The Surprising Quality Most Americans Find Attractive When Dating

When it comes to dating, most people have a list of qualities they want most in a partner, and while this list will vary from individual to individual, there are certain characteristics almost all of us value, including honesty, sense of humor, dependability, compassion, and, of course, physical/sexual attraction. Turns out, though, there’s a surprising trait that most Americans find attractive, maybe without even realizing it: frugality.

According to a recent survey by Slickdeals, a crowdsourced shopping platform, 92 percent of Americans consider frugality an attractive quality in a romantic partner. To measure how certain money-saving behaviors might be perceived when dating, they polled 2,000 Americans on everything from tipping servers to using coupons to choosing to stay home instead of going out, and they found habits that may have once come off as cheap are now much acceptable. In fact, 79 percent of respondents agreed that there is nothing wrong with using a coupon to pay for a first date.

“Making smart purchase decisions and looking for deals or coupons is becoming mainstream – it’s what savvy consumers do because they are financially wise,” Slickdeals CEO Josh Meyers said in a statement, adding, “When it comes to consumer attitudes, there is a fine line between frugal and cheap, and we wanted to test those boundaries through this survey… It’s great to see that expressing smart consumerism is no longer considered taboo.”

Understanding the difference between frugal and cheap is key here. People who are frugal recognize value, not only in money but also in convenience and time, and prioritize spending as a result. Whereas cheap people are concerned with getting the lowest cost no matter the sacrifice or cost to others. Not leaving a tip regardless of service and calculating a group bill down to the penny were some of the habits respondents considered the most “cheap” when dating.

Cheap habits like these are often turnoffs, because they can reflect more significant issues in a relationship. “When you’re dating, you’re trying to put your best foot forward, and splitting the bill to the last penny, for example, shows a stinginess that may cause a potential partner to think you may be emotionally withholding generally in life and in bed,” explains Sari Eckler Cooper, LSWR-R, an AASECT certified sex therapist and founder of the Center for Love and Sex. Such stinginess is often also a sign that you aren’t willing to sacrifice or see the good in situations.

Frugality, on the other hand, shows responsibility. “The folks I see who are attracted to someone who is cautious about how much they spend, remark that they show self-control, a vision for a different type of future, and/or the ability to plan long-term for a specific goal,” says Cooper. Money is a major part of a relationship, so it makes sense that wise financial decisions are appealing when you’re imagining your life with someone. Of those surveyed, 60 percent of people admitted to having a previous partner who was reckless with money, which made them seek out a more financially responsible S.O.

Plus, Cooper says, a little frugality doesn’t mean less fun. Think about it: “If someone carefully plans ahead and finds options of things to do on a date that aren’t expensive, like outdoor movies in the park, discount sites for tickets to plays, or a reservation at a modest restaurant that actually serves delicious food at reasonable prices, they show clarity, creativity, and communication skills. — three of five qualities needed for the empowerment programs I created known as Sex Esteem Summits.” Check, check, check!