can set themselves up for ridicule, jealousy, and betrayal.
To make matters more complicated, this beauty scale works differently for men than it does for women. The women's cosmetics industry is roughly a 35% global market cap and over a third of every dollar spent goes towards beauty products (according to 2014 studies). That means about $121 billion dollars each year is spent on skin care to appear more attractive. Looking more attractive garners better opportunities for jobs or mate selection.
With medical advancements, men are spending on hair loss recovery, testosterone replacement therapy for youth and vigor, as well as undergoing cosmetic surgical procedures to improve self esteem.
Other things that raise men's attraction level are financial or political success. By raising their status many women willingly offer themselves to these men. This has been the tale of the ages and is as old as "gold digging" and prostitution itself (see Melania and Donald Trump).
Things start to get interesting when children are involved, as one of the outcomes of such an arrangement are offspring. The mother is assured provisioning by marrying up, and men are assured their lineage with more attractive DNA (women date up, men date down). Of course marital infidelity (physical, emotional, and/or spiritual) is one of the biggest destroyers of relationships as both men and women lose respect and attraction for their mates.
By providing sex and children, which biology drives both genders, women control this aspect of the relationship; however, men typically offer protection and provisioning in the exchange. Once the marriage or relationship discontinues, each party theoretically loses access to the gifts from their partner; however, state involvement has placed restrictions on the provider in that their responsibility must continue even after the marriage dissolves. This way, women do not have to be as mature or selective in mate selection because a safety net enforced by the state is available to them; however, these women are finding that their former beauty levels are no longer where they used to be and now have a much harsher social environment from which to prospect new mates.
There is social stigma from divorces, multiple divorces, and single mothers and fathers. It is less harsh for men in this respect especially if he retains the ability to generate more provisioning (many prospective women don't care). Women's social status takes a nose dive as equally attractive or higher men no longer view them as viable mates (who wants to come second or last after the children). There are men (with fewer options) that will still offer their commitment; however, most of the men are not attractive, which can lead to dead bedrooms or infidelity.
Observing from the outside, I find it most ironic that attractive young women often live in their beauty bubble and treat men with the respect of a spoiled brat using dates as cash machines or for food plans. Some even marry and continue this behavior because they assume the world will continue to treat them as they have always been treated; however, the rude awakening of aging or divorce often leaves them shell shocked and unable to adapt to this new world. Men who acquire assets and remain more or less attractive become even more desirable to the pool of prospective uncommitted women. The sad part is that many of these men have observed the farce that state marriage has become and avoid commitment themselves. Older women that did not acquire commitment or are now looking for it, offer more baggage in terms of emotional scarring, reduced or lack fertility, and the gift of their youth; however, they tend to be much more humble and treat men much better (at least until they acquire legal commitment).
I don't mean to be harsh or come off judgmental, but this is the truth! It's a sad state of affairs, but there is hope...
This past weekend, I got to attend a funeral. We celebrated the life of my cousin Manuel's wife, Sonya. She battled cancer for 5 years, leaving behind a devoted husband and two beautiful little girls. Fortunately, they were comforted by the presence of friends, family, and members of their faith community. Over the years, I witnessed the devotion each spouse had for one another which gave me hope. They genuinely loved one another and were blessed with two of the most beautiful, sweet children. I'm sure there were times when patience was tested, and self interest was put behind in order to accommodate one another. She respected Manny and it was obvious the feeling was mutual. I learned much from observing the pair. Their girls were the farthest thing from spoiled brats who are growing into lovely young women. I write this because it is important to know marriage can be a blessed sacrament without spite or resentment. Faith was the center of their family union. Sonya converted to Catholicism and grew strong in her faith more than most who are born into the religion. She put God, The Father, at the top of her marriage, then her Husband, and of course the children. Manny was the same.
The Sacrament of Marriage is the spiritual union of two people swearing before God to Love, Honor, and Obey their commitment 'till death do them part'. It's separate from the state, and operates in the spiritual realm. People who are members of their faith on paper or not affiliated at all do not enter holy sacraments with the same respect. The good news is once we learn to use our spiritual eyes instead of seeing things from the perspective of the state, we can begin to rely on God's guidance in our lives. If our heart's desire is to find a companion as Our Heavenly Father created Eve for Adam, then He will answer our prayers. It may not be in the manner in which you have imagined, but it will be better than anything conceivable.
This life is full of sorrow and disappointment, however, Do Not Lose Hope! He knows best for us and it was promised that death would be conquered through Christ. In fact, Jesus came through 10 times out of 10, fulfilling every promise He made. The strangest phenomenon that I've encountered with regard to faith is integrity. Meaning, when we encounter difficulty or obscurity do we still maintain our faithfulness? If one could know beyond a shadow of doubt the existence of Heaven, then faith could not exist just as love cannot without free will. Faith is trusting in God, our commitment mind, body, and soul.
"So do not start worrying: 'Where will my food come from? or my clothes? (These are the things the pagans/Romans are always concerned about.) Your Father in heaven knows that you need all these things. Instead, be concerned above everything else with the Kingdom of God and with what he requires of you, and he will provide you with all these things. So do not worry about tomorrow, it will have enough worries of its own. There is no need to add to the troubles each day brings."
― Matthew 31:34
PS: I stayed on an extra mattress they had set up for me in their new home in the living room with Sonya's picture smiling down from the mantle. Manny and I watched Netflix until I fell asleep as usual. Around 3 in the morning I heard the vibration of a cell phone thinking one of my friends was trying to reach me; however, when I got up to investigate it turned out to be coming from a different source. I walked around the house until I found Sonya's old iPhone and low and behold she and Manny were smiling together in an embrace on the background as music played for her 3am medication reminder. It was like she was saying 'hi' and sent me to bed with a smile.