Golden Pixels LLC/Shutterstock
Source: Golden Pixels LLC/Shutterstock

Thinking that your partner is hotter than you is one of the best signs you're in love.

According to a well-known theory of dating, we all give ourselves a rating on how good a catch we think we are, and then, consciously or not, look for someone similar. Online dating, however, seems to push people toward trying to date "up." The most attractive profiles get besieged by emails and IMs from people who others might perceive not to be in their targets' league. But when we get off the computer screen and back into real life, we again tend to focus on partners we think roughly match us on characteristics we care about—looks included. 

And then, once you're in love, you probably see your mate through the proverbial rose-colored glasses. It's true: Our mates do look more attractive to us than they do to other people, an effect researchers have called the “love is blind” bias.

When your relationship is going well, your beloved begins to look better and better; better, you may even think, than you do. If you're about equally attractive, the chances are your partner thinks you’re the better-looking one, too.

It's possible that you'll be even more prone to this illusion if you're an extrovert. Love-blindness also may be linked to a bigger chance of a committed, passionate, intimate, satisfying relationship.

I know this sounds like a phenomenon that's probably limited to the first six months of dating. Not so, researchers say: In a study of 93 heterosexual Dutch couples that had been together for an average of 14 years, people tended to rate themselves as a bit less attractive than their partner did.

“People are often more self-critical about their appearance than they need to be, at least when it comes to their partner,” reported researchers Pieternel Barelds-Dijkstra and Dick Barelds at the University of Groningen in The Netherlands.

We also are prone to focus on the wrong traits. Women typically assume that men prefer a female shape that is thinner and bustier than they actually do, while men wrongly assume that women prefer heavier, more muscular and larger-chested men. So don't worry if you're not a model of the current ideal of femininity or masculinity and you think your mate is stunning. Just be glad you're so in love! 

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