BY KATHLEEN TONNER AND BRITTANY BROLLEY
Contrary to popular belief, men and women are from the same species. Yet, for whatever reason, there’s a great deal of confusion on both parts on how to attract the other. There’s plenty of information out there on what someone should do to get the girl at the end. We all know the basics: have a good sense of humor, be confident, actively listen, all that good stuff. There are still some things, though, that not even women might realize they find attractive in a partner.
That’s not to say that there’s some hidden puzzle that will unlock the secret to any woman’s heart, no matter what some horribly misguided “pick-up artist” might tell you. That said, it’s common sense that women are looking for someone who’s a kind person and shows respect. The science here is just to give some insight into what the ladies in your life might be thinking every time you roll up your sleeves nonchalantly. Here are the secret things men do that women actually find attractive.
Geek out about his passions
Teen movies in the 1980s imbued us with the idea that the geek never gets the girl. So someone might think it would be a social disaster to start gushing about your love for Star Trek on your first date — but that might not be the case. Psychologist and PhD Jeanette Raymond told the site AskMen, “A man who has a keen interest or passion in something outside of himself signals that he is able to take care of himself, make himself happy and utilize his time productively — which is a real turn-on.”
It turns out that it doesn’t matter if it’s your favorite sports team or Power Rangers that gets you excited. Some might call it geeking out, others say it’s passion, but, according to dating expert Evan Marc Katz, regardless of the topic, that’s a huge positive in the dating world. Katz claims that women tell him all the time they want someone who’s passionate. He explains that if you’re passionate, you exude confidence, which is always key in any social situation.
This just goes to show you some of the weird things your brain does without you knowing. A study done by the University of Rochester shows that women find men wearing red more attractive than those that don’t. Andrew Elliot, the study’s lead author and professor of psychology at the university, concluded that, “women view men in red as higher in status, more likely to make money and more likely to climb the social ladder. And it’s this high-status judgment that leads to the attraction.”
There are a lot of possible reasons why we may associate red with power or dominance. Some scientists theorize that it’s because red is associated with aggressive behavior, due to the reddening of the face when a person is angry. Red was also an expensive dye throughout history, and was relegated to the wealthy and royal. Perhaps our cultural assumption is that red means wealthy. Whatever the reason, if you’re a man, you might want to consider putting on a dash of scarlet for your next romantic venture.
Be a good friend to his buddies
We all get by with a little help from our friends. A big part of being a good friend is being kind, and it turns out that women find that very attractive. Purdue University has found that when men have solid friendships, their likability with women increases significantly. Women furthermore rated traits such as ego support, conflict management, and comforting skills as the most important aspects of a relationship, romantic or platonic. In contrast, men rated persuasive and narrative skills as more important.
If your female partner sees you exhibiting the same traits she values in your friendships, she’ll see that as a sign that you are compatible together. While it should always be a goal to be kind, it doesn’t hurt that women are more likely to rate a man’s facial attractiveness and sex appeal higher when he exhibits trustworthiness, authenticity, and reliability.
Act a little awkward
There is nothing that will make you feel more awkward than a first date. So why not use that to your advantage? According to dating coach Sarah Jones, a little awkwardness can endear you to a woman. It’s a way to show that you’re attracted to her, which is always flattering. As Jones told the site The Good Men Project, “Now the story involves her, and she’s more invested in you than if you were showing no apparent interest.”
And if you’re more than just a little awkward, that works too! Psychologist Ty Tashiro wrote a whole book touting the benefits of awkwardness, Awkward: The Science of Why We’re Socially Awkward and Why That’s Awesome. Tashiro explains that people who exhibit “awkward” behaviors see the world from a different perspective, which can be refreshing when getting to know someone. Even more encouragingly, Tashiro told the magazine Inc., “Kind people don’t look down on awkward people. And awkward people can be interesting, bright, and motivated, and they can be loyal friends.”
Roll up their sleeves to their forearms
This is probably not that much of a secret to the ladies, but forearms are the unsung heroes of the male body. There’s even an entire subreddit dedicated to images of nice forearms (don’t worry, it’s safe for work despite the title). As one of the great mysteries in our universe, no one truly knows why women love forearms. Maybe it’s because we all grew up seeing the Brawny man on our kitchen counter.
Journalist Serena Golden interviewed several women about their love for the rolled-up sleeve. “Forearms aren’t a typical ‘glamour muscle,’ so they suggest useful strength in a way that, say, big biceps don’t,” one woman explained. “A guy with big biceps looks great, sure, but a guy with big forearms can make bread or fix my car or build me a log cabin or some sh*t.” Forearms, as it turns out, are casual enough to be non-intimidating, but powerful enough to bake bread… or something.
The days of Leave it to Beaver-style home-life have long passed. Men and women spend closer to equal amounts of time in the kitchen nowadays. However, it looks like women still get excited whenever they see their man at the stove. A team of British neuroscientists conducted an experiment of 20 couples (via Daily Mail), with the women watching their male partners partaking in various tasks. While having their physiological responses monitored, women were more aroused watching their men in the kitchen than they were when he was doing more stereotypical “male” work, such as cutting wood.
Cooking even outweighed other housework tasks like ironing or cleaning. Seventy percent of the women in the study preferred being made a cup of coffee to receiving gifts or an embrace. The power of a well-fed stomach should not be underestimated! As Dr. Nikki Goldstein, sexologist and relationship expert, told Daily Mail in response to the findings of the study: “Men can say ‘I care about you, I love you’ but when they make something tangible like a coffee, it shows them [women] they care.”
It’s time to make like Olivia Newton-John and get physical. The University of California, Berkeley has found that the scent of male sweat can make heterosexual women more sexually aroused. Yes, really. The scientists at UC Berkely found physiological and hormonal changes in women after they had smelled a compound found in male sweat. The compound contained the chemical androstadienone, which is a derivative of testosterone.
The science community is currently unconvinced that humans exhibit typical animal pheromones. This is despite various cologne advertisements trying to tell us otherwise. However, there is evidence that we are able to sniff out people who are genetically compatible with us. Perhaps this is why there are dating services dedicated to finding your lifelong mate through pure scent alone. You might be able to find your future wife by letting your sweaty self air out, but for the sake of the rest of us, please wear deodorant.
Wear a “T”
If you thought the wearing red thing was weird, prepare to be in awe. Apparently, wearing a plain t-shirt with just a black letter “T” on the front makes you more attractive. To be specific, you’re approximately twelve percent more attractive, according to research. Who, exactly, comes up with these studies anyway? On the plus side, you’re going to be saving money on clothes.
Psychologist Dr. Andrew Dunn explained, “The wider barred ‘T’ seems to emphasize the upper chest when upright, which accentuates men’s ‘optimum’ shape.” That “optimum shape” is that upside-down triangle look you see on many a bodybuilder. The scientists found that a man with shoulders that were about 20 percent wider than his hips was most preferred. The important aspect is that accentuating the shoulders over the gut makes you appear more attractive. Anything that creates that top-heavy shape should suffice. If you really feel like being the weird dude wearing a giant “T,” though, far be it from us to judge you.
Talk with a sleepy voice
No, this is not the same thing as pillow talk. Studies have shown that women find men with deeper voices attractive. However, there’s an important factor that’s even more important than pitch — breathiness. Scientists found that whether a voice was pitched high or low was less important than the voice’s breathiness. This quality of voice is very similar to what a man might sound like when just waking up.
The experimenters concluded that this phenomenon was due to body size. For example, a higher pitch in a female voice typically indicates a smaller size, while a deeper voice usually denotes a man with a larger frame. However, the problem with a deep voice is that it can also be intimidating and suggest aggression. This is why the breathiness is so important. According to scientists, “the breathiness in the male voice attractiveness rating… could be a way of neutralizing the aggressiveness associated with a large body size.” Thus, the association will be more like a cuddly teddy bear than a scary monster.
Miss Frizzle’s sage advice to “take chances, make mistakes, and get messy” turned out to be a great dating tip. Women find men more attractive when they take heroic risks, according to various studies. Heroic is the key word here, as women do not prefer men who take non-heroic risks, such as playing dangerous sports. It’s also very possible that bravery is more important than altruism when it comes to choosing a mate. This could explain why men with jobs as pilots, firefighters, and doctors are some of the most-swiped-right candidates on Tinder.
John Petraitis, psychology professor at the University of Alaska, further studied the effects when in conjunction with technology. He found that women found men more attractive when they would perform risky behavior in the wild, such as rock climbing in the back-country, but would not be attracted to risky behavior in a modern society, such as driving without a seat-belt. Petraitis suggests that this is evident of evolutionary practices, where behaviors that relate to a hunter-gatherer society are more attractive than those that aren’t.
Sometimes, we can actually unknowingly subscribe to traditional gender norms and values. A study by the University of British Columbia has found that women find men more attractive when they are brooding than when they are showing happiness and smiling — at least at first impression. The lead researcher, Professor Jessica Tracy, stated, “While showing a happy face is considered essential to friendly social interactions, including those involving sexual attraction, few studies have actually examined whether a smile is, in fact, attractive.”
Supposedly, brooding is a sign of pride, which is evolutionarily attractive to females. Tracy further concluded, “The results appear to reflect some very traditional gender norms and cultural values. …These include norms and values that many would consider old-fashioned and perhaps hoped that we’ve moved beyond.” While we’re all trying to evolve our understanding of gender, maybe it’s time for women to start telling men they should frown more as a response whenever men ask them to smile.
Keep on the uniform
Are men really more attractive when sporting a uniform? Science says it all depends. As part of a study conducted by the University of Southampton (via Good Housekeeping), women were asked to rate the attractiveness of men in three heroic contexts: warfare, sports, and business. In the end, the participants were more likely to find a soldier good-looking, and, if he happened to win any bravery medals during his service, the women were more willing to date him. War heroes were also found to have “sired more offspring” than other veterans. According to the study, this supports a “causal link between war heroism and mating success.”
That’s not to say only military uniforms make women swoon. Men may not put as much effort into dress and grooming as do women, but clothing is still important because it speaks to their social status, biopsychologist Nigel Barber explained in an article for Psychology Today. He wrote, “Women who reject a man in a Burger King uniform might be willing to date someone in medical scrubs.” That may explain why some men don their uniforms outside of work.
Embrace their grays
If you’ve ever found yourself attracted to an older man (ahem, George Clooney, ahem), you’re not alone. In fact, this phenomenon has been labeled the — wait for it — George Clooney Effect. Checks out.
“Previous research shows that men place greater importance on physical attractiveness when picking a partner, whereas women focus much more on whether someone can provide material resources,” Fhionna Moore, psychologist and lead author of a study on the sex differences in mate preferences, told Psych Central. “We’d assumed that as women earn more, their partner preferences would actually become more like those of men, with a tendency towards preferring younger, more attractive partners rather than those who can provide and care for children.” Instead, Moore said she and her team discovered that “more financially independent women actually preferred even older men.”
It makes sense, then, that women are also into gray hair. A Match.com survey (via Men’s Health) found that 72 percent of women find men with gray hair attractive. While some guys may want to cover up their stray grays to appear younger, others are rocking them knowing there’s plenty of women searching for a silver fox.
BY KATHLEEN TONNER AND BRITTANY BROLLEY