What characteristics do people prefer in potential mates? Previous studies have explored this question, discovering that preferred characteristics vary by people's sex and sexual strategy, but have implied that these preferences remain constant across the lifespan. We suggest, however, that systematic variation exists in individuals' mate preferences across the lifespan, as they shift their investments from mating toward parenting. We suggest that the characteristics of a potential mate can be viewed as affordances that assist or hinder an individual in achieving certain fundamental goals.
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