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Summary

The most attractive trait in a potential partner, according to science, is generative drive, a quality that propels individuals to create, grow, and evolve for the betterment of themselves and the world around them.

Abstract

The article discusses the concept of generative drive, which is an inner focus that drives individuals to create, grow, and evolve for themselves and the world around them. The author shares their personal experience of looking for this quality in a potential partner during their dating period. The article explains how generative drive is not just ambition or motivation, but a deep-seated desire to make a meaningful impact and leave a positive mark on the world. The author emphasizes the attractiveness of this quality, as it aligns with our innate desire for growth and progress, reflects a person's values and priorities, and creates a dynamic of mutual encouragement and support. However, the article also acknowledges that like any quality, generative drive is not without its challenges, such as feelings of inadequacy or competition during rough patches. The article concludes by recommending the Huberman Lab podcast for further understanding of this concept.

Bullet points

  • The author was looking for a potential partner who moved through life in the same way as them, appreciating life and its experience for the experience alone.
  • The author stumbled upon the concept of generative drive, which is an inner focus that propels individuals to create, grow, and evolve not just for themselves, but for the world around them.
  • Generative drive is more than just ambition or motivation; it's a deep-seated desire to make a meaningful impact and leave a positive mark on the world.
  • Generative drive is attractive because it aligns with our innate desire for growth and progress, reflects a person's values and priorities, and creates a dynamic of mutual encouragement and support.
  • However, generative drive can also lead to feelings of inadequacy or competition during rough patches.
  • The author recommends the Huberman Lab podcast for further understanding of this concept.

Relationships/Dating

The Single Most Attractive Trait in a Potential Partner (Science Says So)

There’s good news.

Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

When I was in my ‘aggressively dating’ period a year or so ago, I struggled with the prompts provided in the dating apps. Sure, it’s useful to know if someone has pets, is into country music, and likes pineapple on a pizza, but none of this helps to understand a person’s energy.

First dates are pretty useful for this, though, so I went on quite a few of these.

As anyone who has dabbled in dating will tell you, a script of sorts develops after a while. You find yourself saying the same things, describing yourself in the same way, and asking similar questions. It’s a bit of a process, really, but so it should be. Our time and energy are important, so it’s good to be discerning about who we spend them on.

After a few months of dating, I found myself describing what I was looking for in a potential partner in an interesting way. It made complete sense to me when I said it, although I’m not sure it always landed with my date.

“I want someone who moves through life in the same way as me”

This captured it all. It was ambiguous and hard to define beyond this statement, but it’s what I wanted. I wanted someone who woke up in the morning and similarly saw the world to me. Who appreciates life and its experience for the experience alone. Who is motivated and driven by a sense of genuine and healthy fulfillment, rather than by fast fun? Who wasn’t complacent, or believed life happened to them.

This energetic quality was number one on my list of shiny green flags, but honestly I thought it was just a collection of qualities that created a pretty tall order for a potential partner.

Fast forward to this year, and I stumbled across a podcast from the Huberman Lab with Dr Paul Conti. Among a few other key concepts, imagine my surprise and delight when this episode does a huge deep dive on these exact energetic qualities. Not only are they all discussed, but they’re wrapped up under one, overarching quality.

“This is it!” I declared out loud on my morning walk. This is the thing.

The one thing

It’s called generative drive. It’s the inner focus that propels individuals to create, grow and evolve not just for themselves, but for the world around them. This drive is like a beacon drawing others in with its promise of a life filled with purpose, growth, and shared achievement.

But the generative drive is more than just ambition or motivation. It’s a deep-seated desire to make a meaningful impact, to leave a positive mark on the world, and to constantly strive for improvement. And when someone possesses this quality, it’s palpable in everything they do.

Imagine this: you’re on a date, and your potential partner starts talking about their latest project or a hobby they are into. Their eyes light up, they’re practically bouncing in their seat, and you can’t help but get caught up in their excitement even though you have previously had zero interest in fly fishing.

That’s generative drive in action, and it’s seriously magnetic.

One of the reasons generative drive is so attractive is that it aligns with our innate desire for growth and progress. As social creatures, we are drawn to those who can help us become the best versions of ourselves. A partner who is driven by a compelling energy to make a genuine, positive, and healthy difference, both to themselves and to the world around them? Hot as shit.

Generative drive is also a reflection of a person’s values and priorities. It speaks to their character, showing they are not content with mediocrity. This is incredibly attractive, as it demonstrates a strong sense of self-awareness and a commitment to personal growth. Also hot as shit.

It also creates a very cool dynamic of mutual encouragement and support and can be a powerful force for building a shared future. There’s something infectious about being around someone who’s always striving for more. Couples who share this quality are more likely to set and achieve ambitious goals together, whether it’s starting a business, raising a family, or making a difference in their community. They motivate each other to aim higher and never settle for anything less than awesome. This kind of support contributes enormously to emotional safety. Another big tick from me.

So, what’s the catch?

Of course, like any quality, the generative drive is not without its challenges. If one of you is going through a rough patch and feeling heavy, unmotivated, or depressed (which, by the way, are feelings that don’t discriminate and can impact anyone, high generative drive or not), then it can lead to feelings of inadequacy or competition.

This is where the intrinsic nature of generative drive is so important — it’s about striving for good for self and others. This means meeting your partner where they’re at, and knowing when to shelve the ambition for a bit and bunker down with your love until the storm passes. Having your own personal cheerleader is great in many scenarios, but it would get super annoying to have someone telling you to ‘goooooo team!’ when all you need is a day on the couch under a blanket to recalibrate.

The good news is, as long as your communication and understanding of each other is strong, this one is pretty easy to overcome.

It was really validating for me to have my ‘move through the world in the same way as me’ quality explained by science. I knew I was onto something! If you’re interested, check out the episode here.

Now, who do I contact at Hinge to have a ‘strong generative drive’ included on the list of personal qualities for our profiles?

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