Face to face: how we actually choose partners


Imagine that we could assemble a partner of our dreams as a designer by selecting the necessary “spare part” from the catalog. What facial features would we highlight among others? What seems attractive to us in the body section? Researchers Karin Perilla and Jim Cloud addressed these questions to 260 American subjects. Participants with a heterosexual orientation between the ages of 20 and 75 were asked to “gather” two optimal partners: one for a short-term affair, the other for a long-term relationship.

Respondents did not need to focus on model faces and bodies of athletes, the task was different: each had a certain number of points, which they could distribute over ten physical qualities. Scientists divided the subjects into two groups, giving them a different number of points: the “rich” had 70 each, the “poor” only 30, so the latter had to be more economical.

Face in focus

The results of the experiment showed that both women and men preferred an attractive face to a beautiful body, regardless of whether it was a short-term or long-term relationship. With one exception: as soon as men had a limited amount of “experimental money” and, as a result, fewer opportunities for modeling an ideal woman, they chose a lover (but not a life partner), paying attention mainly to attractive body shapes, and not to their faces .

Karin Perilla and Jim Cloud explain this with our evolutionary biology. According to their thesis, men, following an archaic program, pay attention to the wide hips of a potential partner, “promising” reproductive success. But among women respondents with a “low budget” there was just the tendency to opt for a beautiful face – perhaps because women read nature’s tips more subtly: “Previous studies have shown that women can draw accurate conclusions about fertility on a man’s face” .

But the biopsychologist Peter Walshburger does not agree with them. He believes that for women, the appearance of a partner is not as important as for men. “Women are not as susceptible to visual stimuli as men,” he said. They unconsciously look for a reliable person with whom they can feel safe, and first of all recognize a defender in a man.

Love at first sight?

Although lovers love to emphasize the importance of each other’s spiritual values, referring to the harmony of souls that they could feel from the first minutes, in fact, the true “detonator” is appearance. “30% of our brain is exclusively involved in the processing of visual stimuli,” explains Andreas Bartels, head of the research team from the University of Tübingen (Germany).

Often a feeling of love arises at first sight. At the same time, men prefer women with smooth, “soft” faces, and women like eye-catching, special faces. A significant role in a typical male and typical female appearance is played by the sex hormones testosterone and estrogen.

External resemblance – a sign of great love?

Seeing the similarities between the dog and its owner, many of us involuntarily smile. But are we looking for similarities not only in our pets, but also in partners? It would seem that it sounds strange, and it is believed that we are mainly attracted to opposites. But partners who live together for a long time are really amazingly similar. And scientists have figured out why.

The similarity seems to play an important role already at the start of the relationship – when choosing a partner. We often fall in love with people whose facial features resemble ours. Similar eyes, the same look make us trust, disposition and sympathy. Scientists offer a logical explanation: the external similarity subconsciously makes people like us “kindred,” “relevant to us,” as if we have close DNA. Thus, our body is looking for the ideal partner for reproduction.

It seems that in people who laugh a lot with each other, over time, the same wrinkles appear on their faces – “traces” of laughter

Researchers from the University of Michigan studied photographs of partners in long-term alliances. The result was impressive: partners who have been in a relationship longer than 25 years are often very similar to each other (although this may be explained by the same nutrition and lifestyle). But the researchers were surprised by something else: partners who describe their relationship as happy demonstrate an even more striking resemblance – to such an extent that you might think that you have a brother and a sister in front of you.

Scientists have found a beautiful explanation for this phenomenon: it seems that people who laugh a lot with each other have the same wrinkles on their faces – “traces” of laughter. Or – the seal of a common happy life.

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