Does what you look for in a spouse or date differ? What about in a same-sex friend versus a cross-sex friend? This results from this study suggest, yes!
But how do we know this? 700 students (59% women, 41% men) were asked about their personal preferences for one of the following:
Casual sex partner
Then, participants were asked to rank their preferences of the following personality traits from 1 (not at all attractive) to 9 (extremely attractive):
Warmth and kindness
Money or earning potential
Expressiveness and openness
Sense of humor
Similar interests/leisure activities
Complementary personal characteristics
What should make us feel warm and gooey inside is that regardless of the type of relationship, people reported that they wanted the following: warmth, kindness, expressiveness, openness, and sense of humour.
But when we start to do some comparisons, this is where we see some cool differences:
Casual sex partner versus date/mate
– warmth, kindness, expressiveness, openness, sense of humour is desired for either. Why? People likely viewing casual sex partner as a potential long-term mate so they don’t differentiate too much.
– When it comes to a casual sex partner, participants reported a preference for the person to be physically attractive and sexually experienced vs date/spouse
– Here’s the bad news: it was less important for a casual sex partner to be intelligent or warm
– Moral of the story: people will settle when it comes to casual dates (a pattern not seen when examining potential dates or longer-term mates)
Romantic/sexual partner versus friend
– Compared to a friend, people wanted dates, spouses, casual sex partners to score high on extrinsic attributes – things like social status and physical appearance. Guess the people you date say something about yourself.
– People also desired that their romantic/sexual partners had humour, expressiveness, and warmth. Apparently, we care more about what our dating partners have vs our friends (which makes sense. Unless you’re sleeping with your friends).
Same-sex friend vs opposite sex friend
– When it comes to our opposite-sex friends, we desire higher levels of physical attractiveness, intrinsic characteristics (warmth, kindness), and social status.
– But why, you ask? People unconsciously (or consciously) recognize that reproduction is possible with a cross-sex friend so we still want our opposite-sex friends to have good mate traits. We likely view the friendship as stepping stone to romantic relationship.
So…when someone asks you to be their cross-sex friend, feel good about your physical attractiveness, warmth, kindness, and social status.