Press release

Sex, money, ambition and honesty- today's woman wants it all from her man

Friday 22 July 2011

By comparison older women prefer traditional qualities, according to a new study

New research shows that today’s woman wants it all when it comes to her man - demanding a high-earning, honest, ambitious and handsome partner with skills in and out of the bedroom.

In contrast, her mother’s generation has different ideas of the perfect man, settling for the more traditional values of kindness, reliability and companionship in her partner.

The ‘Real Relationships’ study, conducted by parenting website Netmums and Saga, surveyed almost 9,000 women aged 16-75* on what they look for in a long-term partner. Young women want their very own ‘Mr Big’ – a romantic (49%), ambitious (21%) and attractive (15%) man who knows his way around the bedroom (18%). However, what older women look for in a man is dramatically different. Women over 50 want a more old-fashioned man - reliable (41%), intelligent (29%), with a sense of humour (52%) – someone who will provide companionship (38%).

Three times fewer older women place emphasis on looks and money than younger women - more akin to Ben and Susan from ‘My Family’ than Big and Carrie from ‘Sex and the City’.

The results also reveal that modern women value honesty (66%) above all – which surprisingly isn’t as true for the older age group. Less than half of women (42%) over 50 feel it’s important that their man tells them the truth, preferring a kind word to an honest one.

Despite the differences in women’s wants, both generations agree on one – sexual chemistry is a must. Almost one in five women of all ages (18%) needs a man who makes them weak at the knees to keep them interested. The results also show that women in their 70s value sexual chemistry more than those in their 40s (18% compared with 15%).

And when it comes to fidelity, it seems that younger women want to have their cake and eat it, with nearly twice as many (18% compared with 10%) admitting to cheating on their partner. A similar number (19%) of the younger generation of women don’t expect monogamy from their man.

Siobhan Freegard, co-founder of Netmums, comments: “It’s interesting to see what each generation of women looks for in a man and how younger women really seem to want it all – looks, money, ambition and honesty whilst older women value the more traditional traits such as kindness, humour and reliability. The fact that the importance of sexual chemistry dips in your 30s and 40s suggests that women could be going through a temporary sexual midlife crisis, as they concentrate on their careers and raising a family. Perhaps the two generations should take a leaf out of each others’ books – that today's younger women should put more emphasis on the traditional and enduring qualities whilst the over 50s could maybe demand more open dialogue with their man.”

Emma Soames, Editor at Large, Saga Magazine, also comments: “The results provide some intriguing insights into real relationships across the generations. It’s reassuring to see that over 50, the desire for sexual chemistry returns, showing that women still value the thing that brought them together with their partner in the first place. It is surprising however that fewer place importance on honesty than their younger counterparts. Perhaps after many years in a relationship a sense of realism and pragmatism is more important than honesty to keep a relationship on track - that and a lower rate of infidelity and thus less suspicion of cheating in this age group.

-ENDS- was set up by mums Siobhan Freegard and Sally Russell in 2000. The website has proved to be a social networking phenomenon, connecting and supporting mums across the UK. The largest parenting website in the country, has over 1 million members.

This year Netmums launched the ‘Real Parenting Revolution’, which advocates a new approach to parenting, aims to shatter the illusion that ‘the perfect parent’ exists. Backed by psychologists, politicians and parenting experts, the site’s founders are advocating a return to the ‘good enough’ approach that was conceived by child psychologist Donald Winnicott in the 1950’s, calling on parents to kickstart an open dialogue with each other about the challenges of being a parent in 2011.

For further information, case studies and expert interviews, please contact Katreena Dare or Natalie Wheeler on 0207 440 9810 or e-mail

* women aged 16-50 were surveyed by Netmums, and women aged 50 – 75 were surveyed by Saga



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