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Illustrations by Katrin Friedmann and Marta Pucci

Sex

We asked 64,000 women what they look for in a partner. The most important thing? Kindness.

The results of the Ideal Partner Survey — a collaboration between Clue, the University of Göttingen and MyONE Condoms

by Amanda Shea, PhD, Research Data Analyst; and Jen Bell, Writer
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“What people want in a partner has fascinated researchers and laypeople alike for decades. The Clue Ideal Partner Survey is unique in that women from all over the world—across various sexual orientations and life phases—gave us rich insight into what matters most to them. This allows us to draw a very differentiated picture of women's preferences for long-term, and short-term relationships.”

—Dr Tanja Gerlach, University of Göttingen

Clue—the menstrual cycle tracking app used by 12 million people around the world—wants to break taboos and challenge assumptions. We do this by collaborating with top researchers to learn about the cycle, sex, and the lives of women and people with cycles.

We have previously partnered with the Kinsey Institute to investigate the effects of sex tech on people's lives, and to learn about condom use from a female perspective

Last year, we joined forces with Researcher Tanja Gerlach at the University of Göttingen and MyONE Condoms, to conduct one of the biggest and most comprehensive surveys ever done about what women look for in a partner. 

More than 68,000 people in 180 countries participated in the study. Here’s what we found out.

1. Kindness is key. Looks? Not so much

Worldwide, women of all sexual orientations said that kindness, supportiveness, intelligence, education, and confidence were very important traits in a long-term partner.

Attractive body, attractive face, ambition, assertiveness, and financial security were seen as only moderately important qualities for a long-term partner.

“Kindness is rather like gravity, essential but little noticed until it’s gone. Given today’s emphasis on looks and wealth, it may surprise you that kindness is a top desirable trait across the world.  But kindness is key to the human capacity for forming the long-term social bonds so essential to our evolution. Without those bonds, and kindness to help us get through the inevitable rough patches, we wouldn’t have survived and flourished.”

—Dr Virginia J. Vitzthum, Kinsey Institute Senior Scientist, Clue Director of Scientific Research, and Professor of Anthropology at Indiana University

2. Wanting kids (or not) matters

When asked about choosing a long-term mate, 46.1% of women of all sexual orientations said that a potential partner’s desire to parent is very important.

3. Most women place low importance on ethnic similarity and religious similarity

Few women said that ethnic similarity or religious similarity were important traits for a long-term partner (For ethnic similarity, 9.8% chose very important while 54.1% chose not important. For religious similarity, 25.4% chose very important, while 35.0% chose not important).

4. When it comes to physical features, an attractive smile is more important than everything else (including genitals)

For both heterosexual and homosexual women, an attractive smile and attractive eyes were the most important physical features sought in a long-term partner. 

For heterosexual women: The next most important physical feature was an average-sized penis, which was considerably more desirable than a large penis. Women with more sexual experience were more likely to place a higher importance on penis size. Short hair, large hands, an attractive back, muscular arms and facial hair were the next physical features most frequently selected as desirable.

For women who identified as lesbian, gay or homosexual: The next most desirable physical features were average breasts, average buttocks, attractive back, and long hair, in that order.

5. Money is important in Japan, Mexico, Colombia, and the U.S.

Japan, Mexico, Colombia, and the U.S. had the highest percentage of respondents stating that the financial security of a long-term partner was very important. The country least likely to choose financial security as very important was France. 

6. Women in Colombia, Mexico, and Brazil are looking for someone educated

Women in Colombia, Mexico, and Brazil most frequently stated that education was important, while women from countries like the U.K. and Denmark were less likely to find education important in a long-term partner. 

7. Political views are important in Brazil and the U.S.

Women in Brazil and the U.S. were the most likely to say that political similarity was important in a long-term partner, while France, Mexico, and Russia were the least likely. 

Do you agree? 

Do you agree with these results? What qualities are important to you in a long-term partner? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

Want to read more? Download this PDF for more detailed analysis and statistics.

Researchers at the University of Göttingen will continue to dive even deeper into this data. We’ll keep you posted on what we learn, and where to find the published scientific papers.

Some notes about the survey:

This survey included cisgender and transgender women and men, genderqueer and nonbinary people, and people of other genders or who did not wish to state their gender. The results here focus on cisgender and transgender women only.

In the analysis of general partner traits all sexual orientations were included. The findings about physical features are split into heterosexual vs. homosexual women. All findings in this article relate to desired qualities in an ideal long-term partner.

Respondents were asked to rate the importance of different characteristics on a scale from 0 (not at all important) to 6 (very important). 

We then grouped respondents into categories for those that rated a characteristic as not important (those that selected 0 or 1), moderately important (those that selected 2, 3, or 4), or very important (5 or 6). Percentages reflect these groupings.