There’s no doubt that in the early stages of dating in particular, the level of attractiveness plays a key role in dating success. But how important attraction is and does it improve your chances of relationship fulfilment?
To be clear, as my expertise and matchmaking experience centres around heterosexual men and women this article and the studies I refer to will be focussed on this group.
In this article learn…
- What do women perceive as attractive in men
- What do men perceive as attractive in women
- How attraction in you and others affects your dating life
- How important it is to relationship success
As a matchmaker working exclusively with clients who are looking for a serious long-term relationship, I’ve spent 1000s of hours talking to men and women about their relationship goals. They talk about everything from adventure, spontaneity and energy to trust and loyalty to matching their travel plans, and career ambitions to sharing plans for family. But the one thing that people seem to secretly care about most, particularly in early dating, is physical attraction. Physical attraction is the one thing that can help people dismiss other concerns in the early dating period and the lack of physical attraction early can have people ignore someone’s incredible relationship compatibility.
As an elite matchmaking agency, our clients are attractive, fit & healthy and well dressed & groomed. But this list is not always enough for people to move forward with someone who might be highly compatible if they don’t find them physically attractive.
What is Physical Attraction?
So what is physical attraction? There have been many clinical studies attempting to ascertain what (heterosexual) men and women find physically attractive and why. In my online training course- How to Attract Your Ultimate Partner, I discuss the primal drivers for why men seek pretty (facially symmetrical= good genetics) fit & healthy (likely to survive) and shapely (WHR – Waist to Hip Ratio as an expression of fertility) women. I also discuss why women desire taller (perceived as strong and able to protect) square-jawed, small-eyed, large-nosed, stubbled (indicators of higher testosterone and presumed more fertile) men.
I also discuss in How to Attract Your Ultimate Partner, other indicators that draw people to each other in the early stages of dating. Some of these indicators centre around social status, financial status, sexiness and charm. In fact, there are a number of indicators you are consciously and subconsciously checking when you meet your potential romantic partner. I refer to these indicators as The Super 7 (as there are 7 of them and they are Super…ficial.)
Both studies and my experience as a dating coach prove one thing, however. Ranking well in the Super 7 or in layman’s terms, being more physically attractive appears to have little or no bearing on relationship success. Within a short period of time, after your dating stage begins to move into relationship consideration and exploration, the more superficial draw cards lose their staying power and give way to what the scientist refer to as “agreeableness”.
Agreeableness, or your ability to listen, communicate, problem solves, support each other and share values and life goals, quickly begin to outweigh the shit that got you in the door in the first place, leaving hot people with poor relationship skills on a horror cycle of short term dating experiences that end badly. So when you’re at the bar or at your first in-person meeting with your dating-app date and you see someone incredibly attractive and you think, “how can someone so gorgeous be single?”… This is why.
So allow me to answer the question that I was asked…
Is physical attraction important?
When it comes to dating, there is clear evidence that people who are perceived as more physically attractive tend to have more success in dating- particularly in the early stages. Luckily for you, this is an area you can work on and improve. I’m not going to waste time telling you what to do. There’s a world of information out there guiding you in this area. However, as I mentioned, levels of initial attraction have to do with more than just looks. To find out more about this and how to win the dating game go to TrudyGilbert.com
When it comes to happiness in something more serious, there’s no evidence to suggest that relying on your physical prowess makes you more likely to have relationship success. Interestingly when surveyed, hetero couples who are in happy relationships tend to rate the level of attraction of their partners as high -in fact, higher than the partner rate themselves. Interestingly most of the couples in the study also stated that their current partner was more attractive than their previous partners, suggesting the cliches of ‘love is blind’ and ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder.’ But this is due to the fact that they have shifted their association of what they find attractive. Where in the early stages it might have been flat stomachs, sultry eyes, shapely boobs & hips, thick hair or maybe a flashy car… Now it’s more about their inner strength, their passion, their laugh, the sound of their voice, their ability to calm you down when you lose it or pick you up when you’re falling apart, the way they spend their Sunday preparing your favourite meal or the way they squeeze your hand to chill when your mother (or child) is driving you crazy.
At the end of the day, improving your physical attraction or ‘window dressing’ as I like to call it is an effective way to bring people into the store. But once they walk in, your daily workouts won’t mean shit if you don’t have the relationship game to back it up. Very quickly relationship deficits will make the best-looking person seem average in the eye of the person on the other end of it.
What if I Have a Good Relationship but There are Still Problems with Physical Attraction?
The answer to this question demands far more than a paragraph in a blog post but if you came here with this issue – your relationship being in a good place but there is lacking sexual expression, then I think it’s worth examining. It is true that relationships can thrive without sexual intimacy but most souls tend to seek this intimacy in one way or another and living without it can leave some relationships vulnerable. If you are unsatisfied with your sexual intimacy in your relationship or you are struggling to feel attracted or attractive to your partner I recommend you see a professional who specialises in this area. In the meantime try and identify what is sexually-blocking about your’s or your partner’s behaviours or attributes. It could be physicality but more likely it’s behaviours or could be something as simple as bad breath or another poor hygiene practice or it could be more about them feeling unsupported or unheard. It may even be that there is not enough effort on one or both of your parts to make this expression special in some way. One friend said his girlfriend (with whom he shared a child) right before sex, would say, “alright let’s get this over with.” You can imagine how that relationship turned out.
Also, begin to focus on behaviours between you that do signal attraction and sexual intimacy and make an effort to increase their quality and quantity. It sounds overly simplistic but remembering what made you hot for each other in the beginning and trying to recreate more of that, is probably the most common advice you will receive from your relationship counselor or sex coach.
Hotness- Good for Dating… Less Important for Relationships
So in a nutshell, physical attraction is in fact important. Without it, there is less chance that you or your potential partner will want to explore things past a first date. Physical attraction is a powerful way to establish a connection or a bond that could develop into something more. Being physically attractive will provide you with more opportunities for dating success, particularly those first few dates and those opportunities for sexual conquest.
But, there’s little evidence to suggest that physical attraction equals more relationship success as once you are in a relationship you are exploring far deeper and more meaningful interaction which relies on many things such as goals and values alignment.
If your relationship is feeling a little stale, it might be time for a behaviour audit and adjustment from both sides to reboot the passion that can bring so much joy and strength to a serious relationship.