It’s easy to get the impression that hot people have it all; they are, after all, really hot. I mean, just look at them.
But a new study published in Personal Relationships suggests that “having it all” comes at a price – namely, a tendency to be unlucky in long-term love.
Through a series of experiments, a team of researchers led by social psychologist Christine Ma-Kellams found a link between beauty and breakups.
In other words: uggos rejoice.
In the first experiment, two female coders looked at men in an old high school yearbook photos from the late 70s and 80s and rated them based on facial attractiveness. The researchers then followed up with the subjects and found that, on average, those who were divorced were rated more attractive than those who were married. A second experiment – wherein the same coders rated the top male and female celebrities – came up with similar results in that the most physically attractive were married for shorter amounts of time.
The third study sought to find out whether more conventionally attractive people in committed relationships were more likely to have a “wandering eye.” Participants in this experiment, just under half of whom were in exclusive relationships, were tasked with rating the attractiveness of a “target” of the opposite sex. Researchers found that those in committed relationships who were more physically attractive showed more interest in the targets. They say this reveals a "relational liability insofar as it promotes perceived interest in alternative partners."
The final experiment looked at relationship satisfaction and how it affected interest in seeking out alternatives. In this study, researchers first sought to make one group of participants feel more attractive by showing them a series of photos of less attractive, same-sex people. When these participants were asked to rate images of attractive opposite-sex targets, they typically rated them as more attractive, particularly if they admitted they were unhappy in their current relationships.
The same could not be said for another group of participants who were made to feel unattractive by looking at a series of pictures of more conventionally attractive people.
"The findings are noteworthy," wrote the study's authors, "because they demonstrate that [physical attractiveness] predicts the likelihood of [a] relationship being threatened - in this case, by poor relationship satisfaction."
In a nutshell, the findings demonstrate that more conventionally attractive people are less lucky in love because they may be less willing to put in the work necessary to maintain a relationship.
"I think attractiveness gives you more options in terms of relationship alternatives," Ma-Kellams told Broadly, "which might make it harder to protect a relationship from outside threats. In this sense, having too many other choices is likely not beneficial for relationship longevity."
One potential takeaway for conventionally attractive people, added Ma-Kellams, is “to be aware of their own capacity and tendencies in close relationships.”
"Ending a relationship isn't necessarily a negative thing (depending on the perspective), but if the goal is to have an enduring one, then perhaps an attractive person should be mindful of their own limitations and not rely too heavily on their own appeal."