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How Physical Attractiveness Impacts Our Dating Decisions

By July 8, 2015Blog
attraction dating

Do you and your partner share a similar level of physical attractiveness?  Do you think it matters?  Do you think it dictates, or can predict, how successful and long-lasting your romantic relationship will be?  Some new research has shed some light on the answers that will help daters to think about their dating strategy in better terms.

We live in a fast paced, modern world.  For those who are looking for “the one” it can be worrying when they struggle to meet people who they perceive to be potential mates.  Sometimes this can mean that singletons on the dating scene can make poor judgements and incorrect snap decisions, partially because they are unable to think clearly when panicking and partially because they are getting impatient.

Lack of clarity and impatience leads to mistakes; in the dating world this can mean overlooking a potential ideal mate because he/she didn’t come in the physical package the singleton was looking for.  If we are too focused on just one factor – physical attractiveness – we can overlook the exact person we are looking for because, when you get to know someone’s personality, values and morals, how you rate their physical attractiveness will often change in the direction of your feelings for them as a whole person.

You may find “Joe” extremely attractive on the outside (his physical attractiveness) and rate him 8 out of 10 but when you discover what’s on the inside you may rate his physical attractiveness as 6 out of 10.  Conversely, you may find “Jane” to be quite plain and rate her physical attractiveness as 5 out of 10 but upon connecting with her inner beauty you may then rate her physical attractiveness as 7 out of 10.  All that has changed is your knowledge about their inner being but that can be enough for us to perceive someone’s outer beauty differently.

Research Shows Importance of Attraction Changes When Get Acquainted

New research by Hunt et al. (2015) suggests that “Couples who formed their relationship soon after meeting were more likely to match on physical attractiveness (as rated by the study’s numerous “coders”) than those who formed their relationship well after meeting each other.”  Furthermore, they found that those who were not friends prior to dating were closer matched on physical attractiveness than those who were friends prior to dating.

In other words, the results suggest the less well two people know each other before becoming a couple, the more closely matched their physical attractiveness tends to be and the longer two people take to get to know one another the lower the chance that they will be of similar physical attractiveness.  Basically, it seems that physical attractiveness becomes less important to singletons, as they get to know a potential mate for who they are.

It’s probably fair to conclude that in most cases, when people start dating quickly after becoming acquainted:

  • they’ve likely based their dating decision on fewer parameters (as they won’t have had access to more yet given the short time of acquaintance), and that
  • physical attractiveness was one of the main reasons for deciding to date.

It’s possibly also fair to conclude that most people who start dating after taking time to become acquainted or friends first:

  • likely based their dating decision on many more parameters (which they would’ve had access to), and
  • probably rated their partner’s physical attractiveness higher than they did when they first met AND/OR were naturally more focused on finding someone they were physically and mentally attracted to with perhaps more importance on the mental attraction.

It’s important to note that the current research did not find any association between how closely matched a couple’s physical attractiveness was and how satisfied they were in their relationship.

So what this research really does is support the notion that by getting better acquainted with a person, singletons can better assess if someone is a potential mate because they then base their decision to date on greater knowledge about that person as a whole being.

Longer Acquaintance Levels The Romantic Playing Field – So Take Advantage!

What this research does is highlight how singletons could be shutting the door on romantic opportunities because they didn’t find someone physically attractive enough and didn’t build friendships with those they only found mentally attractive.

When people are too focused on finding a mate…but only one that they find instantly physically attractive…they can overlook a person that could be their ideal mate stood right in front of them.  They may even fail to create a friendship with someone who would be the perfect friend, and potentially the perfect partner, all because they are overly focused on finding a mate who first and foremost ticks the physical attractiveness box!

Equally important is that people who don’t rate their own attractiveness as highly as a romantic interest of theirs may not pursue that romantic interest for feelings of inferiority, assuming: “They won’t want to date me; they’re way out of my league.”

How To Increase Your Potential Dating Options

To help my dating coaching clients prevent the above pitfalls I ask them to do three things that you should also integrate into your dating strategy, even if you’re not yet my client:

  1. Make expanding your friendship circle with members of the desired sex a part of your focus as, over time, this can lead to the exact mate you’re looking for. (I’ll expand on this in an upcoming blog or vlog.)
  2. Give a person a second chance if the first date has left you unsure about whether or not you “click”.
  3. If there is a mental spark between you – a mental attraction as two human beings, just like the spark we feel in platonic friendships – then ensure you nurture a friendship with them. Worst case scenario they’ll become a friend, best case scenario they’ll become your best friend and spouse.

Taking your time to get acquainted with those you’re mentally attracted to but not yet physically attracted to, means you’ll increase your potential dating options.  Furthermore, if you find your Mr or Mrs Right amongst your friends, it can result in the most exhilarating partnership.