Is Lust More Important Than Emotional Stability?

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compatibility marriage desire
Mutual attraction and desire top a new poll of spouse's important characteristics.

We've written a lot about how marriage is a financial arrangement, that romance eventually fizzles, and how having kids can make your once-bottomless libido as dry as an unused diaper. So it would seem to be common knowledge that passion, while important in the beginning of a relationship, isn't what makes a marriage work. But according to a new study from researchers at the University of Iowa, since the 1930s traits like dependability and stability have become fallen in importance, while lust and love have risen. Have Hollywood myths and the fetishization of romance messed up our ideas about what we should look for in a mate?

The study asked college students to rate the importance of various characteristics of their future mate. Back in the '30s men wanted women to be dependable, chaste and able to whip up a good meatloaf. Women wanted men to be ambitious and emotionally stable. Lust and love didn't even make the top three. These days both sexes rate mutual attraction and desire as the most important characteristic in their future mate.

"Marriage used to be a practical arrangement. Getting married for love or attraction was considered foolish and perhaps even dangerous," said the author of the study.

Eighty years ago college was an extended husband-finding exercise for many women, so when taking the study those gals may have done more thinking about their future marriage, and thus been more realistic about what makes a marriage work. And since these days people are waiting to marry, people in their early 20s may not be thinking about long-term compatibility.

Or maybe times really have changed, and great sex and everlasting desire is now a necessary component of marriage, while stability and dependability aren't. Or perhaps people are just deluded, and think that sexual chemistry is more important than it really is. What do you think?

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