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A recent study conducted by researchers at Eastern Kentucky University caught my attention because it has been my personal observation that women often cut slack for misbehaving men—if they consider them attractive. Jeremy Gibson and Jonathan Gore tested 170 college women by showing them pairs of male faces—one attractive and one not—each attached to a written description in which one man committed a major social faux pas and the other didn’t. The women were put off much more by an unattractive man committing the faux pas than by an attractive man doing the same thing.

Multiple times, women have said, “But he said all the right things,” when trying to make sense of severe mistreatment at the hands of a boyfriend whom they consider so attractive they want him to move in with them. One of their main problems in coming to grips with the abuse is that they can’t bring themselves to accept that the guy would do such a thing to them. They concoct excuses—brain tumors, amnesia?—for his behavior because “This just isn’t like him.” Being in denial and not accepting that the guy is a complete jerk or worse delays their getting on with their lives, sometimes for extended periods. One woman I knew was shocked when, after trysting over a long weekend in a romantic resort with a guy she hardly knew, he dropped her like a used condom. She conjured up scenarios to justify his Neanderthal behavior. About a year later, she came across his wife’s Facebook account and—shock—saw that his wife was still happily married to him. Only then did she grudgingly accept that the poetry he’d emailed her was insincere. It had achieved its purpose; it got her out of her panties without him breaking a sweat.

Let a guy she doesn’t find so handsome make an innocuous comment and she misconstrues it and excommunicates him from her friends list. The only suggestion I might have for guys women find less than attractive is plastic surgery.

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