Despite how many times people hear that money does not matter when it comes to starting romantic relationships, a new study from the University of Hong Kong reveals otherwise. It turns out that choosing our romantic partners also depend on how rich we feel in comparison to other people, not just based on our feelings and emotions.

The findings, published online on March 21 in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, show that wealthy men are more interested in short-term relationships and are more likely to be less contented with their partner’s physical appearance. On the other hand, rich women are more likely to overlook a man’s physical attractiveness.

These were the results of a two-part study conducted on heterosexual Chinese college students who were already in long-term relationships. The researchers asked the participants to imagine they were either rich or poor and then assessed each individual’s behavioural change brought by the scenario.

romantic partners

Speed dating. Credit: Flickr/Phoenix Comicon

The second study revealed that the richer participants interacted with attractive people more easily compared to the poorer ones. However, all men, both the poor and the rich ones, chose to be seated closer to attractive people.

“We remarked that wealthy men attach more importance to a mate’s physical attractiveness setting higher standards and preferring to engage in short-term mating than those who have less money,” says Darius Chan, a professor of the Department of Psychology at the University of Hong Kong. “However, for committed women, money may lead to less variation in their mating strategies because losing a long-term relationship generally has a higher reproductive cost.”

The researchers say that these mating strategies actually increased the reproductive success of our ancestors. Moreover, while the experiments were conducted to Chinese individuals, they assert that the same conditional mating strategies can be found in cultures all over the world.