Romantic rejection doesn't just hurt, it has the power to change the way you date. New research has found that women who experience rejection from a potential romantic interest may become less picky when it comes to choosing qualities they deem important in a romantic partner, new research from Oakland University in Michigan has found.

While mate selection is normally based on physical attraction, shared interests, and other desirable traits, recent rejection can make women adjust and even lower their internalized standards. These results suggest that our awareness of our own desirability as a sexual and romantic partner also plays an important role in the mate selection process.

Read: Rejection Really Hurts: Social Distress Can Cause Physical Pain

“All of this suggests that the feedback we receive within the dating world regarding how desirable we are as a potential partner has a direct and fast influence on the quality we expect in our own potential partners," said Lisa L.M. Welling of Oakland University, the corresponding author of the study, PsyPost reported. “If feedback suggests we are high quality, we expect our partners to be as well, but if feedback suggests we’re not that desirable, we’ll take what we can get.”

Negative Feedback

For the research, the team designed an online program where women were randomly told that a potential romantic partner gave their dating profile positive feedback, negative feedback, or no feedback at all. Results showed that women became less fussy about desirable traits they expected in future romantic partners when they were told that a man had rated their online profile negatively.

Positive Feedback

Women who were told that their online dating profile received positive feedback from hypothetical men continued to rate desirable traits, such as physical attraction and shared interests, as being important in a potential partner. In addition, unlike women in the other two groups, women who received positive feedback showed a higher preference for masculine traits in a potential partner.

Women who received no feedback from potential dates behaved similarly to those who had positive feedback in that they continued to rate certain desirable traits as being important in future potential dates.

The researchers noted that after the experiment, the participants were told that all comments made on their dating profiles were completely made up. Although the ratings were false, the reactions to them were real and give a good idea of how our perception of our own sexual attractiveness influences what we look for in potential mates.

However, there are caveats to this research, which suggest we should take the results with a bit of skepticism. For example, the study sample is very small and extremely limited. It is based on responses from 66 women, and all 66 women in the study are of the same age, educational background, and sexual orientation. In addition, the feedback was from a third party and not directly from the potential mate, which may change the way that individuals react. So while it’s fair to say that rejection can may change your future dating technique, just how much and for how long is still up for debate.

Source: Reeve SD, Kelly KM, Walling LLM. The effect of mate value feedback on women's mating aspirations and mate preference. Personality and Individual Differences . 2017

See Also:

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