When we imagine our ideal mate most of us tend to create a mental check list. The list may include someone with the following attributes; a great sense of humour, career orientated, a stable successful job, a sense of adventure, a razor sharp intellect, kindness, generosity, and a desirable physique.
It has always been thought that the closer someone one gets to their mental check list then the happier they will be. In fact research has supported this conclusion. In 1999 Garth Fletch and his associates developed the ideal-standards model for studying romantic relationships. Fletcher grouped traits into five broad categories. They are; warmth-trustworthiness, which relates to the degree that a partner is understanding, supportive, and affectionate; vitality-attractiveness, which denotes how energetic, healthy, sexy and outgoing they appear; and status-resources, which indicates their social status and financial success.
The other two categories relate to the relationship itself; intimacy-loyalty, which includes honesty, commitment and friendship; and passion, the quality that bring excitement and stimulation to a relationship.
But more recent research has show that not all traits carry equal weight in intimate relationships. In fact, intrinsic traits rather than extrinsic traits may be more a predictor of relationship satisfaction. An intrinsic trait is the desire to satisfy our internal needs while extrinsic traits are the desire to satisfy our external needs. So a partner who meets our intrinsic needs like kindness, reliability, honesty, generosity, and trustworthiness is more associated with relationship satisfaction. This is compared to someone who may meet our extrinsic ideals such as, confidence, attractiveness, age, ethnicity, or financial status.
Research has shown that it’s not that externally orientated traits are not important but they do not affect overall relationship satisfaction if internal orientated traits are met. Lindsey Rodriguez suggests that externally orientated traits only matter when our inner focused ideals aren't met.
In fact, online dating sites which often focus on physical attractiveness are failing to acknowledge the importance of intrinsic needs in relationships. Rodriguez suggests that only choosing a partner based on their physical attributes may prove to be inconsequential down the line and in fact may undermine our potential for personal long term happiness.
Christopher Swane - Relationship Counselling And Psychotherapy - Wellington