May girls rich boys
Old and rich like young and beautiful
Men prefer young, pretty women. And when women have a choice, they like to get involved with older and well-off men. It is to despair.
It is to despair. For decades, people have tried to achieve gender equality, have tried to smash the role models carved in stone - and now it is clear that men still prefer young, beautiful women, and if women have the free choice, then don't they particularly like to cater to men who are older and well-off.
The matter has a long history. Thirty years ago, the American psychologist David Buss carried out a study that gave special attention to those who are on the minefield of choosing a partner - whether they are couples therapists, dating agencies or singles.
Back then, the researcher asked 10,000 people in 37 countries about their preferences when looking for a love partner. He found that women rated “good financial prospects” higher than men, but that they were more likely to look at “good looks”. Women preferred older men, men younger women.
The attractive thing about psychology is that it can explain human behavior wonderfully conclusively. But we also know today that in the past psychologists did not always research all the rules of the art and sometimes helped their results too much.
That may have been one of the reasons why a team of no less than 108 psychologists from all over the world has now carried out the infamous Buss study again. This time with more than 14,000 participants from 45 countries. You can hardly put in more effort to fathom the human soul.
Lo and behold: David Buss' findings have been confirmed. Even in today's enlightened times, men long for young women of exquisite beauty and women for sedate men with a lot of money and high status.
The research team led by Kathryn Walter from the University of California at Santa Barbara has also found that women have consistently opted for men who are similarly older over the course of their lives, while men choose younger women with increasing age.
Even in those countries where gender equality has become particularly pronounced - as in our latitudes - the same old patterns can be observed.
Experts like to explain such archaic behavior with evolutionary considerations. Women invest far greater resources in procreation than men and have more to lose. Therefore, it makes sense for them to enter into relationships that are profitable in the long term, as can ideally be expected from well-heeled men.
According to this theory, men, on the other hand, are looking for quick profits and prefer female partners who will give them many healthy offspring - a woman's youth and beauty are an indicator of this.
For my part, I can confirm from practice that my wife is younger and that I still find her very attractive after long years of marriage. Why she decided on me at the time is a mystery to me, because there was practically nothing to get from me.
But maybe choosing a partner isn't so much about the big things in life. At least that suggests a study by Basel researchers who investigated the question of what really defines a romantic relationship.
Their result: In the long run, those who think similarly will be happy. The experience of more than 450 couples during an average of ten relationship years has shown what the formula for success for partnerships is in concrete terms: Whatever one tries to achieve, the other supports him in it. What the other is able to avoid, the one prevents him from doing so.
Patrick Imhasly is editor in the knowledge section of “NZZ am Sonntag”.
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