When it comes to dating, some people say that it doesn’t matter whether or not the person is attractive, but rather how great their personality is. That’s all well and good, but most of the time these people are lying to themselves, whether they realize it or not.
According to research from Northwestern University and Texas A&M University, despite people saying that they don’t care if their future partner is “hot” or “sexy,” they may focus on these attributes when choosing a potential mate. This is not to say they’re lying intentionally, these individuals may simply not realize what they actually want when it’s staring them in the face.
“People will readily tell you what they value in a romantic partner,” said Eli Finkel, associate professor of psychology at Northwestern and co-author of the study. “But study after study shows that those preferences don’t predict whom daters are actually attracted to when they meet flesh-and-blood partners. Now we can get under the hood with this quirky methodology to see what people actually prefer in live-interaction settings.”
Researchers suggest part of the reason people may date someone different than what they think they want is because of an unconscious desire. However, this does not account for all personality traits, scientists believe it’s more of a surface value. In terms of attractiveness, individuals may feel that they’re not as in to looks as they really are.
“In many cases, people’s consciously stated attitudes and preferences predict their behavior quite well,” said Alice H. Eagly, another researcher with the study. “But in the case of attraction, people’s implicit, unconscious preferences seem to do a better job.”
Of course, nothing helps make a decision about a partner like sexual health, which is why it’s a good idea to have that kind of talk before getting into a relationship, or at least using a condom until you have the conversation.