Listening to the comments of today’s young men and women, we can conclude that men choose only silicone beauties, while women choose men who are well-off, drive a good car and have a comfortable life. But the reality is not so black and white. Do you really want to know what women want?!
Surveys involving respondents from 6 continents – specifically from 33 countries representing all major racial and religious groups, as well as political systems, from the poorest to wealthy individuals – showed that personality traits are crucial in choosing a long-term partner! Mutual attraction or love is the most desirable characteristic that is considered essential by almost everyone in the world. Immediately after, personality traits proved to be the preference for choosing a partner in humans, with the most significant ones being judged reliable character, emotional stability and maturity and comfort. Other important personality traits are sociability, grace and neatness, ambition and diligence.
Although popular proverbs lead us to completely opposite conclusions (“Opposites are drawn together.” and “Every bird flies to its flock.”), research provides tremendous support for the theory of attracting similarities, and no support for the theory of attracting opposites! Similarity attracting theory holds that people are attracted to those who have similar personality traits. The only characteristic in which “opposites are attracted” and proven to be correct is biological sex – men are most often attracted to women, while women are mostly attracted to men. Of course, there are individual exceptions to these rules, but generally speaking, people who share their personalities are attracted to people. Research has even been able to show that there is some correlation and similarity in physical characteristics such as height, weight, and even the length of the nose and ears! But people do not actively seek out those who are most similar to them. People are known to mostly marry people who are around. It was even noticed that the partners even lived in the same “neighborhood”. This is so only because it is easier to cuddle and get close to someone nearby! Many couples met at school, college, work – it is clear that by choosing the same school, college or job and more similar to each other in intelligence, motivation, social skills, etc., than someone who is completely opposite .
But back to the beginning – men are really looking for beauties, and women prefer men of better social status. Evolutionary psychology says that choosing a sexual partner is not accidental. In any culture, people of the opposite sex are not equally liked by people. Some potential partners are always favored. Choosing a partner is essential for all sexually reproducing species. Specific preferences for partners of certain characteristics have evolved precisely because these characteristics have contributed to survival and reproduction throughout human history. Choosing partners we think will be unfaithful, physically aggressive, lazy, without the necessary skills to provide resources – we as a species would not survive! To survive, we need to reproduce with a person who can provide us with the resources we need, take care of and invest in posterity, protect us, etc.
Trivers states in his theory that gender that invests more in offspring is also more picky about potential partners, and gender that invests less in greater mutual competition for sexual access to the opposite sex. In long-term relationships or marriage – when both man and woman invest heavily in offspring, both genders will be very picky when choosing a partner.
The preferences of men and women according to certain partner characteristics did not arise by chance. They have addressed important adaptive reproductive problems during evolution and have persisted for this reason. To survive as a species, men had to solve their reproductive problem by choosing fertile women. Over the generations, preference has developed that is not at the conscious level (although, of course, at the conscious level there are preferences that we experience as desires and emotions). Some partners are attracted to us, and some feel resentful without being aware of the adaptive logic of these preferences.
During the evolutionary past, there had to be resources that man could acquire, protect and control. Men needed to be differentiated in terms of what they owned and their willingness to invest in a woman and offspring. Long-term relationships with one man were intended to overcome the disadvantages resulting from shorter relationships with more men.
In all cultures, men acquire a variety of resources – money, possessions, positions that bring money and possessions again – but men are therefore significantly different from one another, but also different from the willingness to invest in a long-term relationship! Some men prefer smaller investments to a larger number of partners, while others invest a lot in one woman and joint offspring. Historically, women have often provided more resources with the choice of one permanent partner than shorter relationships with multiple partners. Compared to other primates, men invest much more in their offspring and partner, but this investment is related to the degree of paternity security – it increases if the woman is tied solely to one partner!
Research makes it quite clear that women’s financial perspective is much more important to their partners than men, at 50-100%! Women also prefer men with high positions in society, but precisely because of what that position represents – again more resources they manage! With higher status comes better territory, better nutrition, better health care, better education for children, etc. Women also value the signs related to social status (education and occupation) very highly, again for the same reason – greater availability of resources needed to survive offspring!
Women also prefer men older than themselves, averaging 3.5 years. Although men are financially and financially at their peak in their forties and fifties, women most often do not prefer much older men than themselves because of the higher likelihood of getting older men’s disease and mortality, which hinders continued investment and gives offspring an uncertain future. Women also prefer men who are trustworthy and emotionally stable, as stated at the outset. These characteristics increase the likelihood that they will continuously care for the supply of resources to their offspring. Research has shown that emotionally unstable men are often overly self-directed, monopolizing shared resources and unpredictable. In addition, they are very possessive, jealous, prone to verbal and physical violence and promiscuous behavior.
Women in both the human and animal world are more likely to choose physically stronger, larger, and more partners because they talk about a possible solution to the problem of protection – such a man can more easily protect himself, his wife and posterity. The preference for good health is also very important because people who are not healthy cannot provide the necessary resources, have a greater chance of early death, endanger survival and reproduction, transmit non-adaptive genes to posterity. This is why symmetrical faces and bodies are appealing to us (symmetry is the basis of what we call beauty) – these are universal signs of good health because they reflect an individual’s resistance to environmental and genetic stressors. Symmetry has also proven to be a sign of good physiological, psychological and emotional health in research!
When choosing a partner, women have to take care, in addition to the amount of resources, that the chosen man wants to invest in her and their offspring. Therefore, a preference for love developed. The loving partner is faithful (does not share access to sexual and material resources), gives emotional support, reproduces solely with one partner – not sharing genetic material with other partners. Numerous studies show that love is a characteristic that is extremely important to women or even most important when getting married.
Women prefer partners who are willing to invest in children. This is precisely why it is attractive for women to see men interact positively with a young child, while it is totally unattractive for them to ignore a crying child. When men evaluate the attractiveness of a woman, then it does not depend on the type of interaction with the child!
Which characteristic is most attractive to you in partner? Think about your preferences in evolutionary psychology!