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Why Some Girls Can Never Get Hitched: Women's Facial Features Predict How Long Their Relationships Last

Update Date: Jun 21, 2013 12:28 PM EDT

Women's facial features may determine the length of their relationships, a new study suggests.

Researchers found that men looking for a quick fling prefer women with more "feminine" facial features, according to findings published in the British Journal of Psychology.

Previous studies have linked feminine features, which consist of larger eyes, smaller nose and jawbone and fuller lips and cheeks, to women's perceived attractiveness.  Feminine features can also indicate health, youth, fidelity and other traits in women. Past findings revealed that feminine features correlated with higher level of the female hormone estrogen, which is also associated with reproductive success.

Researchers from the current study wanted to see whether considering partner for long-term or short-term relationships would affect men's preference for different women's faces.

The latest study involved 393 heterosexual men.  Of all the men, 207 stated they had a current partner.  The participants in the study were shown 10 paired images of picture of women and in each pair of composite images one had been further transformed to possess masculine traits and the other feminine traits.

The participants were asked to rate which of each pair they found most attractive, indicating the most attractive for short-term relationships and long-term relationships.

The findings revealed that men were more likely to find women with feminine faces most attractive when there were looking for a fling, and this was especially true for men who were already in relationships.

"There are several possible explanations; perhaps some men are inclined to take a long-term partner whilst still attempting to cheat with other, more feminine, women. Or maybe once a long-term partner is secured, the potential cost of being discovered may increase a man's choosiness regarding short-term partners relative to unpartnered men," Anthony Little from the University of Stirling said in a news release.

In contrast, when making long-term choices, men "may actually prefer less attractive/feminine women," researchers wrote in the study.

"It's interesting that these findings are comparable to previous research that indicates women's preference for masculine male faces are higher if they were judging for short-term relationships. Our findings point to a similar preference in men. When they already have a partner, men find more feminine women more attractive for short-term relationships," Little added.

Researchers also found that men who think themselves attractive have stronger preferences for femininity than those who think themselves less attractive. Researchers said this effect is similar to an effect seen in women.  They explained that attractive women are pickier in their preferences for men. 

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