If you’ve ever wondered why there’s so many unattractive people in this world, congratulations: That doesn’t necessarily make you a bad person. In fact, it may just mean your partner is too damn lovable. A study, published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, found that the happier the couple, the less likely partners are to find outsiders attractive. Well played, monogamy. Well played.
Researchers from Rutgers University divided 54 heterosexual adults into 2 cohorts — single and in relationships. The people with significant others were asked about their relationship satisfaction, and then both groups were then presented with images of people who were described as single and looking. They were then told they were going to work on a project with these people; they were not told that the images were created using photo software to optimize for things researchers know people find attractive, like facial symmetry and skin tone.
When asked to gauge the attractiveness of these prospective work mates, the people in relationships found them less attractive than the single people, those who reported being happy in their relationships found them most repulsive of all. Experts call this phenomena “perceptual downgrading,” which is pretty wonky but better than “the old ball-and-chain effect.”
While the samples size is relatively small, you might want to let that slide since the study makes you look so good. But there’s another important takeaway: Never ask any of your married friends how you look, because, if they’re a happy couple, you won’t like the answer.