Science Explains Why Your Family Hates Your S.O.

A study found that our families look for different qualities than we do when assessing our significant others.

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Complex Original

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If you've brought your significant other home to meet your family and received a less-than-warm welcome, you're definitely not alone. According to a new study, it's normal for parents and siblings to disagree with your choice of partner—because they're judging them based on different criteria. 

The study, published in Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences, asked women to rank the importance of 133 qualities based on what they look for in their own partners and what they look for in their sisters' partners. While they valued qualities like faithfulness and loyalty for both, they didn't always hold their own significant others and their sisters' to the same standards. 

When considering their sisters, they were more likely to choose partners who were "empathetic, responsible, helpful, sensible, and kind," lead author Robert Biegler said in a press release. When thinking about their own dating prospects, though, they cared more about whether somebody was charming, fun, and good in bed. These findings add to another study from 2013, which found that parents disagree with their daughters' dating preferences for similar reasons. 

The authors theorize that our siblings and parents have different preferences than we do because they don't want to be the ones stuck taking care of us or our partners. Or, to put it scientifically, "the ideal partner for your sister or your daughter can't drain resources from you and decrease the chance that your own genes can be passed on," Biegler said in the press release.

Regardless of gender, research shows that we tend to care about our families' approval of our significant others whether we want to or not. So maybe our siblings' and parents' tendency to disagree with us could push us toward people who are less exciting but better long-term partners. 

The authors did not immediately return Complex's request for comment. 

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