Can You Be in a Relationship With Someone Hotter Than You?

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What is touched upon, however, in this episode of Sex and the City is a fundamental truth of dating, an ever-present anxiety that everyone—model or mortal—has felt: you’re ugly. And once your partner realizes it, they’re going to leave you. Even the Sex and the City girls feel it: They sit around, drinking wine, playing cards, and talking about all the things they hate about themselves. And if you’re reading this and have never felt that, then good for you. But you’re likely bad in bed. (More on this later.)

Indeed, this idea of “punching up”—or that there’s a “hot one” in any sexual or romantic dynamic—can be ruinous. Deification and subjugation, objectification and humiliation, are only hot when both parties have agency in that dynamic, and when both parties consent to it playing out. 

But take my relationship of nine years. There is one of us (him) who is typically, by society’s standards, much hotter. He has tight abs, a great ass, and a beautiful smile. When he turns on Grindr, the messages flood in. When I do—and I am arguably in my hot phase, which will last perhaps another three months, I feel—it’s crickets. Nothing. Maybe a “hi” from a Catfish with my actual face as their profile picture some 67 kilometers away (true story). But what has been more toxic for our relationship than a disparity in where we fall on a scale of 1-to-10 is my belief that this number matters at all. 

Internalized diet culture, celebrity culture, and the crushing judgment of social media has made me question, at points, why someone like him was with someone like me. In fact, in every relationship or friend-with-benefit I’ve had, my internalized belief that I am the lesser of two hots proved to be untenable in the end. What’s been different with this one—who married me, lol—is that he didn’t believe it. He was working with a set of internalized inadequacies in the same way that I was. 

The best relationships, whether long or short, see both partners giving equally as well as differently. A one-sided dynamic in one area of the relationship—whether about who cleans the apartment, who pays for the drinks, who gets checked out the most on the street—is okay, as long as there are other one-sided dynamics that create a sort of equilibrium. We give what we have plenty of, and we receive what we need. 


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