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"Opposites attract" is not really supported by the literature, e.g. see page 32 in Potârcă ( (2012) and /u/eduardkoopman's comment. Being white seems overall advantageous. Data from OkCupid revealed that females have stronger homophily (preference for their own race) and attraction to Whites. Black women, Asian and Black men were the most disadvantaged groups. It seems the only case in which "opposites attract" is slightly true is between Asian women and White men. "How Your Race Affects The Messages You Get" "How Races and Religions Match in Online Dating" "Race and Attraction, 2009 - 2014" "Same-Sex Data for Race vs. Reply Rates" There are likely various things that cause sexless marriages, but this is my favorite explanation: The idea that males need to be soft and vulnerable likely destroys their alpha cues and makes them unappealing to women (women's interest in having sex often does not decline like this in marriages in which the partners do not become overfamiliar with one another; Klusmann (2002), Klusmann (2006) Women having income, status and education likely also impedes that same dimension of attraction, e.g. males with much lower income than their wives are 2.27 times as likely not to have sex (Kim 2017), aversion to having the wife earn more than the husband explains 29 percent of the decline in marriage rates over the last thirty years (Bertrand 2015), women like Tinder profiles of males with lower educational status than their own only half as often (Neyt 2018). An attractive face is not a proxy for positive genetic traits (except that it is a trait in itself that promises high reproductive success of the offspring as others select it). For more information see this compilation of studies. Men have a ~4 times higher sex drive (see this compilation). What has not been studied in the literature (AFAIK) is to which extent this results from women's greater choosiness. Women may have a higher sex drive when copulating with alpha males (Edit: There is actually evidence in the study above, in that males with much lower income than their wives, which probably correlates with relatively low status, only have a bit less than half as much sex). Established fact is, though, that men's cumulative demand for sex is insatiable. It is costly/risky to give birth to the human head and humans also have the most dependent offspring in the entire animal kingdom, so human females have a high parental investment. This results in males with relatively high sex drive being selected as they can get away with more offspring by copulating with many females. This, in turn, selects cautious females who choose the best quality from the many males who approach them (because choosiness is the easy and obvious way of improving reproductive success when you are given the choice between many potential mates). When 2s get together, are they actually attracted to each other physically?

I think so and the mere exposure effect may explain how they overcome their unattractiveness. There is also more to relationships than just looks (e.g. sex, warm partner contact , emotional support, lineage of power and wealth, access to resources etc.). Looks only dominate initial romantic interest (and personality only plays a very small role).

Do ugly people have lower standards?

Yes, see this graph from Bruch & Newman (2018), also the chapter "Pair Formation, Courtship, Sexual Love" in Foundations of human behavior: Human ethology (Eibl-Eibesfeldt 2017). People do not aim overly high in order to save face. Women's preference for looks seems slightly stronger than men's, but women aim up regarding socioeconomic status in addition to that (which men don't), so in effect women are much choosier.

If ugly women are showing obvious signs of interest towards a male, is this because they believe he’s in their league, or because everyone finds that man attractive?

Probably both, but it's mostly about the status of the male.

To what extent do some personality traits open doors?

No idea about short-term outcomes, but the long-term outcomes are summarized here:

Is being funny a real thing or is it looks dependent?

It's probably both. Good jokes are intrinsically funny, but who tells the joke also has a massive halo effect. More physically attractive people are perceived as more humorous than less attractive ones (N = 38, for males r = .77, p < .001, for females r = .52, p = .018). (Cowan 2013)

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See also:

The Ultimate Physical Attractiveness Compilation The Ultimate Hypergamy Compilation The Ultimate Male Horniness and Female Dependence Compilation The Ultimate Benefits of Sex, Companionship and Monogamy Compilation The Ultimate Female Gossip Compilation The Ultimate Female Misogyny and Nastiness Compilation Suggested readings:

Etcoff, Nancy. Survival of the prettiest: The science of beauty. Anchor, 2011. Prum, Richard O. The Evolution of Beauty: How Darwin's Forgotten Theory of Mate Choice Shapes the Animal World-and Us. Anchor, 2017. Recognition of physical attractiveness is hardwired into the human brain: Within races, the inter-rater agreement on physical attractiveness is very high, typically Cronbach's α > .9. Across races it is only slightly lower.

There is lots of variance in ratings of averagely looking people (SD of ~2-3 on a 10-point scale), but very little variance in ratings of very attractive or very unattractive people, i.e. people strongly agree about the extremes. (Wood 2009) (Coetzee 2014) (See Table S1 for inter-rater agreements.)

A single glance of 100 ms is sufficient to form reliable, consensual first impressions about trustworthiness, status, and attractiveness (Cronbach's α ≈ .9). (Palomares 2017)

In a blind date setting, the correlation between evaluation of the date's physical attractiveness and liking of the date was .78 when male subjects rated their date, and .69 for when female subjects rated their date. Personality and intellect played no role.

Women judged and valued men based on physical attractiveness to the same degree as men did women.

In long-term dating settings, other factors besides looks do play a role (especially social status of males). (Walster 1966)

Even congenitally blind men prefer the female hourglass figure. (Karremans 2009)

Even babies prefer attractive people over unattractive ones, and are more likely to trust them. (Ma 2016)

Chickens trained to pick either a masculine or feminine face more often picked exaggerated masculine or feminine faces to the same extent as humans of the opposite sex considered the faces more sexually desirable (r² = .98).

The preference for exaggerated masculinity or femininity is thus likely a neurological/mathematical necessity rather than a cultural option. (Ghirlanda 2004)

Physical attractiveness is weakly correlated with health and ability (blackpills for attractive people): Research results that found a strong link between facial symmetry and health have been exposed as scientific fraud:

Highly specific markers of attractiveness, e.g. facial symmetry, a deep voice, chiseled chin, women's hourglass figure etc. are largely unrelated to health and ability.

Our strong preference for these features has likely evolved in a positive feedback loop (Fisherian runaway and sensory bias hypothesis), not because they signal health or ability.

(This does not hold for all aspects of attractiveness though, e.g. aversion toward irregular skin might have evolved to avoid infectious diseases. Such adaptations useful for survival might have initiated the runaway selection.) (Prum 2017)

The feedback loop consists in one sex evolving to be more attracted to a particular feature in the other sex for the mere reason that it is selected by others, but as the population overall evolves stronger attraction to the feature, the evolutionary pressure grows exponentially to be even more attracted to the feature. This results in exaggeration or overcomplication of said feature in the other sex in efforts to evolve to become more attractive.

Human's cognitive abilities and all sorts of complex social behavior and courtship behaviors may have evolved in the same way as they are unnecessarily sophisticated for the needs of hunter-gatherers to survive.

Different aspects of beauty are also not inter-correlated, e.g. no correlation between attractive faces and attractive voices. (Zäske 2018)

The waist-to-hip-ratio/fertility link is weak at best. (Lassek 2018)

10 cm more body height shortens lifespan by 5 years, leading to more joint wear, cardiovascular disease etc. (Samaras 2002)

The relationship between health and mating success is weak, i.e. people select for physical attractiveness rather than health. (Foo 2017)

Physical unattractiveness only correlates weakly with various diseases (asthma, depression, ADHD…), e.g. probability of diabetes in unattractive people is 4% and 2% in attractive people, 20% vs 11% for depression, 15% vs 13% for migraines. Beauty is not a health certificate. (Nedelec 2014)

Deeper male voice is not linked to immunocompetence even though women are strongly attracted to it. (Arnocky 2018) (O’Connor 2014)

A meta study found a large publication bias in the literature on the correlation between physical attractiveness and IQ and only found a very weak correlation of r = 0.07.

The halo effect of attractiveness on perceived intelligence is enormous (r = 0.81).

This might explain the existence of blonde jokes, as attractive women with low IQ probably maximally expose this bias, probably one of the largest cognitive biases. (Mitchem 2016) (Talamas 2016)

More intelligent men are regarded as more attractive, but only up to a sweet spot of 120 after which attractiveness declines. (Gignac 2018)

Men prefer women with a youthful appearance (blackpills for women): The largest known psychological sex difference is age preference (d = 2.0). (Buss 2018)

Women tend to prefer slightly older men, but men of all ages prefer women in their early twenties. In the following graph, the first and second quartiles of the average attractiveness of each age group are represented by shades of red. (Rudder 2015)

Women's partner preferences regarding age are typically fulfilled, but not men's. (Antfolk 2015)

Women's reproductive value peaks in their early 20s (most women cannot conceive easily after 30). Men's annual income peaks at 50. (Barbaro 2018)

The age difference between husband and wife in hunter-gatherer societies is 5.12±3.61 years (excluding Australia where it is 14.64±4.5), compared to 3.5±1.7 in modern societies.

In only 1 of 57 hunter-gatherers societies was the bride older (-1.5 years). The mean maternal age at first birth in less-developed countries is 20.5±1.0 years and 19.46±1.9 years among hunter-gatherers. (Fenner, 2005)

Provided unrestricted mating choices, old men choose fertile young women (younger than 30). (Sohn, 2017, p. 19)

Age preferences by males also reflect in the prevalence of hebephilia (attraction to ~13 year olds), which is thought to be high as 20% among men. (Schuster 2014)

Contemporary confusions about hebephilia might result from the fact that the age of puberty has fallen in western countries: Menarche age has receded from 16.5 years in 1880 to the current 12.5 years (reasons unknown; perhaps pollution, cosmetics or better child health). (Fenner 2005) (Harley 2018)

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Male vs Female Sex Drive: Around the world, women play "coy" by downplaying their sexual interest, thereby provoking men's courtship investment.

The coyer the female partner, the more valuable she becomes in terms of invested courtship efforts.

Ethnologist Eibl-Eibesfeldt was able to elicit the ‘‘coy glance’’. Looking at a variety of cultures, he found flirting to be prevalent and very much the same the world over. (Source)

Figure 4.45. The [white of the eye] permits us to perceive signals of others accurately: reaction of a young Indian woman to a compliment—affection and timidity are juxtaposed. From a 50 frames/second 16 mm film. (Eibl-Eibesfeldt, 2009, p. 239) (Moore 2010)

Women have a much stronger preference for being asked out (M 16% vs W 94%) vs doing the asking (M 83% vs W 6%, d ≈ 2.5! Possibly the second largest psychological sex difference, after preference for gender d = 6.0 and followed by age preference d = 2.0).

The mating strategies are completely different: Seed-scattering males (competing, impressing, satyriasis) vs egg-guarding females (choosing, waiting, nesting). Men are generally required to initiate a romantic relationship. (Byers, 1996)

On Tinder, male subjects (super)liked 61.9% of the female evaluated profiles, while female subjects (super)liked only 4.5% of the male evaluated profiles. (d ≈ 2.0). (Neyt 2018)

60% of women said they hoped a recent hookup would lead to a romantic relationship compared to only 13% of men, demonstrating women's stronger preference for signals of investment. (Weitbrecht 2017)

Women's interest in sex declines steeply in a relationship while men's interest remains stable. In the beginning, both sexes have the same sex drive (around 80% want sex often), but 90 months into a relationship (7.5 years), only ~25% of women want sex often.

This possibly results from overfamiliarity since women who didn’t live with their partner did not show this decline. This proves that women much more easily get bored with their partners e.g. when becoming familiar with their partner's intimate weaknesses. (Klusmann 2002) (Klusmann 2006)

Sexual stimuli produced higher subjective sexual arousal in males (d = 3.87). (Suschinsky 2008)

Men much more likely report they would engage in casual sex with a complete stranger (e.g. "will you go to bed with me tonight"; 75% M but 0% W answered yes). (Tappé 2013)

Among college students on Spring Break, 76% of men vs 19% of women admitted they had intentions of having casual sex while on Spring Break. (Maticka‐Tyndale 1998)

Even in the most gender egalitarian countries, women are 1.68 times as likely to regret having engaged in casual sex (20.4% M, 34.2% W). (Bendixen et al. 2018)

Men are eight times as likely to regret passing up casual sex (28.9% M, 3.6% W). (Kennair 2016)

Among “celibate” clergy, men are less willing to actually forego sex (M 24%, W 3% have had 5+ partners). (Murphy 1992)

Men desired sex earlier in a relationship (M 28% vs W 3% reluctant virgins in fresh couples). (McCabe 1987)

Women pay for sex only extremely rarely (e.g. M 30% vs W 0%, CH, N = 2070). (Source)

Gay males more likely than lesbians are unfaithful (G 82% vs L 28%). (Blumstein & Schwartz, 1983)

In a speed dating setting, men inferred more sexual interest from their conversation partners than women did (M 0.78±1.36, W −0.97±1.58, t(196) = 8.32, p < .001, N = 196, d ≈ 1.2). (Buss 2012)

In another speed dating study, women chose only half as many partners as men (M 5.0, W 2.6). 36 percent of men and 11 percent of women did not get any proposal. (Belot 2006)

Sex drive and sociosexuality (casual sex) showed consistent sex differences across 53 nations (d̅ = .62, .74). Gender empowerment measures correlated with sociosexuality, but were uncorrelated with sex drive. (Lippa 2009)

Large survey study found no clues to stronger sexual motivation among women. (Baumeister 2001)

All of this makes sense from the perspective of Parental Investment Theory. The principle of coy females can be seen in many other species, even in fungi. (Trivers 1972)'s_principle

Sex differences in parental investment likely also explain that women have much more sexual disgust (d = -0.6 to -1.7). Reproduction is more costly and risky for women, e.g. they are more likely catch STDs and the maternal mortality rate used to be 10 times higher. (Al-Shawaf 2017)

Drive for success, testosterone and sex drive appear to be related. (Kanazawa, 2003)

Even in steady heterosexual relationships, men masturbate 4 times as often as women, mainly due to differences in sex drive (masturbation frequency M 2.02±5.37 vs W 0.51±0.92).,%20masturbation%20and%20partnered%20sex.pdf (Waterink 2018)

In the past 45 years, the sex difference in masturbation frequency has not changed despite women's sexual liberation and even though masturbation toys for women are less stigmatized than men's (M 5.1, F 1.4, N = 237 boys, N = 76 girls). (Sigusch 1973)

Men think 1.8 times as often about sex as women. (Fischer 2011)

But the contents of these thoughts are likely very different for each sex. A difference in sex drive causes a sexual satiation in the choosy sex and overdemand in the other one. Hence, men's sexual thoughts are more about how to get sex and women think more about how to evade unwanted sexual advances.

Note: Differences in sex drive are not generalizable to related things, such as orgasmic capacity (women have much higher), enjoyment of sex (mixed evidence), extrinsic sex motivation (for love/babies). Some of the lower sex drive of females is likely due to their greater choosiness. (Baumeister 2001)

Not only is women's sex driver lower, women are also reproductively unavailable 10-15% of the time due to menstruation. Plus, all men aged 20 to 40 prefer women in their 20s and the ratio of these groups is even growing due to falling birth rates and a 7% higher birth rate of males. Hence, lots of men compete for few fertile women.

Men’s phenotypes, including their psychologies, my have been shaped by an evolutionary history of contest competition (intrasexual selection). (Puts 2015)

Social psychologist Roy Baumeister wrote about the "Tragedy of the Male Sex Drive":

Given the mismatch between men's and women's desires, most men are doomed to experience chronic sexual frustration. […] They are doomed to be horny. (Baumeister & Tice, 2001)

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Female sexual submissiveness and longing for male dominance: The ten most common professions of the hero in female pornography (derived from the titles of more than 15,000 Harlequin romance novels) are all about high status/dominance, and partly about dark triad traits:

Doctor, Cowboy, Boss, Prince, Rancher, Knight, Surgeon, King, Bodyguard, Sheriff

Over the past decade, vampires and werewolves have replaced human character as the most popular romance heroes. In romance novels from the 1970s and ’80s the heroine was frequently raped.

sometimes violated by a gang of pirates, sold into sexual slavery, or smacked around until their mouths bled.

Women have possibly evolved to prefer the most dominant man available because that man can provide protection from other contenders (bodyguard hypothesis) as well as access to higher quality foods. (Geary 2004)

Up to 62% of women report to have rape fantasies with a median frequency of 4 times per year. 45% are completely erotic and 46% both erotic and aversive. Only 9% of the fantasies are completely aversive. (Bivona 2009)

66% of women prefer a partner who is dominant toward either the in-group, out-group or both. (Giebel 2015, p. 40)

Men are more aroused by looking at and touching their partner, whereas women are more aroused by being looked at and touched (d = 0.7 to 1.2); again differences in preferences for dominance vs submissiveness. (Tsakiris 2018)

Women find men scoring high in dark triad traits more attractive (d = 0.94, N = 170). The dark triad traits are narcissism (overvaluing one's importance), Machiavellianism (manipulativeness), and psychopathy (lack of empathy), the latter two of which correlate with dominance. (Gibson 2015)

In one study, the correlation of rated attractiveness and dark triad traits was found to be .37 (p < 0.01). (Carter 2013)

Based on a British sample (146 women, ages 18-28), the preference for dark triad (DT) traits was superlinearly related to sexual experience (0-5 vs 11-15 partners r = .14, p = .15, 11-15 vs 21+ r = .48, p = .005) and also correlated with the desire for marriage (r = 0.18, p = .028). Women seeking commitment are drawn to men who are less committed, or rather who can afford to signal uncommittedness, so DT might be a Zahavian signal: (Haslam 2016)

Narcissist wives predicted lower marital quality and more marital problems. For narcissist husbands, the predictions were non-significant or sometimes slightly reversed, indicating that women more likely can withstand or even prefer narcissistic men. (Lavner 2016)

Women were least attracted to smiling, happy men, preferring those who looked proud and powerful or moody and ashamed. Hence, telling men to be nice harms their romantic lives. (Tracy 2011)

Adolescent bullies have more sex partners (0.38 more partners per 1 point increase on a 5-point bullying intensity scale). (Provenzano 2017)

50 out of 51 studies reported a positive association between number of sexual partners and antisocial behavior. (Ellis & Walsh 2007)

In a large forensic hospital, 39% of psychopathic patients had a consensual sexual relationship with female staff members. (Gacono 1995)

Some explorative statistics on the OKCupid questions dataset (N ≥ 11,139, qX is the question ID, heterosexuals only):

The vast majority of women prefer their partner taking control during sex (F 86.0%, M 32.3%, d ≈ 1.54, q463). Women also prefer a dominant partner in a non-sexual sense 4.7x as often as men (F 36.5%, M 7.7%, d ≈ 1.08). Fewer women than men prefer a balanced relationship (F 61.2%, M 79.9%). Only 2.3% of women prefer a submissive partner (vs M 12.4%, q9668). Most women prefer being tied up during sex (F 61.4%, M 22.2%) vs doing the tying (F 18.1%, M 54.0%, d ≈ 1.05). F 20.5% an M 23.8% avoid bondage all together (q29). Preference for masculinity as broad gender description (F 65.1%, M 8.3%) vs feminininty (F 6.6%, M 74.7%). F 17.2% and M 11.6% have no preference (q82778). Caveats: The dataset does not contain "skipped" answers, so this may be biased. The dataset is also limited in other ways, e.g. people sometimes do not answer truthfully, but strategically to attract certain potential partners).


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Female neediness and neuroticism: Even feminist women prefer men who take care of them. (Gul 2018)

On average, adult women cry around 4 times as often as men and don't mature beyond the crying behavior of early teenagers. (Source: (Source:

There is little variation in the sex ratio of adult crying frequency across different cultures (~3.67±0.39). (Van Hemert 2011)

The gender differences in adult crying persisted despite changing gender role expectations between 1981 and 1996. Female neuroticism is also strongly influenced by gender-specific hormones, so the difference is mostly of biological origin. (Lombardo 2001)

Women cry 10 times as often as men in stressful situations such as work environments. (Kraemer 2013)

Women state they would cry in frightening situations ~60 times as likely as men (.4% vs 19.8%). (Lombardo 1983)

Women more likely cry due to conflict (23% vs 14%), men more due to positive appraisals (17% vs 7%) and loss (29% vs 24%).

Women use crying to manipulate their partners more often than males ([item "He or she whines until I do it", t(90) = 2.82, p < .006, d ≈ 0.6]). (Buss 1987)

Women also cry more intensely and their crying episodes last about twice as long as men's. Crying turns into sobbing for women in 65% of cases, compared to just 6% for men (d ≈ 1.9!). (Lutz 2001)

In terms of brain metabolism, the adult female brain is on average a few years younger than the male brain, consistent with overall neoteny. (Goyal 2019)

The husband's life satisfaction increases by 1.3 (out of 6 points) with each 1-point increase in his wife’s marital appraisals, as opposed to 0.5 per 1-point increase vice-versa. Possible explanations: Men are more empathetic with their partner, or women more likely make a fuss when they feel stressed and/or men more likely hide it. (Carr 2014) (Brown 2015)

A few more related studies: In 185 societies in the Standard Sample, men were more likely hunters, system builders and maintainers, whereas women did the harvesting and food preparation.

In 97% of samples, cooking was an exclusively or predominately female task and in 0% exclusively male.

Women's domain has always been activities close to home in company of other women (the private), and men's domain away from home possibly in contact with other tribes (the public), a sex difference that is also evident in gossipping behavior.

The Standard cross-cultural sample ranges from contemporary hunter gatherers, to early historic states, e.g., the Romans, to contemporary industrial peoples. (Murdock 1973)

Low ranking chimpanzees innovate 3 times as frequently as high ranking ones. Male chimpanzees innovate more often than females in courtship display contexts (X(1) = 11.35, p < 0.001). (Reader 2001)

Men assembled IKEA furniture more accurately (d = 0.65) and faster than women (d = 0.78, 20% faster without instruction booklet). The participants had similar levels of experience with furniture assembly. (Wiking 2015)

Sex differences in grip strength:

"Today, anthropologists generally agree that cases of true matriarchy do not exist in human society, and that they most probably never have."

60% of women, but only 10% of men would forgive infidelity.

An evolutionary explanation might be that "men, but not women, have recurrently faced the problem of uncertainty in their genetic parenthood". (Buss 2018)