Mismatched couple?
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Looks don’t matter in love: research proves it

By Sarah Moses Saturday, May 7, 2016 - 03:00
Ever wonder what a gorgeous girl sees in an average-looking guy? Or vice versa? Recent research reveals when good looks are only skin deep in romance.

Couples are often pretty similar when it comes to their looks and personalities – and how attractive they are. Researchers even have a name for this: 'assortative mating'.

In general, hot girls end up with hot guys. Seems pretty logical. If you’ve got the looks yourself, you can take your pick – why settle for anything less?

Is she really going out with him?

Except… it doesn’t always work like that. Sometimes less attractive lovers pair up with beautiful people, and live happily ever after. (‘Punching above their weight,’ people sometimes call it, rather unkindly.) So how come?

A group of researchers from the US has been studying why many couples are similar in terms of physical attractiveness – but also why some couples buck the trend, and seem to be completely mismatched physically. Past work led the researchers to a hunch. Could it have something to do with how long people have known each other before things get romantic?

Just the way you are

To test this out, they turned to research on 167 married or dating couples. Some had started going out recently, but others had been together happily for decades. The couples told the researchers how long they’d known each other before they became an item, and whether they’d started off just friends. Next they were filmed chatting about how they’d changed over the course of their relationship. Afterwards, a panel of judges ranked each partner on their physical attractiveness.

Here's what the researchers found. When strangers get together within a month of meeting, sure enough, hot girls end up with hot guys. But if they get to know each other for a while before hooking up, all bets are off when it comes to looks. It just doesn’t matter as much. Once people know each other, they stop judging the book by its cover.

My funny valentine

As people get to know each other over time, they learn all sorts of things about each other. They might become attracted to a partner who shares a passion, or who has a great taste in music, or a wacky sense of humour. These less superficial traits become a whole lot more important than the way their partner looks, the researchers suggest. And it could be that a person’s interests, tastes, or personality actually make them more physically attractive in the eyes of their partner.

Whether a couple is matched in terms of their looks doesn’t seem to make much of a difference when it comes to how happy they are together. Couples who were friends before going out are just as happy as those who didn’t know each other before they hooked up, the study found.

Conclusion? Love matters more than looks!

Source: Leveling the Playing Field: Longer Acquaintance Predicts Reduced Assortative Mating on Attractiveness, Lucy L. Hunt, Paul W. Eastwick, Eli J. Finkel

This article was first published on 29th August, 2015.

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