Gabe’s big bushy red beard

Gabe's BeardMy older son, Jake, met a friend called Gabe in university residence this year. Gabe is a colourful guy, dresses like a lumberjack, and always has a prank up his sleeve.

You can spot Gabe a mile away – his distinguishing feature is a big bushy red beard.

One night while Jake, Gabe and a few other friends were chatting in the residence cafeteria, someone asked, “Gabe, if a girl you liked asked you to shave off your beard, would you?”

“Hell no” Gabe answered.

But then the group started to think a bit harder about what we “owe” our partners to be physically attractive to them. If Gabe agreed to shave off his beard, could he then expect a girlfriend to reciprocate by agreeing to lose ten pounds, dress in short skirts, or keep her hair long?

Gabe, here’s my two cents.

Keep your beard. It is clearly part of your identity. Any girl you started to date should immediately realize that the big bushy red thing is facial growth and part of the package. As such, she does not have a reasonable expectation to change you later.

The harder question is this: what if your future girlfriend loves your beard and you grow tired of it?

Does it stay or does it go?

I’d lean towards keeping it. While it is never a good strategy to try to change someone, keeping your beard may be a small price to pay to remain eye candy to the one you love.

Here’s the deal. Physical attraction is an important component in most relationships. Thankfully, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Here is some research I found interesting:
• Men place more emphasis on the physical characteristics of women during both dating and marriage. Men attribute relatively more importance to weight, body shape and overall build.

• Men are more negatively affected by the decline in their partner’s physical attractiveness as the result of aging. Their interest in sex, satisfaction in their marriage, and also faithfulness are more influenced by their partner’s aging than is the case in women.

• Marriages are more at risk when the husband is relatively more attractive than their wife.

• Women’s personal ads on dating websites emphasize their “looks” more than men’s ads, e.g., “I’m 5’4”, slim blonde…”. Men emphasize their financial success rather than their physical looks, e.g., “I am a successful entrepreneur…”. In one study, researchers showed women the face of a man and asked them to rate him on an attractiveness scale. When they showed the women the same face but with the male’s income included, women rated financially successful men as more attractive.


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