Study shows real partners are no match for ideal mate

Our ideal image of the perfect partner differs greatly from our real-life partner, according to new research from the University of Sheffield and the University of Montpellier in France. The research found that our actual partners are of a different height, weight and body mass index than those we would ideally choose.

The study, which was published this week (27 September 2010) in the Journal , found that most men and women express different mating preferences for body morphology than the actual morphology of their partners and the discrepancies between real mates and fantasies were often larger for women than for men.

The study also found that most men would rather have female partners much slimmer than they really have. Most women are not satisfied, either, but contrary to men, while some would like slimmer mates, others prefer bigger ones.

Human mating preferences are increasingly being studied to understand what shapes our complex reproductive behaviour. Whilst previous studies have separately investigated ideal and actual pairing, this new research was specifically conducted to compare them. The researchers gathered data from one hundred living in Montpellier, south of France. To measure preferences for body morphology, they used software which allowed the participant to easily modify the of their ideal silhouette on a computer screen. The researchers then compared ideal silhouettes obtained with the actual characteristics of the partners.

For the three morphological traits studied - height, weight and body mass - men's mating preferences were less different from their actual partner's characteristics than females' ones. As the authors remark, the lower observed for men in this study may be restricted to some physical traits, and results could be different for other traits such as personality, political opinion or sense of humor that are also important in partner choice.

Dr Alexandre Courtiol, from the University of Sheffield, who carried out the work with colleagues from the Institut des Sciences de l'Evolution de Montpellier, said: "Whether males or females win the battle of mate choice, it is likely for any trait, what we prefer and what we get, differs quite significantly. This is because our ideals are usually rare or unavailable and also because both sexes express preferences while biological optimum can differ between them."

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Provided by University of Sheffield
Citation: Study shows real partners are no match for ideal mate (2010, October 1) retrieved 15 October 2019 from
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User comments

Oct 01, 2010
Seriously? We need a study to show we all want 10's but generally have to compromise?

Oct 01, 2010
The bug is that this concerns VISUAL ideal body form. But we also haptic and olfactory sexual creatures--and the ideals for these might be very different--and responsible for who we pair with. Merely because manipulating visual body shape on a monitor does not mean vision provides the cues that provide what we seek and get satisfaction in a mate.

Oct 01, 2010
Another problem here is the movement, non-movement issue.

It's found that men prefer women who have a ratio of 1:0.7 for hips to waist when observing a body in motion, however, when viewing a stationary body they prefered rations that were utterly ridiculous, approaching 1:.5

There's quite a difference between a staionary silhouette and a moving body.

Oct 01, 2010
the man wants from the woman kids.

I just about burst out laughing except for the fact that this is so serious.

Some men such as my self want kids. But quite a large group obviously do not, what with 50 million abortions, and countless "fathers" abandoning their children.

Oct 01, 2010
You need a "study" for that? What, "Stimulus" money paid for this crap? And physorg is actually *reporting* on such nonsense?

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