The Ass-Kicking Alpha Female
Examples: Michonne: The Walking Dead, Daenerys - Game of Thrones, Maeve Millay - Westworld, and Helena Orphan Black. Defining Characteristics: She takes no prisoners and suffers no fools. The odds are against her, but she'll rise from the ashes anyway and destroy anyone who gets in her way. Men who cross her may be burned alive, stabbed, have their fingers snapped for sport, or have their lower jaws and arms removed. Accessories include scalpels, arrows, Japanese swords, and dragons. What the Attraction Means: In your workplace you're probably giving the orders, not taking them. There's a link between man who openly like being dominated by, say, a vengeful goddess with a dragon posse, and high social status, according to German research. It's called disinhibition, which means the more powerful you are in your daily life, the less inhibited you feel. Biological anthropologist Helen Fisher, Ph.D., says men who like powerful women "are looking for someone who's well educated, financially independent, and intellectually gifted." In other words, a fearless, assertive woman who won't disembowel you if you ross her.
Examples: Claire Underwood House of Cards, Darlene - Mr. Robot, and Dana Scully - The X Files. Defining Characteristics: She's a modern-day Lady Macbeth. She and her man don't always agree, but they always have each other's back. They could be trying to expose a nefarious conspiracy or creating one of their own. They have more sexual tension than actual intimacy, but they bond over whatever plot they're hatching. She may have extraterrestrial DNA, but that's nobody's business but hers and her mate's. What the Attraction Means: The one thing you value in a partner more than anything else is trust. Your idea of the perfect woman is somebody who's in this with you, says psychotherapist Ian Kerner, Ph.D., author of She Comes First. "It's not that you want a literal partner in crime," he says. "They're this perfect fantasy of a securely attached egalitarian relationship." Wanting your own Claire Underwood may just mean you want someone who chooses you first. If there's a secret to be shared, she'll tell you first, before telling her friends or family. "In this kind of relationship," Kerner says, "the height of intimacy is having an inside joke."
The Train Wreck
Examples: Selina Meyer - Weep, Abbi and Ilana - Broad City, Amy Schumer - Inside Amy Schumer, Every character on Girls. Defining Characteristics: She can't hold down a job, drinks heavily, and curses like a sailor. Interests include drugs, ER visits, and having regrettable sex. Even in a position of authority, she'll manage to screw up, whether it's blaming Chinese hackers for a tweet or using a colorful analogy like, "That's like trying to use a croissant as a dildo." She's not a girl you bring home to Mom, but she might need saving by the right guy. What the Attraction Means: You love spontaneity, especially when you're not the instigator. "Everything about her is sexy and dramatic and unpredictable, and you're just along for the ride," says Chapman University psychologist David Frederick, Ph.D., who researches long-term relationships. "Some men see the train wreck as a damsel in distress, and they want to come to the rescue," he says. "It allows you to be the savior of your own story." A downside: "Men will stay in a bad marriage a long time if they feel needed," Fisher says. "It plays right into one of their basic primordial needs."
The Long-Suffering Caretaker
Examples: Marge Simpson - The Simpsons, Carmela Soprano - The Sopranos, Skyler White - Breaking Bad, and Any wife in any Kevin James sitcom. Defining Characteristics: No matter how badly her man behaves, she'll persevere with a smile and clean up the mess. He's a mob boss who works out of a strip club? No problem. He's been secretly cooking meth to pay the bills? Fine. She may protest or even threaten to leave him especially if a felony is involved but she'll never follow through because only she understands that he's a big, sweet, harmless goofball on the inside. What the Attraction Means: You're not a fan of relationship conflict. In fact, your idea of the perfect woman is somebody who will acquiesce to pretty much anything. If your early bond with your mother was weak, you might avoid conflict and struggle to deal with stress, says Jessica Salvatore, Ph. D., a psychology professor at Virginia Commonwealth University. "Picking a romantic partner who never complains makes it easier," she says. But Michael Bennet, M.D., a Boston psychiatrist and the co-author of F*ck Love, warns that such a caretaker tends to become focused on the neediest family member, and "you'll be left out in the cold."
The Sexy NerdExamples: Liz Lemon - 30 Rock, Abby Sciuto - NCIS, Pam Beesly - The Office, and Jess Day - New Girl. Defining Characteristics: She's quirky, neurotic, awkward, smarter than everyone around her, and prone to acts of weirdness. In a word, "adorkable." When her librarian glasses come off, she doesn't turn sexy she puts on pajamas and eats soft pretzels while binge watching Doctor Who. She's not afraid to five herself a high-five, but she's insecure about everything else. You may be the only two people in the universe who appreciate each other. What the Attraction Means: You might think you're an oddball, but fancying a woman who wears a Slanket un-ironically and has a deep knowledge of Star Warstrivia isn't unique. You're actually in the majority: More men than women tend to be attracted to nonconformists, say researchers from the University of Queensland. Kerner suspects that we like cute nerds because of their vulnerability. Liz Lemon is smart but not threatening. "She seems more approachable," Kerner says. On the other hand, a 2015 study found that while men may prefer brainy women from afar, in reality they shy away from a partner who can outsmart them.