If you start researching the science of romantic attraction, you might easily come to the conclusion that dating is impossible.
As in, you want to play hard to get, but only if you know for sure that the person is interested in you. Looking ashamed is sexy. Oh, and a great way for guys to look hotter is to already have a girlfriend.
So it comes as little surprise that scientists recently discovered a trait that can make people despise you can also help you land a long-term relationship.
That trait is being concerned about the environment.
Research suggests that, when you take environmentalism to an extreme — by organising protests and rallies, for example — you may turn people off. But in smaller doses, environmentalism can help you make a friend — and find love.
A 2013 study found that people were less likely to want to befriend typical environmental activists, like protesters, than atypical environmentalists, like those who fundraised for relevant causes. They also ascribed to environmentalists a bunch of negative traits, such as “unhygienic” and “crazy.”
Meanwhile, a 2016 study found that buying eco-friendly products — small-scale environmentalism — can be appealing.
For the study, researchers recruited 531 people to read descriptions of men and women who’d made different purchases. In some cases, the person in the description had made an eco-friendly purchase; in other cases they’d made a luxury purchase. Sometimes the purchase was relatively expensive; other times it was relatively inexpensive.
All participants were asked to guess how the purchaser rated on different personality traits and to indicate whether they’d be interested in pursuing that person for a short-term sexual relationship and long-term relationship.
Results showed that those who made eco-friendly purchases were more desirable for a long-term relationship. They were also rated higher on positive traits, like warmth and competence.
The catch? Participants guessed that the eco-friendly folk were less attractive and generally less desirable for short-term relationships.
To recap: Dating, and being a person in general, is hard. You can drive yourself crazy figuring out how much to advocate for the environment in order to attract friends, flings, and romantic partners — or you can just do what feels right for you.
Ultimately, if someone doesn’t like you because you bought a fancy watch, or because you marched in a climate-change protest, they might not be the right person for you anyway.
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