The person we imagine as an ideal partner may seldom be who we find ourselves with. Perhaps that's because we have unrealistic expectations, or perhaps we're just too eager to compromise for fear of hurting another person's feelings. That is the conclusion of a study recently carried out at the University of Toronto which found that people "overestimate their willingness to reject unsuitable romantic partners."
In the experiment, individuals were asked to write a description of their ideal mate. Then the experimenters paired the individuals with someone matching their description, with one exception: either the match was physically unattractive or had a quality that was described as a "deal breaker" in the ideal mate profile, such diametrically opposed political beliefs.
In both cases, individuals were much more likely to accept a date when they believed the date was a real possibility, rather than a hypothetical scenario. The conclusion drawn by the study is that the aversion to hurting others' feelings is what motivated accepting the date.
When it comes to who we date, Sheena Iyengar, professor at the Columbia Business School, argues that selecting from a limited field of candidates can make your dating life more substantial, i.e. less based on looks:
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