Of all the questions that have plagued man’s existence, few as are perplexing as what motivates the thoughts of the opposite sex. Despite thousands of years of books, poems, essays, and awful romantic comedies that have attempted to tackle the subject, men haven’t made much progress when it comes unlocking the mysteries of the fairer sex.
But just because men will never know precisely what’s going on in the heads of their partners doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to get a better idea. Yes, every woman is different, but there are certain characteristics almost all women value in a man. We know that most women want a guy who’s loyal, kind, and good in bed (of course). But what else?
In an effort to pinpoint exactly which characteristics women deem attractive in a man, we polled over 1,000 American woman between the ages of 21 and 54 in two online surveys. One was conducted by Princeton, New Jersey’s opinion Research Corporation; the other was done on BestLifeOnline.com. Once the results were in, we organized the characteristics based on the how often they appeared within the top 10 attributes listed by women.
Not surprisingly, we found that women value personality far more than physical attractiveness. Despite all those hours you might be spending in the gym, only 13 percent of women cited muscular build as a factor in hotness. On the other hand, 66 percent of women said moral integrity will “make me quiver.”
Here are the top 20 traits, divided by category. See how you stack up.
The Top 5 Character Traits
More than 8 out of 10 women (or 84 percent of women) rated “faithful to me” in the top 10 attributes they find sexy in a man. She wants to be reassured that you think she’s the sexiest woman on earth (and luckily, you already do!), so remind her of that fact whenever and however you can.
It’s sort of a cliché at this point, but women are looking for a guy who’s not afraid of commitment. Three out of four women (75 percent) say they look for a man who’s good at follow-through. Being responsible—even if it’s just remembering to pick up salad dressing on your way over to her place—sends a positive signal that you’re ready for commitment.
Young women may still fall for the bad-boy type, but 67 percent of women said they were turned on by kindness, because kindness inspires confidence. In other words, if you treat the waitress well, your date figures you’ll treat her well, too. So be nice.
4. Moral Integrity
Sixty-six percent of women believe that if you have the guts to tell the truth, you’ll have the guts to be a good, caring partner over the long haul. Just try not to tell her what you really think of her best friend from college and you’re good.
Being a good dad (or having the potential to become one) is about being a good role model and being patient and caring, qualities 51 percent of women want in a partner. Not a dad? Tell her about your favorite niece or nephew, or the employee you’re mentoring at work.
Top 5 Personality Traits
1. Sense of Humor
Being able to laugh at the stresses of this world is a must, according to 77 percent of the women on our panel. You get bonus points if you can make them laugh. Humor tells a woman that you can laugh at the many difficulties that life throws at you.
A worldly, interesting man is a man 55 percent of women like to show off. Men who are problem solvers make women feel secure, and men who are always improving are never boring.
Forty-six percent of women like displays of passion because they’re not accustomed to seeing them from men. Get passionate about something: kayaking, impressionistic art, barbecuing, or Habitat for Humanity. It’s proof that you care for and about something beyond yourself.
A man who feels secure in his own skin makes the woman he’s with feel secure, according to 41 percent of women. By showing you can handle unfamiliar people or situations, you tell the woman in your life that she need not fear, either.
This is important to 38 percent of women. Generosity doesn’t just mean springing for dinner at a four-star. It also means you’re willing to give your time and lend an ear.
Top 5 Practical Skills
Pay attention. 53 percent of women said they feel safe and secure when they know their man will put down his phone and listen. Magic words: “I’m here. Tell me everything.”
Romance appeals to a woman’s right-brained, less-logical side. 45 percent of women said they fantasize about being swept off their feet. Romance is bold because you’re displaying your desire for a woman and revealing a softer, more vulnerable side.
3. Being Good in Bed
OK, this might seem obvious, but take it from us—it’s not just about the orgasms. A woman knows that a man who takes care of her in bed will take care of her out of bed. (Of course, the orgasms don’t hurt.)
4. Cooking, Cleaning, etc.
Twenty-three percent of women said that if you learn how to make one or two killer breakfasts or dinners, you’ll win hearts.
5. Earning Potential
One in five women surveyed said a man’s success in his career contributes to his sexiness. If you’ve demonstrated talent, goal achievement, and follow-through, you give women confidence that you will be a good provider.
Top 5 Physical Attributes
1. Sense of Style
The way you dress reflects on the woman you’re with, and she knows it. The man who knows how to match a patterned shirt and tie will notice when she’s dressed well, too. Keep your tailor and your dry cleaner busy, and spring for posh, touchable fabrics like cashmere, suede, pima cotton, and brushed corduroy.
2. Handsome Face
The science of attraction, which has been studied ad infinitum, says it’s all about symmetry, and women in cross-cultural studies have also ranked men with broad chins, high cheekbones, and large eyes as the most attractive. Best way to improve your looks: Smile more, and make certain your sideburns are even.
Tall, dark, and handsome isn’t the be-all and end-all. 15 percent of women said they like feeling smaller than their men, but height doesn’t necessarily mean might. They will feel comfortable as long as they aren’t towering over you.
4. Muscular Build
Only 13 percent of women said they viewed a muscular build as a priority. Muscles help ward off rivals and assure a woman that you won’t drop her during a dip, but your overall appearance is more important than the size of your biceps.
That said, 12 percent of women recognize a good body as indicative of a man of discipline and self-control. It tells a woman you can keep up with her, in bed and out.
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