Everybody wants to feel like they're getting the most bang they can for their buck, y'know? Maybe you can't afford your dream BMW, but that doesn't mean you aren't gonna go for the best damn Memorial Day Sale-priced Kia on the lot.
This principle — which could also be described as "settling for what you can get" — also applies to relationships. At least that's the takeaway from a new study out of the University of Texas and California State University, San Bernardino, recently published in Evolution & Human Behavior.
Researchers began with a simple question: What makes people happier — being with someone who fulfills all of their ideal-partner criteria, or simply being with someone who is better than all the other (realistic) options out there?
They conducted surveys asking 860 people questions about mate preferences and relationship satisfaction to find the answer. After parsing through the results, it was determined that "your relationship satisfaction doesn't reliably depend on whether your partner matches your ideal preferences," lead author Daniel Conroy-Beam said in an email. "Rather, we are satisfied when we have the best partner available to us."
Conroy-Beam defined "the best partner available to us" as a partner who we deem as more desirable than we are ourselves or at least more desirable than the other fish out there in the sea.
Romantic and soulmate-y? No. But listen, very few people out there ever really wind up with the custom-model BMWs of their dreams — and even when they do, they still probably have *some* kind of unforeseen flaw. So go ahead and buy that Kia, why don't you? And thank god you're not driving around in a used 2002 Dodge Neon or something!