What should matter when choosing between two eligible mates?

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“Are you tall, dark, handsome, God-fearing, financially stable, mature, and ready for a serious relationship?” A ‘Yes’ answer to this question is what many women looking for a serious relationship want. These attributes are taken so seriously that there are women who would never date a man shorter than them, regardless of how financially stable, family-oriented, or gentlemanly he may be.

Granted, physical attributes are a major factor when choosing a suitable partner. According to psychologist Victor Kipkosgei, physical attributes are the main catalyst for physical attractiveness. “Physical attributes lead to physical attractiveness. A well standing gentleman is more likely to evoke attractiveness than one who isn’t well endowed physically,” he says. “This physical attractiveness is what drives the sexual rush and the subconscious genes-driven desire for sexual reproduction.” However, spotting and choosing the right man goes beyond their attractiveness and potential for good genes.

According to Dr. Chris Hart, a psychologist based in Nairobi, women tend to be attracted to a man who possesses a blend of hard and soft. “This is the kind of man likely to have an air of authority that won’t tolerate disrespect, a man who’s gracious, well-groomed, never arrogant but seemingly very intimidating,” he says. “He will be in control of his life, will not be in uncontrolled debts, and will accept his faults.” This means that the man must also have a job. If he is in between jobs, there must be a demonstrable willingness to get another job or a justifiable reason for his joblessness. There is a man who may have lost his job due to circumstances beyond his control such as COVID-19. And there is also that man who has been jobless because he does not want to work. “Checking whether a man has a job or not will not make you materialistic. It implies that you take the traditional role of the man being the breadwinner seriously. And whether or not you’ll be earning more, you want someone who can put bread, not his feet, on the table!” says Kipkosgei.

Although many women will consider going for men with different behavioural traits from theirs, marriages and relationships where opposites attract don’t last very long. “For instance, while it is possible for differences to spice up your relationship, having similarity in your core values is fundamental,” says Karl Pillemer, the author of 30 Lessons for Loving. For example, if you are a free spender, marry someone who understands and demonstrates that. On the other hand, if you’re frugal, marry someone who is okay with that. But a relationship where you’re frugal, believe in the principles of saving for a rainy day, while he subscribes to the ‘You Live Only Once’ notion, financial conflicts will be inevitable. According to Dr. Hart, couples argue more often and more aggressively over finances than any other item including sex in the relationship. The alignment of your values and perceptions in life is what will determine how far your relationship or marriage will go.

According to Karl, getting the right alignment will require you to explore your partner’s values and background way before you commit to the relationship. “Marriages that are homogenous in terms of economic background, religion and closeness in age are the most stable and tend to be happier,” he says. This implies that when faced with two choices, the better selection will be the one whose background and values you resonate with.

Choosing between two men who are nearly, equally appealing may not be easy. At face value, you will subconsciously sway towards the one who has that bad boy appeal of courage, charm, and sweet talk. But you must see beyond the sweet talk, especially in the first few months. According to Dr. Hart, a man who immediately begins to sweet-talk you or who starts talking about marriage within weeks will never be truly yours despite being tall, dark, handsome, or financially stable. Take caution if you have already expressed marriage as your ultimate takeaway from dating. “There is a high likelihood that marriage talk will be used as bait if he starts talking about it too soon, especially after you have expressed that you’ll only be in a relationship that leads to marriage,” cautions psychologist and relationships counselor Beth Ndung’u. Also, if he is too guarded about his personal freedom, he may not be ready for marriage no matter how spirited he talks about it. According to psychologist Kenneth Oduor, one of the modern man’s main worry is losing his personal freedom. “The modern single man is not in a rush to settle down. He does not want to be answerable to anyone. He loves his life the way it is and does not want to assume a responsibility that might prove too cumbersome in the future,” says Oduor.

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