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Studies probe attractiveness and relationship health

People in Illinois may wonder how the relative attractiveness of two romantic partners affects the strength of the relationship. According to some researchers, men who marry women who are considered more attractive than themselves may have a higher risk of divorce. Of course, attractiveness is an individual quality, and people differ widely on which attributes are considered attractive or unattractive. However, social beauty standards and concepts of attractiveness can have a significant impact on how others treat people, both in romantic relationships and in other areas of life.

According to analysis of online dating statistics, people pursue dates with those they consider up to 25 percent more attractive than themselves. However, most people tend to form and develop relationships with those of similar levels of attractiveness as judged personally as well as by others. One study found that women who believe their partners to be significantly less attractive are more likely to feel uncommitted to a relationship and flirt with others. In a study of self-reported attitudes, the result may not reflect differing attractiveness levels as clearly as it does contempt and resentment inside the relationship. Both factors can contribute significantly to a higher likelihood of divorce.

Other studies found differing results. One interview-based study of 82 newlywed couples found that the husbands of women judged to be more attractive by a panel of outsiders were happier in and more dedicated to their marriages. In addition, other research has found that when a couple develops a friendship first, differing attractiveness levels have little effect on the relationship.

Once a relationship reaches the level of marriage, more serious conflicts may arise than differing levels of physical beauty, including irreconcilable differences over financial management or parenting. A family law attorney may help people to understand how divorce may affect them financially and personally.

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