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What Do You Look for in a Romantic Partner?

Some of the most common characteristics people look for in a romantic partner are listed below. Rank order these characteristics in terms of their importance to you in looking for a romantic partner. The most important characteristic would be ranked #1, while the characteristic least important to you would be ranked #13.

Characteristic Your Rank
  1. adaptability _____
  2. kindness and understanding _____
  3. religious orientation _____
  4. creativity _____
  5. physical attractiveness _____
  6. good health _____
  7. desire for children _____
  8. good housekeeper _____
  9. college graduate _____
  10. exciting personality _____
  11. intelligence _____
  12. good heredity _____
  13. good earning capacity _____

David Buss, a psychologist at the University of Michigan, has studied the characteristics that men and women look for in a romantic partner.* He found that men and women ranked the characteristics listed above in the following order, from most to least important:

Men: B,K,E,J,F,A,D,G,I,L,M,H,C

Women: B,K,J,F,A,E,D,M,I,G,L,H,C

  1. How do you compare with the gender norms from Dr. Buss's study?
  2. Comparing the male and female rankings of important characteristics of a romantic partner, what do you see as the most important similarities and differences?
  3. Are there important characteristics that you look for in a romantic partner that are not listed above?

*Buss, David M. (1985) "Human Mate Selection," American Scientist, 73:47-51.