eHarmony has a list, The NYT Well has the rundown:

When eHarmony members begin to communicate with a prospective date, both sides are required to exchange a list of “must haves” and “can’t stands.” These are the positive and negative qualities that are nonnegotiable and help the couple decide if they want to pursue a dating relationship.

Now eHarmony has analyzed the “must have” and “can’t stand” responses of nearly 720,000 members, identifying the top 10 relationship deal breakers for men and women.

Men and women agree on many of the “must haves.” They want a sense of humor, someone who is affectionate and kind, chemistry, good communication and loyalty. Not surprisingly, both sexes want someone who is emotionally healthy, and who is honest and has strong character.

Yeah. Shocker.

Since this prospective list goes out to people they are interested in dating, its utility is somewhat limited. In a sense, you’re saying what you want someone that you might be interested to hear. If it turns out that the other person is a whale or something, you can figure that out in due course. But if you put down that being overweight is a big factor, you might chase off someone that looks fine to you but is concerned about her weight or just thinks that you are superficial. So you stick to the unobjectionable stuff.

That’s one way of looking at it. Another way of looking at it is that “can’t stand a conservative” were pulled off the list by equal numbers saying “can’t stand a liberal.” whereas “can’t stand infidelity” is pretty universal. It really is interesting that, out of 50 traits, men and women agreed on 8 or 9 in each category. It makes me wonder what the other 38 and 39 in each category were. I am less surprised that more guys than girls put weight concerns on the list, both because it is likely true but also because it’s culturally easier for guys to admit it. The fact that guys put “patience” on the list (women did not) doesn’t surprise me much at all. Maybe it’s just me, but I read that as “does not expect me to be a mindreader” which is a common complaint among guys. The description for “Emotionally healthy” and “Family Life” make me wonder if the genders were looking at the same thing just a little differently. I’m a little more surprised that guys put “hygiene” as a bigger deal than the ladies. Not because I think we care less, but because I generally consider it one of those things that we don’t think about caring about all that much. I would have expected “lazy” to be higher up there.


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13 Responses to What Men & Women (Allegedly) Want

  1. Peter says:

    If I were in the dating market I’d be sure to put down one must-have thing for women … unfortunately, eHarmony would almost certainly reject it.

  2. trumwill says:

    Well, they only had 50 options on each list. I doubt your anti-fetish was on there. Nor, probably, was nail polish.

  3. Brandon Berg says:

    I’m suprised smoking didn’t show up. It may have been in the way they phrased it. I wouldn’t want to marry a woman who smokes, but I wouldn’t agree with the statement “I can’t stand someone who smokes.”

  4. Maria says:

    Financial sanity should be number one on everyone’s list. If you marry a financial chancer, your life will be destroyed, guaranteed. My brother never recovered.

  5. trumwill says:

    Amen, Maria.

  6. trumwill says:

    Brandon, my guess is that the smoking/non-smoking is answered in a different category of the eHarmony questionnaire.

  7. Mike Hunt says:

    If one wants a good laugh, go check out the personal ads on CraigsList. Hey, if it is good enough for Congress, it should be good enough for you.

    Anyway, it is amazing how many ads state that they want someone who is honest. Well, no shit…

    Also popular, someone who doesn’t play games…

    Finally fat women feel that they are much too good for a fat man. The problem with giving kids high self-esteem is that they become adults with high self-esteem. For some reason, a woman who is a 2 feels she deserves a 6.

  8. trumwill says:

    Anyway, it is amazing how many ads state that they want someone who is honest. Well, no shit…

    Also popular, someone who doesn’t play games…

    Very few things on the list are going to be things that people want. Watching people prioritize is interesting, though.

  9. Maria says:

    Anyway, it is amazing how many ads state that they want someone who is honest. Well, no shit…

    Those are the people who got screwed over by former partners who maxed out their credit cards without telling them about it. . .

  10. Mike Hunt says:

    Very few things on the list are going to be things that people want.

    Well, my point was that the things are the list are going to be common sense items that everyone is going to say they want. No one is going to say: I want someone who lies, or who plays games, or has no sense of humor. I agree though that the order matters as well.

    I think my comment that “For some reason, a woman who is a 2 feels she deserves a 6” is worthy of comment from the author and peanut gallery.

  11. trumwill says:

    I think my comment that “For some reason, a woman who is a 2 feels she deserves a 6? is worthy of comment from the author and peanut gallery.

    I didn’t comment on it primarily because it’s something I’ve repeated so often I figure people are tired of hearing it: Yes, a lot of women appear to have unrealistic expectations. So do a lot of men. I do not see any reason to believe that there are substantially larger numbers in the first case than the latter.

  12. Mike Hunt says:

    Yes, a lot of women appear to have unrealistic expectations. So do a lot of men. I do not see any reason to believe that there are substantially larger numbers in the first case than the latter.

    I don’t think you are correct in this case. A man 2 will try to date out of his league, but will happily settle at his own level. A woman 2 will wait for the man who is out of her league to ask her out, rather than settle for the man at her level. Then again, the 2 is told by her friends and family that she isn’t a 2. There is none so blind as one who refuses to see.

    I didn’t comment on it primarily because it’s something I’ve repeated so often I figure people are tired of hearing it

    I don’t think you have gone down that road lately, so with this topic, I thought it was a good time to revisit this debate. Once upon a time, a woman had a three prong test for men:

    1) Is he an alcoholic? (no)
    2) Does he have a job? (yes)
    3) Does he hit me? (no)

  13. trumwill says:

    I have a subject tangentially related to this coming up.

    I don’t doubt that women – particularly those in their late twenties or thirties, are more particularly than they used to be, but I think that men are more particular than you think, and women more compromising.

    First, I don’t think that anyone is attracted to a 2. So Man 2 and Woman 2 are both going to do as much as realistically possible to convince themselves that they are not where they are.

    Second, the danger for men of lower station being oblivious to women of same. Poof. They’re background furniture. Eventually most guys will recalibrate their expectations accordingly, but a lot won’t (in part because they never actually ask out the Woman 6s and it is rarely or never confirmed that they couldn’t get one if they would, you know, ask. They’ve also seen lots of movies and TV shows with Jim Belushi and Courney Thorne-Smith, Ricky Gervais and Jen Gardner, and Drew Carey and one of his hot little numbers.

    Most guys realize that that is fiction. A lot of guys don’t. And so it goes with women. Some never stop believing that a Man +4 is going to ask them out, but after years of it, they will give the Man +0 a good lookover for compatibility. They may say no, often not because he’s a +0 but because he’s the wrong kind of +0.

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