What do potential partners look for in a long term relationship, and what is there tolerance with regards to age?

From: Human Nature

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  • 21,245 participants between 18 and 65 years old


  • A questionnaire was completed that evaluated the importance of 82 mate selection criteria for a partner in a long-term relationship
  • Next, participants indicated the oldest and the youngest partner who would be accepted
  • Then, participants answered 10 questions (yes/no) about whether she/he could imagine marrying someone who, for example, earns much more than the participant.


  • Men prefer a physically attractive and a creative and domestic partner.
  • Women, more than men, prefer a partner who is wealthy and generous, intellectual, dominant, cultivated, sociable, reliable, similar, kind and understanding, humorous, and pleasant.
  • Across all ages, men tolerate women that are slightly older than they are (average 4.45 years), but they accept women substantially younger than they are (average 9.99 years).
  • Women accept men who are substantially older than they are (average 8.23 years), and they also tend to accept men who are only slightly younger than they are (average 4.92 years).
  • 91% percent of men could imagine marrying someone who earns much less than they do, whereas only 37.9% of women could imagine this.
  • 95.8% of women and 92.8% of the men could imagine marrying someone who earns much more than they do.
  • Men could imagine marrying someone who has a lower level of education (87.4%), whereas most women could not (43.0%).
  • Most men could (75.3%), and most women could not (28.0%) imagine marrying someone who does not have regular employment.
  • The older the participants are, the more important a creative and domestic partner is.


  • As per the results above