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The Secret Way to Date Someone Out of Your League

Man who's dating a woman out of his league.

It’s been pretty much a historic fact that people of the same level of hotness usually date and marry each other (unless there’s some gold digging involved). Take for instance Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. Two super hot people who’ve been rubbing in our faces their hotness, their hotness for each other and their hotness for themselves for over a decade together.

But now science says that a pairing as genetically unbalanced as Seth Rogen and Katherine Heigl in Knocked Up can actually, really happen.

Researchers decided to examine assortative mating, the psychological mating pattern in which people couple up with partners who share their physical, behavioral, or psychological characteristics (like the phenomenon behind Brangelina, Joe Manganiello and Sofia Vergara, or Kardashians dating rappers, etc.).

According to their study published in Psychological Science, aptly titled, “Leveling the Playing Field,” researchers found it is possible to date someone out of your league. So how do you do it? You have to be friends first.

Attraction increases with time
The study focused solely on physical attractiveness, and observed couples who were dating or married, and had been together from anywhere from three months to 53 years. Then they took a deeper look into each person’s individual physical attractiveness and how well and how long the couple knew each other before pairing up.

The study found that people who had started dating within a month of meeting each other were more likely on the same scale of hotness. Reversely, couples that had known each other for longer than a month, including being friends, were most likely to be of The King of Queens’ Kevin James and Leah Remini variety.

“Perceptions of mate value change the more time that people spend together,” Lead researcher Lucy Hunt told the New York Times. “Sometimes you get that Seth Rogen happy story, where an unattractive person comes to seem more attractive to one person in particular. But the opposite is just as likely to happen too. Someone can become less attractive.”

Anyone who has gone out on a date with a hottie only to realize they have the personality of a shoe knows this to be true. On the other hand, the study also proves that attraction can grow over time, which is good news for those who don’t look like Gisele (aka most of us).

Become Friends First
So how does this attraction develop? According to the study, when a couple gets to know each other first. Whether they meet through a mutual friend, or go to the same yoga studio, when a couple learns exclusive information or characteristics about each other over a period of time—like how someone adorably snorts when they laugh or how passionate they are about cooking—it makes them appear more attractive overall.

Essentially, the couples studied weren’t choosing each other for style, or a great six-pack; they recognized substance and something unique in their partner, which, in turn, made them hot.

Or, as Hunt put it, “There may be more to the old saying than was previously thought. Maybe it’s the case that beauty is partially in the eye of the beholder, especially as time passes.”

The bad news
Unfortunately, becoming “friends first” seems to belong to a more analog way of life. It used to be that couples would meet each other through church groups or school, but now that we’re all basically glued to our phones, online dating has replaced meeting people the old fashioned way. And as online dating users can attest, most connections rely on making an excellent first impression or else they’re discarded for the next match in line. The takeaway? If your next date doesn’t have that immediate “spark,” but there’s something interesting and intriguing about them, you might want to remain open to getting to know each other further. Perhaps giving a second shot to the next nervous first date will end up scoring you the love of your life, or, at least, the next few months.

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