Why We Fall In Love With People Who Are Wrong For Us

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The next time you ask yourself why you keep dating the wrong kind of person, blame science. Seriously, there is a scientific explanation behind why we often fall for someone who is completely wrong for us. According to Scientific American, a study in the journal of Evolution & Human Behavior analyzed the "pathological personality traits" of 959 heterosexual men and women between the ages of 16 and 67. Researchers asked detailed questions about past relationships, focusing on the more extreme mental and physical behavioral disorders exhibited in the responses — specifically neuroticism, obsessive-compulsiveness, and impulsiveness.
Fernando Gutiérrez of the Hospital Clinic of Barcelona, who led the research, found that both males and females who were "pathologically reckless" — meaning they acted without much thought or care — attracted far more short-term partners and had more children on average than participants who did not show a high level of these traits.
Offering scientific proof that some of us really do fall for the bad guys, men with obsessive-compulsive tendencies were more successful at securing long-lasting mates. Obsessive-compulsive women, however, did not have the same luck. The study did find that women who were considered to be more neurotic were more likely to be in lasting relationships and had "73% more children than average." It should be noted that in this study, obsessive-compulsives reportedly had nearly double the income as those study participants who were found to be less obsessive. Though these traits may not seem like they'd make the perfect match on paper — and often don't, since these people reported higher rates of short-term relationships, not long-term ones — Gutiérrez thinks there is a give-and-take that excites people, even if it shouldn't. “While they are selfish, rule-breaking, imprudent, and rebellious, they are also brave, temerarious, independent, and self-reliant — and they live frantic, galvanizing lives,” he says of people who show pathological traits. “This captivates many people." But before you start thinking that this study completely proves that nice guys and girls finish last, take heart. Hope is not lost for the average man or woman. Corinna E. Löckenhoff, a human developmental psychologist at Cornell University who was not involved with the study, questions whether the participants' self-reporting could skew the results. “Respondents could have inflated the number of partners in an effort to depict themselves as more desirable," Löckenhoff told Scientific American. "This may be especially true for individuals whose personality characteristics make them prone to dishonesty and for male respondents, since cultural norms tend to view promiscuity [as] more favorable in men than in women."

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