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Whether You’re Looking For A Casual Or A Long-Term Partner, Self-Control Can Seal The Deal, Says Study

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Self-control never sounds like a thrilling concept – not in life, not on social media, not when it comes to self-deprecating humour. When the lockdown started last year, Instagram was brimming with posts on quarantine snacks, mood eating, and binge-drinking. That trend caught on as the entire world indulged in these behaviours, feeling connected beyond borders by threads of despair and gluttony. Memories are rarely built over moments of self-control, right? What’s life without a little impulsive recklessness? Ah, this is exactly how we sound right before adding another dent in our mental and emotional wellbeing.

We want everything – but without having to practice self-control. But you see, even to win a lottery, you have to buy a ticket! It’s important for education, career, and achieving any goal you have, including your dating goals. Whether you want something long-term or a few casual affairs, you need to have the self-control to stay on track. Oh boy, we know how difficult that is when the person who makes your dil go mmm is just not ready “yet”. Even though you want something long-term, you settle for what you’re getting, and then it all gets messed up.

Similarly, some of us are picky, while some of us are more open and less selective. What determines these behaviours? Honestly, our dating lives would benefit so much and the world would witness a significant reduction in heartbreaks if we all just had the self-control to want what we need.

Of course, it’s easier said than done but a recent study decided to delve deeper into the subject. “Self-control is a crucial factor in maintaining an established romantic relationship, but its role in relationship formation is understudied,” the report says.

“The current study tested whether trait self-control is related to a more selective approach toward romantic partners. Over 4 years, we organized 11 speed-date events at which a total of 342 single, heterosexual participants met potential partners,” the study revealed.

The study revealed that “there was an interaction between self-control and sociosexual orientation (SOI) in predicting selectivity.” In case you are wondering what “sociosexual orientation” is basically a person’s inclination to have casual sex with multiple short-term partners. “Individuals with an unrestricted [sociosexual orientation] have an overall promiscuous behavioral tendency, and pursue relationships with the main goal of having sexual intercourse,” the authors of the study explained. “Individuals with a restricted [sociosexual orientation], on the other hand, require a greater degree of emotional closeness and commitment before engaging in sexual intercourse, and pursue long-term romantic relationships.”

Now that we know what sociosexuality is, how does self-control come into the picture? People who wanted long-term relationships are more selective in dating, according to this study. They also exhibited higher levels of self-control.

It makes sense, right? Currently, I am not looking for a frivolous affair; those are draining! What I am looking for is someone with long-term potential. It means I will not date anyone who I feel is not a guy I would want to marry or who is not ready for a committed relationship. I know what I want, so when I find a handsome stranger hitting on me in an obviously sexual manner, I will practice self-control.

Do your friends and relatives keep saying you are too picky? The study says most people are when they want something long-term, and especially when they have good self-control. Last we checked, it was a good thing! “They believed that participants who were looking for a long-term committed partner would indicate an interest in only a few partners if they were also high in self-control. The assumption here is that these people would only express an interest in those who clearly met their criteria for an intimate partner,” Dr. David Ludden, professor of psychology at Georgia Gwinnett College wrote in Psychology Today.

Meanwhile, the study also found something that may seem baffling at first and then it will start to make sense. “When it came to participants who reported unrestricted sociosexuality, the researchers expected there to be no relationship between self-control and selectivity. After all, you can’t have lots of sex partners if you’re overly picky about who you go out with,” Ludden shared.

However, the researchers observed that as self-control increased, selectivity in terms of casual sex partners also went down. This means that when a person is seeking short-term sex partners, those who rank higher in self-control have more dates.

So what are they using self-control for? Firstly, casual dating requires a lot of consistency and connection with different people. This is one of the reasons why it’s so exhausting. “Not only do you need to have “game,” that is, the set of skills necessary to attract sexual partners, you also need to be on your game at all times. So-called pickup artists play the numbers, interacting with as many potential sex partners as possible, hoping that some of them will pan out. In other words, it takes a lot of self-control to follow through on every lead to a potential sexual encounter,” Ludden explained.

Secondly, I believe those who have higher self-control are better at refraining from getting emotionally attached to their short-term encounters. This means they are not afraid of getting attached and hence are acing the casual sex game.

ALSO READ: Women Get Candid About Having Casual Sex And If It’s Worth It

The research found that women are more selective than men when it comes to dating – whether for the long term or short term. “Our findings demonstrate that self-control does not ‘blindly’ stimulate people to respond in a certain way to potential partners,” the researchers explained. “Instead, it enables them to be either selective or unselective depending on their personal mating goal. It is important to note that in both cases, goal achievement requires self-control — either because attraction needs to be suppressed, or because attraction needs to be acted upon.”

“Additionally, our results showed that [sociosexual orientation] was negatively associated with sexual selectivity, but positively with long-term romantic selectivity — i.e. resulting in diverging tendencies that appear to have canceled each other out,” the researchers explained. “It thus seems that not all unrestricted individuals follow up on the strategy of being rather unselective to increase their mating chances — only those with high levels of self-control do so, and only to pursue short-term sexual relationships,” the added.

The study, “The role of self-control and sociosexual orientation in partner selection: A speed-dating study“, was authored by Tila M. Pronk, Johan C. Karremans, Andrew Demetriou, Leander van der Meij, and Jaap J. A. Denissen.

ALSO READ: We May Regret Casual Sex Sometimes But Want It Anyway, Says Study

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