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Yet, over time, as the folks get to know each other better, this consensus falls to almost zero.What people come to learn about each other colors and transforms their perceptions; one person will rate another as ranking high in these qualities, while another will rank the same individual as being low in them.In fact, a survey of adolescents showed that only 6% hadn’t known each other before becoming romantically involved; 53% had formerly been acquaintances, and 41% had been friends.Another study found that on average, the woman a single guy is pursuing at any given time, is someone he’s known for over a year.In the past I had probably been eliminating folks who could have possibly provided fruitful relationships, short- or long-term, if I’d just given them more of a chance…
Unfortunately, we often subconsciously carry this consumer mindset into forming relationships with others, and it doesn’t work so well with people.We live in an age of instant gratification — if something or someone doesn’t engage us right away online, we can immediately surf or swipe to the next thing.We’re always on the hunt for that which will exactly meet our personality, interests, and expectations, and we think we’ll know it when we see it.Within this rubric, the qualities all people lend the most importance in initial encounters (attractiveness in women; status in men) wane in importance with time, while the importance of unique qualities that underlie compatibility and the long-term success of the relationship wax.
Think about your freshman year at college; perhaps there was a girl who you were initially attracted to because of her looks, but who you became less attracted to as the year wore on, as you discovered she had an ugly and off-putting personality.
Think about a group of your mixed-sex friends who’ve all known each other for a long time; if you ask each person to evaluate each other’s “mate value,” you’d get a wide variety of responses.