The Friendzone Myth


Guys who aren’t that attractive have a hard time dating women.


The longer you know a woman, the less it matters how attractive you are—if you’d like to date her—according to a study in Psychological Science.


A person’s success in the dating game has to do with their own desirability, and people who are very physically attractive tend to be highly desirable. However, researchers thought that if two people knew each other for some time, then physical attraction might take a back seat to other desirability factors, like personality, income, lifestyle, and so forth.

Researchers looked at data collected from 167 couples (sixty-seven dating, one hundred married) who happened to be participating in a longitudinal study of romantic relationships. Whilst the average relationship length was eight years, eight months, the relationship lengths actually had a pretty broad range, from three months to fifty-three years.

Part of the study involved couples videotaped talking about how they changed in the course of their relationship. Researchers had trained coders rate the physical attractiveness of each romantic partner using a scale.


Just as the researchers suspected, the longer a given pair of romantic partners had known each other before dating, the less likely they were to have a similar level of attractiveness.

In fact, partners who’d started dating within a month of first meeting were very likely to be similarly attractive, but after that point the attractiveness gape widened.

According to researchers, “Having more time to get acquainted may allow other factors, such as another person’s compatibility as a relationship partner, to make that person appealing in ways that outshine more easily observable characteristics such as physical attractiveness. Or perhaps another person might actually become more attractive in the eyes of the beholder by virtue of these other factors.”

The Takeaway

Don’t rate so high on the ol’ attractiveness scale? Well, you could hit the gym, take care of your skin, learn to dress well, and consider plastic surgery—or you could try taking your time and get to know someone before you consider dating. That’ll give her time to see your other qualities—assuming you’ve taken the time to cultivate other qualities, of course.


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