a reasonably good figure, and is average to tall in height, and is
affectionate in disposition. The emphasis here is on physical ap-
pearance. However, only 10 per cent of the men insist that the girl
must be "pretty." Only about fifteen per cent insist that their wife
be a blonde, despite the glamorizing of the blonde, and thirty-three
per cent of the men say that they do not want blondes under any
circumstances. Even the plump girl has a chance. About seventeen
per cent of the men want a wife who is plump to solid.
"Looks" certainly are a factor in one's attractiveness to the oppo-
site sex, particularly with girls. But actually almost any girl can
appear attractive to men if she has only one or two really attractive
features, providing she is intelligent enough to capitalize on them.
She may be flat-chested or knock-kneed but the men scarcely notice
that because she designs herself so that her bad features are not
seen. The eye is directed to the good features, whether they be
lustrous hair or luminous eyes. Some of the most famous stars in
Hollywood are either knock-kneed, thick-ankled or big-footed. The
only really ugly girls in this world are the freaks, the crude girls,
the girls who appear sexless, and the girls who look unhealthy.
"Good looking" girls are the ones who make a good first impres-
sion, and have such attractive personalities that the impression
persists. There you have an important distinction. "Looks" are im-
portant in attracting the possible mate's attention. There is a psy-
chological factor involved. For reasons of prestige a man usually
wants to prove to his friends that he has picked a "looker" when he
shows of! his new girl friend. But once the attention is secured,
looks for either a man or girl become decidedly secondary con-
siderations. From then on a person stands or falls on his personality.
A man -can be an Adonis or a girl can be symmetrically perfect.
Yet they can bore you and you can't get them out of your sight fast
What is the normal physical appearance of a man and woman?
One physician has found that the average woman has a height of
Attracting the One You Want
about five feet four inches and weighs approximately 132 pounds.
For every inch of additional height she may add five pounds; for
every inch less of height she should subtract five. The man, on the
other hand, has an average height of about five feet seven inches,
or three inches higher than the girl. He should weigh about 142
pounds. For every inch of height more or less a man can add about
eight pounds, if he has his clothes on.
Some women want their men to be "tall, dark and handsome"
but statistics would seem to indicate that only about one man in
two hundred attains the height of six feet.
Sometimes young people develop terrible inferiority complexes
because of specific ugly features they have. Since a feeling of con-
fidence and poise is so important in winning a mate it might be
advisable for one with a bad nose, for example, to have a plastic
surgery operation. As everyone knows, plastic surgery made tre-
mendous strides in the recent war. A good plastic surgeon will
remake your nose for a price averaging about three hundred dollars.
The operation itself requires less than an hour, and you may be
out of circulation for only a couple of weeks. Such an operation
leaves no scars because it is performed through the nostrils rather
than from outside. Many other operations of this kind are possible:
operations that will eliminate scars, that will improve a bad chin,
that will give the lips a configuration, etc. The operation may be
worth while if it is the only way to remove a source of anxiety. In
these days of modern medical science, plastic surgery, orthodentistry,
dermatology, etc. almost any person can rid himself of really ab-
normal features. And once you have achieved fairly harmonious
features your personality is what counts.
It is significant that in defining a truly beautiful woman John
Powers, the model agent, listed these four things as being in the
top ten ingredients of beauty:
A radiant personality
Integrity of character
How to Pic\ a Mate
One Hollywood columnist wrote in his column the following
two sentences that should cause anyone to think: "Beauty is a drug
on the market. Personality can command any price."
Complete self-assurance (tempered by modesty of course) is
undoubtedly the most helpful characteristic anyone can have in
competing for mates. The person who has an inferiority complex
may have developed it because of physical features which prey on
his mind, or because of some inadequate behavior in the past. He
may have made poor grades in school or not have been able to
earn a letter in athletics. There are many ways to acquire self-
confidence. Here are some:
Starting a savings account
Going to the "right places"
Participating in amateur shows
Dressing as well as you can
Owning a good collection of books or classical recordi
Joining a fraternity or fraternal organization
Taking part in church activities
Buying property or organizing a business
Becoming a Scout Leader
But one of the best of all possible ways to rid yourself of an
inferiority complex and to develop self-confidence is to become
skillful in social activities that young people frequently enter into.
Learn to be expert at tennis or golf or Ping-pong or bridge or
canoeing, or swimming or bowling or skeet-shooting or gin rummy,
or saxaphone playing, or being an amateur magician. Nothing
builds up confidence faster than to possess a secret skill that interests
or amuses people of the opposite sex. Most important of all, learn
to be a skillful dancer. If you can float about a dance floor it instills
confidence in you, and admiration in your dancing partner. Be-
sides, you will enjoy yourself more. And a person who knows how
to enjoy himself is attractive to other people.
Is the One You Want the One You Need?
THE average young person considering his or her prospects of mar-
riage, we find, thinks only in terms of what he wants in a mate.
But actually anyone facing realistically the problem of selecting a
mate should realize that three things, not one, ought to be con-
sidered: 1. What you want. 2. What you need. 3. What you can get.
Perhaps the ideal in your mind of the mate you want is not only
something you can't get but also something you have no need for.
What you want may be unattainable in the community in which
you live. For example, if a girl would not marry a coal miner though
she lived in a small coal-mining community, she might either have
to modify her standards, move to a different community, or become
an old maid.
Ordinarily you might think that the kind of mate you might
want would be the kind you would need. But it often happens
that a person's desires are based on frivolous or impractical con-
siderations, or upon the desire merely to "marry into money."
During the past several years, students in Penn State's psychology
classes on preparation for marriage have been asked what amount
of money they would consider an absolute minimum on which they
would be willing to marry. The girls consistently specified more
than the men. The average for the boys is $2,450, and for the girls
$2,950. More than ten per cent of the girls have specified that they
will not marry until their groom has an income of more than five
thousand dollars. Obviously such girls are insisting on incomes
which are more than they need and almost certainly more than they
How to PicJ^ a Mate
Take the case of Miriam, who specified that her man must be
earning at least four thousand dollars a year before she will con-
sider marrying. She set the figure that high because she says she
knows nothing about cooking or managing a home so will have
to hire someone else to do that. This man she will be willing to
marry must be of "superior intelligence" (even though her intelli-
gence is barely average), he must be six feet tall, be dark and hand-
some, be a good dancer; he must have broad shoulders and a "strong
face." He must be a good Culbertson bridge player; he must smoke
a pipe; he must come from a "distinguished" family and must be
either a physician or lawyer. Finally, she wrote, he must be a man
who will put her on an altar and worship her.
Miriam has thought vaguely of children but thinks they should
be put off for at least five years so that she may follow a dancing
or theatrical career if something should develop. It is conceivable,
of course, that she can find such a man, but considering her back-
ground and talents we doubt that she could interest him in mar-
Often what we want in a mate is based upon our wants at the
moment rather than upon basic or long-range needs. A couple in
their early twenties may insist that each be a good dancer as one
of the main qualifications for marriage. They dance so much that
dancing looms large in their life. But ten years from now, when
they will probably dance only a few times a year, it may be an
unessential qualification while the ability to manage finances may
add to the total family income and help weather a serious depression.
Qualities that may make a boy or girl a wonderful date are not
necessarily the qualities that will make a wonderful mate. The two
can be profoundly different. A girl wants a date for a party or dance.
She wants a man who can dance, who will be admired as "good
looking," who will be a "good mixer," who may be a "catch," per-
haps a football star or a radio actor. While these may be qualities
needed for a date or dance, they probably will not be important
qualities she will need in a mate for happiness in marriage. Don't
confuse a "good date" with a "good mate," for what you want in a
date may be far removed from what you need in marriage.
Is the One You Want the One You Need?
Too many times people fall in love with glamorous traits in the
other. A girl "falls in love" with Bill because she loves his flattery
or his dancing or his car or his taste in clothes. They cast such a
halo effect that the girl gives little thought to the fact that Bill is
a chronic heavy drinker. If she could see that his drinking will
probably wreck any marriage he undertakes, she could spare her-
self much heartache.
Some people set their "mate goals" so high that they would rather
remain unmarried than marry anyone below these standards. Years
later they may be terribly disappointed and frustrated as a result.
In the summer marriage classes at Perm State, which are largely
made up of unmarried school teachers, many have confessed that
they could have married when younger but somehow the man
didn't seem quite good enough. Now, too old to hope to marry,
most of them wish they had been more practical in their middle
twenties and not have had to wait until the late thirties or futile
forties to see their error.
We know of young men today who would seem to be excellent
prospects for mates and they actually favor the idea of marrying
but we would be willing to predict that they will be bachelors.
They are too fussy. They find something in every girl they go with
that does not conform to their idea of an ideal mate.
How do we come by our ideals for mates? During adolescence
and childhood both boys and girls form in their mind some kind of
a "dream hero or heroine," a sort of "phantom lover." He or she is
a composite of all the qualifications they want their future mate to
have. No such paragon ever exists in real life and the mental image
does undergo some modifications as the individual grows older.
Often this ideal has the qualities of some of the people we
idolized in earlier years. Sometimes the qualities seem to be those
of a favorite movie star, or of a heroine of literature. Sometimes
they are inspired by qualities of an admired parent or older brother
or sister. If you were brought up in a home by an adored and deeply-
loved mother, your "phantasy ideal" may have almost all the good
qualities of your mother. But if you were brought up in a home
where you and your mother were in constant conflict, then you
How to Pic\ a Mate
may be interested in avoiding in a mate all the qualities you asso-
ciate in your mind with your own mother.
People who cling to their phantasy ideal after they are grown up
do so largely because they cannot distinguish between what they
want and what they need. They are convinced that their wants
and needs are identical. Their families and friends may try to show
them the difference but their immediate wants are all that they
Most of us who are married can look back and can see that the
girl or man we yearned to marry at twenty would not be the kind
of mate we need now. We thank Heaven that we did not marry
Then what are the things we need in a mate? There are certain
qualities that almost everyone would accept as desirable qualities
such as good health, sense of humor, fairness, dependability, unsel-
fishness, patience. And there are some traits that are so fundamental
that we will take them up in the next chapter under "Crucial Traits
for a Happy Marriage."
However, most all authorities are agreed that in considering
possible mates you should in general seek someone who is roughly
near your own age, who has about the same education that you
have, who comes from approximately the same social-economic
level that you do, and who is of the same nationality, race and
Intelligence is important only in a relative sense relative, that
is, to you. Feebleminded persons tend to marry feebleminded per-
sons. While geniuses cannot always marry geniuses, they do tend
to marry highly intelligent people. The average man marries a
woman who is slightly less intelligent than he is. That's why many
brilliant women never marry. They do not come in contact with
sufficiently brilliant men, or fail to disguise their brilliance in order
to win a man of somewhat less intelligence. College males tell us
that they want a girl for a wife who is "intelligent," but makes
them feel they are still more intelligent!
Another thing we must concede: some people have wants which
Is the One You Want the One You Need?
are so intense that they become needs. We have a letter from a
veteran, a young major. The girl he has long considered proposing
to has everything he wants except beauty. He has gone with her for
four years. He is thirty-one, she is twenty-seven. She is sweet, under-
standing, affectionate, is well educated and supporting herself. She
is a good cook and an excellent companion. She is neat and clean
and plain. But she is not pretty. He knows she loves him and he
thinks he loves her but every time he thinks of proposing he is held
back because she isn't attractive. Perhaps he should not marry this
girl if her lack of beauty is going to gnaw at him the rest of his
life. One alternative and we suggested it was that he suggest to
her somehow that she take a course with a "charm school." Another
thought we suggested was that most beauty comes from within and
that ten years from now this girl would probably have a more
appealing face than many of the so-called beauties of her own age
In considering what you need in a mate it might be helpful to
consider what are the important things to your happiness in life.
A marriage will be good for you only if it helps you satisfy these
basic needs. These needs after you have achieved subsistence
through food, shelter and clothing are primarily psychological.
In considering whether any particular person would be a good
mate for you, ask yourself these seven questions, based on the psy-
chological needs you will want to satisfy:
WILL THIS MATE BRING You SOCIAL APPROVAL? You will want a
mate that other people will like, that other people will admire and
respect. You thus need a mate who is adept at getting along with
other people. Will your friends like him and will the mate's friends
like you? Will your parents think approvingly of the marriage?
CAN THIS MATE OFFER You SECURITY ? This desire for security is a
very fundamental one, especially with girls. It is based upon the
bodily need for food, shelter and clothing but is much more com-
plex. Will this mate be kind and considerate and give you a feeling
of confidence and stability? Will this mate refrain from gambling,
How to Pick^ a Mate
drinking and other things that might imperil the security of your
future home and children? In short, will this mate bring you a
feeling that you have an anchor that will keep you steady?
WILL THIS MATE HELP You GET AHEAD? This involves the desire
for mastery, which is a universal human motive, particularly with
men. It produces the urge to succeed, to excel, to overcome obstacles,
to keep on fighting, to master situations. It is this desire for mastery
that makes a husband take a correspondence course which may
lead to a job promotion. The girl wants a mate who will be
ambitious and the man needs a wife who will show initiative, who
will read books on how to prepare tasty dishes and how to rear
children according to the best principles of child care, -and who
will not become easily discouraged or frustrated.
WILL THIS MATE EMBARRASS You BY NONCONFORMITY? The man
wants a wife who will not act unbecomingly in public, who knows
how to say and do the right thing when other people are present,
who will conform to the customs that will cause the neighbors to
think well of her. The girl wants a man who is not discourteous or
sloppy, who will get to work at the time he is supposed to report,
who will not embarrass her in public by doing things that will
make them criticized by others.
WILL THIS MATE BE AFFECTIONATE WITH You ? We. all want to be
appreciated, to be approved by our own mate, to be given spon-
taneous tokens of affection, to be told that we are loved. It is tied
up with our desire for praise and recognition. The man wants his
wife to cherish him, to build him up, to show him in many little
ways that she loves him, that she is close to him, and that she needs
him. And the wife, perhaps to an even greater degree, needs to feel
she is important to her husband, that he loves her and shows that
love in many little ways.
WILL THIS MATE SATISFY You SEXUALLY? There are many ways
you can detect before marriage whether such satisfaction can be
achieved with this particular mate. Beware a person who shows a
neurotic tendency, unconventional behavior, a craving for excite-
Is the One You Want the One You Need?
ment, an urge to be constantly on the go. Beware of both the prudes
and of persons who seem preoccupied with sex. Beware of indica-
tions of jealousy and possessiveness. These symptoms suggest that
this person may not be able to find sexual satisfaction in marriage
nor bring it to you.
FINALLY, CAN THIS MATE TALK THINGS OVER WITH You? This
ability, in our opinion, is one of the biggest single values in mar-
riage. Beware of suspiciousness, of demands for explanation, of re-
sentment, of continual criticism of others. These things suggest you
may be entangled with a nagger and a complainer who will con-
stantly try to improve you stead of dealing with you as a partner.
You will find it difficult to talk to such a person, to discuss your
mutual problems. Being able to talk things over with another person
without restraint which psychologists call mutual psychotherapy
is probably one of the greatest things you can get out of marriage.
If a couple have confidence in each other, can confide their hopes
and their ambitions, can encourage and stimulate each other when
frustrated, then such a couple can go far in satisfying the basic
needs in their lives.
Crucial Traits for a Happy Marriage
THUS far we have talked about what young people think they want
in their mates and about the basic needs, which a good mate should
fill. But we still haven't discussed the big question. What are the
actual traits you should have and your mate should have if you are
to achieve happiness in marriage? What makes a marriage happy
A few years ago no reliable answer was available. But within the
past few years a great deal of illuminating data has been turned up
by investigators as a result of an upsurge of scientific interest in
marriage. This interest was aroused by the frightening rise in
marital bankruptcy as shown by the divorce trend.
What are the characteristics actually found in happily married
mates and unhappily married mates?
Terman delved into the lives of 792 married couples and came out
with these conclusions about the qualities that usually go with both
kinds of mates:
HAPPY WIVES UNHAPPY WIVES
Have kindly attitude toward others Often have feelings of inferiority
Like to help underdogs Tend to be defensive or aggressive
Tend to be conventional Easily annoyed, irritated
Are cooperative Often join clubs only to get an of-
Strong urge to save money fice or recognition in them
Are optimistic about life Extreme in their views
Do not take offense easily More likely to be neurotic
Crucial Traits for a Happy Marriage
Less interested in social activities
such as dances
Like to teach children
Put less importance on clothes
Are systematic homemakers
Do less daydreaming
Now how about the husbands? Here is what Terman found
Lose tempers easily
Impressed by thrilling situations
Seek spectacular activities
Want to be on the move
Show little interest in housework
Have greater stability
Get along well with business
Are somewhat extroverted
Are more conservative in attitudes
Willing to take initiative
Take responsibility easily
Do not get rattled easily
Often have feelings of inferiority
Compensate by browbeating wife
More radical about sex morality
Inclined to be moody
Are more argumentative
Like recreations that take them
away from home
Apt to be careless about money
Another approach Terman made was to find out what husbands and
wives complain about most in their mates. He found that unhappily
married couples were overflowing with complaints while happily mar-
ried couples voiced few criticisms. Here are the complaints he heard
Wife's feelings hurt too easily
Wife too critical
Trouble with in-laws
Wife nervous or emotional
Income managed poorly
He has no "freedom"
Wife has poor taste in amusements
Wife is a nagger
Insufficient income from husband
Impatience of husband
Husband's poor management of
His tendency to be critical
His preferences in amusements
His failure to talk things over
His failure to show affection
When Terman had accumulated all of his findings, he devised
How to Pic\ a Mate
a "Prediction of Marriage Happiness Scale" by means of which an
unmarried person could determine his own chances of finding
happiness in marriage. This has nothing to do with the other person
involved but simply tests your own capability of becoming a good
mate for someone. He found what we have already indicated that
your background largely predetermines your ability to be a success-
ful mate. Of the factors he found most significant in predicting
happiness in marriage, ten stand out as most essential to success.
1. Are your parents happily married?
2. Did you have a happy childhood?
3. Were you free from conflict with your mother?
4. Was your childhood discipline firm but not harsh?
5. Did you have a strong attachment to your mother?
6. Did you have a strong attachment to your father?
7. Were you free from conflict with your father ?
8. Were your parents frank with you about sex?
9. Were you punished infrequently and mildly?
10. Is your attitude toward sex free from disgust or aversion?
Terman says that any person who has all ten in his favor is a
considerably better than average marriage risk. He gives emphasis
to this by saying that any one of the ten factors seems to be more
important to marriage happiness than does virginity of the indi-
vidual at the time of marriage.
At Penn State, where the first all-college marriage counseling serv-
ice in America was founded, an adaptation of Dr. Terman's predic-
tion scale is used, by special permission of Dr. Terman, along with
the Guilford-Martin Personnel Inventory I and other tests. But
the main device the Penn State clinic uses in building an over-all