Men and Women Talk About Their Differences

A Reader Survey Result

Poor communication, differences in how to spend money, and infidelity were the three most frequent areas of conflict mentioned by both men and women in their intimate relationships with each other.

Several hundred people responded to the reader’s survey printed in this column on March 1, 1992.  Reader responses came from all over the state of Colorado as well as from Kansas, Wyoming, Nebraska, and Tennessee. These are what readers said were important to them about having, choosing, or keeping a mate.  These results were compiled by MJ Youngblood of Boulder, who painstakingly read through each survey and tabulated the results and to whom I deeply greatly for her time and energy.

First, 76 percent of the readers who responded were females (does this say something already?).  Forty-seven percent of female respondents were divorced as were 48 percent of male respondents.  Twenty-seven percent of the women identified themselves as single, as did 32 percent of the men.  Seventeen percent of women were married (11 percent of the men).  Widowed (4 percent of women, 5 percent of men) and separated (5 percent of women, 4 percent of men) comprised the remaining readers who responded to the survey.

Ages ranged from 18-79, with a majority in their 40’s.  Only 2 percent of the people who responded to the survey are living together outside of marriage and only 4 percent or so are gay or lesbians.

Both men and women listed poor communication, differences in how to spend money, and infidelity as the most frequent three areas of marriage and/or relationship conflict.  Women also listed their partner trying to control them, dishonesty, and alcohol or substance overuse by a partner as the other top areas of conflict they have in their intimate relationships with men.

Men listed (in addition to money, lack of communication, and infidelity) children, sexual incompatible or differing sexual appetites, and a partner being controlling as the most frequent areas of conflict they experienced in an intimate relationship.

Fifty percent of women surveyed said that a man’s emotional attractiveness was more important that his physical attractiveness, whereas 49 percent of women said that both were equal.  Only one-half of 1 percent said that a man’s physical attractiveness was most important to them.  Kathleen, from Cheyenne, Wyoming, said emotionally appealing “makes a person physically attractive no matter what nature has given them.”

Seventeen percent of the men said that a woman’s emotional attractiveness was more important than her physical attractiveness, and a full 77 percent said that both were equal.  Only 6 percent said that a woman’s physical attractiveness was most important.  Typical was the 26 year old single man from Boulder who wrote, “I don’t want a knock-out, just someone who is in relatively good shape and pleasant to look at.”

Ninety-five percent of men said they would consider marrying a woman who had more professional status and who made more money than they did.  A 46 year old divorced man wrote, “I am a six figure income professional.  What I want is someone who is well enough off not to consider me as a ‘gravy train.'”

Sixty-five percent of women said they would consider marrying a man who had less education and made less money than they did, although 29 percent said they would not consider marrying such a man.  Marilyn, a 46 year old single woman from Denver, said she would consider it as long as there was not a big disparity in either one.

When men were asked “What is a physically attractive women?  What features make her attractive to you?” most (65%) mentioned her shape and build.  Other things frequently mentioned by men were attractive and well-kept hair, a nice smile, a woman’s eyes, that a woman dresses well, and a neat appearance.  Only 12 percent mentioned the size of her breasts (some like ’em big, others prefer them small, most like ’em in between).  Twelve percent also said they prefer a woman wearing minimal makeup.

A 44 year old, single man from Alamosa said that number one on his list of what makes a woman physically attractive is “a pretty heart.”  A 48 year old single man from Wichita, Kansas said, “sensuous, sultry, and seductive.”  He added, “This is a matter of attitude, not necessary looks.”  Don, who lives in Englewood, joked, “I don’t like fat women with hairy arms and tatooes who wear orthopedic shoes.”

Women were extremely specific when they responded to the question about what makes a man physically attractive to them.  Most (56%) mentioned a man’s physique (good build, proportioned well, nice shape).  Half mentioned height, specifically preferring moderately tall to tall men.  This definitely creates a problem for short men who frequently report on getting rejected by women over something they can’t do anything about.

Other physical features women mentioned that they find attractive in men are eyes, a well groomed and neat appearance, a nice smile, nice hair, and good hygiene.  A man who dresses well and has a nice face or facial features were also mentioned.

The one body part zeroed in by more women than any other (are you ready for this gentlemen?) is their butt; a shapely butt, to be more accurate.  Melissa, a 26 year old single woman from Lakewood, sums it up by asking for a “nice tush.”  A 46 year old, married woman from Littleton, writes, “attractiveness doesn’t matter.  I just prefer a man who’s not ugly.  I look for someone who has a happy or peaceful face and looks and smells clean.  This disqualifies smokers, of course.”  Heidi, a 33 year old single woman from Denver, was representative of most women when she said she prefers men “fit but not overly muscled.”

Connie, a 45 year old married woman from Torrington, Wyoming, mentioned, “soft eyes that look at me when we are in conversation.”  A 47 year old, divorced woman added that she looks for a man who “has an approachable look—not too cocky looking.”  Mary, a 33 year old, married woman from Denver, said, “A man who is macho is a man who doesn’t need to prove it.”

Most men (63%) said that a partner or potential partner’s health and wellness were very important to them, whereas only 6 percent of women said the same thing.  Seventy-one percent of women cited a man’s intellect as very important to them.  Forty-six percent of men agreed.  Sixty-seven percent of women mentioned a man’s financial outlook or status as very important in choosing a partner, whereas only 11 percent of men thought that was as important.

Most men and women mentioned a partner or potential partner’s moodiness and emotional stability as very important in choosing a mate.  Fifty-six percent of men said that was very important to them, 59 percent of women said the same.

I will report on what women and men said makes the other emotionally attractive and I will go into more depth on the major conflicts men and women experience in their relationships in other columns.

Although there are some obvious differences in what men and women look for in the opposite sex and also some major differences between the way men and women see relationships and experience intimacy, I would sum up the results of the reader’s survey by suggestion something that is real easy to lose sight of.  That men and women are far more alike than they are different and they view life and intimate relationships far more similarly than many of us are aware of.

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