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The most desirable traits men and women seek in long-term partners

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Sejal Kapadia Pocha
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Whether it's on Tinder or at a bar, how do you identify a potential long-term partner? Is it their height and frame? Their earning potential? Their smile?

A group of scientists at Chapman University in California have studied nearly 28,000 heterosexuals to decipher exactly what it is that men and women look for when finding a significant other. 

Using the two largest studies of mate preferences ever conducted in America, they found that while some typical stereotypes such as "slender" bodies and earning power were true, other commonly held beliefs were challenged. 

The biggest was that men and women care equally about having a partner who is specifically attractive to them. 

Women put greater importance on resources, favouring a steady income (97%, compared to 74% of men), a successful career (61%, compared to 33% of men) and those who will or do make a lot of money (69%, compared to 47% of men).

Men on the other hand value attractiveness, and have a stronger preference for wanting a "slender" partner than women, with 80% of men indicating this as ideal in a partner. Only 50% of women asked selected "slender" as a quality they looked for. 
 

A scene from Romeo + Juliet

A scene from Romeo + Juliet

The study also looked at people with different incomes, educations, ages and levels of appearance satisfaction to see if that changed preferences in a mate.

Both men and women with higher incomes and more confidence in their appearance had stronger preferences for partners who are considered good looking. However older men and women placed less importance on looks and income traits when seeking a long-term partner.

Education level was not related to preferences for steady income or making a lot of money.

It's worth bearing in mind these results aren't quite prescriptive and researchers didn't take personality traits into consideration.

In another study titled Personality and Mate Preferences, 300 newlyweds and university students were showed two adjectives used to describe a potential partner indicated and asked to pick the word they preferred. The top five words were the same for both men and women: warm, reliable, fair, intelligent and knowledgeable. 

Table of most valued personality attributes in a potential long-term partner

Table of most valued personality attributes in a potential long-term partner

Images: Rex Features

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Sejal Kapadia Pocha

Sejal Kapadia Pocha covers stories about everything from women’s issues to cult foods. She describes herself as a balance between Hermione and Luna Lovegood.

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