New Study Reveals Why Some People End Up With Partners Way Hotter Than They Are

It's simpler than you think

'Punching above your weight' is a concept we're all familiar with when it comes to commenting, usually bitterly, on others. But what's less clear is how to get into that position yourself.

Is it blind luck? 'Social status' (i.e. one partner has loads of money)? Or to be less cynical, is it something to do with 'what's inside'? A new report suggests none of the above.

What is true is that, broadly, people tend to pair up with others who are genetically and physically similar to themselves – or if you're being reductive, '10s' end up with '10s' and '7s' end up with '7s'. Scientists call this 'assortative mating', and the loose explanation is that we do so to avoid our partners being lured away by more attractive competition. So far so depressing.

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But a study published last year in the journal Psychological Science posits a theory as to how and why the exception to 'assortative mating' occurs, and it's all about the 'friend zone'.

OK, stick with us. The study, carried out at the University of Texas at Austin and Northwestern University, looked into the causes of 'mixed attractiveness' relationships.

Studying 267 heterosexual couples, they asked how long each pair had known each other and whether they enjoyed a platonic relationship before they began dating.

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The crux of what they found? Couples who were friends for longer before getting together were more likely to vary in their attractiveness, while those who began dating right away were generally the same.

In fact, the longer the couple had known each other first, the less likely they were to be 'matched' in how attractive they were.

And promisingly for anyone dating someone they suspect deep down is way hotter than they are, the study also found 'no correlation' between how similarly attractive the couples were and how satisfied they were in their relationship.

The take away? Getting to know someone properly and being friends is not necessarily a barrier to love, but could prove the perfect conduit for it.

All of which may make somewhat harrowing reading for members of the Tinder Age, but for those of us still occasionally meeting people outside our iPhones, perhaps a reason for good cheer.

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