However, having a handsome husband or boyfriend is no barrier to the couple's success, according to the study.
The phenomenon was spotted by British researchers who were studying whether it is true that we tend to pair up with those who are similarly attractive to ourselves.
Their findings could help explain why Angelina Jolie's marriages to actors Jonny Lee Miller and Billy Bob Thornton barely lasted three years a piece.
In contrast, her relationship with Brad Pitt, one of the world's most handsome celebrities, has already lasted six years, suggesting she has found her match.
The Stirling, Chester and Liverpool university researchers took photos of the men and women in more than 100 couples. Some had been together for just a few months, others for several years. The individual men and women were then rated on their looks.
The analysis revealed having an attractive husband or boyfriend was no barrier to a relationship succeeding. But, if it was the woman who was the one blessed with good looks, the relationships tended to last only a matter of months, the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin reports.
Researcher Rob Burriss said: "This would indicate it is the woman who is in control of whether the relationship continues.
Beautiful women may realize they can afford to pick and choose, he suggests. They may also have the confidence to leave behind relationships that have run their course."
"Attractive women might generally prefer short-term relationships. They're better placed to move on."
It is also possible the relationships end due to jealous behavior from the woman's less photogenic partner.
Conversely, the less attractive women "may have to make do with what they have, hence the longer relationships", he said.
The study also found we tend to pair up with people whose facial features have a similar level of symmetry - a sign of beauty - to our own.
Dr Burriss said: "Are all men trying to go out with Anne Hathaway or Angelina Jolie, or do you really want to be with someone at the same level of attractiveness as yourself? These findings suggest our ideal partner is one on our own kind of level."