Perfect (Mis)Match
- Stacy Danika S. Alcantara () - August 11, 2010 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines - While having coffee one lazy weekend afternoon, my friend and I couldn’t help but do a double take on the slew of couples from school that we’ve recently come across in Facebook. We were seeing beauty queens with boyfriends reminiscent of Quasimodo if they were lucky, or studs from school who turned out to have girlfriends with faces that only their dads could ever hope to love.

This phenomenon isn’t anything new. It’s been happening for as long as the human race could remember. It’s just that no one talks about it that much except in small circles in the work place or in school. This “new taboo”, as an article in the July 2007 issue of Time Magazine puts it, is on the rise to become a fad in pair-ups much like the cougar-prey, May-December, interreligious, interracial and intercultural relationships have already become.

So, look around you. Actually, look right beside you and ask yourself, are you in what we would call an interfacial relationship? 

Interfacial relationships, according to Urban Dictionary, are relationships wherein there is a mismatched level of attractiveness between the couple. Verbatim, it is “a relationship where one individual is much better looking than the other. Due to disparity in looks, the couple is forced to engage in cross-facial communication.”

The subject may already be causing quite a stir as you read this but honestly, who hasn’t turned their heads upon spotting a totally mismatched couple with one looking like a movie star and the other, well, never mind. 

So exactly why are these kinds of pair-ups such head turners and eventually become pulutan sa chika? Simple: because subconsciously and on a very primitive level, we believe that people should be with those who can enhance their race—not downgrade it. Physical qualities are, in effect the first manifestations of being fit, healthy and having superior genes. Because humans are still animals, we look to these traits in the pursuit of producing offspring which, if not at par, are better than us.

This is exactly why pair-ups like Padma Laksmi and Salman Rushdie—the former a hot model-slash-honor student-slash TV personality, and the latter an old, hodgepodge with furrowed brows yet an exceptional mind—continue to astound us. 

However, unlike animals, interfacial relationships do work out owing to the fact that well, humans are just plain complicated and human relationships are founded on more than just what the other person looks like. According to researchers and psychologists, for starters, human beings become attached to one another, others moving towards a lifelong commitment, on three basic grounds: physical attractiveness (which, more often is the first come-on), proximity (many couples developed feelings for each other because they usually were around each other a lot in school or at work), and plain similarities (people who have a lot of similarities just seem to click. These similarities eventually draw them to each other and are enough to attract them to each other).

Interfacial relationships often happen as a result of the last two cases. For Padma and Salman, according to a magazine interview, their common love for cooking and even perhaps for ideas, was more than enough to draw them to each other, never mind the fact that anyone in Padma’s shoes would really rather wear an eye mask before going to bed knowing that Salman was right beside her.

In interfacial relationships, the most common occurrence has been the Hot Wife-Ugly Husband tandem, more than the other way around. Although physical attractiveness is one of the most common factors on why couples hook up, more established, long-term relationships like marriage are a different case and require so much more than having one’s partner look like a dead ringer for Angelina Jolie or Brad Pitt.

In the study conducted by researcher James McNulty of the University of Tennessee, men and women generally look at different traits when they decide to look for lifetime partners. In a nutshell, men generally put a lot of value on physical attributes which points out to the “trophy wife” phenomenon. Many women, on the other hand, don’t seem to mind how or what their husband’s look like because what women believe will make a relationship work out in the long term is a supportive husband—at least, this is what the research tells us.

Of course, looks can be quite subjective but there are commonly agreed physical traits on what we believe “beautiful”, “hot”, and “supernatural” look like. 

So who has it harder in an interfacial relationship? Many women usually have a hard time dealing with what the public has to say in interfacial relationships. Proof of this is an ad for an optical company with a creative strategy statement that said something to the effect that more women have bad eyesight compared to men. Women in interfacial relationships have to deal with being the butt of jokes when it comes to their judgement in choosing a mate, while men with hot wives are worshipped and admired by those around him for bagging a trophy wife.

Looking back at the plethora of real-life odd couples that have surrounded me, it hasn’t become such a wonder why so many interfacial relationships continue to thrive and outlast perfectly matched ones.

With the fact that men and women look for different things in long term relationships, it turns out that interfacial relationships might actually be quite a match after all. q

(Editor’s note: The opinions expressed here are those of the writer, exclusively, and does not reflect the stand of the Lifestyle section.)

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