Relationships frequently fall apart due to irreconcilable incompatibilities. Sometimes these incompatibilities are so large that they seem like they should have been obvious from the start (e.g., one person wants children, the other partner doesn’t; one person is deeply religious, the other isn't). Why don’t such dealbreakers prevent relationships from getting off the ground in the first place? Why do people so frequently wind up with incompatible romantic partners?
Entries in mate selection (16)
In a study of 70 undergraduates, researchers tested whether attractiveness and mating strategy (short vs. long term) influence receptivity to pick-up lines. Replicating previous research, women preferred men who took the innocuous “Do you have the time?” route, or those who used direct pick-up lines – e.g., “…I’d like to meet you. What’s your name?” Cute or flippant lines -- “Can I get a picture of you so I can show Santa what I want for Christmas?” -- continued to strike out. But women preferred attractive men for short-term relationships, regardless of the type of pick-up line he used. For long-term relationships, women preferred men who used direct or innocuous lines. Even though flippant lines made men seem outgoing and humorous, they also made them seem less trustworthy and less intelligent. Men who used direct lines were seen as the most trustworthy and intelligent.
Senko, C., & Fyffe, V. (2010). An evolutionary perspective on effective vs. ineffective pick-up lines. Journal of Social Psychology, 150(6), 648-667. doi:10.1080/00224540903365539
I’m probably not the only person who’s wondered why muscle-car expos and auto-enthusiast magazines often feature attractive female models, or “car babes,” posing suggestively alongside (or on top of!) luxurious vehicles. Doesn’t the eye candy distract prospective buyers from the cars?
Maybe not. Turns out feminine curves and cold chrome aren’t such an unlikely combination after all. It all boils down to the need to impress a potential mate.
Have you ever had to admit on a first date that, among your many compelling and marvelous qualities, you are also a relationship counselor? I have. While this announcement can provoke a range of interesting responses, one I have often remembered was:
“Really! How interesting. Does that make you any better at your own relationships?”
This particular guy wasn’t asking sarcastically; he was actually curious. I chuckled and stalled for time. On a gut level, I wanted to say yes…but was that true?
At the stage of my life right now, I feel like I should be able to have a grasp of this, but I still don't. I am 27, male, and I've never had a serious relationship. The plain and simple reason is because I don't know how. During high school the girlfriends that I had were always more aggressive in getting what they wanted (me), so I never truly learned how to go for a woman. As I grew older, it seemed to me that the women expect the men to do most if not all of the work when it comes to intimacy. The steps from introduction to actual physical intimacy are very unclear to me; it's like figuring out the meaning of life (yes, it's that much of a mystery to me).
A pirate walks into a bar with a steering wheel in his pants. The bartender looks at him, and says: “Hey buddy, that looks pretty uncomfortable.” The pirate says: “Arrrrrrrrr, it’s driving me nuts.” I have a feeling you find this joke very funny. As a consequence, you probably like me a lot at this point (unless I’m the only one who finds this joke funny).
You don’t need a scientist to inform you that we all love to laugh. Humor is a social phenomenon; some researchers have estimated that we laugh about 18 times a day, mostly in the company of others. It should come as no surprise then that we like those who make us laugh. Research routinely shows that both men and women want a partner who has a good sense of humor.
It’s no secret that people like to see themselves positively. Decades of research indicates that people go to great lengths to accentuate their positive qualities and downplay their flaws. But what happens when an attractive potential partner has those flaws? In a recent pair of studies published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, researchers Erica Slotter and Wendi Gardner hypothesized that when people are attracted to flawed potential partners, their romantic desires may motivate them to adopt those flaws themselves. The authors cited the example of Sandy Olsson from Grease, who (spoiler alert?) decides to give up her squeaky clean, goodie-two-shoes image in an effort to win over her “greaser” love interest, Danny Zuko.
We regularly hear people refer to their romantic partners as their “rock.” (My wife always says that she wishes I was The Rock, but that’s a different story altogether). What is it about large, dirty moss-covered stones that people love so much? Just joking, of course – the metaphor really centers on the idea that people want their partners to be there, through thick and thin, and to provide a sense of stability to their lives.
Generally, embodied cognition (also called embodiment) is the theory that individuals’ physical experiences subtly and unconsciously affect their psychological states. Recently, researchers used an embodied cognition approach to examine whether seemingly unrelated experiences affect individuals’ preferences for stability.
As discussed in a previous post, some relationship scientists seriously doubt the effectiveness of the algorithms used by online dating sites to match people to potential partners. Even if these algorithms do not hold the key to everlasting love, online dating sites provide access to more dating partners than you can shake a stick at. If you are looking for love, having more options is better, right?
Not exactly. Researchers have demonstrated that although we like having more options when making a decision, we are ultimately less satisfied with our choice when we have a larger, as opposed to smaller, number of options.
When my wife and I first started dating, she would joke that because I valued my best friend’s opinion so much, we would only be able to stay together if he approved of her…at least I think she was joking. Fortunately, he gave me his blessing, and now my wife and I are happily married. But why wasn’t my wife worried about what my parents would think of her? Did she believe that I don’t trust my parents’ advice? (Mom and Dad, I do listen to your advice…most of the time). Or did my wife simply believe that my best friend’s advice would carry more weight than my parents’?
Researchers have examined just this – whose opinion, friends' or parents', has more influence on individuals’ dating choices.
Men are more willing to donate money and volunteer for helpful causes that demonstrate virility (donating blood) and parental investment (helping children in need) when attractive women are around than when they are around other men or alone. Why? To pick up chicks, of course. Donating money and volunteering “signal” generosity, a valuable trait in a potential mate (for more examples of such showcasing, see here).
Van Vugt, M., & Iredale, W. (2012). Men behaving nicely: Public Goods as peacock tails. British Journal of Psychology. doi: 10.1111/j.2044-8295.2011.02093.x
According to the superstition, the person you kissed at midnight on New Year’s Eve is the one you’ll share your love and affection with in the upcoming year. An NYE kiss allegedly brings good luck for the future of your relationship with the person on the other end of your lips…but can a kiss really predict the future?
A common rule of thumb, at least on the internet, is that it’s okay to be interested in someone “half your age plus seven” years. According to this rule, it would not be creepy for a 30 year old to date a 22 year-old, but an 18 year-old would be off-limits. Although this is a fun rule of thumb, what does research say about age preferences for potential mates?
When I was in college, credit card companies would lure students into opening accounts by giving away t-shirts or 2-liters of Coke in exchange for signing up for a new card. Nearly 20 years later I still have one of those accounts, although the t-shirt is thankfully long gone. I attended an engineering school that had nearly a 2-to-1 male to female sex ratio; there were twice as many young men on campus than women. Did this imbalance affect the likelihood that my fellow single men would get into trouble with their new credit cards? Could it be because of “intrasexual competition” (i.e., competing with other men) for relatively few available females?
When do men flaunt expensive watches and exotic cars to attract mates? Do these displays work? It turns out men display luxury items when motivated by short-term mating strategies (i.e., hooking-up), and women seeking short-term mates prefer men displaying these items. However, women looking for a long-term mate (i.e., marriage material) are not impressed by the bling.
So guys, driving that Porsche signals you’re looking for a short-term mate, and that’s exactly who you’ll attract.
We often hear tales of women forsaking the nice, kind, dependable man for the brooding, confident bad boy, but do women really prefer bad boys? New research from the University of British Columbia suggests that perhaps they do, at least in terms of sexual attractiveness.
Across two studies, women rated happy, smiling men as less attractive than proud, confident men. The opposite pattern emerged for men’s ratings of women; happy women were rated as more attractive than proud women.