Study: What qualities make you an ideal romantic partner?January 14th, 2014 by Mike
The below findings are from a 2014 psychology study titled Gender Differences: What We Seek in Romantic and Sexual Partners. You can read the full study while that link still works (let me know if it goes dead).
Note: Unless otherwise noted, these findings apply to both women and men.
1. For sexual partners, we look for shallow qualities.
What’s interesting is that these are the qualities that we worry about in ourselves. Am I attractive enough? Do I have any sex appeal at all? Am I boring? To find love, I need a perfect face, a smokin-hot body, and the unfailingly-cool personality of a rockstar/astronaut/movie star. That’s what you think you need. But that’s not what you actually need to find love; that’s what you need to find sex.
2. For serious relationships, we look for deeper qualities.
Who do you want to spend several years with? Probably somebody with the above qualities, with loyalty as the most important quality. A few notes about these…
Mutual love is a flawed answer choice. What do you want in an ideal partner? “To be in love with them and have them love me back.” Well, yeah, duh. That’s not a personal characteristic that you’re looking for; it’s an outcome. So forget this one; it should have been excluded from the study (IMHO).
Loyalty may seem like an obvious priority: If you’re going to be in a relationship, of course you want someone who’s faithful, otherwise none of the other qualities really matter. But maybe our desire for loyalty extends beyond simple monogamy. What other behaviors might make a person convey loyalty?
Kindness is the most actionable item on this list. Being kind isn’t “being nice.” It doesn’t mean being sweet and passive. Kindness is thoughtfully alleviating people’s pain, with effort and words. The good news is that you can always get better at this, and that you’re naturally pretty good at it if you let yourself be. Your physical appearance may hit a maximum, but you can always let out more of your natural kind nature. And according to this study, that will pay off for you, romantically.
Note: I’m assuming that physical attractiveness is still something we seek in romantic partners, but that people don’t place as much importance on it for relationships because it’s a given. For a relationship, “pretty” is the easy part.
3. Men care more about previous sexual partners
If you’re a guy and you get hung up on your partner’s sexual history a lot, that’s not (only) because you’re waiting till marriage to have sex; most guys place a lot of importance on their partner’s previous sexual relationships whether they’re waiting or not.
Here’s something to keep in mind: According to this study, if you meet a girl you like, she will likely (according to this study) care about your sexual past less than you will care about hers. How unfair is that?
4. Some of the qualities we stress about don’t matter much
Age doesn’t matter much, and neither does social status. You’ve probably heard before that social status is attractive, and there’s some truth to that. But, attractive is not the same thing as important.