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Is Attractiveness an Asset in Long-Term Relationships?

Attractiveness can be an initial draw in relationships, but long-term bonds thrive on deeper connections. Qualities like empathy, trust, and shared values become the pillars of enduring partnerships. While physical appeal may fade or evolve, emotional and intellectual compatibility often grow, enriching the relationship. Curious about how attractiveness impacts the journey of love over time? Let's explore this intriguing dynamic further.

According to a well-known line from the film Blade Runner, the light that burns twice as bright burns for half as long. And according to Harvard researchers, the same holds true for romantic relationships, in a sense. Across a series of four studies, the researchers discovered, among other things, that good-looking people tend to engage in shorter romantic relationships that end up being less rewarding.

These findings might come as a surprise, as attractive people usually have the advantage in many areas, like finding work, making friends, and getting paid well. But apparently, they aren't so lucky in love. For example, one study showed that attractive men were more likely to have shorter marriages that ended in divorce, while another suggested that people who believed themselves to be attractive were more likely than average-looking people to look for a new partner if their relationship wasn't satisfying. The studies, led by Harvard's Christine Ma-Kellams, used longitudinal, archival, survey, and lab methods.

All about attraction:

  • Studies have found that men are commonly attracted to the smell of perfume but are turned off by the odor of tears.

  • Both men and women are typically considered most attractive when they are wearing the color red.

  • Facial symmetry has been found to be a very attractive feature in both sexes; many movie stars have very symmetrical faces.

Frequently Asked Questions

How important is physical attractiveness in the success of long-term relationships?

In multiple studies, Harvard researchers found that physically attractive people are less likely to have successful long-term relationships.
In multiple studies, Harvard researchers found that physically attractive people are less likely to have successful long-term relationships.

Physical attractiveness can play a role in the initial stages of a relationship, as it often influences first impressions and the desire to pursue a partner. However, for long-term relationships, research suggests that factors such as emotional connection, communication, and shared values become more significant. According to a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, the importance of physical attractiveness decreases over time in long-term relationships.

Does attractiveness correlate with relationship satisfaction?

While attractiveness might contribute to initial satisfaction, it does not necessarily predict long-term relationship satisfaction. A study by the University of Texas found that other qualities, such as personality compatibility and supportiveness, are better indicators of long-term satisfaction. Relationship satisfaction is more complex and multifaceted than physical appearance alone.

Can the symmetry of attractiveness between partners affect relationship longevity?

Partner matching in terms of physical attractiveness, often referred to as 'assortative mating,' can influence relationship longevity. Couples who are similar in attractiveness levels tend to have more stable relationships, according to research from the University of Tennessee. This symmetry may lead to fewer feelings of jealousy and competition, contributing to a more secure and lasting partnership.

How does aging affect perceptions of attractiveness in a long-term relationship?

As couples age together, their perceptions of attractiveness often shift from physical attributes to deeper qualities such as kindness, humor, and reliability. A study in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science indicates that emotional bonds and shared experiences become more central to perceptions of attractiveness in long-term relationships, suggesting that aging can deepen the connection beyond superficial traits.

Is there a difference in how men and women value attractiveness in long-term relationships?

Gender differences in valuing attractiveness have been observed, with some studies suggesting that men place a higher emphasis on physical attractiveness than women. However, in the context of long-term relationships, both men and women tend to prioritize emotional intimacy and compatibility over physical appearance. According to a report in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, the significance of physical attractiveness diminishes for both genders as the relationship progresses.

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    • In multiple studies, Harvard researchers found that physically attractive people are less likely to have successful long-term relationships.
      In multiple studies, Harvard researchers found that physically attractive people are less likely to have successful long-term relationships.