Since 2020, Women Have Lost Interest In A Specific Type Of Man — According To A Biological Anthropologist

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woman in love with man while bad boy looks on

A few years out from what was likely one of, if not the most, transformational years for modern society, we are seeing that the turn of the decade not only changed relationships — but also what we look for in a partner.  

In the words of biological anthropologist Dr. Helen Fisher on the Open Relationships podcast:

"You can't lock up somebody for two years and have them come out the same."

What we're looking for in an ideal partner has changed in the last three years

Emotional maturity made its way up the list of things people look for in a partner over the last few years, says Fisher, referencing the annual Singles In America study she helps conduct. 

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Fisher says every year they ask study participants what they are looking for in a partner, and the most common answers are always:

  • Somebody who respects me
  • Somebody who I can trust and confide in
  • Somebody who makes me laugh 
  • Somebody who is attractive
  • Somebody who makes enough time for me

"Since the pandemic," says Fisher, "this list now says someone who is emotionally mature." 

Perhaps something about being quarantined with a partner really magnifies what's missing from them, from you, and from your relationship dynamic. 

Women have long been attracted to "bad boys" — long believed to be for viable, biological reasons

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In many ways, "bad boy" and "charismatic potential mate" can mean the same thing. 

Fisher says, "(Bad boys) are charismatic. They’re probably high dopamine and high testosterone. Women go for high-testosterone men. For millions of years, a high-testosterone man has been more likely to hit that buffalo with a rock and bring home a nice big fat feast. Along with that bravado, he may be the kind of guy who talks himself into a fancy job, makes more money, and may have more resources. There is some reason women are attracted to the bad boy." 

Fisher goes on to add, "I do think though it’s become less since the pandemic. We’ve got data on that."

Now there are new reasons for singles to seek out emotional wellness in a partner, too

According to aforementioned Singles In America, in 2022 87% of singles said it’s important for both partners to prioritize mental health, and 2/3 of singles were open to therapy.

The study's home page says, “Now more than ever, singles are invested in conscious dating: Looking beyond just physical attraction to use dating as a way to learn about themselves (who they are, what they need, and their behavioral patterns throughout the process)... Singles are dating with intention — and they’re seeking someone with mindfulness to match.”

Love at first sight and commitment based on initial attraction aren't as common now as taking time to get to know someone for who they are and how stable they are. 



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The Singles In America study for 2022 reports that 49% of singles have fallen in love with someone they weren’t initially attracted to (up from 38% in the last decade).

Time will tell if this trend sticks — if singles will continue to seek out emotional maturity in addition to, or maybe even over traditional "bad boy" traits that have been the sparks of romantic flames since we were ordering dinner by throwing rocks at buffalo. 

Considering that the survey says 2/3 of singles want to improve their own mental health, and 81% engage in self-care monthly, my money is on the partners who want the same for themselves. 

"Bad boys" evolving into emotionally intelligent men sounds like a charismatic, confident flex to me. And Fisher says, “Self-confidence is the main thing somebody wants in a partner," even still.

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Jill Krause, the YourTango Thought Leader Editor, is a writer and content creator with a focus on maternal mental health and midlife reinvention. She’s a published author and has been recognized for her work by Time, Vogue, Washington Post, Us Weekly, Today, and more.