Getting to know someone before becoming romantically involved could bring out attributes and qualities other than the obvious physical ones, according to a new study.
Together with her colleagues, Lucy Hunt of the University of Texas at Austin set out to understand the phenomenon of individuals with similar physical and personality characteristics â€“ as well as like behavioural tendencies â€“ who couple together.
Known in the scientific community as â€œassortative mating,â€ itâ€™s been documented in a variety of academic disciplines, according to the study, which was published in the journal Psychological Science.
A possible explanation lies in a competition-based theory. In other words, those with desirable characteristics â€“ and certainly physical beauty â€“ are better equipped to attract others that are highly desirable, too.
How long individuals spend getting to know each other before becoming romantically involved could shift this dynamic of sexual competition, Hunt hypothesised, citing previous research suggesting that with intimacy, physical beauty becomes less important.
â€œOur results indicate that perceptions of beauty in a romantic partner might change with time, as individuals get to know one another better before they start dating,â€ says Hunt.
Interacting in a variety of circumstances and backdrops heeds greater understanding between partners that forms impressions weightier than the first, which are often almost purely physical, she says.
Whatâ€™s more, Hunt hypothesised that couples quick to become romantically involved would share an equally attractive physique relative to gender, and that those who knew each other well could be mismatched in that way.
She observed data from 167 couples, 67 of which were dating and the remaining 100 were married.
Time as a couple ranged from three months to 53 years, and they averaged eight years and eight months together.
Using video footage of the couples talking about how they had changed over the course of their relationship, combined with independent parties who rated their physical attractiveness, the research team detected lots of similarity between partners as far as beauty was concerned.
Couples who had known each other for a long time before the romance blossomed were likely to be mismatched in terms of physical beauty, whereas those who began dating within one month of introduction were similar to each other in terms of the looks department.
The study found no difference in terms of couplesâ€™ relationship satisfaction between couples who corresponded in terms of beauty and those who did not â€˜matchâ€™ this way. â€“ AFP Relaxnews