Chasing Prince Charming: Partnering consequences of holding unrealistic standards for a spouse

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Although social scientists have generally assumed that people's standards for a spouse shape their marital behavior, systematic investigations of the role of mate standards in partnering have been rare. Using survey data collected from 471 unmarried individuals and their peer informants, this study used a novel, residual-based approach to quantify the attainability (rather than the absolute stringency) of people's standards for a spouse. Regression analyses using this index of unrealistic criteria revealed that holding less realistic standards for a marriage partner was associated with several indicators of a propensity to delay or forgo marriage, including greater difficulty establishing high-quality romantic relationships, lower expectations to marry one's current partner, and lower levels of psychological and behavioral investment in marrying.