I Picked A Hot Guy Over A Good Guy And I'll Regret It Forever

He was *really* hot, though.
PHOTO: istockphoto

It’s not that Keith* was unattractive. On the contrary, he was exactly the type of guy I’m drawn to: smart, kind, funny, and a bit of a non-conformist. He was even nice to look at.

When we met one November, I knew right away I needed him in my life. Not only did we listen to the same off-kilter tunes, and read the same Russian novels, but within the first few seconds of talking, I felt like he was someone I could be safe and honest with. It took two or three hangouts before he became a close confidant. Had I been more courageous, I would have told him what I told my sister-in-law, the first week of knowing him: “I found the kind of person I should be with.”

Coincidentally, that same November, at my new job, I met Noah*. We hated each other. Because of a work-related miscommunication, he thought I was rude, and I thought he was arrogant. When one of us walked into a room, the other would quietly slink towards the nearest exit. I kept telling myself I wanted nothing to do with him. But then, I would find myself thinking about him on loop.

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The Hot Guy

The thing is, Noah was unbearably hot. I’m talking over 6-feet tall, killer smile, gemstone eyes, and taut, tan skin stretched over a muscular torso. I’m talking modeling agents stopping him in the mall, begging to get his Efron-esque features signed. I’m talking women catcalling him.

As much as I value non-conformity, even I couldn’t deny the appeal of this conventionally beautiful boy. And that’s why I found myself lurking his Instragram page.

He followed me back right away and liked my selfies. In millennial-speak, that meant it was on.

I was at dinner with some of my girls, relentlessly steering the conversation back to this “guy I hated at work.” Even though I wasn’t friends with him on social media, I somehow *ahem* knew his IG handle, and pulled his feed up. Passing my phone around the table, my girls were all supportive of my distaste for Noah, saying he seemed like a jerk. All the while, they were lingering a bit too long on his selfies, and scrolling a bit too far back in search for more. And then, the notoriously clumsy Claire fumbled my phone and did the unthinkable: She accidentally liked a photo from 42 weeks back.

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Claire and I looked at each other, mortified. We both knew, at that very moment, Noah had received a push notification stating, “Thirsty-ass Pauline Lacanilao just scrolled back almost a year and thought you looked damn good in this photo.” I took a deep breath and thought, “Screw this charade!” I double-tapped a couple more selfies, and followed his account.

He followed me back right away and liked my selfies. In millennial-speak, that meant it was on.

After that, anytime Noah and I were in the same room, we didn’t sneer at each other. In fact, we came up with reasons to draw closer. First, we just chatted about work. Then we were making excuses to run out-of-office errands together. Then we were getting drinks after hours. Then we were waking up in each other’s beds.

The Good Guy

While everything with Noah was happening, Keith and I continued to hang out. It was clear to me that he wasn’t over his ex-girlfriend, so I friendzoned myself. Still, when I told him about Noah, he got belligerent. He was telling me to end it, and calling Noah names. At the time, I figured Keith was jealous—maybe not because he wanted me, but because I had someone and he didn’t. Here I was, flaunting my night-time activities with a total babe, while he missed his ex. I brushed off his comments, but in retrospect, I see that he was right.

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Because of our unbridled honesty with each other, Keith knew so much about me. He was aware of my deepest fears, my past pains, my motivations. And he could see that I was chasing Noah for all the wrong reasons, and that Noah was taking advantage of the situation.

Growing up, I was the acne-riddled outcast. My classmates would call me by a boy’s name because of the hair on my upper lip. In eighth grade, a group of popular girls were trying to come up with the most absurd romantic pairing they could think of. One of them mentioned the name of the star basketball player. Without missing a beat, another offered my name. They pictured us together, and nearly fell out of their chairs laughing. In later years, when all my friends were having sex, I still hadn’t even held a boy’s hand. The loneliness reinforced in me a fear that I was too ugly too love.

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He was aware of my deepest fears, my past pains, my motivations. And he could see that I was chasing Noah for all the wrong reasons, and that Noah was taking advantage of the situation.

When guys finally started to notice me, the remnants of my eighth-grade self made a plea: only date hot guys. On one hand, it would show those stuck-up girls that they were wrong to laugh at me. But more importantly, a hot guy’s attention would mean that, maybe, I wasn’t ugly. And so, maybe, I could be worthy of love.

Although Noah paid attention to me, he wasn’t very nice about it. When I burned my leg on his motorcycle tailpipe, he amused himself by jabbing at or kicking the open wound. When he was in bed with me, and other women messaged, he’d respond to them. When I’d get upset about it, he’d ice me out. The worst, though, was when he told me about another person he was seeing. He said, “If I could put your brain in her body, she would be the perfect woman.”

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Was I too ugly to love after all?

I spiraled into a dark place, and wouldn’t emerge for months.

Thankfully, Keith wouldn’t let me go through it alone. He managed to lure me out of my misery-hovel by inviting me, on the hottest day of the year, to go for a swim. It was as we waded in the water that, so tenderly and supportively, Keith convinced me to seek therapy, to confront my deep-seated insecurities, and to find healing. Not only so I could improve my health and function better, but also so I could experience life and love more fully. I heeded his advice. And it was, by far, the best decision I made in my twenties.

Who I Should’ve Picked Instead

I chose the hot guy over the good guy. But this isn’t a story about how I should have picked the good guy instead. Keith and the ex he couldn’t get over, eventually married and had a baby. All three of them are important fixtures in my life. And while I admit I would have been very lucky to end up with someone like Keith, this isn’t about him.

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It’s also not about how Noah is a bad person. Under his rough edges, he has a heart of gold that I’m very privileged to have known. It’s just that I’m not the woman he wanted to be in a committed relationship with. And that’s okay.

This is about the third option. The option I regret not pursuing earlier. The option of accepting myself (acne and all!), just as I am. Of valuing my body, mind, and heart. Of finally understanding that despite the lies women are fed about who we should be—we are, even when we feel ugliest and most inadequate, already fully worthy of love. All along, I should’ve picked myself.

*Names have been changed

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