Are looks in a partner important as we get older?
What do you look for in a partner? If you said looks, you are by no means being shallow. In fact, there is biological evidence to suggest that attractiveness is a sign of good genes. What we are actually doing when we are searching for an attractive partner is looking for someone who will provide us with healthy offspring.
It is easy to understand why we would do this when we are young, but it is still the case as we get older and cannot reproduce?
Surely we place more importance on higher virtues, such as kindness, humour and understanding, the older and wiser we get? Or do we still value appearances?
Let’s start with what we mean by good looking.
How do we measure beauty?
Beauty is personal, and what one person finds attractive may not float another’s boat. You may, however, be surprised to learn that you can measure beauty using mathematics.
Facial features, for instance, should be absolutely symmetrical, and this holds true across cultures, countries and even in nature and the animal kingdom.
This explains why so many people are opting for cosmetic surgery to correct wonky teeth, straighten noses and even-up sagging jowls.
Renowned oral and facial reconstructive surgeon, Dr. Stephen Marquardt, used the ancient Greek mathematical quotient known as the ‘Golden Ratio’ to construct a mask that defines the perfect face.
The Marquardt Beauty Mask uses established mathematical equations to map out the ideal proportions of facial features.
Why are good looks important in a partner when we are younger?
Evolutionary psychologists state that there is a simple reason why we tend to search for partners. Having a perfectly symmetrical face indicates to a prospective partner that the person has good genes.
Those with an unsymmetrical face would tend to suggest poor development in the womb which has led to defects. These can be generated by either poor health, bad genes, or substance abuse. All of which are not good adverts for producing healthy offspring.
Research has shown that having a symmetrical face is also linked to amiability, friendliness and loyalty.
Furthermore, recent studies oddly indicate that women who had a male partner with a symmetrical body tended to have more orgasms. Whereas those with symmetrical breasts were shown to be fertile than those who were more lopsided.
It is clear that looks play an important part in reproduction. We choose a good-looking partner in order to secure the best genes for our offspring. But as we age, and having children is no longer an issue, does attractiveness become less important?
What characteristics are important in relationships as we age?
According to recent studies, what we value in a relationship changes as we get older.
When we are younger, the top five elements of a romantic relationship are:
Whereas the top five most highly rated elements of a romantic relationship for older adults are:
- Positive attitude
This would suggest that as we age, we are more willing to put ourselves in a vulnerable position with our partner. This allows a deeper level of intimacy in the relationship, and a stronger degree of self-acceptance.
The study also highlighted that younger adults placed a firmer emphasis on importance of attraction and compatibility, as opposed to older adults who tended to favour trust and respect.
Why is attractiveness not as important as we age?
This switch from favouring attractiveness when we are young, to valuing trust and honesty when we are older, would appear to develop after we have experienced relationships over time.
As we mature, we understand how the excitement of passion and desire are replaced gradually into more significant feelings of compassion and commitment in later life.
So it seems that nature has provided the perfect biological response when it comes to choosing a partner. When we are young we look for an attractive mate in order to produce healthy offspring.
However, as we age and this is no longer a priority, good looks are not deemed to be as important.