The Problem Of Handsome Men


I trust that this is a safe space for me to admit that I find handsome dudes terrifying to a socially obliterating degree. I cannot endure them. I cannot handle them. They are a menace, and they are everywhere, and they all own a thousand scarves, each one jauntier than the last, and I don’t know what to do about them.

To clarify, this does not refer to your Garden Variety Handsome, your Nice Smiler, your Hey That Guy’s Face Seems Good. Those fellows are hale and hearty contributors to society and I wish them well. It also isn’t a pop-sociology type of argument that Unreasonably Handsome Men are more likely to be selfish or unkind than their Reasonably Bodied counterparts. Many of them are perfectly nice, or would be if any mortal ever dared speak to them.

Nor is this a simple matter of sexual insecurity; personal desire has nothing to do with the universal problem of the Unreasonably Handsome Man. Other men, straight women, homosexuals of all stripes, unusually prescient birds – all fall stammering and silent in the blinding onslaught of the Unreasonably Handsome Man.

I don’t resent them, I am not angry, but I offer them a healthy mix of respect and fear as tribute, in the hope that they will neither harm nor approach me. Who are they? What do they want? Babes? Ice candies? Jewels? Wagons of fragrant hay and poetry? I would bring it to you, if I only knew what it was that you required of us.

The problem: You are walking down the street and see a particularly pleasant-eyed dog. You would like to say hello to the dog, but the man walking it is far too handsome for you to ever acknowledge his existence. You fall silent, like the Prophet Isaiah: “I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” What are you supposed to say to him? “Hello?” You’re supposed to use normal human words to this man who wraps his absurdly well-proportioned torso in an effortless day-blazer? Look at his teeth. They are innumerable; too many to ever be counted. Do you think a word as stinking and as meager as “hello” has ever dared to inhabit the mouth that holds those teeth?

The problem: You are trying to Gchat with your Unreasonably Handsome friend or coworker, but his Unreasonably Handsome Gchat icon is looking right at you, through the Internet even, looking at you with his thousands of beautiful eyes and his seventeen perfectly symmetrical jawbones and he knows that you’re covered in crumbs and he thinks you’re disgusting.

The problem: For whatever reasons, in some kind of professional or social setting, an Unreasonably Handsome Man is speaking to you. Perhaps he’s asking you a question or trying to otherwise engage you in conversation, when by rights he should be turning himself into a statue or commanding an army of willing and grateful space-slaves into building a crystal ziggurat of beauty. Perhaps he’s laboring under the delusion that the two of you are friends, even though you could no more be friends with this chisel-throated wastrel than you could pal around with a cold and sullen Meteor King. You sink into speechlessness and despair.

The solution: None, so far as I can tell. They might not be aware of the tongue-crushing and soul-siphoning effect they have on the potato-faced; might even feel sorry for us and our giant, clumsy hands if they did, but no matter. They cannot change who they are. We cannot all put out our eyes, or rush about hurriedly, staring at the ground, lest we come into accidental visual contact with these modern-day Medusas. There is no way out.

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    • Fiona

      Mallory! I LOVE YOUR WRITING. Also I had a crush on disney robin from the age of 4. My reasons for liking this article are manifold. I am a fan.

    • b3v

      YES. and also, love your writing. Next time someone argues it is not possible that I have no interest in super handsome men, I will show them this, as it very well explains how it’s not so much disinterest as much as complete and utter helplessness.

    • Jesse

      I once witnessed a confident and well spoken co-worker crumble to a stuttering, sweaty, bimbo mess in the the presence of such a man. It was disturbing to watch, but the lesson was well learned.

    • jacaline

      I’ve recently come in contact with (or more accurately, just realized) the best looking man I’ve ever met. I kind of convinced myself he was gay though, so it took some of the pressure off when talking. I maintain, despite your notion that they are usually reasonably friendly, that he is just way, way too nice to be so hot and actually be straight.

    • Dani

      Well until I see Tom Welling in real life, I will consider myself safe from this mythic Unreasonably Handsome Man.

    • Abstract Mannequin

      Obviously I clicked through for the Robin Hood picture (and melis) but goodness me this is accurate.

      • Madame X

        OMG when he gives Maid Marion the firefly ring…I die. I practically spent my childhood searching for a ring just like that.

    • BL

      I’m not actually trying to pick a fight or give an actual critique of this article, but more as a “food for thought” question… how would feminists/you perceive this article if all the gender pronouns were replaced with female ones?

      People are people… Hot-people are people too.

      • DreaTheGreat

        There just had to be someone that bled all over and ruin this article. Get over yourself.

    • Cate

      Disturbingly handsome men terrify me. My current boyfriend is one, and it took me almost a year of his serving me coffee to so much as ask his name, or really do more than just sare at him in what must have been the creepiest possible way. Fortunately he now has a beard that does not suit him very well, which brings him down to an ordinarily attractive level. I dread the day he decides to shave as I am not sure if I will be able to hold a conversation with him anymore.

    • Georgette

      How have you entered my brain for such moments? It was almost too painful to read, that’s how great you captured those interactions with me and anyone of the opposite sex. Sadly, there’s no solution? Oh woe!

    • Matthew McVeagh

      I’ll take the fragrant poetry and leave the hay.;)

      This amuses me because I am more used to hearing such sentiments the other way round. Focusing on and being strongly affected by looks is more typical of straight men over women than women over men. And pretty much all of the details described are known to men from the other point of view. I wish I could tell when a woman is feeling this kind of thing, it would be useful. :)

    • Naomi Kashinsky

      I’m in a relationship of almost 5 years with an Unreasonably Handsome Man.

      Handsome to the point that when we went on our first vacation together, the female TSA agents in the airport informed him that he looked like a male model. A couple of hours later, as we sat on the plane awaiting take-off, a flight attendant paused while walking down the aisle to tell him intensely “YOU have REALLY nice eyes.”

      For my part, I consider myself to be Reasonably Pleasant-Looking on my best days, but that’s about it. It took me a long time to get past this, what I felt was an enormous inequity in our relationship. Sometimes, I’m still insecure enough that I think about how some people must see us together and think “… quoi?”

      Time has made me less paralyzed by it to be sure, but for awhile, it felt like a lot of pressure to try to “keep up” somehow, even though he liked how I looked just fine.

    • Ana

      I literally LOL’d at this article as tawdry as that sounds, and that in itself is rare for me. EXCELLENT prose – and a wonderful point too! My ex of 8 beautiful years is so Disturbingly Handsome that he is Beautiful. I used to say that I could slap angel wings and a bow on him and he’d look like a Renaissance painting of Eros himself. It drove my crazy thinking my man was prettier than me for YEARS – until I realized Maid Marian had no hair. Just kidding. Disturbingly Attractive people find equally Disturbing Attractive people – it’s just one of the immutable laws of physics. Sometimes that Disturbingly Attractive quality is in the physical appearance, and sometimes – as Eros believed and was very persistent in reminding me – it lies in the heart of a person. Aw shucks he really had a knack of making me feel good about myself! =D

    • Ronen V

      This is so good.

    • Hanfsome black boy

      Wtf I’m handsome this more or less bullshit yes I have people who worship me but never I just realize his bow before me haa !

    • anon.


      If you read all this, I’M A VERY HANDSOME GUY.

      Ridiculous!! No girl talks to me cause “I’m too handsome”… HA HA HA!!