There are so many important factors that make up a good relationship. Trust is important. So is frank and open communication. And you can’t forget honesty! But if you’re a dude trying to find your soulmate and haven’t had much luck, perhaps it’s time to add one more thing to your list of good qualities: A big bushy beard. Like, some Paul Bunyan sh*t. (If he were real, which he is not; and that’s good, because that means less competition for you!)
According to a new study published in The Journal Of Evolutionary Biology, women love beards. Why? Well, aside from the fact that they’re wonderful hiding places, it turns out that beards make men look “traditionally masculine” (which is still a thing people go for, despite cries to the contrary) and also help even the youngest lads appear more mature and “socially dominant.” Of course, that doesn’t mean men sporting beards aren’t sometimes heartless cads willing to take anyone for a ride, but apparently growing facial hair also suggests that you’re wise and worldly and ready to settle down (even if you’ve only grown a beard because shaving is just too much work).
Here’s how researchers performed the study via OZY:
To find out, the study authors photographed men when clean-shaven; with light, five-day-old stubble; with heavy, 10-day-old stubble; and with an at least four-week-old beard. They used imaging software to manipulate the photos to make them appear more masculine or feminine, altering the men’s jawline, face length and other features. The researchers then randomly assigned women to three groups. They asked the first group simply to rate the photos on a scale from 0 to 6, from least to most attractive. The second group rated the attractiveness of the photos for a short-term relationship, while the third group rated their attractiveness for a long-term relationship.
The researchers analyzed the responses of 8,520 women, who rated the photos in an online survey. Across the board, women preferred any type of facial hair to a clean shave. For short-term relationships, they rated stubble as more attractive than beards, which they rated higher for long-term relationships.
Beards, it seems, serve a double purpose. On one hand, they cover up feminine features (which some may find inherently unattractive due to biological reasons); on the other, beards can also serve to soften “extremely masculine” features which suggest that a man may be the perfect candidate for a one night stand (or a few weeks of exhilarating sexual congress) but not so great for the long haul.
Of course, there are limitations here. Not only was the study done in Australia (The University Of Queensland to be precise) — beauty standards are not always universal and most participants were of “European descent” — but there’s really no conclusive proof as to why women find the beards attractive. And, sadly, despite the fact that women rated bearded men higher than men without beards, you’ve also got to take in such things as personality and chemistry into account. Sure, a woman may be into the lumbersexual look, but that doesn’t mean she’ll end up with a bearded guy who dresses exclusively in tailored flannel and designer suspenders.
Still, if you’re willing to stretch a little to find a mate, then growing a beard isn’t the worst (or hardest) thing you could do. According to experts (including one of the study’s authors), you should grow “something” (anything) and evaluate your relationship goals. If you’re having a hard time understanding exactly why a beard should even come into the equation, Lynda Boothroyd of Durham University (not associated with the study) told OZY that you should consider it as an enhancer of sorts, akin to makeup. Seems fair! (Just don’t grow a matching manbun.)
PROOF IS IN THE PUDDING FOLKS: