Preferences in the desired partner vary significantly both within different cultures, generations, and social circles. Moreover, they tend to shift within one generation over time. There are numerous desired traits, however, some are unique, while others tend to be more prominent within a specific group of people. Physical beauty is one of the primary universal markers for a preferred partner. Branscombe and Baron (2017) state that “physical appearance impacts many types of interpersonal evaluations” (p. 248). However, this primary factor stays on par with another highly desired feature possessed by humans: socioeconomic status.
My hypothesis is the following: by learning more about preferred features, people change their behavior with age to appear more attractive and appear more desirable for the opposite sex. Men put their success in life at the display, while women pose as less available to seem elusive and “hard to get.” These behaviors get more prominent to attract the desired partner. This essay discusses what changes occur in the way people search for their partner when they age by comparing profiles of two different age groups on the site LoveAwake.
To prove this hypothesis, I used a dating website LoveAwake and collected semi-random profiles from the list available as of 29 July 2020. Several criteria were used to sort these personal advertisements and choose those who provide the most data. The selected criteria included location, age, marriage, and dating preferences. To ensure that the differences in culture, economic status, societal influences remained at a minimum, I have chosen to focus on profiles within a single city, Vancouver, BC. I have picked two different age groups: 18 to 25 and 26 to 33 years. After the research, the first group had been shortened to 21 to 25 years old since there were no profiles of age 20 and less. Profiles of people who explicitly stated that they only search for a friend were excluded.
Profiles were selected at random within these defined parameters and compiled in tables according to their age group (See Appendix 1). The tables contain data on male and female preferences for signaling their readiness for marriage versus dating. I have also compared the information that these people were willing to place at the display. Profiles that had filled their life and work status were examined for current life priorities. Moreover, I have marked people who had any notes on the ideal mate description.
Results and Discussion
In the first age group, there was a notable difference in preferences regarding marriages and dating intents among male and female profiles. While four males expressed their willingness to search for a spouse, seven female profiles had indicated that they are searching for a husband on LoveAwake. The percentage of people who look for marriage drops significantly within the second age group, as only 40% of both female and male groups stated that they are searching for a suitable partner.
Moreover, the number of males who described their ideal partner was increased significantly within male participants from 0 in the first group to 4 in the second. In contrast, while one female from the first group put the information about her ideal partner on the site, this number increased to 2 within the second age category. Regarding the data about life and work, three males and one female profile of age 21-25 filled it, while seven males and two females within ages 26-33 put this personal information on display. It is also worth noting that many males put both career and family in the “current priorities” field.
These results show that these two generations display a different approach to attracting the opposite sex. All profiles tend to include a short description of a person, namely his or her positive character traits, hobbies, religious views, and physical description. People tend to show a better attitude toward people who are similar to them and evaluate their intelligence, morals, and social status as higher than those with whom they share fewer similarities (Branscombe & Baron, 2017). The chances of finding a person attractive increase when people have shared interests.
However, two primary differences are the willingness to go for marriage and the amount of displayed personal information. The reasoning behind these changes is the methods that are used by each gender to attract the desired partner. The reduction of females who are willing to notify their potential partners about their availability for marriage is linked with their perceived elusiveness and increased selectivity. Walster et al. (2008) argue that “the selective woman is better liked than her rivals” (p. 494). Therefore, by making themselves less ready for a serious commitment at first glance, women can increase their chances of finding a suitable partner.
A significantly smaller percentage of female profiles contain photos along with their physical description. Aside from the fact that most male profiles include photos, the amount of displayed information on male profiles is related to their attempts to show their socioeconomic status. Conroy-Beam et al. (2015) argue that women “prefer long-term, committed mates who possess resources and qualities linked to resource acquisition such as status, ambition, and slightly older age” (p. 1). Therefore, the second group displays more data related to their life and signals that a career is one of their main priorities to attract a partner.
In conclusion, both men and women change their behaviors with age to attract their desired partner. Bech-Sørensen and Pollet (2016) state that men are “more willing to marry someone younger, unlikely to hold a steady job, and with low earning potential than women” (p. 174). Changes that occur within two distinct age categories are not related to their generation but reflect the adaptation to socially established factors that their potential partners find attractive.
Bech-Sørensen, J., & Pollet, T. V. (2016). Sex differences in mate preferences: A replication study, 20 years later. Evolutionary Psychological Science, 2(3), 171–176.
Branscombe, N. R., & Baron, R. A. (2016). Social psychology (14th ed.). London, UK: Pearson.
Conroy-Beam, D., Buss, D., Pham, M., & Shackelford, T. (2015). How sexually dimorphic are human mate preferences? Personality & Social Psychology Bulletin, 41.
Walster (Hatfield), E., Walster, G. W. Piliavin, J., & Schmidt, L. (2008). “Playing hard to get”: Understanding an elusive phenomenon. In J. Aronson & E. Aronson (Eds.), Readings about the social animal (10th ed., pp. 485–497). New York, NY: Worth Publishers.