Ask the Therapist: 'My unattractive friends can't find partners'

"My problem is this: I have two friends who would not be described as conventionally attractive. They are both longing for a partner and a family, and as we all get farther into our 30s, this is becoming increasingly problematic." Image credit: Mike Monaghan/Flickr

What Your Therapist Really Thinks, over at The Cut, takes on a (sadly) all too familiar issue: what's to be done when you're just not "pretty enough"?

A bevy of thoughtful discussion and sage advice follows, so be sure to click here and read to the end:

I want to know how I can help these two loving, worthwhile women. I am tired of seeing them suffer and want to help them to help themselves. I hope I don’t sound heartless when I say they are not “pretty” but I think their success rate in the dating world speaks for itself — they often can’t get past a first date. Please help me! - 'Desperate to Help'

You may not realize how damaging your “I feel so sorry for them” attitude is. While I have no doubt that you care about your friends, there’s a difference between compassion and pity, and if you pity them, even privately, you send them a message that’s not just damaging but untrue. Your contention, for instance, that “the fact that much of male society thinks they are not worth loving” is hardly a “fact.” Sure, the men who hit on the “very attractive, slim, and fit” women in your social circle may not be drawn as strongly to these two friends based on the dynamics of a bar. But how you go from that to the conclusion that “much of male society thinks they are not worth loving” is quite a leap! - the Therapist