If you’ve never had a serious, long-term relationship, you’ve probably asked yourself why.
Are you a commitment-phobe? Do you prefer to play the field? Are you actually just a horrible, selfish person that no one can bear to be around for more than three months?
Well, good news: having shorter relationships is actually a sign of being attractive.
A series of studies has concluded that better-looking people’s relationships seem to break down sooner than the averagely attractive.
So if you only ever seem to have short-term relationships, you can at least take comfort in the fact that it could simply be because you’re just too beautiful.
It’s been suggested that the reason the attractive people’s relationships tend to break down quicker is that “they take greater interest in alternative partners, especially when dissatisfied in their current relationship,” the British Psychological Society writes.
In a new study titled ‘Attractiveness and relationship longevity: Beauty is not what it is cracked up to be,’ Harvard University researchers asked two women to rate the attractiveness of 238 men in their high school yearbook pictures (at the age of 17 or 18).
The date was from two schools in different areas – one working class, the other more privileged.
The researchers then turned to Ancestry to find out whether the men had been divorced or married at all over the following 30 years.
The cartoons that perfectly sum up relationships
They discovered that the men who had been considered more attractive were more likely to be divorced or to have had shorter marriages.
The length of any relationships that didn’t result in marriage were not considered, and of course it’s worth pointing out that many more couples are now choosing to stay with their partners and not marry.
The researchers then took their research further by assessing the divorce and marriage date for the top 20 actors and actresses on IMDB and the world’s most powerful 100 celebrities according to Forbes – altogether they had a list of 130 because some actors and actresses were also on Forbes’ list.
The same two women who’d judged the yearbook photos were asked to rate the attractiveness of the celebrities – once again, those who were considered better looking were more likely either to be divorced or to have been married for shorter lengths of time.
It is worth pointing out, however, that the opinions of two women do not necessarily represent the whole – as they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
The researchers were most interested in working out whether the cause of the apparent correlation was that attractive people were more likely to be interested in other people.
Previous studies have shown that when in a committed relationship, we tend to see other people as less attractive as a way to sustain the relationship.
If you’re single, have you ever commented on a good-looking man or woman’s attractiveness to your coupled-up friend only to find they didn’t notice him or her? Exactly.
Julie Houts on modern love – In pictures
The researchers wanted to find out whether attractive people don’t have this protective bias.
They recruited 130 people, just under half of whom were in exclusive romantic relationships, and asked them to rate the attractiveness of a photo of someone of the opposite sex – whether all participants were heterosexual is not clear.
At the same time, the researchers rated the attractiveness of the participants.
They found that the people who were themselves better looking were more likely to be attracted to the people in the photos, but only if they (themselves) were in a relationship.
So contrary to the notion of protective bias, when in a relationship, good looking people actually may find themselves more attracted to others.
It makes sense that the more beautiful amongst us will attract more potential suitors, but the study strongly suggests they’re also more likely to take an interest, especially if unhappy in their relationships.
If you’ve been rejected by someone impossibly good looking in the past, take solace – it probably wouldn’t have lasted anyway.