Based on new research, there’s now a way to predict who’s most likely to cheat.
The popular Jimmy Soul song “If You Want to Be Happy for the Rest of Your Life” advises you never to “make a pretty woman your wife.” New research makes clear why you might want to pay heed to these lyrics, whatever the gender of your desired partner. Although the gist of the song’s message is that the less attractive woman will be a better cook, this new investigation into attractiveness and relationships suggests that there may be more important, reasons to find a partner who’s considerably less than a “10” on the attraction scale.
In a set of four studies, Harvard’s Christine Ma-Kellams and collaborators used the full set of methods, from the archival (use of existing records) to the experimental, to determine whether an individual’s attractiveness detracts from or promotes a relationship’s ability to last over time. They point out that although physical attractiveness has advantages in terms of making you more desirable as a potential partner, the more beautiful among us may be more likely to make less faithful long-term partners. The reason, you might guess, is simple: Pretty people are seen as desirable not just by you, but by everyone else. Sporting a beautiful partner on your arm is like waving a biscuit in front of your dog — almost too irresistible to pass up. As stated in research that Ma-Kellams et al. cite, “More physically attractive individuals are more frequently the target of poaching attempts.”
There are other reasons that beautiful individuals may be poorer relationship partners, apart from their magnetic effect on potential poachers: Because we attach so many positive qualities onto attractive people, and offer them so many more opportunities based on their looks, they might come to expect the red-carpet treatment from all who come into contact with them. If part of their attractiveness comes from the time and attention they devote to their appearance, it’s also possible that they have a dose of narcissistic entitlement thrown in as well. Being highly popular based on looks can also make people believe that they can get away with behavior within a relationship that the less physically endowed wouldn’t even try, because it’s often taken for granted that the sins of the gorgeous will be forgiven.
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