Being Playful May Help Attract A Mate

Men's Dating

Being Playful May Help Attract a Mate

Dr. Wendy Walsh

Written by: Dr. Wendy Walsh

Dr. Wendy Walsh

Known as America's Relationship Expert, Dr. Wendy Walsh is an award-winning television journalist, radio host & podcaster, and the author of three books on relationships and thousands of print and digital articles. More than 1.5 million people follow her sage advice on social media. She holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and teaches in the Psychology Department at California State University Channel Islands and has been the host of "The Dr. Wendy Walsh Show" on iHeart Radio's KFI AM 640 since 2015. Walsh is also a former Emmy-nominated co-host of "The Doctors," as well as former host of the nationally syndicated show "EXTRA." She was named a Time Magazine Person of the Year in 2017 after speaking out about harassment at a major news network.

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Edited by: Lillian Castro

Lillian Castro

Lillian Guevara-Castro brings more than 30 years of journalism experience to ensure DatingAdvice articles have been edited for overall clarity, accuracy, and reader engagement. She has worked at The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, The Gwinnett Daily News, and The Gainesville Sun covering lifestyle topics.

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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.

There is variation in mating strategies.

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.”

Playfulness may be evolutionarily adaptive.

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.

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