When it comes to what people look for in a committed relationship, it might seem like everyone wants something different — but actually, most people are attracted to the same few qualities. A new study by eharmony found that the top three traits millennials, at least, are looking for in a partner are honesty, kindness, and a strong sense of humor.
“According to the study, these are also the three traits that people most often used to describe themselves,” Dr. Seth Meyers, eharmony relationship expert and licensed psychologist, tells Mic. “So, it makes sense that people desire a partner who shares their same values.”
To get these results, eharmony studied 1,016 heterosexual and LGBTQ+ participants aged 20+ who identified as single and sexually active, of which 38% were millennials. Of that group, 48% chose honesty as their number one quality in a relationship, with kindness and humor trailing close behind at 41% and 38%, respectively. As for the rest of the list, other top picks included attractiveness and intelligence, with qualities like seriousness, assertiveness, and organization all the way at the very bottom.
Despite the study's findings, not everyone's into the same things in a partner, so to determine what traits are truly most important to you, Dr. Meyers advises self-reflection. He notes that eharmony’s past studies have showed that opposites do not always attract, adding, “in fact, people who share similar personality traits and values make the happiest couples." So to figure out what you want in someone, "look at your lifestyle and sensibility, along with your core personality traits,” Dr. Meyers advises. “Then, rank the traits you desire in a partner based on what you know you want out of a relationship.”
That said, you shouldn't necessarily use an actual list of qualities to figure out what you want in a partner, or rule someone out because they don't check off all your most-prioritized boxes. Says Dr. Meyers, “It’s important to know what you want and what you deserve, but a list may limit who you get to know." He notes that there is a big difference between what someone needs in their partner to be happy, and bonus attributes that are simply nice to have. “While it’s important to know what you’re attracted to and which attributes define a person, also keep in mind which attributes will still be important to you many years down the line," he says.
If a date doesn’t initially seem to have all the traits you want, Dr. Meyers suggests being patient and giving them a chance anyway. "While someone may not come off as funny, that does not mean they aren’t," he cites as an example. To find out if a person is truly right for you, regardless of if they fit your "ideal", Dr. Meyers says to ask them open-ended questions, admire the parts of their personalities that make them unique, and take note of their relationships with others.
Most importantly, however, is being confident in yourself and your own desires. “The starting point to finding a romantic partner that will last is knowing who you are and what you need in a relationship to feel safe and secure,” says Dr. Meyers. That includes displaying the same qualities you want to see in someone else. “If you exhibit the traits and behaviors that you would like reciprocated in a relationship, that is how you will find the most success," he adds. "Attracting like-minded individuals who desire the same thing you desire is all about knowing who you are, what you need, and looking for that match in the other person."
So, the next time you’re filling out your dating app bio or are meeting someone for dinner or drinks, remember that the best way to think about romance is to "be the type of person you want to have a relationship with,” says Dr. Meyers. “Just be the person you want to date, and make an effort to walk the walk.”
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