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How do I find out whether I am attractive? I have always believed that I am plain. I try to dress well and take care of myself, but my face and body simply aren't going to stop traffic. I have a good sense of humor, am a good conversationalist, and have lots of friends. I have had romantic relationships, but not in a very long time. I chalk that up to circumstance, timing, chemistry, and (honestly) my plainness. Men are visually oriented, and I think I have an honest understanding of what society considers attractive. As a result, I don't flirt. To me, there is little more pathetic than an unattractive woman flirting as though she is hot stuff. But my friends want me to find someone, so they tell me to engage in behaviors that I don't think jibe with what I look like—dress provocatively, flirt, try to be seductive. They tell me that I am attractive, but they are either lying or trying to make me feel better. How do I find out? And does it matter whether I am objectively attractive?
I've never seen you, yet I can guarantee that you are much better looking than you think you are, and your friends are sick of your unstyled hair, your baggy clothes, your unflattering glasses, your comfy shoes, and your face untouched by makeup. Don't be surprised if they have discussed having an intervention and nominating you to be on What Not To Wear. You probably have striking eyes, or great bone structure, or lovely legs, and they can't understand why you want to go through life presenting yourself as a walking Hefty bag. I think you're protecting yourself from rejection by your own pre-emptive approach of daring any man to find you attractive. If you actually made an effort to look and act alluring, and men didn't respond, that would hurt. So you do everything you can to scream, "I am not interested in an encounter with the opposite sex!" And when they get your message, you proudly say you will not be the kind of woman who humiliates herself by using the devices of seduction. I say, listen to your friends when they tell you it's time for a makeover. That doesn't mean you have to come off like some desperate hussy. It means using the expertise of a makeup artist and a personal shopper to polish up your exterior so that you can draw in potential suitors who will then be delighted with your sterling qualities.
My husband and I have always attended Thanksgiving at his sister's house since we married seven years ago. During these gatherings, the TV is on full-blast, and the children are told to play in one bedroom. We eat at 2 p.m. sharp, and my sister-in-law is right behind the last one in line, packing up stuff and putting it away. She won't accept any help, and when I bring food, it gets handed back to me when I leave. I understand that the holidays are when you get to see family members whom you wouldn't ordinarily see, but all of his family gets together at least once a month. I come from a large family, and I'm used to kids running around, board games, music, and a table covered in food. We always had an open house, and friends came by for a great meal and good company. My family is now scattered all over the globe, but my husband and I have friends we'd love to see on Thanksgiving, and I want to have an open house myself. I would invite everyone from my husband's family, but I fear it's going to be seen as an affront to my in-laws. Should I just plan our own gathering and deal with his family's wrath? Or is what I want to do just not that important?
It would be one thing if your husband's family members never saw one another, but since you endure one of these "Here's your pie. What's your hurry?" evenings on a monthly basis, there's no reason you shouldn't inject some warmth, pleasure, and inclusiveness into Thanksgiving. Tell your sister-in-law and the rest of the family that she's been shouldering the hosting duties long enough, and you and your husband want to relieve her of this burden and take a turn. If she objects and says she's already got the children's room barricaded and the Tupperware at the ready, then say that you'll be sorry to miss the festivities this year, but that you and your husband want to have your own celebration. Say that it will run most of the day, and they are all welcome to come over when they're done bolting their meal and being shoved out the door. OK, don't say it quite that way, but you get my drift. Sure, there will probably be resentment on his family's part. But just think of how that will turn to wonder if any of them take you up on your offer and see what a gracious Thanksgiving is like.