We’re all familiar with the idea of mate value. Our reptilian brains evaluate people we see for obvious signs that let us know their offspring will survive; good health, social standing, and resources. It seems shallow, but it’s how love at first sight works. With that said, though, a recent study has confirmed what many of us already know; your mate value changes with time.
The Realities of Dating
Picture this experiment. A room full of university students are asked to rate their classmates for attractiveness on the first day of the semester. Given that no one has really known each other for very long, there’s a general consensus on who the most desirable partners are. At the end of the three-month semester, the same class is asked to re-evaluate itself for the most attractive members. Now, after getting to know each other over a few months, the numbers are wildly different.
That’s the gist of what a new study covered by the New York Times has to say. We make snap judgments on attractiveness at first glance, but our partner’s real value changes the longer we’ve known them. We all know the trope of the guy who’s a perfect physical specimen, but is dumb as a post. Or the girl who doesn’t have supermodel looks, but has qualities beneath her skin that make her an ideal partner. Those aren’t just lazy scriptwriters feeding us tropes in romantic comedies; these things happen every day.
People change, and our attitudes change. That makes dating one, big mess of emotions and needs. But if we listen to what science has to say on the subject, at least we’re getting a better handle on why we end up choosing the people we love. It also means that, because each of us are unique in what we like, want, and need, that we aren’t all competing for those few, top partners and just settling for someone else when we fail. As humans we seek out those who meet our needs… even if they aren’t who we thought they would be.