Weird things happen when you settle into a comfortable relationship. Aside from you being able to talk about the weirdest and grossest things with your partner, your perception of who’s hot or not gradually changes, so much so that the men who you once thought of as hunky Ian Veneracions become plain Pedros.
A study by the Rutgers University and New York University revealed that people in happy, monogamous relationships automatically and unconsciously view beautiful people as not-so good-looking.
“We suggest that one way people defend their relationships against attractive individuals is by perceiving the individual as less attractive,” experts explain in their abstract, adding that this can be how humans “protect long-term goals.”
Based on two experiments, researchers found that those in happy relationships zone in on the flaws of people they used to deem as handsome or pretty, and immediately find something that can be identified as turn-offs. Shallow as it may seem, physical appearance is one of the factors that can trigger courtship, which is why scientists believe that this unconscious bias helps people remain faithful.
“Misperceiving attractive people who represent threats to the relationships as less attractive may help people resist the inclination to pursue them,” explains study author Dr. Shana Cole in a statement on Medical Daily. “This is especially important since finding someone physically attractive is a primary reason why people choose to date or romantically pursue someone.”
Of course, there are many other factors which can affect this bias, such as personal histories and genetics—which is why there are people who are seemingly wired to be polygamous—but in general, faithfulness and happiness are things that your subconscious fights to keep.
“In today’s world, it can be difficult to stick it out with one long-term relationship,” says study author Emily Balcetis. “This work suggests that there are processes that may take place outside of conscious awareness to make it easier to stay committed to one’s own partner.”
So if you suddenly wonder why you don’t see Piolo Pascual or Paulo Avelino as handsome as you thought them to be, don’t worry – that just means that the only person that you find really attractive now is the man who makes you happy.