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Dr. Wendy Walsh
From hunter-gatherer days to the technological revolution, there hasn’t been drastic change in the way humans attract a date or a mate. Why have mating strategies been so consistent across centuries? Because evolution has driven to seek out specific traits in potential mates.
Males have been evolutionarily wired to use resources, like a shiny red Porsche, to attract women. This signals a man’s ability to be a good provider and protector for his partner and their little ones.
Women on the other hand, utilize youth and fertility to attract a mate, giving men the indication that they are ready to raise his offspring.
Today, there are more stay-at-home dads and wives out-earning their husbands, but our evolutionary mating strategies are still prominent and dominant.
A recent study by researchers at Penn State found that playfulness is among one of the top traits men and women find desirable in a potential partner.
Above playfulness, both males and females in the study rated kindness and understanding in a partner to be quite important. Females rated it as the most desirable characteristic, while males rated it the second most desirable characteristic.
This may be quite an obvious desirable quality for most of us. But why is playfulness so important in a mate?
“The couple that plays
together, stays together.”
Relationships often become another “routine” in our lives. We go to work, come home, make dinner, watch television, and hit the sack.
And for those with a partner or a spouse, they fit somewhere in this routine, commonly in the form of conversation over dinner and occasionally a date night out to the movies.
But sometimes we get so caught up in our routine lifestyles that we forget how to be spontaneous and playful. Sometimes playfulness can have a bad connotation, but as adults, being playful can be exciting and intoxicating, especially when we’re nurturing a romantic relationship.
Perhaps our ancestor sisters and mothers used playfulness to remind their partner of their youthfulness and fertility. Playfulness in males may come off as nonaggressive behavior and exhibit the kind of trait one hopes to see in a father.
Eventually, many couples conceive children that remind them what it’s like to be playful. And for those that don’t have this constant reminder, try getting in touch with your youthful side. It may help you attract a date or keep the flame alive with your long-term partner.
John Gottman is a famous researcher on couples and relationships. He coded and analyzed hours and hours of videotaped interactions between couples over holiday weekends where he put them up in a condo for free and found that couples who are playful have a better chance of staying together than those who could not play, especially during times of conflict.
Moral of the story: The couple that plays together, stays together.