In writing Love to Stay, I conducted a Love, Sex, and Marriage survey of more than 5000 adults. It measured their attitudes towards love, sex, and marriage. The responses clearly indicate that men and women have different ways of giving and receiving love and that sometimes, even when we think we want the same thing, we actually mean two different things. It’s almost as if we speak different languages, or perhaps different dialects of the same language.
Let’s look at the nearly 1,000 single people who participated in our survey. More than 80 percent of that group said they hoped to be married someday, so we asked them for the key qualities they were seeking in a potential mate.
The single most important attribute, according to single men 19 to 49, was honesty and trustworthiness. Second, they wanted a woman of strong faith. (It’s worth keeping in mind here that many of the respondents were people of faith themselves, so we might expect this result to be different in a survey of the general population.) Third, they wanted someone who was physically attractive. Fourth, they were seeking a woman with intelligence. And fifth, they wanted a woman who was fun or humorous, someone with whom they could laugh and have a good time.
Single Men 19–49

  1. Honest/trustworthy
  2. Strong faith
  3. Attractive
  4. Intelligent
  5. Fun/humorous

Single men aged 50 and older (the oldest man in our survey was 95) had a somewhat different list. The attribute they told us they valued most was attractiveness, although men over age 70 cited intelligence first. They rated honesty and trustworthiness the second most important quality. Third was emotional stability, a quality that didn’t make the top five for the younger men. Fourth was a strong faith, and fifth, as with the younger men, was a sense of fun and humor.
Single Men 50–90+

  1. Attractive or intelligent (over age 70)
  2. Honest/trustworthy
  3. Emotionally stable
  4. Strong faith
  5. Fun/humorous

Each of us may put a different spin on those lists, but there’s one attribute I’ll focus on for a moment. As the results of the survey came in, I went on my Facebook page and asked the men what it meant to them for a woman to be physically attractive.

One of the guys said, “She doesn’t need to look like a model and she doesn’t have to be a size two. In fact, when I see a woman who looks like that I want to say, ‘Eat a sandwich, lady!’ She just needs to look healthy and like she has given some thought to her appearance—not like she has raccoons living in her hair!”
Others concurred that it’s not a particular shape or size that determines whether a woman is physically attractive. It’s the whole package—how she dresses, how she carries herself, how she does her hair, the way she talks and maintains eye contact, and her overall personality. And the mix changes over time. What is physically attractive to a young man at 16 is different from what he finds appealing at 46. Still, there’s no getting around the fact that men are visual creatures. As one respondent put it, “We kind of have a thing about curb appeal.”

And, by the way, if you are married, this information is still beneficial; you should be the person your mate would want to marry.
Today’s post is an excerpt from my new book, Love to Stay. In the next post, we’ll look at what women want in a potential husband.


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