What do we really look for in a partner?
Try growing a beard or acting ditzy, writes Ed Power
What do we look for in a partner? If you're a guy, is it possible that you expect your potential love interest to be a shade on the dumb side?
Such a theory sounds cooked up expressly to inflame feminists.
Nonetheless, there may be a firm scientific bedrock for the notion that men have a thing for the ditzier lady.
According to researchers in Texas, males are inheritors of an evolutionary predisposition towards 'sexually exploitable' members of the opposite sex.
Deep in our reptilian brains, it seems, we believe that the less intelligent the woman, the more likely she is to sleep with us.
In the same study women came across as less shallow. Because pregnancy is a huge physical and emotional investment, they are programmed to choose men who are not only healthy but who will also make for dependable partners.
"It's true," said one dating consultant of men's alleged preference for 'dumb' partners. "Though they aren't going to say it out loud, a lot of men genuinely want to look after a woman."
The debate over the role of intelligence in dating will rumble on. However, we can state with certainty that some characteristics are highly valued, often by both sexes.
Act like A Winner
If you're a guy, Clooney-like looks alone aren't enough to attract a date. You've got to project confidence.
"Women are looking for alpha qualities," says Emre Ilkme of pick-up 'bootcamp' Kama Lifestyles in Dublin. "Sometimes you see really short ugly guys with beautiful women. They are guys with strong alpha characteristics.
"We communicate 70pc of what we do through body language. If you want to attract that beautiful girl, slouching and feeling sorry for yourself isn't going to work."
The same isn't necessarily true for women, adds dating expert Avril Mulcahy of Singleista.ie. A woman who projects power can frighten men, as they sense she has submerged her feminine side.
An Independent Streak
Stop Getting Dumped author Lisa Daily says guys prefer a woman with a feisty streak. A girlfriend who wants to put her significant other at the centre of her world may strike the fear into men.
A Low Waist-Hip Ratio
Men are drawn to women with a narrow waist and prominent hips, as it is a sign of youth and fertility.
"Young women can be chubby, but still have a low WHR," write Viren Swami and Adrian Furnham in The Psychology Of Physical Attraction.
Tall, dark . . . and bearded?
Back when we lived in caves and ate mammoth cutlets, men were expected to fulfil the role of hunters. Women still have a preference for guys who fit the part: tall, wide shouldered and hairy.
"It goes back to olden times," says Avril Mulcahy. "Women still want to be chased. And often they see men with facial hair as more attractive."
But not too tall . . .
If you're freakishly beanpole-like, don't expect the ladies to flock to you. Extreme height can indicate poor health or genetic malfunction.
. . . And not TOO hairy
Men are attracted to younger women for reasons of fertility. Hairlessness is perceived as a plus in women as people are typically less hirsute in their 20s. There are limits -- if you are hairless it may suggest sexual immaturity.
Be a girly-man
Studies into what women really want are contradictory. Some suggest they favour rogues because independence and charisma are desirable traits in offspring.
On the other hand, where's the payoff in having a kid with a deadbeat who skips town at the first opportunity?
There's a reason such a high proportion of movie stars and boy band singers are pretty, with expressive eyes and bee-stung pouts.
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