Romance Report reveals cultural influences affect dating customs

By Danielle Novy U-WIRE

LUBBOCK, Texas – Cupid would be well advised to consult his map before he aims his next arrow.

According to a recent study, international borders do more than just separate countries; they dually divide dating tendencies and determine each nation’s laws of attraction. Harlequin Enterprises’ 2006 Romance Report surveyed both men and women in 16 countries across the globe to determine how each culture influences dating.

Michelle Renaud, an official in the public relations department of Harlequin Enterprises, said the study polled 2,000 individuals from North America in addition to the pool of 1,000 international participants.

The age-old battle of beauty versus brains was addressed, with Australians ranking intelligence as a low-priority. According to the survey, only 10 percent of Australian women and almost no Australian men ranked identified intelligence as their biggest turn-on, according to the report.

Meanwhile, in Portugal, roughly 40 percent of the men polled placed more importance on smarts than looks in a potential mate. Still, the majority of men across the globe would rather date someone physically beautiful than the owner of a beautiful mind.

Conversely, according to the report, women of the world value a keen a sense of humor with a sharp brain over good looks when it comes to selecting a partner.

About 70 percent of German women and 60 percent of Mexican women named a sense of humor as the most attractive quality in the opposite sex during an initial encounter.

Confidence and financial stability also were found to be universally attractive to both genders, especially if it is attracted to a heavy wallet. Nearly 70 percent of Hispanic men responded that the most attractive feature in a female during an initial encounter is confidence, while 30 percent of women from the U.K. and Japan tagged a confident male as “very attractive.”

Meanwhile, 40 percent of Portuguese men and 30 percent of women labeled a financial insecurity as one of their primary turn-offs in a potential partner.

Even the places men and women look for love varies from country to country.

According to the report, 90 percent of Japanese women rely on their friends to meet a match, while none of the Japanese men or women polled thought that online dating was a good way to meet people.

Monica Belsito, a public relations representative for Harlequin’s publicity firm, said she believes such statistics can be attributed to the traditional culture that many Japanese people embrace.

“The Asian culture is much reserved,” she said. “Whereas people from countries globally known as party destinations tend to meet people in bars and clubs.”

Roughly 40 percent of French men head to a bar or club when they are looking to meet someone special, while only 10 percent of French women employ the same technique, according to the study.

In Portugal, however, adults are putting their hands to work on a keyboard to search for “the one.” About 50 percent of Portuguese women and 40 percent of Portuguese men believe online dating is the best route to meeting someone new.

The complete survey is available online at