Academic journal article The Journal of Men's Studies

"I Want a Man": Patterns of Attraction in All-Male Personal Ads

Academic journal article The Journal of Men's Studies

"I Want a Man": Patterns of Attraction in All-Male Personal Ads

Article excerpt

Neither men nor women prefer all the same qualities in a prospective partner equally. Some individuals are preferred to others on the basis of a multitude of characteristics. Although studies have been done on mate selection, there remain many gaps in our understandings of characteristics that draw both men and women to a potential partner (Thiessen & Gress, 1980). Additionally, there is a lack of understandings of issues of sexual attraction across contexts and cultural locations. The purpose of this research is to advance our understandings of male-male sexual attraction in a culturally, ethnically, and racially diverse sample of Canadian men.

Many theories have been proposed regarding the subject and process of mate selection, among both men and women, and for individuals attracted to same, opposite, or both sexes. Perhaps primary among these theoretical positions is the evolutionary work of Charles Darwin (1871). Among his contributions, Darwin introduced two closely related concepts of sexual selection: intrasexual selection and intersexual selection. The first is based on the idea that members of one sex will compete with one another for members of the opposite sex. The second, intersexual selection, is the tendency of members of one sex to have specific preferences when choosing a mate. Darwin considered intersexual selection to be "female choice" based on observations of females in the animal kingdom as more discriminatory and selective in choosing a mate.

Comparing the two sexes, men are more likely than women to be interested in casual liaisons (Clark & Hatfield, 1989). Women generally have a greater concern for raising a family and less interest in casual liaisons.


The methods which men and women use to meet or choose a mate, however, are relatively similar. Personal advertisements are one way in which individuals can search for a desirable mate. Despite numerous opportunities to meet people at work, school, gyms, bars, etc., there are still those who prefer the anonymous method of personal ads. Personal advertisements offer a unique way to seek out prospective romantic interests. They differ from traditional courtship methods in that two people are attempting to establish an intimate or casual dating relationship with someone they know on a limited basis. When using personal advertisements as a means of dating, the two people have usually conversed briefly via letters or the telephone. In traditional dating methods the two individuals have usually met before their first date. Personal advertisements allow the advertiser to set forth specific criteria they are seeking. Also, it allows the advertisers to present themselves in the best possible way (Gonzales & Meyers, 1993). By conducting their search on paper, online, or via telephone sources, advertisers can stress the qualities that are most valued by them. By addressing specific qualities the advertiser is more likely to receive responses that closely match their interests. One reason that personal advertisements may be more appealing to some individuals is the minimal time that must be invested. When meeting in person, people must invest considerable time in conversation to decide if they have common interests or goals. Personal advertisements take a considerable amount of time away from the preliminaries of dating, such as discovering what two people have in common. Personal advertisements have, therefore, become an interesting source of information about interpersonal attraction, self-presentation strategies, relationship goals, desirable inner qualities, and gender stereotypes (Gonzales & Meyers, 1993).

The study of personal advertisements is one of the only areas in which researchers can study mate selection without using direct interviewing methods, observation in bars, or surveys (see Goode, 1996a, 1996b). However, there is one major drawback to using personal ads as a method of studying interpersonal attraction: personal ads represent a minority, atypical, and slightly deviant mode of courtship (Rajecki, Bledsoe, & Rasmussen, 1991). …

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