Studies show sevens belong with sevens.
One time I read about an experiment in which people were given a playing card to wear on their forehead. Without knowing their own cards, the players were instructed to find a person who they believed had a card with a value that matched their own.
So what happened exactly?
More often than not, people with the same cards matched. How did that happen? Well, everyone was wearing a number that correlated to their attractiveness level. So when they went to find their card-carrying partner, the players tended to pick someone who they thought was equally as attractive as themselves.
Although it sounds weird, it’s actually an old phenomenon. It’s called “assortative mating,” and scientists have been studying it since 1903, according to The Washington Post. In a study reported on Mic.com, statistician Emma Pierson examined 1 million matches made by eHarmony’s algorithm. And guess what she discovered? That people are “overwhelmingly” interested in those that look just like them, even when it comes to things like height.
Maybe that’s why I’ve always known I won’t end up with a conventionally attractive guy.
Like most girls I know, I drool over Zac Efron and Javier Bardem. I even remember my first childhood crush, Jean-Claude Van Damme, and his perfectly sculpted arms. But I never pictured myself ending up in those arms.
I didn’t grow up thinking of myself as conventionally attractive. I was a bit overweight and uncomfortable with my curves. And then I turned 12 and stopped growing entirely. I was only 5'2". Eventually I found a haircut that suited my face and my confidence grew. I was cute, not beautiful. But when it came to dating, I didn’t have high expectations for myself. None of the David Beckham lookalikes I met ever paid me any attention so I figured my hunch was correct: I’m no Eva Mendes therefore there’s no Ryan Gosling in my future.
When I was younger, this made me sad. I knew not being pretty meant that I would never belong in the popular group at school which affected my self-esteem. It all began to feel like a catch-22: I didn’t feel attractive so I didn’t try to date and not dating made me feel less confident which was a turn-off to others.
We’ve all been on a date with someone who seemed great but was too insecure to be attractive. Who wants to flirt with someone who constantly pokes fun at his big nose, stringy biceps or weird hair? A fair amount of self-degradation can be nice, but too much of it and you just seem creepy.
So what are we supposed to do when we’re not exactly the pick of the litter?
According to a study published last year in the journal Psychological Science, if you’re hoping to end up with a more attractive partner, you have to play the long game. The longer you know someone before you start dating, the more likely it is that your personality will win them over. Or at least that’s what we are supposed to assume from this study, which “found that heterosexual couples who were friends before they dated were more likely to be rated at different attractiveness levels.”
So if you met and started dating within a month, you and your partner are probably equally attractive. But if you knew each other for more than nine months, then researchers “found no significant correlation” in levels of attractiveness. For better or for worse, science indicates that our dependence on looks fades, just as looks do eventually.
Of course, the rise in online dating hasn’t made it any easier for people like me who aren’t conventionally attractive. People still say that good looks are important in their partners. Sure, we were all taught to believe in inner beauty, but we seem to gravitate exclusively towards partners who are as attractive as we are and come from similar cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds too.
Maybe this all sounds depressing, but I actually think it’s okay. So I end up with a 7 because I’m a 7 and not a 9. As long as he is a good, loving and generous partner, is it really the worst thing in the world? The same study also found that there is absolutely “no correlation between the couples’ similarity in attractiveness and their relationship satisfaction.” So if being with a partner that is just as attractive as you (or hotter) doesn’t make you any happier, perhaps we should focus more on getting to know our potential partners as people first.
For me, that means working on my confidence and focusing on what I bring to the table besides my booty. Tyson Beckford might not ever crawl into bed with me, but that’s okay. I’m perfectly happy finding the guy that’s right for me in more than just his pretty face. Or mine, for that matter.