Why Physical Attraction Matters in Romantic Relationships, According to Science

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From Medium:

What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think about your dream partner? Chances are that you talk about their sense of humor, kindness, understanding, and maybe lastly, looks.

But, for some reason, we tend to describe our dream partner in terms of personality traits rather than appearances. My guess is, this is due to our fear of coming across as superficial. I am just as guilty of this since I have always thought that I explicitly chose to focus on meaningful connections with people instead of falling for looks.

Just imagine you meet the sweetest, romantic, intelligent, and wittiest person on the planet, perfect in almost every aspect except a lack of physical attraction. What would you do?

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For a romantic relationship to flourish, according to experts, physical attractiveness is a must. However, Robert Kurzban and Jason Weeden were able to show that when it comes to dating, observable attributes such as attractiveness, height, and age were more important and not substantially related to harder-to-observe attributes such as religion, education, or the desire to have children in the future.

According to science, there is no difference in how we value attractiveness between online dating and real-life dating. In other words, whether you meet someone online, in a bar, or at a speed dating event, physical attractiveness always plays a key role whether we want to enter into a relationship or not.

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But why does physical attractiveness take precedence when individuals make real-life dating and mating decisions? Why is it that the most desired relationships are with those who we find attractive? And lastly, is there a difference between men and women when assessing a potential partners’ physical attractiveness?

Research suggests that men seem to be more consciously aware of the importance of physical attractiveness than women. However, both sexes, regardless of sexual orientation, value physical appearance equally. Furthermore, scientific studies and data from online dating and speed dating come to this conclusion. This leads us to question why we are so susceptible to looks.

There are various approaches to this, which have a lot to do with what we perceive as beautiful and interpret certain personality traits. For example, beautiful people are likely to be happier and have more fulfilling life experiences than those who are not. We tend to idealize physically attractive people while expecting less from people we don’t find attractive. Moreover, research showed that there is a cross-cultural tendency to link beauty with good attributes.

But not only what we associate with beauty has an influence. Another perspective on physical attractiveness is that it acts as a gatekeeper to something more significant. For example, physical beauty may work as a gatekeeper, directing people to partners who are healthy, suitable age, and capable of reproducing. This might indicate that we derive underlying attributes that might be vital for a fruitful overall relationship from appearances. So if beauty has an enormous impact on our behavior, it’s worth asking what is considered attractive in the first place.

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While we all fall for the “beauty-is-good stereotype,” thankfully, who is attractive varies depending on who you ask. There are various factors for this, from how well you can talk and exchange ideas with a person, how often you see someone, to how ambitious a potential partner is. These qualities greatly influence how attractive someone is in our eyes.

Furthermore, people do not necessarily want partners who are extremely attractive, just attractive enough. Interestingly, beautiful people see fewer other people as physically attractive. In contrast, less attractive people may find a wider spectrum of people physically appealing. In any case, finding someone with a comparable level of physical beauty to you can help you have a more successful long-term relationship.

Link to the rest at Medium