Chasing prince charming : partnering consequences of holding unrealistic standards for a spouse
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Although social scientists studying mate selection have generally assumed that people’s standards for a marriage partner shape their marital behavior, systematic investigations of the role of mate standards in partnering have been rare. Using survey data collected from 502 unmarried individuals and their peer informants, the present study used a novel, residual-based approach to quantify the attainability (rather than the absolute stringency) of people’s standards for a spouse. Regression analyses using this index of the attainability of people’s standards revealed that holding less realistic standards for a marriage partner was associated with greater difficulty establishing satisfying romantic relationships, lower expectations to marry one’s current partner, and lower levels of psychological and behavioral investment in finding a suitable partner and marrying. Curiously, the attainability of people’s spousal standards did not predict their general beliefs about whether they will eventually marry. Overall, these findings strongly support the idea that holding less realistic standards for a spouse shapes people’s partnering experiences in ways that may deter their future entry into marriage.