When dating someone new, most people believe that appearances are everything. But that’s only part … [+] of the story.


We aim to be desirable partners. A 2023 study based on data collected from 14 countries found that daters tend to enhance positive attributes and hide qualities they think would be considered unattractive to potential partners.

Feeling desirable can provide a sense of validation and affirmation of one’s worth and attractiveness, boosting self-esteem and confidence. People also believe that by appearing desirable, they increase their chances of forming a successful romantic connection.

Further, being attractive and desirable is a looming societal expectation, especially in dating contexts. Research shows that many individuals are “involuntarily single” and may use these strategies to varying degrees to find fulfilling relationships.

Here are the five dating strategies people most commonly use to appeal to others, according to the 2023 study.

1. Enhancing Physical Attractiveness

Researchers found that the most popular method to attract a partner is to make oneself more physically desirable. This may involve skincare, haircare, personal hygiene, using perfume or mints for fresh breath, wearing new and flattering clothes or smiling more.

“Cross-culturally, individuals seek to enhance their appearance through weight loss, exercise and muscle gain. Women use cosmetics to improve their facial features, while men strive for muscularity,” the researchers add.

Researchers suggest that some individuals may also take more extreme measures such as going on strict diets to lose weight, using steroids or diet pills and getting liposuction or plastic surgery to appear more attractive.

Further, individuals often try to alter and enhance their digital personas, by editing pictures of themselves online or posting more frequently.

Researchers believe that this emphasis on appearance may be because it is the first thing prospective partners notice about a person, based on which they often decide whether they want to take the relationship forward. Further, attractiveness is one of the most highly valued traits for potential matches and daters strive to spark their interest in these initial interactions.

2. Projecting Similarity

Daters often attempt to enhance their desirability by appearing to be similar to their dates, by highlighting, adopting or even pretending to have shared interests, values and hobbies. For instance, daters may try to enhance their knowledge of topics their date cares about, laugh at their jokes, agree with their views or even change their music tastes to accommodate the other person’s taste.

Research also shows that people are drawn to those who are similar to themselves. Demonstrating similarities can create a sense of connection, compatibility and mutual acceptance.

Finding common ground also helps in building rapport and fostering a sense of familiarity and comfort between individuals. It can imply that the other person’s preferences and experiences are respected and valued, enhancing the relationship-building process.

3. Elevating Social Status

Researchers found that many individuals also become determined to gain financial independence, increase their income and display an abundance of resources to potential partners. To do this, they may pursue higher education, career growth and a superior social status.

Daters may also seek self-improvement by cultivating diverse interests in art, music or literature, going to therapy or doing volunteer work. On the other hand, they may also exaggerate their wealth and buy expensive products to impress their dates.

Displaying wealth and high social status can serve as a signal of success, power and achievement. Individuals often believe they are increasing their perceived “mate value” by signaling their competence, ambition and ability to provide for a potential partner.

4. Emphasizing Personal Strengths

Another popular strategy to appear desirable to others is flaunting one’s skills, talents, knowledge, strengths and achievements. Interestingly, women in the study emphasized their personal strengths more, while men talked more about their achievements.

Demonstrating proficiency in various areas can signal desirable qualities such as one’s intelligence, creativity and dedication, allowing individuals to present themselves in the best possible light. They may do so to leave a memorable impression and increase their chances of piquing a potential partner’s interest.

5. Concealing Perceived Flaws

Researchers found that while many daters work on their strengths and highlight positive qualities, they might also hide information they feel could ruin their chances at love.

Such deception may include hiding psychological challenges, physical health problems or past indiscretions.

A fear of rejection, criticism or judgment can often stop a person from being entirely truthful. People may worry that revealing their flaws could lead the other person to lose interest or view them less favorably.

Revealing flaws requires a certain level of vulnerability and openness, which can be uncomfortable for some people. They may prefer to maintain a sense of control and protect themselves from any emotional pain instead.

While hiding flaws initially may seem like a strategy to enhance attractiveness, it’s important to remember that honesty and authenticity are essential for building genuine connections and long-lasting relationships. Over time, it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain a facade.

Is your fear of being single rushing you into the dating game? Take the evidence-based Fear Of Being Single Scale to learn more.


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