Are You Looking for Love in All the Right Places?

Does it matter where you meet a potential partner? Can it tell you something about who they are, and what they’re looking for?

Peter Jonason of the University of Western Sydney and his collaborators conducted new research that has taken a lot of the guesswork out of the mating game.

There were three aims:

  • to examine where people go in search of short-term and long-term mates;
  • to discover how personality traits are linked to the preferences of certain venues to search for a mate; and
  • to find out whether there are gender differences in the preferences of certain venues in the search for a mate.

Here’s what they did: First, the investigators created a list of 50 venues where people might look for short-term or long-term mates, or sex and relationship partners, respectively. This sample was comprised of 100 students (70% female and 30% male) ranging in age from 18 to 38. Remarkably, the men and women in this sample largely agreed on where to go find a fling vs. a relationship.

Here are the Top for each category, from most to least:

Long-term niches:

  1. Class
  2. Organizations
  3. Religious
  4. Work
  5. Gym
  6. Coffee shop
  7. Volunteer groups
  8. Conferences
  9. Park

Short-term niches:

  1. Bar
  2. Nightclub
  3. Beach
  4. Wedding
  5. Concert
  6. Neighborhood

What did the researchers find?

The traits of narcissism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism (i.e, the Dark Triad) predicted more use of short-term niches, but not use of long-term niches. In addition, the traits of agreeableness, conscientiousness, and openness were correlated with going to long-term niches. (Of note, no significant gender differences were found.)