Most Americans ‘revert to type’ when dating

November 9, 2017

Despite all the talk about pheromones—airborne chemical messengers that attract us to our mates—most of us have a distinct preference for a physical type when looking for love. Indeed, the large majority of U.S. adults (64%) report that they are typically attracted to a certain type, according to new data from You.Gov Omnibus.

What’s more, over half of respondents (58%) say that they have rejected someone’s advances just because he or she didn’t fit the right description.

Yet, despite how much stock Americans seem to put on finding their ideal partners, only 42% of those who believe they have a specific “type” are currently in a relationship with someone who meets their preferred criterion.

The great debate in dating and mating has long been about the importance of looks versus personality to potential suitors. When posed with this classic question, men were more likely than women to say that looks matter more than personality – 23% to 11%, respectively.

Traditionally, one of the main aesthetic qualities that singles look for in future partners is optimal height. However, just 23% of Americans would turn down a date because the other person was too short or too tall for their liking.

Over the past few years, debate has sparked on the Internet regarding whether partiality toward certain races while dating is racism or justified aesthetic preference. Nearly three in five (59%) U.S. adults— 63% of men and 55% of women— report that they are attracted to some races more than others. At 75%, Hispanic-Americans are more likely than white (57%) and black (48%) Americans to agree that race plays a role in who they find attractive.

Finally, although so many respondents look for specific qualities in Mr. or Ms. Right, that doesn’t mean that just because someone ticks all the right boxes doesn’t mean they are the one. In fact, 56% of adults with a distinct “type” have been in a relationship with someone only because they were what they pictured their “perfect” partner to be like, even though they knew they weren’t compatible enough to be in it for the long run.

Research contact: Yael.Bame@yougov.com