Too much of a good thing: Fatal attraction in intimate relationships

Main Article Content

Diane H. Felmlee
Heather Kohler Flynn
Peter Riley Bahr


Can a mate possess “too much of a good thing?” Here we test hypotheses concerning the propensity of individuals to view their spouse or partner as exhibiting too much of otherwise desirable characteristics. In a sample of 208 adults, we find that approximately three-fourths of respondents report that their mate exhibits “too much” of at least one appealing quality. Over two-thirds report a “fatal attraction,” in which they recount initially being attracted to the same quality in a partner that is now perceived to be exhibited in excess. Furthermore, we find that fatal attractions occur across a wide range of ages and personality dimensions, and in both dating and married relationships. We demonstrate these patterns using both quantitative
and qualitative data.

Article Details