Wednesday, August 8, 2007

In praise of the non-babe

All over Britain, sensitive caring men are currently breathing a sigh of relief. Dr Lynda Bothroyd of St Andrews' and Durham universities has determined that when asked to choose between 'carers' and hunks, women choose the former. David Hasselhof eat your heart out - Johnny Depp's the one for me.

Jokes aside, though, there's an interesting point to be made here for both genders. Because the myth is that only the drop-dead gorgeous men and women get partners and the rest of us might as well cash in our chips. Sadly, a lot of the research also seems to suggest that women will go for muscles and men will go for boobs and bums. Which has surely contributed to the current fascination with appearance, this belief that if we aren't fit, we'll never get a partner - and hence that we need to have cosmetic surgery on all points south.

The reality is that attraction is a lot more complex than that. The research that suggests people only go for hunks and babes may be accurate in its own terms. But these studies are always about initial attraction - to be blunt, they test only who we want to make babies with, not who we want to form a loving relationship with.

In fact, we are far more sensible than that. For a long term relationship, as Bothroyd's study shows, and other research supports, what we want in a partner is not looks but character. Being drop dead gorgeous is no guarantee of finding love nor of making a happy relationship. The key to success is much more around the personality and experience we bring to a relationship.

So let's hear it for those of us who don't look like Catherine Zeta Jones or Orlando Bloom...