Sofia Vergara and Joe Manganiello at the 2015 MTV Movie Awards. Photo: Getty Images
Last week, Sofia Vergara–whose picture comes up when you look up “hot tamale” in the dictionary–told Vanity Fair she almost didn’t go out with her now-fiance Joe Manganiello. Vergara’s problem? Maganiello was simply too good-looking for her.
She told the magazine:
“The day that I sent the press release [announcing the breakup with a different fiancé, Nick Loeb], Joe immediately contacted Jesse Tyler Ferguson [Modern Family’s Mitchell Pritchett], like, Please, please, please tell her I want her number,” she says in the interview. “And I’m like, Jesse, no, he’s too handsome.”
While Vergara’s hesitation to date Maganiello might be confusing (has she looked in a mirror lately? Ever??) it’s hardly unusual. Lots of women cop to second-guessing the viability of a potential mate based on his stratospheric good looks.
Caitlin, an attractive and successful woman who works in finance, explains it like this:
“Extremely good looking guys are, in my opinion, rarer than beautiful women. As a result, they get a lot more attention and typically develop large egos. I find huge egos unattractive as the person can be narcissistic, self-absorbed, or less inclined to make sacrifices or compromise. Also who needs more competition? Men only get better with age so the problem is likely to get worse, not better, with time.”
Cara, another successful woman who works in advertising, puts it more bluntly: “I’ve definitely been less interested in guys that are too good-looking—my initial reaction is that it makes me think they’re going to be assholes or gay.” Assholes because, like Caitlin, she assumes they’ll have an ego, and gay, because, “I feel like gay men take care of themselves better than straight men.”
This reflects the findings from a study conducted by OKCupid, which found that while women judge the majority of men to be less than average in the looks department (harsh, ladies), they’re actually more likely to message those okay-looking guys than their studly counterparts. “Everyone has their own internal radar they use when deciding who to go out with,” says Manhattan-based relationship expert and Licensed Clinical Social Worker Rachel Sussman. “If someone is too good-looking, too rich, too successful—it might make the average person uncomfortable.”
The phenomenon, says Sussman, is by no means limited to women. “It’s universal,” she says. “I have a lot of really beautiful female clients and they say no one asks them out—a beautiful girl at a bar, maybe there’s ten guys that want to buy her a drink but no one does because they’re intimidated.”
David Coggins, a writer in New York, heartily agrees: “Of course beautiful women are intimidating. It’s natural to feel that way and [you] probably should feel that way.” He also offers up this urban legend, eerily similar to Sussman’s hypothetical: “Every man has a story about a normal friend who went up to a model and asked her out and she said yes because nobody has the courage to do it. I’m not sure I believe that, but it’s a nice thought. It gives everybody hope.” (Models at bars: like shooting fish in a barrel?)
Something similar happened to Ryan O’Connell, the author of I’m Special and a writer on MTV’s Awkward. “The dude I’m seeing now is amazing and it took me months to make a move because I thought he was out of my league,” says O’Connell. “Now, I don’t worry about that. I bought this new thing called confidence on Ebay a few months ago and it’s great.”
The difference, it seems, with men and women is that while both are equally likely to be intimidated by someone who is extremely good-looking, men’s fears and anxieties evaporate as soon as they get the green light from the object of their desire. Says Jackson, a creative director: “It’d be insane to turn down a girl because she was too good-looking. I’ve thought girls were too good looking to approach, or dismissed the idea of potentially dating someone who I considered too hot for me, but that would never be the criteria by which I’d turn someone down.”
Women could benefit from adopting a similar attitude (or, start searching eBay, like O’Connell, for that confidence.) “It’s okay to assess someone [as too good-looking for you],” says Sussman. “But I wouldn’t automatically turn them down.” Sussman likens it to getting an exciting new job that you don’t quite feel qualified for: you might feel extra nervous on the first day, but you should probably still show up.
She counsels: “If you feel like someone is out of your league, you might want to just take a moment to check in with yourself, and ask yourself what you’re feeling: Is it fear? Trepidation? Insecurity? And if so, why?” It’s important to ask yourself these questions because while plenty of extremely good-looking people are also kind and humble, you can’t rule out the possibility that it’s something about this person’s personality that’s making you feel lesser-than. However, if your hesitation has more to do with your own insecurity and fears, than Sussman says: go for it. “Isn’t that how you build more confidence?” she says. “I encourage everyone to push past their comfort zone.”
Need further motivation? Just look at Vergara and Manganiello who are set to wed this fall.