This Is the Most Attractive Trait in a Partner, New Study Says

A new survey found a surprising quality rounding out the top three on the priority list.

Sure, conventional good looks and a boot-camp body can be mighty useful tools when it comes to the dating game. But outward appearance is far from the only characteristic that attracts people to a mate—and keeps them attracted. In fact, the top priorities when it comes to romantic relationships have nothing to do with looks at all, according to respondents of a new survey of Americans in relationships. You might even be surprised to learn what qualities round out the top three spots on the list. Read on to learn what traits people say win their attraction most of all.

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Humor and intelligence are tied as the top most attractive traits.

senior couple
Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock

The new study, conducted by OnePoll on behalf of the nonprofit Life Happens insurance, polled 2,000 Americans in relationships to find out what they think are the most attractive traits in a partner. Nearly half of the respondents (44 percent) cited a sense of humor and intelligence at the top of the list. Who doesn't want someone who can tell a smart joke?

RELATED: 37 Percent of People Keep This a Secret From Their Partner, Study Shows.

Financial security comes in third on the priority list, according to the data.

couple paying their home bills over a computer. Focus is on woman.

If the top two priorities don't seem too surprising, the third one down the list just might: Nearly as many respondents (42 percent) cited financial security as a key quality for attraction.

Further, eight in 10 respondents agreed it's now more socially acceptable for women to earn more than their male partners, and 77 percent said it's no longer important for a relationship to have a breadwinner.

And two-thirds of respondents, 66 percent, said they're comfortable bringing up finances with their partner. But interestingly, those same people said they would feel uneasy if their partner turned the tables and brought up those same topics in conversation.

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It takes people an average of nine months to say "I love you" to a partner.

Older couple walking in snow

The survey also revealed just how long it takes people to get comfortable with talking about various weighty topics with their partner—and the results here might surprise you, too. 

For instance, respondents reported needing five months to feel comfortable talking about their salary and overall financial status as a couple. But conversations around money are actually far easier for many than saying "I love you," survey respondents said. Respondents took an average of nine months to say those three little words.  

Most people are ready to discuss marriage within the first year of the right relationship.

Man with engagement ring proposing marriage to girlfriend in new house, they are kissing with smile

While the study revealed that it takes people far longer to say "I love you" than to talk about the dicey topic of finances, many of the survey respondents said they knew quickly, or expect to know quickly, exactly what they want out of a relationship. A full 70 percent said they discussed or plan to discuss getting married with their partner less than a year into a relationship.

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Words of affirmation are the most common love language among Americans in relationships.

happy elderly couple gazing at sunset, healthy sex after 40

As well, the survey asked respondents to specify their self-identified love languages. It found that material gifts were less important to people than heartfelt conversations: Respondents reported "words of affirmation" as the top love language when showing how they feel (34 percent), as well as receiving love from a partner (40 percent). Men were also more likely to prefer receiving love through words of affirmation than were women (46 percent versus 36 percent)."

Quality time came in next on the list as a way people choose to show their love (27 percent), and gifts came in after that at 17 percent. (Something to think about before you hit the stores for Valentine's Day gift shopping!)

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Alesandra Dubin
Alesandra Dubin is a lifestyle editor and writer based in Los Angeles. Read more
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