Why We Want What We SHOULDN'T Want In a Partner
I may not have a ton of single friends, but, as a therapist is Honolulu, I DO have several single clients - and, most (if not all) are looking for love. Real love. Lasting love. Powerful love.
For many, love is the pinnacle of the human experience - and, indeed, it's at the top of the Human Needs pyramid for a reason. After all our basic human needs are met, most of us are ready for our big love.
But, did you know evolution and biology are working AGAINST us when it comes to finding lasting relationships? Turns out, if we "give in" to our most basic instincts, it's almost certain we WON'T find lasting love.
Let's see how I can explain it: For thousands of years, our main priority wasn't love. It was procreation. So, reproductive fitness was key. You want a partner who is healthy (and attractiveness meant "healthy"), and able to provide (someone who could hunt, gather, had resources).
Seems reasonable, right?
But, over the past few hundreds of years, our society has changed - our life expectancy is in the 70's (so, finding someone who can live until they are fertile is no longer an issue). And, dying of hunger is no longer a consideration in most developed nations (so finding someone who can kill an animal for food isn't usually that important).
HOWEVER, study after study still finds that, when given three "wishes" for a mate, men will still rate attractiveness as #1 and wealth as #2. For women, priorities are flip-flopped with wealth as #1 and attractiveness as #2. Every time. No matter what the test.
Which would be GREAT if attractiveness and wealth made for happy marriages! But, they don't. In fact, they have absolutely no bearing on long-lasting relationship happiness (wealth made for less chance of divorce before 10 years, but then the affect fades).
So, where did things like kindness, empathy, and agreeableness fall? At the bottom of the list. What's funny is we KNOW these things make for happy relationships!
Looks like we continue to look for the wrong things in our mates. We want someone beautiful and rich (even if we don't admit it). But, what we really should want is someone kind, empathetic, and agreeable.
Of course, someone attractive and rich could have all of these traits, but it seems that would just be a lucky coincidence.
Bottom line? What we want and what we SHOULD want in a partner are two different things UNLESS we're more active in our selection process.
As evolved humans, we CAN deny our primal instinct to approach the prettiest girl in the room and, instead, observe who is the kindest.
Now, whether we actually do it? Well, that's up to us.