You’ve heard the saying love is blind, and now a study has revealed that there’s truth in that statement – at least in the initial stages of the relationship. We may not want to admit it, but after the early infatuation wears off, so do the rose colored lenses through which we’ve been viewing our partner. Maintaining an attractive appearance can actually help you sustain your relationship in the same way that having date night after the kids are born and holding hands after you are married can.
The Harris Interactive study showed that both men’s and women’s level of attraction is fueled by their partner’s willingness to maintain their physical appearance as well as their willingness to continue fueling the physical attraction after the newness of the relationship wears off.
The emotional connection between two people remains largely the biggest variable in the success of their relationship, but according to this study, that emotional bond by itself is not enough for a happy relationship. Consider the numbers: less than half of Americans are married, and the marriage rate continues to decline. Divorce rates vary widely depending on demographic, but continue to happen at a fairly consistent rate while less and less couples marry at all. When you add the fact that people are living into their 80s and 90s, relationships can be hard work.
Because the decline in the number of marriages may have a long-term impact on the family systems in place in the country, everyone from psychologists to politicians is interested in determining how to help people build the relationship skills they need that will sustain their relationships. With 25% of children living in single parent families, many members of the clergy are also trying to find ways to help family units stay together. It’s not just as simple as understanding the Mars versus Venus prototype, and there are sociologists who have predicted that long-term marriage and monogamy losing their hold on our culture.
What once kept couples together when nothing else could was finances. Now that women are capable of supporting themselves financially and there are no real social ramifications to children born out of wedlock, the main social pressures that kept marriage strong are gone.
This new study points to a way forward that involves the willingness of the couple to maintain a physical appearance and physical attraction as the glue that strengthens the bonds of love. While men were still more likely to need physical attractiveness than women, it played a significant role for women as well. The results showed that physical attraction remains a strong factor for almost the first decade of the marriage, at which point other factors, like emotional connection and children, as well as shared interests, take on a more significant role.