How Important is Physical Attraction to You?

By eHarmony Advice Host Renee

How Important is Physical Attraction to You?

Though we encourage our eHarmony members to first focus on their matches’ inner qualities, we understand that physical attraction is important, and, at some point, members will use this quality to evaluate matches as they search for their special someone.

But some members and non-members still believe physical appearance is the most or one of the most important qualities to consider when evaluating someone’s partner potential. So even though the “science behind love” doesn’t show that attractiveness is a quality that predicts and sustains happy, long-term relationships, why do some people use that criteria so soon in the evaluating process? Though this approach can work for some, if it hasn’t been particularly effective in the past, why continue to immediately evaluate your soul mate in this way?

As I consider this approach to finding a mate, I am especially curious about those people who highly value their partner’s level of attractiveness but don’t themselves fall within the upper end of the attractiveness scale. Though physical attractiveness is subjective, there do seem to be some general standards most people agree upon, and most couples, it seems, are within a few levels of attractiveness of each other.
So if you’re someone who’s average or below on the attractiveness scale but highly value a potential partner’s attractiveness, are you open to someone in the same general attractiveness range as you? Or does this preference mean you are only interested in someone who rates high on the attractiveness scale and brings much more to the looks department than you do? Does this mean you won’t consider someone because they aren’t “good looking” or have a physical quality you don’t find attractive, even though you could be similarly discounted by others?

By and large, people at the top of the attractiveness scale are those fortunate enough to have inherited “very attractive” genes, but there are certainly things everyone can do to be as attractive as possible. So if you require that your partner, say, have a certain body type, do you? If you want your match to have a flat stomach, is yours? If you’re carrying around some extra pounds and don’t think it’s right to be judged negatively because of that, are you evaluating others as you want to be evaluated or making the same sort of judgments?

Now, in no way do I believe that a couple can’t be happy together and have a successful relationship when one partner is quite a bit more attractive than the other. But I’m curious about those people who are only interested in people who are quite a bit more attractive than they because, it seems to me, that this approach is a conundrum. If they value physical appearance highly, how can they expect a much more attractive person to be interested in them? I’ve given this some thought, and come up with a few theories:

1. They’re rating themselves too highly. If someone believes they’re several levels of attractiveness higher than they actually are, they feel they’re just as attractive as the people they’re seeking.

2. They have a compensating quality. Their profession or financial status or personality is such that it levels the attractiveness playing field.

3. They’re driven by biology. All things being equal, I think most would agree that being physically attractive has lot of advantages, and the more attractive — the more the advantages. So, no matter what their own level of attractiveness, some people, consciously or subconsciously, are driven to provide their children with the most attractive genes possible. So regardless of its ultimate effectiveness, they will continue to only consider as potential partners people who are much more attractive than they.

That last theory may seem a bit far fetched, but I really think there may be something to it. So where do you stand? Do you highly value your partner’s level of attractiveness or not, and why? Are you only interested in people much more attractive than you or not, and why? Do you have any other comments about my remarks or theories or have thoughts or theories of your own to share? If so, please do!

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