“The fundamental rule,” says Michael Rosenfeld, a Stanford University sociologist who studies how couples form, “is that married partners tend to be the same on every dimension except for gender.” In other words, opposites do not attract.
David M. Buss, an evolutionary psychologist at the University of Texas, and author of The Evolution of Desire.
“As a general rule,” he says, “women tend to be more attractive than their husbands. ... men place a greater premium on looks in a partner; women place a greater premium on personality, character, status, and income.”
These “evolved mate preferences,” he adds, are also why powerful women may sleep with the occasional flesh toy, but only powerful men typically marry their much younger, hotter dalliances.
Buss says that homely women married to sexpot men are most at risk of the relationship failing. “Attractive men are known to have more sex partners, more affairs,” he writes, “so women married to these guys are at risk.”
He’s less concerned about discrepancies that run the other way, however, as long as “overall mate value” remains roughly the same...
But there’s really only one thing that brings two people together and keeps them that way, says Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist at Rutgers University and the author, most recently, of Why Him? Why Her? It’s called self-deception.
“As long as you continue to think that this person is right for you—no matter how irrational it may be—then it’s going to be a good marriage.”