What Makes the Perfect Partner? It Depends On Our Personal Preferences

You've met them before: the people who have all the qualities that make a good partner...according to your mother. They're attractive, smart, gainfully employed — but would you really want to date someone like that? According to a study conducted by researchers at the University of Texas in Austin, maybe not. TIME reports that just because someone fits the typical perfect-partner mold doesn’t mean they’re right for you. It just means they have an enviable Facebook profile.

So...who is right for you? Obviously we can’t all be in life-long relationships with these well-rounded "catches." The study landed on a pretty obvious conclusion: the more we get to know someone, the more our perception of their desirability varies based on our preferences. You know how that guy you and your roommate both thought was a stud sophomore year is now like an asexual family member to you, while she's been dating him happily for five years? It's cool that there's factual evidence out there refuting society's definition of — and I hate these terms — the "perfect man" or the "ideal woman."

So, how did these researchers come up with such logical conclusions? In the study, they surveyed three groups of people: one in which participants were asked to rate strangers, one where they rated people they'd known for a few months, and one where they rated people they'd known for a few years. The participants judged these people based on everything from looks to whether or not they’d want to be in a long term relationship with them. The results? The participants were more likely to agree on whether or not someone was worth pursuing in the strangers category, but the longer they’d known them, the more their opinions differed.

So now that we've determined that everyone who's not dating a handsome astronaut can feel better, what should we be looking for in a mate? What informs our partner choices? Psychology Today claims it depends on your needs when it comes to relationships, and the qualities you look for in another person. Medical Daily takes it a step further, saying that people are more likely to stick together when they share the same likes and beliefs, as opposed to the whole "opposites attract" phenomenon — which explains why Alpha females are likely on the lookout for their equals.

So what should we make of all of this? Perhaps that Mr. Perfect and Mr. Right might be two totally different people.