Interpersonal Attraction

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Interpersonal Attraction: A Study in the Mate Selection Process

Interpersonal Attraction
There are varying qualities that men and women look for while engaged in the mate selection process. For the most part, these include shared moral, educational, and lifestyle characteristics. Most of the time people come to a median and understand that some of the qualities they may seek in a life partner have been fabricated by the commercialization of love and dating. However, it is important to keep in mind that successful relationships are made up of many other factors other than "love". Maintaining a romantic relationship and raising a family has changed significantly over the years.

The Women's and Gay movements of earlier eras had a profound effect on the way people, as a whole, re-evaluated relationship norms and standards. As opposed to earlier times, the suppression of women's sexuality in societies caused a great deal of compliance on their part in regards to relationships. The Gay and Lesbian community also endured great inhibitions in relation to their expression of their lifestyle. For these suppressed social groups, mate selection was highly representative of a repressed time. Female selection process was contingent within the social class. For working class women in western societies, marriage was mostly the way of out her parent's home and the only means of climbing up in social class. In comparison to higher social classes, women often married for political and social reasons. The union of two wealthy families, as a result of a young marriage, signified a more stable place in the hierarchy of society. Social prestige and stratification was more of the common practice during those times as opposed to today (Coltrane, S. & Collins, R. 2001, p. 276…)

Today's dating couples are more independent than before and exhibit a great deal of autonomy in relation to the commitment of dating. Katherine Billie (1998) states that when couples are not yet married they display much more emphasis on the qualities they posses and regard themselves as highly desirable prospects. This creates a dilemma in which neither partner will succumb to the other's demands or expectations. The end result in this situation is the re-evaluation of the relationship and the more resourceful partner may end up leaving the more submissive partner. In earlier times, more than likely, it would have been a female who would have played that role.

As more men and women venture into the changing patterns of contemporary mate selection we see a diffusion of stereotypes. Although some women have traditionally been stereotyped as more liberal than men, research shows that they hold more conservative attitudes when it comes to moral traditionalism. However, when studied further we find a correlation among women with high number of births and lower education, reporting these higher levels of moral compliance (Stambor, 2005, p. 15). These figures suggest that when we look at the mate selection process, it is important to keep in mind exactly which social classes that are being studied when discussing the evolving dating patterns. A correlation of cause and effect is significant when studying dating patterns in the various socio-economic classes.

As we study which qualities men and women prefer in the mate selection process, we can't help but to refer to the stereotypes that have been identified with the sexes over the years. The media has capitalized in these stereotypes and created a million dollar industry based on the assumptions of what men and women want in relationships. Popular television networks like "MTV" and endless talk shows have become the "un-official" word on what people want these days. They provide a fictitious sense of important values and unrealistic expectations of what physical beauty can be. Popular stereotypes like men preferring physical attributes and females choosing intellectual qualities, give researchers the opportunity...
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