Over the past couple of years, while doing publicity for HOW TO PICK UP GIRLS and HOW TO TALK TO WOMEN, I've been a guest on a fair number of radio call-in shows. The question that invariably comes up more than any other is, "Yeah, but doesn't a guy have to be good- looking?"

Of course, I always answer that being good-looking is one of the least important ingredients in being appealing to women — in fact, a too handsome face can even be a detriment — but I can tell my listeners aren't really buying it. "Thank you, Eric," they say politely. "You've really made me feel better and now I'm really going to call up that great-looking girl in the condo next door and ask her out.” But their voices rarely resonate with the ring of true confidence, and I've often wondered how I can make men understand how truly unimportant it is for a man to have one of those much envied pretty-boy physiognomies.

I guess they see too much evidence to the contrary. After all, as early as eighth grade, or maybe even fourth grade, or maybe even kindergarten for Christ's sake, little girls seem drawn to little boys with those perfect Ken-doll faces. And in high school the boy voted best looking never has any trouble getting dates. Girls, in fact, seem to throw themselves at him.

And, of course, when we were teenagers we all had a handsome friend who never once heard the words, "No, thanks, I'm going to sit this one out."

So then where do I come off telling you that looks are relatively unimportant?

Because it just so happens to be the truth. Yes, of course, young girls are drawn to the pretty boys of the world. It's almost like being drawn to another girl. There's something so pre-pubescent and unthreatening about it. And it makes us jealous. How easy it must be to just stand there and have girls cream in their pants for you!

You don't have to be clever, you don't have to be interesting, you don't have to be funny or entertaining. And — what makes us most envious — you don't have to take any chances. You don't have to face the threat of rejection.

So, instead of thinking, 'Oh, well, tough luck. I didn't happen to be born with one of those faces, so I'm just going to have to do a few extra push ups, hop in the shower, and then jump on the phone and dig up a date,' men become paralyzed by a sense of the unfairness of it all. Their fantasy of how easy it would be if only they'd been born with a beautiful kisser overwhelms them. 'What's the use?' they think. 'Even if a great-looking girl would go out with me, she'd rather be with someone better looking. I'd only be a compromise.'

Yet think of all the guys you know, the ones with big noses and ears that stick out and receding hairlines and pitted complexions, who date and marry terrific women. If looks count so much, how come three of the most beautiful women in the world, Christy Brinkley, Julia Roberts, and Paulina Porzakova (or however you spell her last name) have fallen for three guys, Billy Joel (yeah, yeah, I know they're getting divorced but she fell for him at least hard enough to have married him for ten years), Lyle Lovett, and Rick Ocasek of the Cars, who could hardly, at least in the traditional sense, be thought of as anywhere near good-looking?

Go ahead. Explain it.

'Yeah, but all three of those guys are rich."

Wait a second. Are you going to tell me that these three women, who, I suspect, are quite wealthy in their own right, fell for these guys just because they've got money? If it was money they were after, I'm sure there were business guys out there with hundreds of millions more than Joel, Lovett, and Ocacek who would have paid anything to marry Christy, Julia, or Paulina.

No, I submit they fell for them because each is a talented, focused, accomplished man who had the strength and determination and vision to go out into the world and get something done. I submit that it is this trait a thousand times more than looks that has appeal to women. And, in fact, the large noses and ears that stick out and too thin faces and kinky hair that we laugh at, are the very things that give these men character, and become the very essence of their appeal and sexiness.

So, if you've been sitting around for the last ten years bemoaning the fact that you weren't born with the features of a male model, get over it. It wasn't in your genes. Deal with it. Realize, in fact, that a pretty boy's face can actually be a detriment. When you're a kid it can lead to your being passive. 'I don't have to be interesting. I don't have to be aggressive. Girls ask me out.'

As you get older, and by that I mean two years out of high school, it starts to actually physically lose its appeal. Women see it as feminine. For some reason, a pretty boy's face can create suspicion, distrust. I think it's one of the things that make people so squeamish about Clinton.

Understand, right now, that as a man, particularly as an Ironman, it's not your role to sit around passively and be admired and pursued for your beauty. That's a woman's job. Your job is to get the hell out into the world and be strong and accomplished, to work hard, to expect a lot of yourself, to be brave, to be fit, to be successful, to be honorable, to have character, to make money, to acquire knowledge, and to take pride in all this. It is the combination of all these things that creates your appearance.

And if you succeed at what I'm prescribing, rest assured, women will like your appearance just fine. In fact, they'll go nuts over it.

I'm not exactly sure why I feel this way, but I'm fairly certain most great Ironmen weren't born with silver spoons in their mouths.

You could argue back that it stands to reason since most people aren't born rich. But it's more than that. And I think it has to do with the fact that an Ironman is forged out of hard knocks — overcoming problems, tough times, plenty of rejection, and dealing with harsh realities. Money cushions. It gets you braces and nice cars and apartments and personal trainers and beautiful clothes, the very things that can help you be more attractive to women without your having to work at it.

The Ironman has earned his attractiveness, his character, his inner fortitude. That's what makes him so steely. He's been stressed and has come out the tougher for it. This isn't to say an Ironman can't have a great deal of money. A fair number of Ironmen have become immensely rich. But their wealth wasn't something that was handed to them. Using many of the principles laid out in this book, they went out into the world and won their wealth. Through hard work, patience, stamina, and a solid, down-to-earth approach to getting things done.

Why bring all this up? Because I don't want you hiding behind the excuse that women are only attracted to men with money. Yes, of course, rich guys can "buy" their way into a relationship. And, God knows, some women will fall for a man just because he's loaded.

But the truth is women are equally drawn to men of great personal quality. Men who have integrity, who are loyal, who haven't been pampered, who are making the most of what they're born with, who don't use money to show off, who understand the value of money, who have a sense of perspective about material things, who know the meaning of hard work, who know how to save, perhaps slowly, but steadily nonetheless.

No, the Ironman wasn't born with a silver spoon in his mouth. And he's proud of it. What he achieves in life he's earning on his own. And to women that's ultimately the most attractive trait of all.


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