Gay and straight people aren’t so different when it comes to love, says a new study. Rather, it’s gender that sets us apart when seeking a partner.
The study, which was published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, surveyed 23,935 people about what they look for in a romantic partner. For their analysis, the researchers focused on 710 respondents between ages 18 and 65 who identified as lesbian, gay, and bisexual.
When comparing these queer respondents to the survey’s straight respondents, the researchers found that their desires didn’t vary significantly by sexuality, with gay and straight people having the same general preferences. When they compared their results by gender, however, the researchers found that men and women prioritize different qualities in potential partners.
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Men, apparently, care more about physical attractiveness and domesticity in their partners than women do, regardless of their own sexuality.
Meanwhile, women have a much longer list of areas where they care more than men: they want their partners to be adventurous, caring, intelligent, funny, generous, like-minded, wealthy, and well-mannered. (The study doesn’t account for nonbinary people.)
The study also found that women are more open to a partner older than themselves, while men are more open to a partner younger than themselves.
Women are also more accepting of a partner they don’t find good-looking, while men are more accepting of a partner with different physical attributes to themself (though the boyfriend twin phenomenon would suggest otherwise).
What do these results amount to scientifically? Lisa Klümper, one of the researchers behind the study, says the fact that sexuality and partner preference aren’t linked reveals the nature of the human brain.
“This observation aligns with the idea that distinct psychological mechanisms can function independently,” Klümpler told PsyPost. “Thus, differences in one module, such as sexual orientation, may not necessarily lead to variations in another module, such as partner preferences.”
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