Men vs. Women: How We Choose Our Partners

Category: Men vs. Women Series, Weekly Columns


Our Men vs Women blog series continues with a biggee: How we choose our partners. I sincerely believe this is yet another instance where our differences show up big-time and reflect our inherently diverse sensibilities. I will also declare up front my bottom-line conclusion that women are smarter – for the most part – in this area.

Read the first two in this series:

Men vs. Women: Differences Between Men and Women’s Money Management Skills

Men vs. Women: Differences Between Our Communication Skills

There is often a debate about what the prevailing divorce rates are. Conventional thinking has divorce in first marriages at about 50%. What I find so ironic are the stats for 2nd and 3rd marriages. You’d think “we’d” learn from our failures, but evidently second marriages end in divorces 2/3 of the time, while third marriages end in divorce 3/4 of the time! So much for learning from our mistakes!

Again, I recognize that generalities and stereotypes all have exceptions but they’re often true for the majority. So, let’s have at it with my list, once again in no particular order:

~~ Men use the real estate mantra, but instead of location location location, it’s looks looks looks

Men are slugs when it comes to women. We tend to make our initial choices based totally on looks, sex appeal, and surface impressions. For some men, that is the beginning and end of their “look” at a woman. For some of us, we actually pay attention to a little more than the superficial considering such factors as intelligence, sense of humor, character, interests, political point of view, religion, etc.

~~ Women tend to choose based on several factors including income, sense of humor, and income (that’s NOT a typo)

Women, on the other hand, do tend to “look” a bit further than a guy’s looks though some are hung up on height. They respond a LOT to a good sense of humor and probably the biggest factor women care about is a man’s ability to “provide,” his job, income, and potential to support a family.

~~ Men make snap judgments

While men and women both rely on first impressions, I will assert that men may not get past a poor first impression if they’re not satisfied with the looks of a potential partner.

~~ Women are more thoughtful

As suggested by the previous male predisposition, women will “take a second look” after perhaps a neutral to negative first impression. If the man makes her laugh, if he’s a “gentleman,” if he picks up the tab (a big deal for a first date), and if he follows through on things he says (like calling again), a poor first impression may get turned around.

~~ Men might need encouragement to make that commitment

If a man doesn’t have to marry, especially if he’s not particularly religious, he won’t. Women make the rules in this regard by asserting a “take it or leave it” choice at some point.

~~ Women will likely provide the needed encouragement

After my divorce, I was NOT getting married again. I met Debbie. She was terrific. She made it clear that without marriage there was no Debbie. I reconsidered because she was worth it.

My cousin took another path when her boyfriend was reluctant. She moved out-of-state. Within a few short months, she had a proposal.

~~ Divorced men are usually more reluctant to re-marry than divorced women – note the word “usually” in this declaration

I am sure this will equalize in short order since women are now coming closer to parity with men on income. However, now and in the past, most men got reamed by divorce. There was a horrible sexism in most so-called Family Courts,* favoring women on all counts.

~~ Women have more of an inherent need and desire for a monogamous relationship

Women are born to nurture. With that instinct comes the desire for a safe, monogamous family. Its nature and nurture at its best, pure and simple. I am grateful for this biological tendency. I believe the family is the single best structure for raising good children.

If men could get away with bigamy they would. If married men could easily have a mistress or serial affairs, they would. What women don’t understand is that this doesn’t mean they love their wives less. Men are just built to procreate. It’s civilization, religion, and women that keep men in line!

~~ Men would prefer to have their cake and eat it too!

Men actually do better married. Most men, unlike Hugh Hefner, do recognize the value of marriage, want children, and ultimately at a certain age, get tired of “the chase.” However, if women allowed men to fool around, most men would. Thankfully, most women won’t tolerate it, most religions preach against it, and our culture tends to discourage it, though I do believe there’s a double standard that lets some men get away with stuff that a similar woman would get horribly chastised for. Best example: Bill Clinton.

~~ Women humanize men so ultimately it all works out in the end

Men live longer when married. Smart men realize this. Men like what a woman brings to them. When it comes to home and family, women bring much to the party though I suspect this is rapidly changing with the rapidly changing workplace. Nonetheless, men are better off married and they live longer, too!

Okay, that’s it for the third column in my Men vs. Women series. I await your comments…

*I prefer to call Family Courts, Anti-Family Courts much as I believe Family Lawyers are really Anti-Family Lawyers. This is simply based on the reality of how the system works. Also, I have a California bias since California has historically treated men horribly in divorce.

Please read and/or comment on any of the other columns in the Men vs. Women series.

Time to buy my new e-book – just click on the cover image below for the various deals and PDF version or HERE for the Amazon/Kindle version at just $2.99:

  • Bojan Djordjevic

    I don’t agree on this one single bit.

    • Bruce Sallan

      So, we agree Bojan?

  • David Weber

    There is some truth in here.

    • Bruce Sallan

      That made me laugh, David…might you elaborate on where?

      • David Weber

        I was attempting to be amusingly opaque.  I will elaborate:

        I think your comments about a sense of humor being attractive to women are on target. 

        I recently read an article about why a man with a good sense of humor attracts women.  (Depending on where you stand on the teachings from evolutionary psychology, sociobiology and such fields, it will likely resonate with you.)
        If you accept (and many people do not) that our actions, decisions and choices in love and courtship have their roots in the natural history of our species, many or most females decide whether or not to be with a particular man based on their assessment of his ability to provide for her and her offspring.  Having a good sense of humor may be interpreted to mean that the man has several qualities consistent with being a good provider.  Among others, these would include cleverness, situational awareness and facility with the use of spoken language. 

        The article also said that an equivalent connection could be made between mental or cognitive excellence and being a good provider, and sure enough, men with brains are often found attractive by women (paging Arthur Miller and Marilyn Monroe, paging Arthur Miller and Marilyn Monroe).

        • Bruce Sallan

          Henry Kissinger being another CLASSIC example…

  • EB

    Bruce, I think your points are spot on about the differences between man and woman, particularly at first attraction but there is some convergence when you look at (successful) long-term relationships. A beautiful woman is awesome, but I don’t think she’ll be around for long without some of the other qualities like being nurturing, funny, and I’ll mention being a good cook separately because that is crucial (first picture of the post).

    I also have to say the commitment thing is mostly true but didn’t really apply to me. Personally, I started dating my wife when we were juniors in high school and that was it.  Some of my friends, however, are still trying to figure the whole thing out. Guess I got lucky.

    • Bruce Sallan

      Boy, were you lucky EB…to recognize and nurture your woman and not just go off and fool around. NOW, you have something of enduring value. My parents met at 13 and 17 and were together for 73 years, 66 of them married before my dad died…my mom followed a year or so later…

      • EB

         Your parents had a GREAT run. I’ve heard that spouses that have been together so long are almost symbiotic in that they don’t live long once one passes. From what I’ve seen in personal experience, the females tend to do better than the males but it still says something about the value of that life partnership.

        • Bruce Sallan

          Not only did my parents “have a GREAT run,” but they loved each other totally through some real trials such as losing 2 or their 3 children, financial hardships, and over a dozen major surgeries between them from mid-life on…

          • EB

             I can only hope someone will be the saying about us. At six years of marriage (13 overall) we have a ways to go. It’s good to hear some of the positive stories amidst all of the tales of divorce and bitter warfare. I just found out two more people I used to work with got divorced this year.

          • Bruce Sallan

            You TWO will make it work and YOUR children will tell the story…

  • Michelle Mangen

    Though I haven’t been married I agree with this overall. I’ve been on four different dates this month and for me sense of humor is HUGE. Since I’m 36 and perfectly OK being single my criteria is pretty darn high. I typically won’t exclude someone solely based on looks there are exceptions. I tend to be pretty open minded on most things and have my little series of “tests” I put someone through. 

    E.g. – how does he respond when I offer to pay for my share of the date (last night’s guy was very obviously hoping I’d pick up the entire tab – NO!), how close does he live to me geographically, when I tell him I work at home and explain my boundaries on contacting me during the day – does he push the envelope or respect the boundary? 

    And this one may sound really shallow but it’s my fairy-tale so I can design it how I want – I won’t date a guy that is separated and / or has young kids. 

    Yes, someone may think – oh that’s why you are still single – but, as I mentioned above, I’m perfectly content being single. There are things I miss in a relationship but getting married is not the end destination for me. If I find a great guy and we compliment each other’s lives…then awesome. If not, I’ll be the family spinster. 🙂

    • Bruce Sallan

      Thanks for your comment, Michelle. My wife has equal “tests” and she stuck by them. She, too, was content being single. I say stick to your guns. Nothing you’ve listed sounds out-of-line to me unless you were feeling desperate which, clearly you are not!

      • Michelle Mangen

        Nope, desperate I am not – my life is full and wonderful as it is 🙂

        • Bruce Sallan

          Good! Then, when the “right” man comes along, it will just further enhance your life…