Love The One You’re With

The proverb is false. Beauty is not in the eye of the beholder. When people are asked to judge physical attractiveness, there is always a high level of consensus, showing that beauty is something real which people can independently recognise.

holding handsSex and sexual orientation don’t make any difference either: in experiments, everyone ranks the subjects in more or less the same order quite regardless. It’s not dependent on race. Even though features differ from one part of the world to another, we are all still consistent in rating “more beautiful” or “less beautiful” faces or bodies.

It has also been noticed that couples tend to rank at about the same level of attractiveness as each other. (Rich, ugly, old men with young, beautiful women is a minor statistical blip.) It seems that humans instinctively know their own place in the pecking order of attractiveness and tend to “settle” for the first partner who meets or exceeds that.

In evolutionary terms, having a “realistic” expectation like that is a better strategy than constantly holding out for a perfect partner. Those kinds of genes would tend to become extinct. But nature has another trick that makes us think that we have actually found the perfect partner. We fall in love.

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One thought on “Love The One You’re With

  1. I’m in the ‘statistical blip’ camp, as far as what I find attractive. I guess it’s frustrating in some ways, because I’m constantly bombarded with notions of ‘beauty’ via the world around me and that tends to alienate me a bit. I don’t like the feeling that I ‘should’ find x person handsome or pretty, when my gut reaction is “meh”.

    On the other hand, there’s a certain benefit from this, as it’s no effort for me to resist these things: Advertising and so on, with it’s use of ‘beautiful people’. And when I find someone attractive, because I am aware that my attraction to them, doesn’t fit into the ‘conventional’ ideas of beauty, I feel more reassured that my feelings are true (rather than influenced by popular conventions of what beauty is.)

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