What do Lorde and an average woman have in common that caused such a stir? They're dating men who are seemingly less attractive than them. But while she asked it rhetorically, it begs a real answer. And why are we so intent on pointing it out? So Mic asked the couples themselves: What's it like, and why do we care so much? Generally speaking, we tend to be drawn to people who are equally or more attractive than us.
Supposed "mismatches" may be more common than we're willing to admit, though. There's also truth in the saying that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. In , OkCupid published data that shows that women's attractiveness rankings are often split, with women who get "1" and "2" attractiveness ratings on a five-point scale also receiving a high number of "5" ratings. So much for consensus.
Attraction is more subjective than we may admit. While the most universal measure of attractiveness is a symmetrical face, there are lots of other factors at play. From your mood at the time to the color someone's wearing, "a lot of attractiveness is contextual and not set in stone," Lewandowski said.
Personality plays a huge role in attraction. Take Addie, a year-old from the San Francisco area. We clicked the first time we hung out, and I've never had a lousy time with him. The second study asked college students to rate the romantic appeal of their opposite-sex classmates.
While students agreed on who was most attractive at the beginning of the semester, by the end of the semester, their opinions on who were most attractive differed greatly. Personality matters — and it eventually makes the attractiveness less powerful. I must confess my boyfriend and I do recognize that he's not my fantasy of tall, dark and handsome, but he's perfect for me in every other sense.
While there's nothing inherently at issue in "mismatched" relationships, problems can arise if one person believes their partner is more attractive. Research shows that when you think your partner is of a higher 'mate value' than you are, you're more likely to be jealous.
But you're also more likely to forgive that person. It definitely puts strain on our relationship. You'll come under scrutiny too — people will wonder what's so amazing about you that you managed to land a boy whose looks are so superior to yours.
If attraction is so mysterious, why do we freak out so much when we see mismatched couples? We don't like uncertainty, so anecdotally speaking we're harsh on the relationship because we don't understand it — even though it may be a beautiful love. Plenty of TV shows and movies feature fat or slobby men with supermodel wives. But when was the last time you saw a TV couple where the guy was way hotter?
If a guy is unattractive and the woman is attractive, we may assume he makes a lot of money. When an attractive men dates an unattractive woman, it threatens more than just our certainty in how the world works — it overturns gender roles as well. Unlike what apps like Tinder seem to imply, love isn't just a game of appearances.
So if you're looking for love, it's important to do more than just look. The only issue that could arise is your perception of the mismatch, which can cause insecurity.
And there can be insecurity on both sides. You can be in a relationship where both people think they're the less attractive partner.