Do your facial features have anything to do with the length of your romantic relationships? Researchers now think they might.
A recent study published in the British Journal of Psychology showed hundreds of heterosexual male volunteers composite pictures of women’s faces, asking the volunteers which women they would choose for long- or short-term relationships—the women with more feminine features (like a smaller jawbone, fuller cheeks, and larger eyes and lips), or the women with more masculine features.
The men, CTVnews.ca reports, rated women with more feminine features more highly for a fling—and women with more masculine features were rated more highly for long-term relationships. And this was even more so the case for men who were already in a steady relationship. In a follow-up experiment, researchers also found that the more attractive a man thought he was, the more likely he was to prefer a woman with more masculine features.
I can’t really help but be a little skeptical about whether this study is really “needed”—I mean, I guess it’s great info for those of us cool with getting a face transplant or spending hundreds of dollars on bronzer to contour our features more favorably in one direction or the other—but I also find it really interesting, especially the reasoning for why the men might have the preferences they do.
Like this theory from one of the study’s authors, Anthony Little: “There are several possible explanations; perhaps some men are inclined to take a long-term partner whilst still attempting to cheat with other, more feminine, women.” Womp, womp. Way to be a downer, Anthony Little.
The study’s authors also added that perhaps single men may choose more masculine women because they can increase their short-term mating success by relaxing their standards. Previous research has found that feminine features are linked with higher levels of the sex hormone estrogen. And estrogen is also what evolutionarily makes a woman look fertile to men—an attractive trait for men looking to mate and have lots of babies.
The good news? If you’re not blessed with ample amounts of estrogen, you can fake it with makeup. A study back in 2005 found that when men were shown photographs of women wearing makeup, there was no link between perceived attractiveness and levels of estrogen. That study’s author explained, “the implication is that women are employing a deceptive strategy. They can fool the male visual system with makeup.” Mwahahaha. If you need me, I’ll be at Sephora, stocking up on deceptive strategies to fool the male visual system.