Family Matters

Real-Life Romeos Don’t Compare to Dream Lovers

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If you’ve got a soft spot for the tall, dark and handsome archetype, chances are your real-life partner is short, blond and, well, not so toothsome. Or at least that’s the takeaway from new research published in the journal PLoS ONE, which found that the people we end up pairing off with bear little resemblance to our fantasy lovers.

Researchers at the University of Sheffield in England and the University of Montpellier in France found that our actual mates differ in height, weight and body mass index from the ones we would describe as ideal.

Given their druthers, most guys would prefer thinner women than the ones they’re with. Women aren’t oozing contentment either, though slimness is not always a desired trait.  While some women would rather have skinnier partners, others would like their fellas huskier. Women notched the more significant discrepancies between real vs. ideal mates. (More on Time.com: 5 Little-Known Truths About American Sex Lives).

Last week on Healthland, bodies also took center-stage when we shared results of a study from the University of Texas at Austin that showed that men seeking a short-term lover are more interested in a woman’s body than those desiring a long-term commitment, who zeroed in on a woman’s face.

It should come as no surprise that other research on the topic published in the Journal of Evolutionary Biology has found that young, tall, long-armed women win top honors when it comes to beauty. Scientists in Australia and Hong Kong looked at how various body measurements correspond with ratings of female attractiveness. They learned that despite cultural divides, Barbie as babe — no matter her hair color — endures. (More on Time.com: Divorce: It’s Not If You Fight, But How You Fight That Matters).

The conclusions of the news study were reached after collecting data from 100 heterosexual couples living in Montpellier, France. Researchers relied upon software that allowed participants to specify the body shape of their ideal silhouette, which was subsequently compared with the actual specs of the respondents’ partners. Why does this matter? Because understanding what drives us to select mates helps scientists learn more about our reproductive habits.

“Whether males or females win the battle of mate choice, it is likely that for any trait, what we prefer and what we get differs quite significantly,” says researcher Alexandre Courtiol of the University of Sheffield. “This is because our ideals are usually rare or unavailable…” (More on Time.com: How Not to Feel Lonely in a Crowd).

Or, in rock-and-roll plain-speak: “You can’t always get what you want.”

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