I recently ran across this quote:
“If a man loves a woman’s soul, he’ll end up loving one woman, but if he loves a woman’s face, all the women in the world won’t satisfy him.”
It sounded good, but I kept wondering exactly why.
I started by examining my own experience. I’ve fallen in love three times—five if you include two of my own female characters. But I don’t think falling in love with characters who are essentially you counts.
My first love was a girl in high school. She was cute, but I suspect most guys wouldn’t describe her as sexy or hot. Some people thought we were mismatched because I was on the Dean’s List and she wondered who this Dean guy was, but we talked and laughed a lot. She made me feel good.
Then I had a girlfriend in college. Kind of. Actually, she had a boyfriend—but it wasn’t me. She had held onto her high school crush and installed me as the workaday stand-in. She was cuter and smarter than my high school lady, but eventually I was the one asking what I was thinking.
Then I met Mary Jo. Both of us fell fast and hard, entertaining thoughts after just a few days that he/she was The One. I will say that I did love her face. And her body. Her hair. Her clothes–all that stuff. I truly thought she was a beautiful woman in the way we most commonly mean in our society, which is to say physically. After a three-year courtship and thirty-two years of marriage, I still do.
But what did her soul have to do with it? I don’t remember thinking much about that.
I turned to the Internet, and my hasty and incomplete research introduced me to examples of sublime wisdom such as this quote from Aarti Khurana at Life Love Quotes and Sayings.com:
“Real men don’t fall in love with a woman’s body. You don’t need to have amazing curves or a flawless complexion to be defined as attractive. Your beauty is not a criteria for a man to fall in love with you. When a man loves you for your compassionate heart and your beautiful soul, then you will be the most beautiful woman on this planet just for him.”
There was more wisdom on the topic at this page, but an ad for plus-size women’s clothing blocked it out.
Another hit brought me to quotes from Christian author Stasi Eldredge, including a comment about how when God creates Eve, he calls her an ezer kenegdo, which translates not into “companion” or “helper,” but “sustainer beside him.” Dissected on God’s Word to Women.com, the Hebrew term means that God intended women to be “a ‘power’ or ‘strength’ for the man who would ‘be his equal.’”
My research, such as it was, also led me to the profane, such as this gem at Brainy Quotes.com uttered by contemporary deep thinker Paris Hilton: “No matter what a woman looks like, if she’s confident, she’s sexy.”
Nonetheless, much wisdom can come from the profane, and for that I needed to look no further than my own romance stories. In San Fernando Dreams, Douglyss—who is adept in the deployment of a profane tongue, says, “We’re all a little weird, or got some bug up our ass, or some bullshit. And if you can’t find someone to put up with whatever the fuck it is, you might as well not even exist.” A few pages later, she realizes who that person is for her.
In Palm Springs Heat, Sushma asks Clay, “What do you see in Lara Dixon?” He says that he and Lara had similar life experiences, that they shared important conversations and that “she seems to get me.” Noting that Clay’s had lots of lovers, Sushma sums it up this way: “You are saying that all of the women were beautiful, but you were looking for something more that was always missing.”
In Malibu Bride, Sushma is disagreeable, pushy and bossy—personality traits that often get her into hot water. Holt, though, loves her not in spite of those things, but because of those things. “I like it when she talks back,” he says. “It helps me keep my edge.”
So I seem to have addressed my own question before I even asked it, a sign that I really knew the answer all along. Our physical and intellectual—and even spiritual—flaws can hide the beauty in our souls. But not from everyone.
Especially not The One.