How important is the physical appearance of a partner or potential partner? Do levels of physical attractiveness play a small, moderate, or large part in determining who you would consider a potential mate or how happy you are with your current partner?
Physical attraction is an important factor in my choice of mates. I can not date, let alone have a long-term relationship with someone I don’t find physically attractive. Other aspects such as mental compatibility and general personality are taken into account, but the physical appearance of a person is as strong an influence.
It is widely believed that physical attractiveness plays a key role in the creation of new relationships. The way a person looks is often the first thing you notice about them, long before you learn of their personality and character, and their looks can be the reason you initiate contact or not. This idea has been given more weight due to studies with results that support.
Generally in new relationships, partners are matched in terms of relative physical attractiveness. And the more attractive their partner is, the more satisfied a person is in their relationships. Men place a higher significance on the physical attractiveness of their partner, than do women although women still count the physical appearance of their partner as important. Overall, physical attractiveness has a positive effect in new relationships — the higher it is, relatively speaking, the better both partners rate their relationship.
But what happens when a relationship is no longer new? Does physical appearance still play such a crucial part in the stability and happiness of an established relationship such as marriage?
It turns out that physical attractiveness is still connected to levels of happiness and stability in marriage, but not nearly as much as in less established relationships. Also, the importance of physical attraction, and its effects, differ based on gender.
In one study, husbands who were rated as more attractive than their wives by outsiders tended to be less satisfied with their marriage, and behaved negatively in their marriages. In contrast, in marriages where wives were rated as more attractive than their husbands, both partners behaved positively and were more happy. There was no noticeable effect if both partners were similarly attractive.
Taken together, studies on physical attractiveness in relationships and marriage suggest several ideas. One idea is that physical attractiveness is highly important in new relationships, and less so in established relationships. Yet, physical attractiveness remains as important for men in terms of satisfaction in their relationships.
One thing which is certain is that physical attraction, and a partner’s physical attractiveness, is significant to the health and happiness of a relationship.
How important is physical attractiveness in your relationships? Was physical appeal a major reason for your attraction to your partner or past partner?