Forget “Netflix and chill.” The new euphemism for getting together to get it on should be “organize sweaters and worry.”
That’s right — annoying personality traits such as neuroticism, obsessiveness, compulsiveness and impulsiveness are actually sexy. So says a new study, published in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior.
Men and women with pathological traits (over-analyzers, triple-checkers, fad-loyalists, needless risk-takers) are more likely to be in a relationship — and even to have more children. What we might perceive as socially undesirable, if not maddening, might actually have an evolutionary advantage, or so researchers believe. Your dream date may be Carrie Mathison or Woody Allen for a good reason.
Psychologists surveyed 1000 heterosexual men and women about their personality traits, relationship histories and family lives. Plain Janes and Regular Joes did not come out ahead. Men who skewed obsessive-compulsive had more romantic partners than their chilled-out counterparts, while neurotic women were over 30 percent more likely to have partners. The women were also over 70 percent more likely to have an above-average number of children.
To explain these findings, psychologists looked to evolution. Based on conventional social values, we might think of neuroses and recklessness as bad things. But in terms of survival, overthinkers have advantages that translate to socially desirable outcomes. Obsessive men, for example, might make more money because they’re so focused on getting that paper. Neurotic women, the study’s authors postulate, might be “captivating.” Similarly, impulsivity is associated with taking risks, and everyone loves a bad boy (or girl).
As Psyblog pointed out, the results jibe with another study that found women incorrectly assume men prefer conformists. In reality, they want the rebellious kooks who keep life interesting. In other words, if you eventually want those trappings of emotional normalcy — marriage, 2 1/2 kids, dog, white picket fence — stop pretending to be normal. Let your true self loose.