"What on Earth do we need this article for?"
If you found yourself asking just that upon reading the title, stay tuned. You may be in for a big surprise.
Why is that? Simple. Although very often used in similar contexts, these three terms are not really interchangeable.
In fact, it's not only possible but also probable that a certain woman, child--or even a man--may be one or both, but not all three.
Let's break it down:
1. Having qualities that delight the senses, especially the sense of sight.
Below the above definition on dictionary.com, the phrase "excites aesthetic admiration" qualifies it further.
So, when we find someone "beautiful" in the most visceral and commonly used sense, we are recognizing that the person is easy on the eyes.
That said, a sense of overall sensual delight is implied in the definition, allowing for beautiful music, a "beautiful soul", etc.
adj. cut·er, cut·est
1. Delightfully pretty or dainty.
2. Obviously contrived to charm; precious
If a person is perceived to be charming and precious, this causes the beholder to be enthralled and to ascribe great worth to him or her.
Now, notice here that the first definition specifically points to the kind of femininity that "delights". This would make "cuteness" in this regard decidedly a female thing.
However, being "charming" is exactly what would cause a man to be seen as a "cute guy"...unless, of course, the terms are getting crossed up here, which is exactly what we're seeking to clarify.
Notice that being "cute" is not necessarily about physical appearance. What it is about, concisely put, is "warm fuzzies".
"Cute" people endear us to them, filling our hearts with emotion. They bring a smile to our faces and make us want to hug them.
Show any red-blooded woman pictures of kittens or baby ducks, and you'll see this emotional response for yourself.
adj. sex·i·er, sex·i·est
1. Arousing or tending to arouse sexual desire or interest.
Someone who is 'sexy' arouses an animal sexual attraction. It's that simple. No further explanation required.
OK, so how can we use this information?
For starters, I think it's crucial for us to know the difference between these three adjectives and how they relate to not only ourselves but our view of others.
Although they're clearly not interchangeable, they are very much interrelated.
Know who you are and how that affects your world. Then, know what you are looking for in the dating world and understand why.
Simply thinking about all of this with the lights on will help you sort these somewhat subjective concepts out for yourself, but far be it from me to leave you without some basic thoughts.
For example, I don't know how many times I've heard a woman say, "I am SOOOO sick of hearing how 'cute' I am. Why can't I be beautiful?"
But "cute" is not a bad thing. Considering the depth cuteness has relative to either "beautiful" or "sexy" as pertaining to the entire being, I could argue that cuteness rules over either of the other traits.
In fact, I personally consider cuteness in women to be a major pointer to both beauty and sexiness. Not everyone is like me, but I know I am not alone.
Sexiness is a trait that is best defined by those in a position to be sexually attracted. If this sounds way too obvious, think again. I've heard plenty of heterosexual women attempting to sort this out with regard to other women. Usually, they are perceiving cuteness or beauty as automatic sexiness.
Or, they are considering another woman and "wondering what men see in her". Indeed, sexiness may very well be independent of cuteness or physical beauty, and largely defined by archetypal, primal factors.
It is also entirely possible to be "beautiful" and yet be emotionally uninspiring in either of the other two areas. Think of someone you know who you realize is visually appealing, yet you just don't "feel it" for her. You got it...she's neither cute nor sexy to you.
They look good, but aren't attractive.
For me personally, models in department store catalogs and Wal-Mart circulars (i.e. anyplace other than the "sexy" lingerie shops like Victoria's Secret) are often quintessential examples of what I am talking about here.
What category someone falls in is completely subjective, of course. Not only do opinions vary between people, but these opinions are made purely unconsciously. We do not make a deliberate decision, per se, as to where to slot someone.
To sum it up, my humble opinion is that three completely different emotions are driven by the three respective traits discussed.
Beauty drives admiration. Cuteness drives affection. Sexiness drives desire.
Where are your priorities when it comes to all of this? One or two above the other(s)? All three? None of the above? Are you sure?