Not so long ago, I was this shy kid who didn't get to make a lot of friends when it came to the opposite gender. One of my motivators in meeting girls was because they were pretty. I'd probably give my heart to the first cute girl I met. And the next. And the next one after that. I couldn't imagine committing to one girl, because I found a lot of girls pretty (but thankfully, I was honest; so when I was you're cute or pretty, I really mean that, and it's not a feeble attempt at flattery), not that I had any luck when it came to courting (or that it had reached that stage). More often than not, I'd gather my courage to introduce myself to a girl because I found them beautiful, and had intentions deep down inside to ask them out. But of course, we were just friends.
Now whenever I met a girl, I'd be looking at her on two levels. The first level is how other people perceive her. For example, when I was younger, I didn't find Chinese girls attractive. They were blech! to me. But of course, the rest of the population didn't share my opinion. And hey, I wanted to impress the rest of the world as well as myself. So it is possible that you're a beautiful woman and the world sees it so, but not for me. I mean an example of a celebrity I don't have attractive is probably Ara Mina. But hey, a lot of Filipinos drool over her. And because of that, in a hypothetical situation, I probably wouldn't mind being around the likes of her. Perception number two is how I perceive the girl. I mean we all have different tastes, and some people find other people more attractive than others. I have a friend, for example, who has a fetish for skinny, Chinese-looking women who wears glasses and/or braces (and the joke was that if I were female, he'd be courting me). And so, I find particular girls more attractive than others, even if the rest of the world doesn't see it that way. These type of girls were probably my end goal at the time, and I'd get into their good graces by either a) telling them they're pretty (which is true, but the real technique is to mention it in an off-hand way or in a manner that the other person doesn't take it seriously), b) be helpful to them (but of course in general, I'd helpful to everyone because I'm constantly seeking the approval of everyone else and not just girls), or c) treat them out (whether it's loaning them stuff even if we just met, buying birthday gifts to people I haven't known long, etc.). So in my own way, I became a likable guy, even if my intentions were far from noble.
In fourth year high school, one of my classmates suddenly told me that one of his female friends knew about me. He told me that we shared the same interests (i.e. anime) and that we met during my stint as a salesclerk at Comic Alley. Her name didn't sound familiar (but I was always bad with names... I'll remember your face, the course you took up in college, where we first met, but never your name) but as my classmate told me more details, I remembered who she was. Now the girl was pretty in her own right, but not exactly a head-turner. She wasn't stunningly beautiful, and she didn't catch my immediate attention when I first saw her (of course over the course of the next four years, said girl will have hordes of admirers and stalkers, as well as the object of gossip and intrigue). After doing some research on the Internet (because she had her own website and we apparently belonged to the same mailing lists), I found out that we shared the same interests (and not just anime). In the corner of my mind, I was thinking that I had found someone who could relate to me.
A few weeks later, I found myself waiting outside her school (I came from an all-boys school and she studied in an all-girls school), even if I had never set foot in that place as I attempted to catch glimpses of her and find an excuse for conversation. Bringing me out of my comfort zone was the fact that I actually called her up at home, even if most of the time, the line was either busy or her dad would answer it. And of course, I did treasure the moments we did manage to talk. We really shared a lot of things in common and could relate to each other. Except for one thing. She wasn't interested in me.
Well, I wasn't totally clueless. I suspected it was so. And even during that time, the girl was already linked to two of my batchmates, and one of my classmates also had a crush on her (in fact, we'd go together to her school and wait for her; we were actually boosting up each other's confidence, even if it was under the pretense of rivalry). Perhaps what disturbed me was the fact that she meant so much to me and I had friends who were prettier than her. This actually caused me to evaluate myself and develop a third kind of perception: whereas the first two perception dealt with physical appearances, the third one involves the entire character of the person, which includes her personality and not just looks. I discovered that I can be attracted to other people, even if they didn't score high in the first two categories (namely how other people perceived her and how I perceived her physically). And in the end, this is probably the category I should be aiming for. Because I felt like I could commit to someone who fell under that category (or rather, scored high in that area). And interestingly enough, the third category wasn't static: it grew. The more I got to see a person (and I'm not just talking about my crush here), the more I'd get to know them, and the more I'd get to know them, the more data I have to make my judgement regarding the third category. And more often than not, this'll increase your score. So it came to pass that when I met other people, especially those I haven't seen in a long time, I found them more and more attractive the more times I got to see them (and so, I never lie when I tell other people that they're beautiful, or that I miss them... because I really do find you more and more attractive and I do miss your companionship). But this realization initially came from my reflection on how I felt about my crush (which who the girl was at this point).
Because I knew my crush wasn't interested in me, I didn't ask her out on my grad ball. I allowed my other friend (not the one who went with me to her school) because they were good friends ever since, and he didn't know who to ask out (and yes, I was depressed at the irony of that... because while she was my crush, it was my undecisive friend got to be with her). Unfortunately, my biggest mistake was that I agreed to sit in their table (actually, this arose from the fact that they didn't want their other "friends" to sit at their table, so they needed a space-filler to occupy that vacant slot, and I fit the bill). I was actually running away from my dilemma and I thought that my old, shallow self would be able to handle it. So I invited the prettiest girl I knew to be my date.
Unfortunately, that didn't really help. I was okay when I was with my date but the moment I saw my crush, my heart sank, even if beside me was one of the prettiest girls I knew. I was depressed for the next two weeks. My date was disappointed in me, and my crush didn't talk to me for one year.
It was a great learning experience for me though. I discovered that I could commit. And looks stopped being the be-all and end-all of meeting girls. If I befriended you, it's because I want to be your friend and nothing more than that. I learned true sincerity. And that, my friend, is something you'll never be able to take away from me.