Sense of humor: I think this is actually one of the least helpful things to put on a dating application, because no one is ever going to say, "I would actually prefer to go out with some humorless bastard." We all want someone with "a sense of humor." The only problem is, there are many kinds of humor, and we all find different things funny. So what we're really saying is, "I want someone who laughs at the same things I do." And y'all know my sense of humor--I guess it ranges from pretty dry to completely silly, but I tend to be turned off by anything really mean (certainly, anything that's meaner than it is funny) and anything really gross. And while I have been known to make some really dirty jokes, I tend to go for subtlety--there's a spit-or-swallow joke in "Titanic in Fifteen Minutes" that I'm not sure whether people got, since I wasn't able to get immediate feedback like with the online parodies. And there's actually a line in "Twilight in Fifteen Minutes" that I'm surprised didn't send people screaming (well, it did with a couple of people who caught it). But if you like gross-out comedies to the exclusion of everything else... you and I are probably not going to get along very well.
That said? I'm not looking for someone to make me laugh. That actually kind of bothers me, when people at parties kind of flop around like asphyxiating fish, desperate to get people to laugh at their jokes. I actually laugh in response to pretty much everything--it's my default reaction, whether I'm genuinely amused or kind of horrified or completely shocked (which gets me in trouble sometimes). I'd rather be laughing because I'm having a good time with you than because you tried to put on a show for me. I don't need you to "impress" me--and maybe I've gotten that from people (in online contexts) because I write the Fifteen Minutes things and people think that's what I want? I don't, really. I just want you to be yourself and have fun.
Interests: Actually, you know what? I don't want someone to have the exact same interests as me. I mean, it will help a lot if you love movies and/or books. But I want someone who respects my interests and has at least a few in common with me and can say, "I don't really get why you like stupidcrackpop music, but I love that you get so into it," even as I'd really like someone to have interests that I don't have... yet. I'd like someone who could either teach me new things or who I could learn new things with--I'd really like someone who could teach me to play the guitar, for example.
That said, I don't want someone to shove some new interest down my throat. If I'm not interested in your favorite comic or video game, that's okay, you know? I'm more than happy for you to have something you can go off and do, even with other people, while sometimes I have separate things I go off and do.
Intelligence: Speaking of learning--you know, I almost forgot to mention this at all, because it so went without saying to me. I'm not even talking about book smarts, necessarily--God knows there are tons of gaps in my accumulated knowledge. And I can hardly math at all. But that's actually how I'd differentiate intelligence from education: education is the result of learning, while intelligence is the ability and the desire to keep learning. I mean, I'd hope.
(Reading is sexy, though.)
Kindness: I've been through the Why Girls Like Jerks thing before, the upside of which is, "A nice guy [is] already nice to everyone. How do you know that you're special if he treats everyone else with as much kindness and respect as he treats you?" (Keep in mind that I followed this up with, "Sure, your jerk of choice may start out giving you the special treatment, but as the novelty of the relationship wears off, he's going to do exactly what the nice guy does: he's going to treat you just like he treats everyone else.") So while I have no patience with the Toxic Nice Guy, I am all about actual nice guys. And I tend to look for evidence of this in the way that guys--people, really--treat animals, children, and waitresses. (I know, weird. But good rule of thumb.) And I find that this extends to manners as well--I want to say Miss Manners once said something along the lines of, "Manners are the art of making people feel at ease," rather than being strictly about which fork you use when. You know... being nice. Or kind, if that sounds less sappy.
Ambition: You know what? I actually prefer less ambition. I'm not terribly interested in outright slackers (I'm not doing the best job of being an independent adult myself, though, so this is probably a bit hypocritical), but I do want someone who at least wants something out of life. I want someone who has something he wants to do, and he wants to be the best that he can be at it. What I'm not interested in, though, is someone with a huge Type A personality who's got to be better than you and me and everyone else and make all the moneys and win all the pissing contests and keel over at age of forty from a massive coronary. I'm actually very ambitious in my own way, but it tends to be on a creative level. Or maybe a less tangible level, rather. I want to be a good writer and a well-regarded writer, and I want enough money to be comfortable, but I'm not so much about SOMEDAY I WILL SELL MORE BOOKS THAN YOUUUUUU. So I want someone who aspires to something, who is self-motivated, but isn't driven to make you eat his dust. I don't know--I just find that really stressful and not worth it.
(And you know, there are a lot of people who are turned on by driven, powerful types. I'm just not one of them.)
Mellow...osity: So... yeah. Being mellow is pretty important to me. There's a difference between "being mellow" and "not caring," obviously. I'm kind of weird, I guess--I can get really high-strung about some things and I deal with huge amounts of anxiety (which is probably why I'd be more interested in someone calmer than me). At the same time, as much as I enjoy flailing and capslocking over entertainment for fun, I really feel like I'm pretty laidback about a lot of things. Those of y'all who have been here a while--am I just completely deluded here? Well, either I'm correct about myself and I want someone who's also laidback, or I'm delusional and I want someone who's more laidback than me. It probably comes out the same in the wash.
Confidence: I think this goes with the mellowosity. I find arrogance to be a huge turnoff, and yet... I like it when a guy is just very casually comfortable with himself. "Confidence" may be too strong a word for it, I don't know. I do think it's something that separates the nice guys from the Nice Guys, though.
Smile: You know, they say that the eyes are the windows to the soul and all that, but I tend to look more at the way someone smiles. Which, of course, also involves the eyes. Really, it involves the whole face. Oddly, though, it's not about someone's teeth for me (as opposed to my mother, who has a major thing for perfect, straight white teeth. She really likes Tom Cruise's teeth, and was a little discomfited when I pointed out that his teeth are crooked in a way that actually makes him look like he has one big middle tooth). Basically, I look for a smile that lights up someone's entire face. It's hard to explain--you know it when you see it, and it can't be faked (a fake smile doesn't go all the way up into someone's eyes). And you (or I, rather) want someone who smiles (and laughs) easily and often. So I'm way more into a great smile than I am the whole Blue Steel sexyglare.
Irrational Physical Attractions: Everyone has them--some random thing that just does it for them. Me? Forearms. I don't know why. (Also hands. Which are attached to the forearms. Obviously.) A guy with his sleeves rolled up is just... ffffrowrr. And yet, I am almost completely uninterested in guys' arms above the elbow. It's all about the forearms. I don't know.
Oh, and floppy hair. I have always had a thing for floppy, shaggy hair, although it has to be short enough in the back that it does not flop into mullet territory. Mullets are Not Okay. And while short hair doesn't do much for me, long hair doesn't really get me all that much either, although the most beautiful boy I ever knew had what I must call, with no exaggeration whatsoever, Legolas Hair.
Of course, here's the thing that can invalidate anything on this--or anyone else's--list: the spark. The irrational, crazy-making connective spark that you just feel for someone. And when you feel that, pretty much nothing else matters. You don't like that color hair? Well, on them you do. Didn't think you'd ever date someone shorter, taller, older, younger, heavier, thinner? Doesn't matter. Whatever that strange leaping thing in your stomach is, you feel it, and nothing else matters. And yeah, eventually the craziness fades away and you're left with a more rational, mundane connection. I mean, you hope. But the spark did its job in pulling the two of you together. So I'm just saying, you know, don't write your list in stone or anything.
So that's my teal deer for the day. And notice that at no point did I say I wanted rock-hard abs or lots of money or even worldly sophistication. One of the reasons I'm interested to see what y'all want in prospective partners (of either sex) is that I think people are going to be surprised by what other people actually find attractive.