Whether it’s through gruelling gym sessions, intellectual refinement or wallet-slimming shopping sprees, the majority of men are on an endless, excruciating mission to appear more interesting, desirable or attractive to the opposite sex. It’s not our faults; we’re wired that way. But you may be making more mistakes in the dating department than you think.
Below, we’ve found seven (principally non-physical) qualities that women find attractive in men. Happily, they disprove many of the tall, dark and handsome stereotypes most men have come to loathe — but still think women love. Instead, from a generous spirit to the power of approachability, here are a handful of the most alluring traits and characteristics every man should aim to embody…
Approachability is attractive
A heartening start; it pays not to be too handsome. Of course, men blessed with symmetrical features, chiseled jaws and great hair will always score higher in the attractiveness stakes, but several studies have shown that women tend to be more attracted to approachable, average looks when looking for a long-term partner.
For shorter-term flings, a Florida State University study found, women are still likely to seek out stereotypically attractive men. But, if they’re looking for a relationship that’ll last, ordinary-looking gents have the edge. Researchers in 2017 explained the findings by suggesting that attractive men in peak physical condition can make women inferior, and push them to diet or exercise to ‘keep up’.
Selflessness wins out
In another happy revelation, it turns out that most women will still choose kind and considerate men over ‘bad boys’. In a 2016 study, led by the universities of Worcester and Sunderland, over 200 women were asked to assess a dozen online dating profiles, and the majority preferred the more altruistic men over the traditionally handsome, but less generous options.
It makes sense. Who’d want to be with a man who’s easy on the eyes if all those good looks were at the expense of any real decency? However, as with the ‘approachability’ findings above, women looking for a one-night stand will allegedly still prioritise attractiveness over benevolence — which is good news for monogamists; less so for budding playboys.
An older man is a more attractive man
Worried that you might be ‘past it’? Gladly, your fears are unfounded. Several studies have discovered that women, of any generation, tend to prefer men a couple of years older than them. Dubbed ‘The George Clooney Effect’ by researchers, this hard-wiring is allegedly a legacy from our cave-dwelling days, when older men would have more resources, connections and respect.
In 2010, the University of Dundee put this theory to the test. 3,770 heterosexual adults were polled on a range of relationship indicators, and it was revealed that most women preferred older men — especially as they themselves grew older and developed financial independence.
Personality (and humour) counts
Don’t act like you’re surprised. For generations, women have been telling man that a sense of humour not only matters — but might even be the most important and attractive quality a man can possess. We, the more sceptical sex, have raised our eyebrows at the claim. But it checks out.
Jeffrey Hall, an associate professor of Communication Studies at the University of Kansas, published a paper in the journal Evolutionary Psychology, in which he detailed a study that hinged around a series of blind date-style tests. “Shared laughter,” he wrote, “might be a pathway toward developing a more long-lasting relationship.”
Show your sensitive side — and get a dog
That’s right; adopt a dog and you’ll immediately be perceived as more attractive by the fairer sex. It’s a popular myth, but there have been a handful of studies that actually back up the claim, and prove the positive effect man’s best friend can have on his chances with women. Chief among these; dog ownership makes you appear a more caring person.
‘The Roles of Pet Dogs and Cats in Human Courtship and Dating’, a study published by research journal Anthrozoos in 2015, found that women are twice as likely to be attracted to a man with a pet than a man is to be attracted to a woman with a pet. And the science behind this is simple: women are wired to be attracted to potentially good fathers — and if you can care for a dog, your parenting instincts are likely up to par.
A light beard is your best bet
We’re trying to steer clear of physical qualities here. After all, telling people that women find men over six-feet-tall more attractive (spoiler; they do) isn’t going to help the shorter gents out there. But, bar the follicularly-challenged, almost every adult man can grow some sort of facial hair — and a light beard can do wonders in the dating game.
In 2013, the University of New South Wales conducted some incredibly important research — to determine the optimum length of facial hair to attract women. Over 350 heterosexual women overwhelmingly came out in favour of a light beard, or heavy stubble. Showing virility, maturity and masculinity, it’s a pleasingly attainable level of scruff to aim for.
Be a risk taker
Not all risks, of course. There are certain levels of daredevilry that’ll get you noticed for the right reasons; but being cavalier with your health, or the safety of others for example, likely won’t get you a second date. In 2006, Evolutionary Psychology split these risky activities into six categories; Recreational, Ethical, Gambling, Investing, Health, Social.
And, while the researchers discovered that most men overestimate how attractive risk-taking behaviour is, the study revealed that ‘Recreational’ risks — whether this be skydiving or snowboarding — can turn the heads of women you’re looking to woo. Take note, gents, and finally book that bungee jump you’ve been putting off.