The Most Attractive Traits in Long-Term Partners

Photo (cc) by Sam Hearn

Two of the largest national studies of mate preferences both confirm and challenge commonly held beliefs.

The research into which characteristics people find desirable or essential in a long-term partner was conducted by researchers at Chapman University in California. It was published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences.

The surveys of almost 28,000 heterosexual participants ranging in age from 18 to 75 years support one long-held belief: “People with desirable traits have a stronger ‘bargaining hand’ and can be more selective when choosing romantic partners,” according to a news release.

While scientists have long known that men care more about attractiveness in a long-term partner and women care more about resources, these surveys also examined whether preferences vary depending on other characteristics such as age, income and educational attainment.

Study co-author David Frederick, who teaches psychology at Chapman, states:

“We found that gender was by far the strongest predictor of what people want in a long-term mate: It was more important than age, income, education, or confidence in appearance.

“We found that although men have stronger preferences for a ‘good looking’ and ‘slender’ partner, men and women care equally about having a partner who is specifically attractive to them.”

Specific findings include that men and women differed on whether it was “desirable/essential” that their potential partner:

  • Was good-looking (important to more men).
  • Had a slender body (important to more men).
  • Had a steady income (important to more women).
  • Made/will make a lot of money (important to more women.)

Genders also differed on whether it was “very important/a must have” that their partner:

  • Made at least as much money as they do (important to more women).
  • Had a successful career (important to more women).

Good looks were even more important to men who were wealthier and to people who were more confident in their own appearance. Good looks and income were traits that held less importance for older people.

Do you agree that people with more desirable characteristics have a stronger “bargaining hand” when looking for a romantic partner? Sound off in our Forums. It’s the place where you can speak your mind, explore topics in-depth, and post questions and get answers.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
7 Small Appliances You Don’t Need — and What to Use Instead
7 Small Appliances You Don’t Need — and What to Use Instead

Here’s how to get the job done without blowing money — or losing counter space.

If My Spouse Dies, Can I Get Her Social Security?
If My Spouse Dies, Can I Get Her Social Security?

If a spouse dies, will the survivor collect the other’s share in addition to his or her own?

5 Tax Breaks That Retirees Often Overlook
5 Tax Breaks That Retirees Often Overlook

Did you realize all these tax credits and deductions exist — or that they apply to retirees?

3 Reasons You Can’t Rely on Medicare Alone
3 Reasons You Can’t Rely on Medicare Alone

Counting on Medicare to cover health care costs can jeopardize your retirement plans.

7 Reasons You Should Not Pay Off a Mortgage Before Retirement
7 Reasons You Should Not Pay Off a Mortgage Before Retirement

Here’s why it often makes financial sense to carry a mortgage into retirement.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

The warehouse store offers an enormous selection, but these products aren’t coming back.

11 Things Retirees Should Always Buy at Costco
11 Things Retirees Should Always Buy at Costco

This leader in bulk shopping is a great place to find discounts in the fixed-income years.

Over 50? The CDC Says You Need These 4 Vaccines
Over 50? The CDC Says You Need These 4 Vaccines

Fall is the time to schedule vaccines that can keep you healthy — and even save your life.

11 Household Items That Go Bad — or Become Dangerous
11 Household Items That Go Bad — or Become Dangerous

When you get the impulse to stockpile these everyday items, pay close attention to their expiration dates.

8 Things You Can Get for Free at Pharmacies
8 Things You Can Get for Free at Pharmacies

In this age of higher-priced drugs and complex health care systems, a trip to the pharmacy can spark worry. Freebies sure do help.

7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast
7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast

Your financial security might soon depend upon the strength of your credit score.

11 Senior Discounts for Anyone Age 55 or Older
11 Senior Discounts for Anyone Age 55 or Older

There is no need to wait until you’re 65 to take advantage of so-called “senior” discounts.

These Are the 4 Best Medicare Advantage Plans for 2020
These Are the 4 Best Medicare Advantage Plans for 2020

Medicare Advantage customers themselves rate these plans highest.

The 10 Most Commonly Stolen Vehicles in America
The 10 Most Commonly Stolen Vehicles in America

A new model parks atop the list of vehicles that thieves love to pilfer.

19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree
19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree

These jobs pay more than the typical job in the U.S. — and no bachelor’s degree is required.

9 Deep Discounts Available on Amazon This Friday
9 Deep Discounts Available on Amazon This Friday

These items are all steeply discounted — but the deals won’t last long.

The 15 Worst States for Retirees in 2020
The 15 Worst States for Retirees in 2020

Based on dozens of metrics tied to affordability, quality of life and health care, these are not ideal places to spend retirement.

5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free
5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free

Hesitant to drop $119 a year on an Amazon Prime membership? Here’s how to get it for free.

26 States That Do Not Tax Social Security Income
26 States That Do Not Tax Social Security Income

These states won’t tax any of your Social Security income — and in some cases, other types of retirement income.

10 Reasons Why You Should Actually Retire at 62
10 Reasons Why You Should Actually Retire at 62

If you can, here are several good reasons to retire earlier than we’re told to.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

5 Keys to Making Your Car Last for 200,000 Miles
5 Keys to Making Your Car Last for 200,000 Miles

Pushing your car to 200,000 miles — and beyond — can save you piles of cash. Here’s how to get there.

7 Surprising Features That Boost Your Home Value
7 Surprising Features That Boost Your Home Value

You can add value to your home without hiring a contractor to do expensive renovations.

5 Things That Make Life More Meaningful for Retirees
5 Things That Make Life More Meaningful for Retirees

Retirees agree: These are the things that give them purpose and fulfillment in their golden years.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.