You might not think you’re looking for that tall, dark and handsome Channing Tatum clone, but new research suggests that, by simply having internet access, your mate preferences are already skewing that direction.
According to a new study from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, men and women with internet access are more likely to favor muscular guys and super-thin women — basically, the Hollywood beauties whose photos they are bombarded with on a daily basis. For the experiment, they showed subjects photos of both higher and lower muscle tone for men, and svelte and normal body weights for women, and found that the existence of an internet connection almost always resulted in the subjects favoring the media’s version of ideal.
Think women like waif-like Zoe Saldana and Keira Knightley, or built guys like Channing and Mark Wahlberg. Those who didn’t have access to internet were more likely to prefer more natural looks.
This study is interesting, because we often unknowingly form our likes and dislikes around an “ideal” the media has carefully curated for us. The more often you see a certain type of girl or guy — the Ryan Goslings and Brad Pitts of the universe, for instance — the more often you begin to crave that type and believe it’s what you’re supposed to want. And if you’re not totally aware of what’s happening, the effect is automatically limiting.
It’s tempting to chase perfection, because we believe we deserve the best the world has to offer. However, the physical best we see splashed all over the media is only a projection; it doesn’t exist in nature. Keep in mind that the celebrities you see on the internet, in magazines or on red carpets often have teams of trainers, dietitians, photo editors, lighting guys and stylists to help them look that great all the time. Maintaining that toned appearance is part of the job. (Same thing goes for the skinny models and actresses, whose looks we’re soooo tempted to try and emulate — but I digress.)
So if you keep dating the same type of guy and it isn’t working out, maybe it’s because your “type” isn’t necessarily yours. It might be the media’s, friends’, family’s or so on. You’ll know this is the case if you never seem to encounter your “type” enough in real life, or your “type” isn’t fulfilling your expectations. Maybe try making a list of five non-negotiable, non-physical qualities you want in a man, and look for guys who fit that mold instead. Seek the classically handsome, Hollywood prototype, and you might miss a truly great guy.
Remember, there are tons of different kinds of attractiveness, but the best “type” is the one that exists right in front of you, in real life, with a person who makes you feel like the best version of yourself.