Personality Trumps Looks When It Comes To Relationships, Refreshing Research Finds

People believe personality is more important than physical attraction in a relationship, research that’ll make you feel warm and fuzzy has found.

The global study of 20 countries, conducted by YouGov, found that in every single country people voted with their hearts, instead of their eyes. 

In Britain, more than half (52%) of both men and women surveyed ranked having “a personality I like” as the characteristic they consider to be the most important factor in a romantic partner. 

In contrast, just 14% of British men and 5% of British women voted “they are good looking” as the most important relationship factor.

Among Brits, having a good sense of humour was also considered important for both men and women, followed by being intelligent.

Commenting on the findings, Relate counsellor Dee Homes said we all differ regarding what we consider to constitute a desirable personality.

While some people will be looking for a partner to share all their interests with, others may find this claustrophobic and prefer to maintain space and individual hobbies. 

“Preferences around personality and what’s important for you in a relationship can come down to how your own family was, whether you were an only a child or whether you had lots of siblings around,” she told HuffPost UK.

 “It comes down to figuring out what works for you.”

Although globally overall each country voted personality as the most important relationship factor, women voted for this in higher numbers than men. 

In addition, men were found to be more likely to rate looks over personality than women.

This contrast was most noticeable in Vietnam – where 44% of men ranked appearance as the single most important characteristic a partner could have compared to 21% of women – and Indonesia –  where 35% of men ranked appearance most important compared to 15% of women. 

According to Homes, for most relationships to have a “romantic or physical element” there has to be “some physical attraction”, but that attraction can develop in different ways and may not be purely based on appearance.

“I think that for some people, they may fancy somebody, be physically attracted to them, but there may be no more depth to it when they get to know that person. They may realise that they don’t actually like that person or have anything in common,” she said

“With couples who start as friends, sometimes as that friendship deepens they do start to be attracted to the other person – they become attracted to the personality as they get to know more about them. What might not have been there as an initial attraction develops.

“It’s not as simple as just thinking ‘that person looks nice’, if you like somebody through and through, they look nice to you because of who they are to you, not just what they look like.”

Homes hypothesised that our global focus on personality rather than looks when looking for a romantic partner could be due to the rise of internet dating. 

“People often meet in that way nowadays and they don’t see each other initially – they might see a picture of somebody on a dating website, but before they actually meet them they’ve exchanged emails, texts and maybe spoken on the phone,” she explained.

“They’ve got to know that person’s personality a bit, therefore when they meet them they may be already attracted to their personality, so looks become less important to them.”

She said having the same moral vales and the same life ambitions are two factors that were not surveyed by YouGov, which people tend to value as important for successful relationships.  

You can find the full YouGov results here.