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She always steps in the same river

Surely everybody noticed that some of his friends (or even he himself) have a certain “type” when it comes to a choice of a romantic partner. Some men prefer blonds, others think that freckles are cute. Some women are attracted to muscles, others like bearded men. How does this observation stand up, however, when we look at it through the eyes of science? And is there a difference between partners we have children with and our other long-term relationships? These are the questions asked by Zuzana Štěrbová, Petr Tureček and Karel Kleisner of the Human Ethology research group, Faculty of Science of Charles University.
One partner like another. Looking back, you might be surprised how similar your ex-partners were. Not necessarily only by their looks, but by their personality, hobbies or occupation as well.
Source: www.pxhere.com

In the study, more than 500 women described all their long-term partners via questionnaires with respect to 21 characteristics, for example eye color, height, body shape, education, age, conscientiousness or openness. In most of these, a consistency among the partners of individual women was indeed found. The most consistent characteristic turned out to be a partner’s residence size (i.e. village, town, city or metropolis). The fathers of the women’s children fit into this “type” for most of the cases as well. Interestingly, one small deflection was found in extraversion. Women that date extroverts tend to end up with slightly more introverted men and vice versa – women that usually choose introverts often have children with more extroverted man. This effect was not strong enough to disrupt the women’s “type”, though.

Whether we realize it or not, it seems most of us truly have a certain “type”. What exactly does it mean? Imagine that every trait can be described on a scale from 1 to 10. Someone’s “type” then lies between the values 2 and 4, or 7 and 10. The “type” doesn’t mean the perfect man is 187 cm tall and no more and no less, but rather that this imaginary someone prefers tall men. But is there some advantage in having a “type”? One possibility is that it helps us choose our partner more quickly. After all, most of us can choose from a huge pool of potential partners – at least in theory. Just look at some dating services to see how many people are looking for a soul mate in your area. To consider every single potential match for a fair amount of time would simply be too time consuming. One’s “type” is a tool in this analogy – a kind of filter people are indeed configuring on these services in real life.

Of course, this “type” is not something fixed – on the contrary it may change with time. Partly it is because people themselves change; with different priorities or a life-style, their mate choice changes as well. Previous experience can also be important. If our last break-up was truly bad, we might try to find a partner far different from the previous one. On the other hand, the choice of mate is mostly subconscious. That is why, after some time, we usually once again find ourselves with a tall, blond, volleyball-playing lawyer. We are entering the same river twice.

Iveta Štolhoferová

Zuzana Štěrbová, Petr Tureček, Karel Kleisner; She Always Steps in the Same River: Similarity Among Long-Term Partners in Their Demographic, Physical, and Personality Characteristics; Frontiers in Psychology; 2019


Published: Jun 24, 2019 07:45 AM

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