When it comes to women, do you have a type? If you do, you're not alone. Some men go for shy brunettes and others for vivacious blondes. Some men fancy powerful women, while others find dominant women off-putting.
Whether the traits we prefer and those we avoid are physical or to do with personality, many men end up going for the same type of women, again and again. The only question is, why?
Read on as we delve into the mysteries of attraction, and asks why we're attracted to the women we are.
You may indeed have a 'type', but it's probably not fixed. If your 18-year-old self was attracted to the overtly sexual symbols of womanhood large breasts, a round behind and long hair it may have been the result of rampant hormones. By 30 your ideal women may be more subtly alluring.
But scientists have also found that attraction can change much more quickly. Researchers at the University of Aberdeen found that men with raised levels of testosterone were more likely to be attracted to very feminine women. Testosterone levels can fluctuate on a daily basis.
The explanation? It's thought that feminine looks in women are markers of health and so feminine women are likely to produce the healthiest children. Men are most interested in sex when testosterone levels are high.
It may not be a myth that many men prefer blondes. Most blonde hair gets darker with age and subconsciously men want to mate with young fertile women who are more likely to produce healthy children. Before women could get blonde from a bottle, blonde hair was a genuine sign of youth.
So if blonde hair makes up one of the characteristics of your 'type', you're not alone. Blondes feature more often in glossy magazine centrefolds than their prevalence in the population should warrant.
Bit of a tricky area this one. It's often claimed that men go for women who are like their mothers so they can feel again the sense of warmth and protection that they had in childhood. In other words (our women might say) we want someone who loves us unconditionally and doesn't expect us to lift a finger.
Which, admittedly, sounds ideal. And it also might be true. A study by the University of Pecs in Hungary found that men were more likely to pair up with women whose bone structure was similar to that of dear old mum.
Which sounds, well, weird! The reason may be that the kind of faces we find attractive are set to some extent by the faces we see in early childhood, as part of what psychologists call 'sexual imprinting'. "I think the perfect physical type goes way back into childhood, probably before most of us can remember," says Kate Taylor, author and relationship expert for dating site match.com.
Is there another psychological element too, as our despairing partners claim? Well, studies show that we all have a feeling of nostalgia for the warm, cosy days of childhood, but there's no conclusive evidence that we choose partners who might recreate that feeling.
Our first love
It's undeniable early experiences shape us all. When it comes to our 'type', that first love may have made an indelible imprint on our psyches.
"Our preferred type is often sparked by an early experience, maybe a first girlfriend or that first crush," says Taylor. "It's different for everyone, but those first strong feelings we have for someone often leave a mark or an inclination towards certain looks and traits."
It's all about me!
Apparently, many of us also go for women who look a bit like us, but only when we're relaxed, according to a study from the University of Trier in Germany. Relaxed men who were shown erotic pictures of women that had been digitally altered to look a bit like themselves found them more sexually attractive than stressed men shown the same kind of images.
According to the scientists involved, that's because men are programmed to be less fussy about a mate during times of stress (which roughly translates as "any port in a storm").
But why are we fussy for women who resemble us, whether relaxed or not? It may be something to do with our evolutionary history. "Physically, people are often attracted to people who look similar to themselves, or who dress to show they share common interests," says Taylor. "Wearing the same band T-shirts, for example, is a common bond among younger daters."
Thousands of years ago, choosing someone who looked a bit like you was your best chance of mating with someone who had adapted to survive the same things that you had. Bring that forward a few millennia and many of us get together with girls from the same 'tribe', be they goths, emos or Cliff Richard fans.
Small feet, long legs
Other factors are common to most of us. Researchers at the University of Albany in New York found that small feet and long legs make women prettier, at least to men.
It has to be said, most men would say their 'type' had small feet rather than large ones and long legs rather than short ones, and there could be a good reason for that. According to the scientists, classic feminine traits like small feet, long thighs and wide hips are essentially the markers of fertility and health. Men are programmed to be attracted to women with these markers.
Science claims that more of us prefer bigger breasts. When a female researcher with a bra that allowed her to alter the appearance of her breasts sat at a bar, more men approached her when she was flaunting bigger breasts.
But some men emphatically prefer small breasts, so what's going on? The only data is 40 years old, a study by Wiggins et al. (1968), that did suggest men's personalities and backgrounds to some extent shaped their preferences for female body types.
It suggested that men who liked larger busts tend to be manly men, who like sports and try to be the centre of attention. Men who preferred small breasts tended to be from higher social classes, but less extrovert. Beyond that, all we really know is that men are not the same when it comes to the breasts that appeal to them.
So what shapes the types we like? All sorts of reasons really, from our stress levels, background, our mum and early childhood experiences to our first love and our own looks.
And there's one more factor, says Kate Taylor. Men like a wife that appeals to other men, so the sort of women your friends like might influence subtly and subconsciously the type of women you go for.
In other words, she may not be blonde haired and big breasted, but to some extent all men want a trophy wife. What your trophy is like depends on what type of man you are.
Share on Facebook: Share