We're All Superficial Jerks & Gold Diggers When It Comes to Love

Your worst assumptions about the human race are about to be confirmed. When we stop pretending we're good people and just get honest about what men and women want most in a mate, we are incredibly shallow. How shallow? I'm embarrassed for all of us right now. That shallow.

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An examination of two national studies on mate preferences published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences revealed most men want a hot woman, preferably a skinny one. And women are not much better -- we want a man who makes bank. Here's how it breaks down. (For what it's worth, the studies focus on heterosexual people.)

What men say they want:

92 percent say it's either "desirable" or "essential" that their lady love be good-looking.

80 percent want her to have a slender body.

What women say they want:

97 percent want a man with a steady income.

67 percent want a man who makes (or will make) lots of money.

More from The Stir: What Makes a Woman Wife Material: Men Reveal the Surprising Truth

In case you're wondering, yes, there's a huge gender split. Women don't care nearly as much about finding a slim man, and guys aren't as concerned about finding a high-income girlfriend or wife.

You're shocked, right? Gee willikers, who knew.

Well, it probably won't surprise you, either, to know that finding a skinny wife or a rich husband does not guarantee happiness in love. Dr. Laurie Moore, therapist and author of Intelligent Love: Choosing a Lifemate Wisely, says she's worked with men who say the best sex of their lives was with someone who wasn't slim or conventionally pretty. And she's worked with wealthy couples whose marriages failed, or who lost their fortunes.

That isn't to say things like financial security and physical fitness aren't worthy traits in a mate. It's important to be clear with yourself about what's most important to you in a relationship, Moore says. "If you don't honor that, you will be disappointed later and possibly even resentful. Best to be honest with self and true to self."

But don't stop there. Ask yourself why you think you need those traits.

"If one is looking for a high earner for a mate, will that guarantee stability? Security? A better quality of life? Are you sure?" Dr. Moore says. A teacher may not make as much as an investment banker, but he'll probably spend way more time with your future kids. "Ask people about their lives. When we get down to our essential wishes they are often answered in ways that are a surprise!"

Same goes for guys who want a pretty, skinny woman. "Will that make you feel others think better of you?" Dr. Moore asks. "Will that really make a more fulfilling sex life? What are the underlying desires, and might they be fulfilled in many ways if one is open to life's gifts?"

It's not necessarily that good looks and wealth are bad. It's that when you focus almost exclusively on them, and in a very narrow way, you close your eyes to many other wonderful traits a person has to offer -- maybe traits that would make you happier in the long run. 

"Beautiful looks come in all sizes and packages," Dr. Moore says. "When we are honest with what is real to us instead of what the magazines profess, many find this is true. Prosperity can happen in many ways!"

 

Image via Kiselev Andrey Valerevich/shutterstock

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