Kindness: a problem in choosing a partner

Kindness: a problem in choosing a partner
General Discussion,

The choice of partner is one of the decisions that are made the most, to which we seem to give the most important and one of the greatest consequences it can bring.

However, true compatibility is hard to find, and some might say that many couples appear to have originated from a wrong decision. So, if partner choice is so important, why do these choices go wrong so often?

Kindness seems to be a stumbling block when choosing a partner

Much of the psychological studies on this subject take fixed characteristics as variables, such as the level of wealth, objective data on the physical, etc. However, we must also take into account variables that occur in the field, and that only exist in the personal relationship we have with others. Can there be something in that way of relating that influences us when establishing romantic relationships? We already have studies that point in that direction.

Investigation

A research team from the University of Toronto has concluded that one of the explanations for an unfortunate choice of partner could be, in short, this: we are too kind.

Rejecting someone is a difficulty that you are not always willing to overcome, and empathy (or cordiality, or kindness, or courtesy) can make us very open to the possibility of dating us with all kinds of people ... even those who are incompatible with us.

Taking as a starting point the assumption that human beings have social tendencies that lead us to put ourselves in the other's place and to be friendly with others (or, in other words, to avoid conflict), the team carried out an experiment to observe how this predisposition to empathy affected when choosing a partner. To do this, they invited several men and women as experimental subjects, all of these people being single and interested in dating. Each of them, individually, was shown three profiles with various data about three different people.

Later, the experimental subject decided which of these three profiles was the most desirable as a possible appointment. Once this was done, the experimental subject was provided with more information about the person they had chosen: it was a set of data among which there are characteristics that the person has previously indicated as excluding, that is, they eliminate the person you have these qualities as a possible partner.

Upon receipt of this information, the person was asked if they would be interested in contacting the person described in the reports. In other words, if they were interested in having the opportunity to meet her.

The importance of looking good

However, from this point on, the experiment branched out into two variants. Some people were told that the possible better half was right there in the laboratory, in an adjoining room. Another group of participants was asked to imagine that this person was in the next room. This means that one group of participants was more empathetically conditioned than the other, feeling that personal proximity to a person who, at least on paper, did not meet the characteristics they were looking for.

Were the results different in both groups?

Clearly different. In the group of those who only had to imagine the proximity of the other person, only 17% of the participants stated that they wanted to see the other person.

On the other hand, in the group of those who believed they had the other person close, more than a third accepted. Furthermore, when asked what had prompted them to make that decision, the scientists found a combination of self-interest and a spirit of generosity. Concern for the feeling of the other clearly influenced, at the cost of the predisposition to reject possible partners.

However, it is not clear that this trend has to be a source of unhappiness. Of course, it can be if empathy masks important incompatibilities that are revealed as the relationship progresses, until reaching a point where these problems take more prominence than the desire not to hurt the other. On the other hand, it can also originate romantic relationships where a priori there were only banal prejudices and ideas about how the ideal couple should be, and this in turn would gradually strengthen empathy and emotional ties. As in many other things, time seems to be a decisive factor when evaluating a personal relationship.

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