Dating advice is everywhere, but most of it is based on opinion and folklore (or even creepy pick-up artists). New research from the University of Queensland uncovers the truth about how to attract a date.

 

When you’re trying to attract the attention of a potential partner you have a choice: make yourself stand out from the crowd, or show how well you fit in with others. Standing out suggests that you’ve got individuality and flair, while fitting in with others shows you’re friendly and agreeable. Both are attractive to potential partners, but which strategy is more successful?

 

If you asked your grandparents what to do they’d say that women are attracted to men who stand out from the crowd, whereas men are attracted to women who know how to fit in with others.

 

These ideas might sound old-fashioned, but a study from 2006 showed that when university students were thinking about dating, the female students tended to change their opinions to fit in with others, while men were more likely to change their opinions to stand out from the crowd. But are these strategies effective?

 

New research from the University of Queensland (co-authored by Dr Richard Wellauer of Benchmark Psychology) shows that men are actually more attracted to women who don’t conform to the group – those who stand out from the crowd.

 

Dating advice for women

 

Whether it’s evaluating dating profiles, rating the attractiveness of other people in small group interactions, or thinking about how much they’ve enjoyed recent dating experiences, men consistently reported that women who stood out from the crowd were more attractive, even though most women think that men prefer conformist women.

 

Dating advice for men

 

Women also reported that they preferred men who stood out from the crowd, but only up to a point – being too independent can be unattractive. If anything, men who are good at both standing out and fitting in with others are more successful in relationships.

 

So when you’re updating your online dating profile or going out with a bunch of new people, don’t let other people’s ideas about what’s attractive change how you act. Women don’t need to be afraid of standing out and showing off their individuality. Men don’t need to worry about acting the tough guy. Express your own opinions and flair, but make sure you also show that you’re able to be flexible and go along with the group.

 

This research is about dating, but it may as well be about job interviews, meeting new friends, or chatting to people while waiting for your morning coffee. We often spend a lot of time and effort figuring out how to present ourselves in a way that stands out the least – instead, we should be making sure that we’re not living by other people’s standards. It’s okay to stand out from the crowd and it’s okay to fit in with others, but a mix of both is best of all.

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