Do you still find me attractive? : partners’ daily perceptions of attractiveness across the transition to parenthood



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The transition to parenthood is often characterized by physical changes and altered sexual dynamics that can increase new parents’ insecurity regarding their own attractiveness. Drawing from theories of risk regulation, this insecurity may lead individuals to underestimate their partner’s attraction to them and become more attentive to daily changes in their partner’s regard. To investigate this possibility, the current study examined bias and accuracy in new parents’ perceptions of their partner’s daily attraction to them. Sixty-one couples completed 21-day daily diary tasks during pregnancy, immediately after childbirth, and again when their child was approximately four months old (i.e., up to 63 days of data). On average, parents did not exhibit significant bias in their perception of their partner’s attraction across the three phases. Further analyses examined whether bias and accuracy would be stronger for those experiencing (1) higher appearance insecurity, (2) lower sexual frequency, and (3) lower sexual satisfaction. Results indicated that, for both mothers and fathers, those who experienced higher appearance insecurity and lower sexual satisfaction were more likely to underestimate their partner’s level of attraction to them. These findings underscore the notion that fathers, as well as mothers, experience sensitivities that can impact how they perceive their partner’s attraction during this pivotal and often challenging life transition.


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