Friendships and Romantic Relationships
You are attracted to others in a variety of ways and on a variety of levels: acquaintances, friendships, intimate relationships, and family bonds. While you cannot choose your family, you can choose your friends and life partners. How you choose them and why is what the next sections will explore.
First impressions, stereotypes, and behavior are all affected by a person's physical appearance. Whether you like to believe it or not, a person's looks count — at first. Once you go beyond the surface and delve into the greater mysteries that define an individual, the importance of appearance seems to fade away. But why do attractive people seem to get more attention than those who are less attractive?
Perhaps one explanation can be found in the following experiment conducted by Kenrick and Gutierrez in 1980. In the study published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, male college students were shown a television program that featured several young, striking women. Similarly, a separate group of men and women were shown a picture of a beautiful woman with very attractive features. After watching the television show, and after being shown the photo of the attractive female, both the male college students and the group of men and women were shown a picture of an average-looking woman. Both groups gave the woman a low rating on the level of attractiveness.
The results of this experiment point to the notion that standards for beauty may be so elevated that recognizing and admiring ordinary beauty can be difficult. Had the groups been shown the photograph of the average-looking woman before they saw the images of the extremely beautiful women, they might have given her a higher rating. Thus, the “picture” of beauty in your mind is of the women you see on television, and that is what you're comparing the rest of the world to. This may cause you to treat attractive people better because they represent your ideal of beauty and because you assume they have all the internal qualities you admire.
Finding something in common with a coworker, neighbor, or classmate is one of the easiest ways of building relationships. Making friends that like to do the same things you do makes life more fun and interesting and provides a gateway for you to appreciate their differences as well.
Once you start building friendships, it's only a matter of time before a serious, loving relationship can start to evolve. According to social psychologist Zick Rubin, romantic love is comprised of three key elements: caring, attachment, and intimacy. Intimacy is shared at a greater level when experiences are exchanged in more depth. Stronger feelings emerge and more is at stake. While everyone has her own idea of what love is and what makes her fall in love with one person and not another, the right blend of physical attractiveness, likeness, and intimacy usually does the trick.
It appears that both men and women hold the same opinion concerning romantic love. In a study conducted by Campbell and Berscheid in 1976, 86 percent of men and 80 percent of women said that marriage was out of the question if they didn't feel they were in love with their partner.