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What do men and women want - psychologically

Updated on December 27, 2012

What do men look for in a woman? What do women want in a man?

These are questions a frustrated single might ask after failed attempts at dating. Oftentimes it's best to take an irrational, natural approach to the problem, but it's also interesting to look at things with more thought, perhaps even scientifically.

The biological approach in psychology can provide a way to figure out the dynamics behind what men and women look for in each other instinctively. According to evolutionary personality psychologists, people choose mates based partially on what serves the needs of the human race.


What men look for in women

From an evolutionary perspective, men can best serve the needs of humankind by, well, reproducing as much as possible. Thus, men naturally are attracted to women with "high reproductive value"; they like ladies who can have lots of babies.

What outward signs do women give off of this quality? Age is a big factor. Of course, older women can't have children to the extent younger women can. The younger a woman looks, the more capable she appears of producing offspring. This said, men prefer younger women to older women. Even teenage boys desire older women for this reason; extremely young girls seem less capable of reproduction. Worldwide men prefer younger women; in studies of 37 different cultures males have shown they prefer women lesser in age (0.38 years in Finland to 6.45 in Nigeria).

Men are also attracted to the physical features associated with youth: smooth skin, good muscle tone, lustrous hair, and full lips. Features such as these are considered universal attributes of beauty.

Men are more likely to use physical attractiveness as a factor for considering marriage. Men are also more likely to try harder in relationships with more beautiful women. They are more likely to rate this factor higher in selecting mates.

This has an effect on women. Studies show that women feels worse about themselves and their marriages when shown pictures of more beautiful women. This is due to intrasexual selection - women get competitive with other women when it comes to certain features.

What women look for in men

Women have a little more at stake than men; while they want to reproduce as well, but they cannot have an infinite number of children. Also, traditionally (and based on biological psychology approaches) women are more responsible for remaining with children and raising them. Thus they cannot roam around for men, but must seek someone who can provide for their offspring. Men also differ in the ability to nurture children and pass on status or power.

Women are more likely to identify qualities such as dependability, ambition, and career-orientation as important in seeking a mate. Things like sense of humour are not so important.

Similar to women, men get competitive as well; they are aware of female preferences for good providers and may naturally boast of good earning power on dates.

While being a good worker, dependabile and ambitious, is important to a woman, mere dominance is not so preferable. If a man is unwilling to share with or invest in children, that is looked down upon by women.

These preferences are also universal.

Interestingly, women indicate a desire for mates older than they are in first marriages, from 2.26 years older for Great Britain to 5.10 years in Iran.


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    • glassvisage profile image

      glassvisage 5 years ago from Northern California

      Well said!

    • profile image

      Pilgrim 5 years ago

      Because this technological society is changing so fast, what a person wants and expects out of an relationship seems to be changing just as fast. Maybe this is the reason relationships seem like a ship without an anchor. When the ship sails, you really do not know where it will land.

    • profile image

      MarciaB 5 years ago

      Jimmy, stop being Brittish.

    • glassvisage profile image

      glassvisage 6 years ago from Northern California

      Ness, I wrote this article - message me through HubPages.

    • profile image

      Ness 6 years ago

      If anyone knows the name of the woman who wrote this article, it would be greatly appreciated, I am in grade 11 doing a persuasive speech on my school should be clothing optional and I need sources, thanks!

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      Anonymous 6 years ago

      I like the truth in the article....

      Men looking for more fertile women and women looking for dependable men who can provide for her and her children. So true...

    • profile image

      john 7 years ago

      not looking for a sence of houmour......??that's interesting. take a look at profiles on oasis active????

    • scrittobene profile image

      Maria D'Alessandro 7 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      Maybe a man is attracted to some woman who reminds him of his mother in some way and a woman seeks a guy similar to her father. After all, our parents are our first love and will forever remain our terms of reference for future relationships.

    • rdlang05 profile image

      rdlang05 8 years ago from Minnesota

      While I agree with article, I am always cautious about taking a purely evolutionary perspective. There are so many other social/cognitive/subconcious/biological things happening during attraction. Still, very good presentation about this particular facet.

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      1988jimmyg 8 years ago

      I'm not entirely convinced. Where as maybe some men and women still look for these traits i think we've reached the point now where we look for other things in our so called "mates" Things like humour and honesty and trust have a much bigger influence on relationships now compared to age and physical attractiveness

    • profile image

      COOLBREEZING 8 years ago

      You right

    • Mahmo profile image

      Mahmo 8 years ago

      After 15 years of marriage I can say that my own considerations would have been her intelligence .However, when I decided to marry at that time,I had only your current measures in mind. Iam surprised how some males are fond of a childish moman ? .No happiness could be enjoyed in such cases except after lapse of 15 years,if any, when the wife gains more experience.When you reach that age it becomes too late to enjoy the life with many children & their demands!!.

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      stuffsoup 9 years ago

      i just want a woman who really knows how to crank out babies... a young one.

    • Yla Pamfilo profile image

      Yla Pamfilo 9 years ago from Philippines

      This is true..thumbs up!This however invokes a realization that women have more considerations before getting to a relationship...and men,.. well, they fall faster. ^^,

      I remember in our Social Psychology class, my professor told us that the reason behind why a man would rather like a woman that is more because unconciously there is a thought that the more childish a woman is, the more fertile she may be..haha!

      But I wish that it is more of that... as for us, girls, we really don't want to have a man that would just look up to us as that..