Do looks matter in a relationship?

A student wrote to me, asking:

Do looks matter in a relationship?

The answer is no. I’ve seen unattractive and even fugly people in happy long-term relationships.

There is a lot of truth in the story, “Beauty and the Beast”: if you spend a very long amount of time with someone, even if that person is ugly as hell (like a beast), you will eventually see the beauty in that person, and grow attracted to him/her.

Unless one is a narcissist who only wants to parade his/her trophy girlfriend/boyfriend, people are more likely to want a long-term relationship with a less attractive person with a good personality, than an attractive person with a bad personality.

Realistically, as the years go by, everyone will age and look unattractive anyway. So what will keep the relationship going is the personality.

Also, in a relationship, your partner will pervade many aspects of your life. Looks don’t matter here. What matters is the partner’s personality and character. Someone with an awful personality will negatively affect you 24/7. So don’t be superficial and be attracted to only good looks. Think of the long-term.

A marriage is supposed to be a friendship taken to a whole new level. A good personality helps with that. Lastly, don’t just focus on your potential partner. You should also work to improve yourself so that you also have a good personality. Otherwise, you’ll benefit from the relationship while your partner suffers. That wouldn’t be fair.

If looks don’t matter. What does? What really matters in developing a good and healthy relationship is the quality of communication and the shared memories and experiences. If you have the soft skills to do this, you will definitely be more attractive to other people. So learn to be patient and kind, learn to be a good listener and a good communicator.

Author: Jonathan Y. H. Sim

Jonathan Sim is an Instructor with the Department of Philosophy at the National University of Singapore. He is passionate about teaching and he continues to research fun and innovative ways of engaging students to learn effectively. He has been teaching general education modules to a diverse range of undergraduate students and adult learners at the University.

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