You know that feeling when you’re in the first stages of love, and there’s just nothing better than looking at your mate’s face? Sure, you still find celebrities attractive, but suddenly Ryan Gosling’s eyes don’t seem to hold a candle to your man’s eyes? According to science, your passion may be skewing your view of what’s commonly thought of as hot, which in the long run, may not be the worst thing.
I know when I was in the honeymoon stage with my boyfriend, I used to hold pictures of him up against Adrian Grenier of Entourage and exclaim how my guy had a better chin and way better hair. My friend always smiled and shook their heads, but I was absolutely convinced I was right (and also the luckiest woman in the world).
Apparently this is a pretty common side effect of falling madly in love with someone. Not only do they become your world emotionally, you suddenly realize you’ve hit the attractive guy jackpot, and can’t believe your friends aren’t more jealous. Your love brain is affecting your perception of your partner’s appearance, but that idealization may actually end up making your relationship better overall.
Researchers from Bilkent and Indiana University released a study in PLOS One this week that scientifically proves this effect passion seems to have on a heterosexual female’s perception of attractiveness. Heterosexual women test subjects were presented with two male images, both originating from the same base image, but skewed by “noise” to make them appear different. They were then asked to choose the image that looked most like their partner, or someone with whom they were similarly close. Their answers ended up classifying them as being in high or low passionate love.
They then made two new, average images — one based off of the choices from the high passionate women, and one based off the low. They showed those images to an entirely different group of women, and asked them to rate the attractive levels of each. Not surprisingly, the composite image created from the highly passionate women’s choices was found to be overall more attractive.
So the awesome thing about this conclusion is passionate love’s idea of attractive is so strong, it has the power to influence unbiased women too. So the next time your friends roll their eyes when you swear your dude’s cheekbones beat the pants off of Zac Efron’s, point them to this research.
Moreover, if you’re swimming in this perception-skewing passionate love, you’re in pretty great shape relationship-wise. According to a study conducted by the U. of Buffalo and the U. of British Columbia, idealizing your partner can lead to a happier relationship and/or marriage down the line.
It makes perfect sense — if you think your partner is all that and a bag of chips, it’s safe to assume your relationship is in a great place, and probably will be for a long time to come, barring any rude awakenings (cheating, hogging the sheets, etc.). While the current research doesn’t specifically outline how love brain affects the perception of LGBT couples, it’s likely this simple theory applies to everyone. If your brain likes the way your partner looks, chances are you’ll want to keep them around for a while, no matter your sexual orientation.