3 Reasons Why Women May Choose the Wrong Mate
If you are looking for a long-term relationship, be aware of your instincts.
Posted July 3, 2019 | Reviewed by Gary Drevitch
Many heterosexual women are frustrated by the search for a long-term relationship partner. It may be useful for women to recognize when they are attracted to men who are unlikely to remain in long-lasting partnerships.
Although we may be unlikely to admit that physical attractiveness is important to us, heterosexual women are undoubtedly attracted to good-looking men (Eastwick and Finkel, 2008; Kurzban and Weeden, 2005; Sprecher, 1989). Some of our attraction to physically appealing men may be unconscious (Eastwick et al., 2011) and based on our evolutionary history (attractive men may possess higher-quality genes, see Perrilloux et al., 2010). We may also be attracted to the other positive qualities which seem to go hand-in-hand with physical attractiveness, such as better personalities and more fulfilling life experiences (Dion et al., 1972; Griffin and Langlois, 2006). However, if we are looking for long-term, stable relationships, it may be better for women not to pursue attractive men. Highly attractive, masculine men are more likely to be unfaithful to their partners (Rhodes et al., 2012). Further, highly attractive men are more likely to divorce their spouses, perhaps because they are less able to resist mating opportunities with potential new partners (Ma-Kellams et al., 2017).
A Sexy Voice
Women are often attracted to men with sexy voices. Women tend to prefer deeper, more masculine voices in men, a trait associated with higher levels of testosterone (Simmons, et al., 2011). Vocal attractiveness and physical attractiveness often correspond; men whose voices are judged as more appealing also tend to be rated as having more attractive faces (Saxton et al., 2006). Similarly, men with attractive voices are also more symmetrical (body symmetry is also linked to genetic quality and physical attractiveness, see Hughes et al., 2002). Individuals rated as having more attractive voices are also expected to have more pleasing personalities (Zuckerman et al., 1991). Although heterosexual women might prefer male partners with sexy voices, men with attractive voices tend to have more sex partners and are more likely to be unfaithful during their long-term relationships (Gallup & Frederick, 2010). Not only is vocal attractiveness associated with the likelihood of having one affair; it is associated with an increased risk for having numerous affairs, as well as an increased risk for having sex with a partner who is already in another relationship, a phenomenon known as "mate poaching" (Hughes et al., 2004). Although sexy voices sound appealing, like the highly attractive men discussed above, men with very sexy voices may make better short-term than long-term partners.
Men with Girlfriends
Interestingly, heterosexual women are often attracted to men who are already in relationships. This situation is called “mate-choice copying,” and it also occurs in other animals including fish and birds (Uller and Johansson, 2002). In humans, the interest of other women signals that a man has desirable qualities—in a sense, he is “pre-screened.” The preference for mated men is stronger when the men have girlfriends rather than spouses (Schmitt and Buss, 2001). However, for long-term relationships, it may not be the best idea to pursue men who already have partners. If these men are willing to leave their partners for you, they may react in the same fashion when another potential new partner comes along. One way to avoid mate-choice copying may be to have more sexual experience of your own. Waynforth (2007) suggests that women with more sexual experience don’t feel the need to copy others’ mate choices; more confidence in one’s own mate choices may reduce the impulse to copy others’ choices.
Dating the Right Men
If you are looking for a short-term relationship then a physically attractive man with a sexy voice may be the perfect partner for you. However, if you are looking for a long-term relationship, it may be useful to look for men with other desirable characteristics. Mutual respect appears to be crucial for a successful long-term partnership. In fact, respect is more strongly related to long-term relationship satisfaction than feelings of love for a partner (Frei and Shaver, 2002). Honesty is also associated with better long-term relationship outcomes and greater well-being (Brunell et al., 2010). In terms of physical attractiveness, couples who resemble one another in level of physical attractiveness seem to have longer, more stable partnerships (Feingold, 1988). Furthermore, as we get to know, like, and respect each other more, the less important physical attractiveness becomes to beginning and maintaining a long-term relationship (Hunt et al., 2015). Find out more about the traits that make you a great romantic partner here.
Facebook image: dekazigzag/Shutterstock
Brunell, A. B., Kernis, M. H., Goldman, B. M., Heppner, W., Davis, P., Cascio, E. V., & Webster, G. D. (2010). Dispositional authenticity and romantic relationship functioning. Personality and Individual Differences, 48(8), 900-905. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2010.02.018
Dion, K., Berscheid, E., & Walster, E. (1972). What is beautiful is good. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 24(3), 285–290. doi:10.1037/h0033731
Eastwick, P. W., Eagly, A. H., Finkel, E. J., & Johnson, S. E. (2011). Implicit and explicit preferences for physical attractiveness in a romantic partner: A double dissociation in predictive validity. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 101(5), 993–1011. doi:10.1037/a0024061
Eastwick, P. W., & Finkel, E. J. (2008). Sex differences in mate preferences revisited: Do people know what they initially desire in a romantic partner? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 94(2), 245–264. doi:10.1037/0022-35184.108.40.206
Feingold, A. (1988). Matching for attractiveness in romantic partners and same-sex friends: A meta-analysis and theoretical critique. Psychological Bulletin, 104(2), 226–235. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0033-2909.104.2.226.
Frei, J. R., & Shaver, P. R. (2002). Respect in close relationships: Prototype definition, self-report assessment, and initial correlates. Personal Relationships, 9(2), 121.
Gallup, G. R., & Frederick, D. A. (2010). The science of sex appeal: An evolutionary perspective. Review of General Psychology, 14(3), 240–250. doi:10.1037/a0020451
Griffin, A. M., & Langlois, J. H. (2006). Stereotype directionality and attractiveness stereotyping: Is beauty good or is ugly bad? Social Cognition, 24(2), 187–206. doi:10.1521/soco.2006.24.2.187
Hughes, S. M., Harrison, M. A., & Gallup, G. r. (2002). The sound of symmetry: Voice as a marker of developmental instability. Evolution and Human Behavior, 23(3), 173–180. doi:10.1016/S1090-5138(01)00099-X
Hughes, S. M., Dispenza, F., & Gallup, G. J. (2004). Ratings of voice attractiveness predict sexual behavior and body configuration. Evolution and Human Behavior, 25(5), 295-304. doi:10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2004.06.001
Hunt, L. L., Eastwick, P. W., & Finkel, E. J. (2015). Leveling the playing field: Longer acquaintance predicts reduced assortative mating on attractiveness. Psychological Science, 26(7), 1046–1053. https://doi-org.ecsu.idm.oclc.org/10.1177/0956797615579273
Kurzban, R., & Weeden, J. (2005). HurryDate: Mate preferences in action. Evolution and Human Behavior, 26(3), 227–244. doi:10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2004.08.012
Ma‐Kellams, C., Wang, M. C., & Cardiel, H. (2017). Attractiveness and relationship longevity: Beauty is not what it is cracked up to be. Personal Relationships, 24(1), 146-161.
Perilloux, H. K., Webster, G. D., & Gaulin, S. C. (2010). Signals of genetic quality and maternal investment capacity: The dynamic effects of fluctuating asymmetry and waist-to-hip ratio on men’s ratings of women’s attractiveness. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 1(1), 34–42. doi:10.1177/1948550609349514
Rhodes, G., Morley, G., & Simmons, L. W. (2012). Women can judge sexual unfaithfulness from unfamiliar men’s faces.Biology Letters, 9, 20120908. http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsbl.2012.0908
Saxton, T., Caryl, P., & Roberts, S. (2006). Vocal and facial attractiveness judgments of children, adolescents and adults: The ontogeny of mate choice. Ethology, 112(12), 1179–1185. doi:10.1111/j.1439-0310.2006.01278.x.
Schmitt, D. P., and Buss, D. M. (2001). Human mate poaching: Tactics and temptations for infiltrating existing mateships. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 80(6), 894-917. doi:10.1037//0022-35220.127.116.114
Simmons, L. W., Peters, M., & Rhodes, G. (2011). Low pitched voices are perceived as masculine and attractive but do they predict semen quality in men? Plos ONE, 6(12), doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0029271
Uller, T., and Johansson, L. C. (2003). Human mate choice and the wedding ring effect. Human Nature, 14(3), 267-276.
Waynforth, D. (2007). Mate choice copying in humans. Human Nature, 18(3), 264-271. doi:10.1007/s12110-007-9004-2
Zuckerman, M., Miyake, K., & Hodgins, H. (1991). Cross-channel effects of vocal and physical attractiveness and their implications for interpersonal perception. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 60(4), 545–554. doi:10.1037/0022-3518.104.22.1685.