Jun 28

How Men and Women Select Romantic Partners

This blog post is dedicated to understanding of male-female mating dynamics and criteria upon which we select our mates.

The facts stated in this particular piece of writing are not my own opinion but are results of various individual studies done across different ethnic groups, nations, sexes and ages.


First let’s take into account that the single greatest purpose of any living being is to ensure to spread its genetic material and reproduce.

Most animal species practice polygamy. That is a relationship in which one individual has sexual access to multiple members of the opposite gender.

The more common is polygyny which is a pattern of mating in which a male has access to multiple female mates. The more rare version of polygamy is polyandry which is the opposite version.

Now why polygyny is more prevalent. The case is that females are in a sense a much more valuable reproductive resource than men.

Or said in another way to make it more clear. It would be much easier to repopulate Earth with 3 men and 10 women than the opposite.

Parental investment

That is because the energy and time a female of almost any animal species must invest in a potential offspring is incomparably greater than males.

When a woman for example gets impregnated she can not dedicate her time and energy to another child for at least a year.

First of all the sole pregnancy occupies her body for nine months and after that follows a period of lactation during which the mother produces milk to feed the newly born child. The process is very costly in terms of both time and energy and it pays a huge toll on her body.

Not to mention the female reproductive window is much shorter than males. That is why for a woman or any female in general the cost of choosing a bad mate is much greater.

You can imagine that for a female animal of any species mating with weak, ill and genetically inferior males for a few mating seasons in a row can result in not a single descendant surviving its juvenile stage and a failed mission of passing on her genes onto the next generation.

Males on the other side can secure a potential offspring in one sole act of mating which can only take a few minutes. You may say men also invest a lot of their time and energy in their children.

That is true but our ancestors started to practice monogamy and heavy parental investment from father’s side not so long ago from an evolutionary point of view and our mating habits haven’t adjusted yet.

Male and female chimpanzees for example only interact during mating season and after that for the most part ignore each other.

Why women are picky 

That is why women tend to be much more picky and careful when selecting a romantic partner than men. There is a general rule in the animal kingdom that the sex that has more scarce gametes (eggs or sperm cells) does the choosing and the sex that is more abundant with gametes does the competing.

This results in polygynous relationships between males and females in most of the animal species. There is no point of risking mating with a genetically inferior mate for a female if she can secure the genetic material from the strongest, smartest and healthiest male representative.

In most of the mammalian world only a very small percentage of males get the opportunity to pass on their genes and most males spend their lives in solitude and then die alone of disease, hunger or injury.

On the other side almost all females that live to the age of sexual maturity eventually participate in the mating process and then tend to mate with the most proficient males. So you now understand the causes behind the female pickiness and male competition in mating.

Selecting a partner

Now a few words about the criteria upon which men and women select partners. What should be noted here is that there is a small difference between the criteria for long term romantic partners (wives or husbands) and short term romantic partners (hookups, friends with benefits etc.).

Among both sexes tends to show that the short term relationship criteria more coincides with our evolutionary preferences. The more culturally conditioned, monogamous long term relationship criteria adds a few extra preferences that are usually not found in the rest of the animal kingdom.


First I will address the female criteria of selecting romantic partners. What women in general seek in men is the ability to provide resources and security. There is always the most evident proof of the mentioned ability which are previously acquired and currently owned resources.

But this preference for men with the ability to provide resources also reflects in female desire for physical and psychological traits that showcase the potential of doing it.

Such physical traits are height, muscularity, athletic ability, high shoulders to waist ratio, low body fat and facial and body symmetry which imply healthy genetic material.

The psychological traits that indicate great ability of resource acquisition are assertiveness, ambition, self confidence, perseverance, strategic thinking, leadership abilities, competitiveness and so on.

The desire for men with great ability of resource acquisition also results in female preference across the different world cultures for men who are on average three and a half years older than them.

This can be attributed to allowing men to have more time to develop as a person, get their lives in order and accumulate resources before attracting a mate. In addition to that it also coincides with male preference for female youth and fertility which will be discussed later.

When searching for short term relationships in specific women place the greatest value on these let’s say more “primal” traits which males who would prevail in nature would normally possess.

You could also say that in general women place the greatest value on dominant behavior patterns and find men who emit such energy the most attractive when they are in search of such a kind of relationship.

They also wouldn’t necessarily expect the men to already possess a great amount of resources but would be satisfied with the sheer traits which represent the ability to do so.

But women who search for longterm partners usually add a few extra desirable qualities. They tend to care about men's emotional stability, kindness, willingness to commit and overall compatibility.

But in general female criteria for short and long term relationships are very similar which can be attributed to female greater risk of potential impregnation during causal sexual intercourse.


Men on the other side in general give the most attention to cues of female fertility. Which are the right waist to hip ratio, the preference is normally from 0.67 to 0.8, and signs of youth in general, since female reproductive ability is directly connected to their youth.

It’s a fact that female fertility steadily declines after reaching the mid twenties, by the age of forty it’s very low and by the age of fifty it’s practically zero until the woman reaches menopause after which she is not able to conceive a child under any means.

That is why men normally find women with physical features such as clear skin, lustrous hair, facial symmetry, full lips, clear eyes and good muscle tone attractive. We also find attractive behavior features such as bouncy, youthful gait, animated facial expression and high energy levels since all of this also imply youthfulness.

Now let’s talk about differences between the criteria for short term and long term relationships. It shows that when men are in search of a short term romantic partner, meaning there will be a very small investment from emotional, resource, time and energy point of view, men tend to drop their standards across all different types of criteria very low.

From intelligence to visual appeal and also other traits that we would otherwise find indispensable when in search of a long term romantic partner.

The U.S. campus study

What may be interesting to note here is that there was a study done on various U.S. college campuses researching what levels of intelligence a person of the opposite sex should be for an individual to enter a relationship with them.

The question asked was what is the minimum percentile of intelligence the person of the opposite sex should be to consider him or her a long term partner or a casual sex partner.

Percentiles in this case are meant as the 100th percentile being in the top 1% of population in terms of intelligence and being 1st percentile meaning basically every person is smarter than you.

So higher the percentile the better.
When it comes to long term mates, men and women are roughly the same, expecting at least 65th to 70th percentile on average.

The difference occurs when asked about required intelligence for a potential casual sex partner. Women still maintain 60th plus percentile while men lower their standards to 30th percentile.

This puts into perspective that women are much less comfortable having sex with an unintelligent, low sexual market value man.

This corresponds to much greater risks involved for a woman in case of a potential impregnation and even during the sexual act itself due to their physical inferiority to men.

In contrast to long term relationships, men don’t place much value on female virginity and fidelity when it comes to casual sex. In some cases previous female sexual experience and promiscuity are indeed desired by men for the purpose of greater pleasure and amusement during sexual intercourse and easier access to sex.

In cases of long term relationships men, just as women want their partner to be intelligent, kind, emotionally stable and generally compatible with them. Men tend to find willingness to commit and fidelity indispensable when it comes to long term partners.

Men also tend to find virginal cues such as lack of previous sexual and relationship experience very desirable. Much more than women do in men.

Male preference for virginity and complete intolerance of cheating, in this case meaning having sex with another person, can be mainly attributed to the paternity issue.


As you may know after the insemination the fetus develops inside of the mothers body until birth and the mother can be quite sure the baby she is giving birth to is of her descent.

As for men this is not necessarily the case. Just as for a woman being impregnated with genes of a genetically inferior mate is very costly and undesirable, for men the trap lies within the immense cost of investing their time, energy and resources for years into an offspring that is potentially not theirs.
Women on the other side are generally much more concerned about emotional infidelity. As said, women may not have issue determining if the child she is taking care of is of her descend but her man falling in love with and getting emotionally attached to another woman may result in him starting to invest his time and resources in his mistress instead of her.

That’s why a woman might find her man taking another woman to dinner dates, writing love letters and in general spending time with her more painful and undesirable than him having a short term sex affair and then cutting all the contacts with the affair partner.

All these facts have an immense influence on the dynamics of dating and our romantic relationships in general. Therefore this information is crucial for you to understand why women and men act in certain ways.

By understanding the evolutionary roots of our desires and fears when it comes to mate selection you will be able to smoothly navigate your dating world, solve problems and avoid unnecessary pain. We warmly ecourage to visit stellargent.com and improve your knowledge in this sphere.
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