Nov. 9 2011 12:00 AM

Slipping beauty & Adjusting the shudder


Q: I’m in a great relationship of seven months. My boyfriend and I never get
sick of each other. We respect each other and are there for each other,
and we talk very openly, even when we’re upset. His ex-girlfriend is
part of our group of friends. She is thin and
very pretty. I know I’m attractive, but I’m struggling to lose these 10
pounds I put on in college. Also, she’s super-sweet, and she and my
boyfriend broke up because he cheated on her.
He told her right away and felt sick about it for a long time, so I’m
not worried that he’d cheat on me. Friends tell me how much he loves
me, and he even told me he’d feel “lost” without me. Still, I get
nervous when they’re alone or talking a lot. I
haven’t said anything about her being around so much, but I know other
girls wouldn’t stand for it. 


A: You’re the one who’s obsessed with getting in another woman’s pants — being able to wear his ex-girlfriend’s skinny jeans, and not just as arm-warmers.

I know, if he’s
going to be chummy with his ex, couldn’t she please be one of those
women people charitably describe as “pretty once you get to know her”?
Instead, it seems her 10-step get-gorgeous routine involves “1. Wake
up,” while you probably feel you have to put in a half-hour
in the bathroom some mornings just to keep from scaring the dog. And
then, some evening when you’re at your glowiest (after a brief struggle
to squeeze your muffin-top into steel-belted control-top pantyhose),
you need only stand next to her to feel yourself rapidly devolving from
arm candy to arm ballast.

It would be easier if she fit the
stereotype of the gorgeous girl with the tiny lump of coal heart.
Unfortunately, she’s sunshine with legs (sickeningly long, slim legs,
with no hint of cankles). Making matters worse, they had an
indiscretion-driven breakup, not an “I’m sick of you” breakup. Whatever
could be stopping him from scampering back to her? Well, it doesn’t
sound like you’re exactly a barker, and although men prioritize looks
in women, once you’re within the zone of what a guy finds
hot/cute/sexy, other stuff comes into play: Are you kind? Does he feel
needed, appreciated, understood? Do you click as a couple —
naked and clothed? And okay, you aren’t on the short list to be an
Abercrombie model, but is every day more fun because you’re in it? 

Don’t let on how jealous you feel (it
sends a message that you’re not all that), and don’t try to control a
man by telling him what to do (it leads to resentment, secretiveness,
and rebellion). You tell a man what to do by
making him happy and by being happy with him. Your relationship may
eventually end, but if you accept that, you can enjoy the hell out of
it while you have it. For peace of mind, start
a conversation about what you appreciate about each other. Listen up
and you might get your head around the notion that he’s with you
because he’s “lost without you” — and not because he lost his directions to the skinny girl’s house.

Q: I’m an okay-looking guy, but I look terrible in photos. I am joining an online dating site and don’t know what to do about my picture. I can’t afford a photographer. 


A: Some
people’s photos look best with some clever cropping. Apparently, yours
look best if you crop out your head. Part of your problem is that you
probably think of taking “a” picture (or three) instead of doing as
professional photographers do —
taking maybe 1,000. This basically means staging a photographic
accident, meaning in at least one of the 1,000 shots, you should
accidentally look like yourself or even better.

A novelist friend of mine, Sonya Sones,
author of “The Hunchback of Neiman Marcus,” takes some fantastic photos
of her various traumatized author friends. She says people look best
when the photographer shoots from a little above them and advises
against using a flash — ever —
because “it makes people look ugly. Period.” She suggests shooting
outdoors, in the shade: “In the sun, people get hideous haunted-house
shadows under their eyes and noses, which is not a good look unless it
happens to be Halloween.” I’ll add that you should experiment initially
with different angles to find your best and try some shots in which
you’re doing something you enjoy — fishing or grilling or playing poker —
so you’ll forget to freeze and look awkward. Put in a little effort and
you could soon be posting a picture that’s more NotBadLookingGuy123
than Quasimodo456 (“You had me at ‘Hell no!’”).