Arm candy. Trophy wife. It's plain from the way we talk that we have some pretty set ideas about what men consider most important in a woman. And none of those ideas is particularly flattering to the guys.

What happens when men do the talking? We took a survey of single guys who date online, and they say it ain't so. The results weren't iffy, either: The guys said by a nearly two-to-one margin that if asked to choose between beauty and brains in the perfect long-term partner, they would choose brains.

You read that right
Yes! In the competition between beauty and brains, beauty got walloped: 64% of guys chose the smart woman; the gorgeous one was preferred by only 36% of respondents.
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It turns out that most men are no different from most women, at least in this respect: They understand what it takes to keep a relationship going for years, for decades or, if you're really lucky, for a lifetime. Especially as we get older and approach dating with greater maturity (we can hope), we start to appreciate that while beauty can set off a spark, it can't in and of itself keep the flame burning forever.

We've still got eyes, of course, and no one needs to make excuses for enjoying the view when a particularly attractive person is in the vicinity. But it takes more than that to hold our interest. We need someone with substance. Someone with whom we can talk and share jokes, dreams, and confidences. Someone with whom it's possible to constantly discover new facets of one another. That's what keeps the engine running.

So if you've got it, flaunt it
What does this mean for all the women out there who've never quite recovered from the adolescent-era stigma of being labeled "the smart one"? It means you can improve your chances of finding a great catch if you spend less time frowning at a mirror and more time with your face in a book. Because two out of three guys want you to be able hold your own in an intelligent conversation — and that's going to hold their interest more than the color of your hair, the length of your legs or the curve of whatever body part you're always obsessing curves too little or too much.

As for you guys...
Want to become far more popular in a snap? Hey, all you've got to do is ask. Let yourself be overheard now and then expressing your admiration for a woman's brains. We'll hear you, we'll notice you and we'll develop an instant interest... or at least enough curiosity to engage you in a bit of conversation. And once two smart, engaging people get a conversation going, there's no telling what might happen.

You might even discover the love of your life, and what could be more beautiful than that?

Randy B. Hecht is a New York-based writer and editor.