Here's how dating a less 'attractive' person affects women's happiness
When looking for a romantic partner, we'd hope that they're nice, funny, intelligent and that they share the same passion for taking pictures of hilarious numberplates as you do. But also, you can't help but deny that we're all looking for someone who's relatively good-looking as well.
It's just part of our primal instincts to seek out a mate with a symmetrical face, a strong, healthy physique, good posture and obvious grooming abilities – all things our brains interpret as prime requisites for reproduction. We've all got different "types" (*cough* Chris Hemsworth), whether he be tall and dark, a buff bearded bloke, or maybe you fit in with the people predisposed to those with dad-bods.
Whatever it is, most of us like to aim high and prefer to talk to the lookers in the bar rather than the weedy looking ones lingering suspiciously near the dancefloor. But sometimes, you can't help but fall for someone you wouldn't categorise as textbook attractive. And even if some people accuse you of having lowered your standards, it turns out that those women dating less attractive people might actually be happier in the long run.
A study found that marriages tend to be happier and more successful when wives are better looking than their husbands. The Metzer lab at Florida State University looked at 113 heterosexual couples who had been married less than four months, on average aged in their late 20s, who signed up for the experiment and to have their attractiveness rated.
Huh. So looks aren't everything, are they? Turns out the Penny and Leonards of the world are better off than the couples who are equally as beautiful as each other.
A more recent study at the same institution advanced these findings to look at the relationship between the attractiveness of a romantic partner and the desire to tone up and slim down. Examining 223 newlyweds this time, the study also had attractiveness rated by "evaluators" from Southern Methodist University who looked at full-body photographs of the participants. They were then asked to fill out a questionnaire to measure their motivations to diet.
The results found that women who were married to hot men were more likely to be self-conscious about their body and as a result, want to diet. So while women with more attractive partners are also less likely to be happy in their relationship compared to the Penny-Leonard types, they're also more susceptible to developing eating disorders.
Doctoral student Tania Reynolds, who co-wrote the study, said: "The research suggests there might be social factors playing a role in women’s disordered eating."
"One way to help these women is for partners to be very reaffirming, reminding them, ‘You’re beautiful. I love you at any weight or body type'. Or perhaps focusing on the ways they are a good romantic partner outside of attractiveness and emphasising those strengths: ‘I really value you because you’re a kind, smart and supportive partner.’"
Interestingly, the same thing couldn't be concluded when it came to husbands rated uglier than their wives – they were not as strongly motivated by their wives to get in shape.
"In contrast, men's dieting motivations were not significantly associated with their own and their partners' attractiveness," Reynolds said.
So next time you come across a less-than-attractive guy on Tinder, think twice before swiping left.