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Do you find that people are more or less physically attractive once you get to know them? How did physical attraction play a part in choosing your partner? A recent study from Northwestern University published in Psychological Science found that couples who become romantically involved soon after meeting tend to be more alike in their physical attractiveness than those who get to know each other ahead of time. Physical attractiveness appears to be a major factor in determining relationship formation unless we are friends first or know the person awhile before dating. The researchers hypothesized that choosing a mate of similar attractiveness comes from a competition-based perspective while the length of acquaintance between partners can shift this dynamic.
This study provides some interesting thoughts about relationship formation. It is interesting that physical appearance becomes less important as two people form a friendship and that the importance of equal matching fades based on the level of connection. Becoming friends first and learning more about an individual prior to developing a romantic relationship can be beneficial for the strength and sustainability of a relationship. Our personality and behaviors can impact our level of attractiveness and can only be explored over time. In working with couples, I find that the “like” part of the relationship can impact their desirability and level of connection. Building the friendship aspect of the relationship before or after marriage will enhance the level of intimacy.
Intimacy comes in many different forms, such as shared recreational or work activities, intellectually stimulating discussions, spiritual connections, and even going through a crisis together that pulls you closer to one another. We sometimes take for granted and/or neglect the friendship aspect of our relationship. Create opportunities for connection, take time for fun, and take action instead of just talking about change. Just do it! Decide today that you’re going to grow and nurture the friendship part of your relationship and see what a difference it makes.