Online romance


People liked potential partners that matched their ideals more than those that mismatched their ideals when they examined written descriptions of potential partners, but those same ideals didn’t matter once they actually met in person, according to a new study by psychologists Paul W. Eastwick, Eli J. Finkel and Alice H. Eagly.

“People have ideas about the abstract qualities they’re looking for in a romantic partner,” said Eastwick, assistant professor of psychology at Texas A&M University and lead author of the study. “But once you actually meet somebody face to face, those ideal preferences for traits tend to be quite flexible.”

Say you prefer a partner who, online or on paper, fits the bill of being persistent. “After meeting in person, you might feel that, yeah, that person is persistent, but he can’t compromise on anything. It’s not the determined and diligent kind of persistent that you initially had in mind,” Eastwick said.

The idea is that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, said Finkel, associate professor of psychology at Northwestern University and co-author of the study.

“People are not simply the average of their traits,” he said. “Knowing that somebody is persistent, ambitious and sexy does not tell you what that person is actually like. It doesn’t make sense for us to search for partners that way.”

“Thinking about this or that feature of a person apart from taking the whole person into account doesn’t predict actual attraction,” Eagly said. “While some online dating sites have video features that provide some context, generally people are matched on their answers to specific questions that do not capture the whole person.” –Science Daily

Writing Prompt: Write a story or scene about people who met on line and then get together for a date OR create a list for your protagonist’s ideal mate and contrast them with his or her actual mate.

Journaling Prompt: Write a list of traits for your ideal mate. Compare it to people for whom you have felt an attraction.

Art Prompt: Ideal mate

Photo Credit: Don Hankins on Flickr

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