Melody Kiersz, NYC Tawkify Matchmaker and Founder at Naked Wellness, circulated Mate-Seeking: The Science of Finding Your Best Partner out to the team last month on a hunch we would find it intriguing. There’s is a lot of “meat” to both Sean Braswel’s NPR story and Jeb Kinnison’s analysis of it that we thought the greater populace might benefit from…
… [T]here’s another type of virtual eyewear that many of us spend even more time donning — one that has the opposite effect of beer goggles. Call them “expectancy spectacles” if you’d like, because wearing them causes us to raise our standards and expectations, often unrealistically, of everything from potential mates to job prospects.
The primary culprit behind this altered vision is not booze, but a potent concoction of Hollywood movies, social conditioning and wishful thinking. And fortunately, there are a few scientists on the case.
One is Ty Tashiro, a psychologist specializing in romantic relationships who writes for Discovery Fit and Health. His recent book, The Science of Happily Ever After, explores what “advances in relationship science” can teach us about the partners we choose. Almost 9 in 10 Americans believe they have a soul mate, says Tashiro, but only 3 in 10 find enduring partnerships that do not end in divorce, separation or chronic unhappiness. Clearly something is going wrong — and it starts with our expectations.
That’s because in real life the pool of potential partners looks rather different from the cast of The Bachelorette — something Tashiro hopes to address by putting some cold figures to the mating game, employing an approach similar to the one used by scientists who calculate the chances of life on other planets.
…Which is why Tashiro advocates a new approach to dating, one that is not so much about lowering standards as giving yourself better ones. Call it “Moneyballing” relationships (Tashiro does); it’s all about finding undervalued traits and assets in the dating market. And, just like with baseball, it starts with trying to ignore the superficial indices of value — attractiveness, wealth — in favor of hidden attributes with a stronger correlation to long-term relationship success.
Citing research that finds no reliable link between income level or physical attractiveness and relationship satisfaction, Tashiro steers his readers toward traits such as agreeableness. With married couples, he points out, “liking declines at a rate of 3 percent a year, whereas lust declines at a rate of 8 percent per year,” so the smarter, long-term investment is finding someone you genuinely like. Plus, he adds, studies also suggest that agreeable partners are in fact “better in bed” and less likely to cheat over the long haul.
Jeb Kinnison’s take:
In the mate-seeking problem, the analogous strategy is to not be distracted by good looks or superficial factors like current wealth, height, or sexiness. The people who have all those things are in great demand, know it, and are less likely to pick you for partnership. Meanwhile, the shy, short guy with the entrepreneurial spirit and drive will someday be wealthy, the plain and unfashionably dressed girl with smarts may blossom into a glamourous woman as she makes it out in the world and has the time and money to work on appearance.
When you are thinking long-term, think like an investor — go after the future great partner, not the ones who satisfy all your shallow “must haves.” Love and commitment make high achievers out of good partners, and young people who are loyal and reliable can build each other up and create that successful life the Fairy Tale talks about; but it doesn’t just happen, you have to work for it and believe in your partner. Look for someone you can trust and believe in.
Boston based Matchmaker, Kenzie Lane, responded to Melody’s suggested reading with her own professional insight (and the clip featured above)…
This was very interesting! I often find that recruits/clients feel that they can determine on a single date whether or not it’s going to work out even if they’re physically attracted— and that doesn’t make sense to me…I feel like people need to give prospective matches more of a chance, instead of expecting a fairytale love-at-first-sight romance. Traits like agreeableness as the article states and also (in my opinion) a shared sense of humor, can make a relationship much more sustainable than wealth, height, and a PhD.
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