New study reveals the one characteristic women want in a man for a long term relationship
Everybody's taste in a romantic partner is different. Some of us like our significant others to be tall, dark and handsome. Others prefer someone a little shorter, with maybe a bit more meat on their frame. But in all honesty, a lot of us couldn't care less what our other half looks like - as long as they've got a good personality.
That being said, there are still some physical attributes that obviously have a wider appeal than others. You don't hear many people talking about how much they love long toes, or pointy elbows and monobrows (not that there's anything bad about any of those features). However, it is common to hear about someone having a thing for big biceps, or curvy hips, or tattoos.
And, according to a new study, there is one feature on guys that a majority of women look for in a long-term partner.
In a study titled 'The Masculinity Paradox', a group of researchers at the University of Queensland analysed women's responses to different male attributes. By looking at reactions to features such as brow ridges, jawlines and beard growth, the scientists were able to find one physical trait which appealed to women more than any other.
The paper begins by pointing out that some of the most "male-typical features such as a pronounced brow ridge and a more robust jawline" are actually paradoxical in their appeal to heterosexual women, as they often signal potential health issues.
Beards, on the other hand, are a clear indicator of age and "masculine social dominance".
"However," the study says, "masculine faces are judged as more attractive for short-term relationships over less masculine faces, whereas beards are judged as more attractive than clean-shaven faces for long-term relationships."
In other words, strong jawlines and brow ridges are more appealing to women looking for a "Netflix and chill" kinda thing, but bearded dudes appeal to ladies who are looking to settle down. So how exactly does a beard affect women's perception of men?
Well, on a sliding scale, "results showed a significant interaction between beardedness and masculinity on attractiveness ratings." Clean-shaven faces that had been "masculinized" or "feminized" with photo editing software were found to be universally less attractive than unmanipulated pictures. And, when a beard was applied, the difference in appeal between masculine and feminine faces was massively decreased.
Essentially, whacking a beard on someone makes them seem more socially dominant, regardless of how masculine or feminine their face looked before.
The study added that "relationship context also had effects on ratings, with facial hair enhancing long-term, and not short-term, attractiveness," meaning that women with bearded partners were more likely to find them attractive for a longer period of time.
But fear not, unbearded bros, for there are still women out there who prefer the look and feel of a freshly-shaved face.
Plus, physical attraction alone does not guarantee compatibility, and features that imply a better biological inclination to fatherhood or long-term relationships are not always considered appealing across the board. Baldness, for example, is usually an indicator of higher testosterone levels, but many women prefer guys with a full head of hair.
So, while bearded guys might have the upper hand when it comes to securing a long-term partner, it's still not an instant guarantee to getting a girl. That stuff still takes work, and a clean-shaven dude who puts the effort in will still go further than a bearded bloke with no personality.