I was out with a friend recently who had matched with two guys on Tinder. One was good on paper—the one all her friends drooled over and told her to go out with when she showed them some pictures. The other guy was a more ordinary fellow who reeled her in with some witty and interesting messages that showed he cared about her interests. She told me she had initially liked the more aesthetically pleasing of the two, but after going out with both of them multiple times, she was gravitating toward the "bad-on-paper" bloke.
“He just has more of a personality,” she says. “We have better conversation, and he’s a gentleman—and he makes me laugh.”
I was happy when I heard this because...I also look bad on paper.
And by “on paper,” I mean whatever screen you’re looking at whenever you queue up one of the dating apps or websites you’re using (I’m on all of 'em, ladies).
Who looks good on paper? The guy (most) every woman wants (in theory): tall, rich, nice job, big d*ck, etc. The guy whose physical appearance and bank account carries some real power. You know, the guy your friends will all want to have sex with, regardless of his personality.
But a lot of the time, those dudes turn out to be assholes.
Ladies, I am here to tell you there's a better way.
I'm not a particularly beautiful man, especially by New York City standards—which is to say I don’t stand out in any real positive physical way among the thousands of gorgeous Adonis types who are probably dating the women I send OkCupid messages to but never hear back from. My body is, like, average, I guess. I work out occasionally, mostly so my heart won’t explode and so I won’t get morbidly obese, but I don’t lift heavy things unless it’s for a pragmatic reason. I have a cool job, but I’m by no means wealthy. My d*ck is pretty okay?
I think these things qualify me to vouch for my ilk, my people—the dudes who at first blush don’t look like they offer all that much. The guys who just seem normal.
"I am not a particularly beautiful man, especially by New York City standards."
Now, of course not all “good-on-paper” dudes are d*cks. It’d be unfair to say so. But even if they aren’t, you may still want to give the “bad-on-paper,” or essentially more normal-seeming, guy a try.
Why? Because not having had the privilege of being the “good-on-paper” guys has taught us a lot.
We don’t look like Greek gods or make six figures a year or have the time to spend two hours a day at the gym just working on our abs. We have struggled, and when you struggle, you become stronger and develop ways to get around whatever your perceived shortcoming happens to be. And when it comes to the dating pool and life in general, we’ve had to find other ways to stand out—other ways to get people to want to date and maybe have sex with us. So we’ve learned to be engaging, to be caring, to be empathic, and even to be funny sometimes. We’ve learned to treat others the way we’d like to be treated (for the most part), and we don’t take for granted the attention or time a woman gives us. We expect nothing at the beginning of a date because any kind of affection or even agreement to see us again is something we know should be earned.
We're sort of like Avis—you know, the car rental company.
Stay with me here.
In 1962, Avis was dealing with an interesting challenge: They were the second-largest car rental organization in the country (behind Hertz), and it was unlikely that they would eclipse them in the near future. So Avis decided to own its second billing by making sure that they performed better for customers than Hertz did—mostly because they weren’t the biggest name or the shiniest car rental star, and couldn’t count on getting customers like Hertz did.
So what did Avis do? They debuted the tagline “We try harder.” It worked so well that company stuck with it for 50 years, and it remains one of the most admired ad campaigns of all time.
And just like Avis, the “bad-on-paper” guys tend to try harder. We will work for it. (But we won’t try, like, creepily hard. Not most of the time, anyway. If we do, just let us know and we’ll dial it back a little bit.)
"We’ve learned to be engaging, to be caring, to be empathic, and even to be funny sometimes."
But if you do take us to your bed, we might surprise you. Because when women aren’t instinctively throwing themselves at you because you have a hot bod or whatever, you hold yourself accountable to be good whenever you are called to action. I guarantee you that the best male cunnilingus performers out there are normal-looking dudes who worked hard at it and read the literature (or studied porn).
So don’t be too quick to pass on the “bad-on-paper” guy. Maybe give him a shot. You might not regret it. In fact, it might change your life! Because we don’t come lightly to dating. We don’t open a dialogue thinking that we deserve you. We come into it believing that by giving us a shot, you deserve our best effort.