You’ve read the first two pieces, so you get two things that’ll help you with women:
1. The right mindset at the beginning is key (willing to try, and cautiously optimistic), Part 1 here
2. Female choice is the foundational principle of mating (women choose, men pursue), Part 2 here
Once you get these first two steps, then the third step is understanding what traits women find attractive in men (so you can develop and display them to women). That’s what this piece explains.
The “What” Of Female Attraction
To a lot of guys, it seems like there’s no pattern to what women are attracted to. Some women like assholes, some women like athletes, some women like bikers, some women like things that seem to make no sense, and some women even like things that contradict. It can feel like there’s no way to understand it.
Here’s some good news: it’s not random. There is a deep and meaningful evolutionary logic to virtually all female attraction preferences (at least in the aggregate). The problem is that most people get stuck on the surface, and don’t look beyond the small individual or cultural differences to see the deep similarities.
There are many core traits in men that women tend to select for over and over, across all cultures and races and countries. Understanding what those core physical, character, personality and social traits are is the key to really understanding what women actually select for in men.
Notice I said the traits that “women select for in men.” This list below is not just my bullshit opinion, or from some magazine survey, or even from a poll of what women say they want. Anecdotes and surveys and data like that are unreliable.
Our list is drawn from the most up to date and empirically validated findings from actual field research of actual women. In short, we are not telling you what we think women want, nor arguing for what we believe they should want; we’re not even telling you what they say they want. We are telling you what traits women actually pick in real men. I tell guys all the time: Don’t listen to what people say, watch what they do. This piece tells you what women DO.
[NOTE: We’ve broken them down in the way we’ll (probably) break them down in our book. This is not the only way to list out the traits or divide them into categories, it’s just how we’ve done it, because its based on generally accepted groupings of similar psychological traits. Each section below will be a chapter itself in our book, and that chapter will be based on many studies and books itself. The research into female attraction and sexual preference is abundant and very clear (in most things), and everything I am saying is well researched and empirically tested. Please understand that I’m not citing any evidence or linking studies because that would take forever, and clutter this blog post beyond comprehension. The point of this piece is to simplify a complex topic, not prove anything. That’ll all be in the book.]
1. Strong Spirit: Mental Health, Resilience, and Happiness
Crazy isn’t sexy. Almost all women are attracted to sane, mature, happy guys, and pretty much all women are repelled by crazy, abnormal or depressed guys. Making sure that you’re not only as mentally stable as possible, but also display this stability, is very important.
We’ll talk extensively about how to display your mental health if you have it, and how to build stronger mental health if you need it. If you have some basic issues with happiness, maturity, etc, you can change those pretty easily. I know it kinda sounds like new-age bullshit, but there is a lot of scientific evidence showing that things like cognitive-behavioral therapy, mindfulness, gratitude exercises, writing about past traumas, and other good health habits can have profound impacts on your mental health (not to mention longer term solutions, like talk therapy, etc). Not to mention, most guys automatically become happier when they are in good relationships, and even more when they fall in love.
2. Good Brains: Intelligence, Openness, Knowledge, and Humor
General intelligence (IQ) is the key indicator of how well your brain works. Apart from general mental health, it’s one of the major questions that women look to answer about guys: is this guy smart? This is because intelligence is so stable across a guy’s life, so heritable across generations, and so useful in a lover, partner, and father to one’s children.
I know there are a lot of young guys out there who think women don’t care about how smart they are. That’s just not remotely true, women care a lot. They just also highly value the type of intelligence you have (there are many different types) and the way you express it is just as important as having it (e.g., being a great computer programmer requires that you be smart, but doesn’t display easily in the short term to women, unless you’ve done something tangible with that, like built a company or product that they know about).
You can’t change your raw genetic intelligence, but you can cultivate whatever IQ you have into more knowledge, wisdom, skills, credentials, humor ability, etc. This is one of the easiest and most powerful ways to build your sexual attractiveness, yet most guys put zero effort into this. Both in the book and the blog, we’ll walk you through some of the easiest, fastest, and quickest ways to build the IQ-displaying skills that women want you to have (and bonus: most of these will make you better at other things as well).
3. Tender Defender: Balancing Agreeableness and Aggressiveness
Guy A: “Why do assholes get laid so much, and I can’t get dates? I’m nice and it gets me nowhere!”
Guy B: “You were an asshole and got a ton of girls, when I do it, girls just hate me.”
I hear things like this all the time. Most young guys struggle to understand what women want in this area. They think they have to choose between being a ‘nice guy’ (which most guys implement by being a cowardly pussy) or an ‘asshole’ (which most guys implement by being a raging doucher). Let’s be clear: NEITHER OF THOSE STRATEGIES WORK–BY THEMSELVES.
I’ll break it down for you very simply: Women want guys who are nice AND who are assholes…but they want them both in the same guy, with each trait expressed at the appropriate time and in the appropriate way. My favorite quote about this is something I saw a female comedian post on Twitter, “Why can’t I find a total alpha asshole…who is sweet and caring to just me?” Here’s a similar meme post that’s popular.
Women around the world list ‘kindness’ as the number one most-desired trait in a boyfriend. It’s a foundational moral virtue that helps men be more generous lovers, partners, and dads, and that guarantees a guy is not autistic, psychotic, or psychopathic. Make no mistake about it, kindness is VERY important to women.
On the other hand, women also want men who can be powerful, assertive, and even violent when necessary, but only in ways that protect them rather than threaten them. We don’t have a great language for this sort of behavior in men; asshole is too much, and assertive doesn’t cover enough of what women want. But the point is, women want men who can pair their kindness with real “strength” (for lack of a better word).
You know the saying that guys want “a lady in the streets and a whore in the sheets”? Well, women want the same thing in men, but reversed, a “Tender Defender.” A powerful, assertive man to the world, but who is still sweet and kind to her.
The most attractive guys can switch immediately from tender to defender and back again as the circumstances demand — but to do that, you have to build ways to display both your tender skills (kindness, perspective-taking, mindful empathy with women, child-care skills, charity) and your defender skills (safe driving, self-defense, verbal assertiveness, vigorous health, etc). We’ll go through all of this in detail as well.
4. Strong Will: Conscientiousness, Maturity, Hard Work, Ambition
Women like guys who are passionate and ambitious about their interests, and who have the willpower to pursue those interests despite setbacks. They want men who can envision a worthy goal, and then execute it. This is generally called “conscientiousness” in the psychology literature.
The personality trait of conscientiousness (sort of a combination of willpower, self-control, reliability, and hard work) predicts almost as much of life-success as raw IQ does – from education to career, from staying healthy to staying married. Some men are born with more conscientiousness than others, but every guy can build his willpower through the right mindset and life-habits, and use it efficiently when it’s really needed.
Women interpret almost everything you do as a signal of strong or weak willpower–from your physical health and grooming, to your school grades, job performance, credit score, to the cleanliness of your car and home, to your ability to practice and master difficult skills. Once you’re tuned into your life as a willpower-display, you’ll see how easy it is to outshine most other guys, and to attain the kind of maturity that women love and respond to.
5. Social Proof: Extraversion, Confidence, Status, Prestige, and Fame
Confidence, charisma, and popularity are incredibly attractive to women: Humans are hypersocial primates, and we evolved in small tribal groups where local reputation was crucial to our social status and reproductive success. Social proof of your status among other people is very attractive to women.
Confidence is a big part of social proof, and guys need to learn how to be truly confident, where confidence comes from, and how to appropriately project that trait once you have it. Guys ask me about confidence all the time, and we’ll cover this extensively, but in short: Confidence comes from demonstrated performance. Basically, if you have done things, you will be confident you can do those things. Seems like a chicken and egg problem I know, but if you start small, it’s not (BTW–“fake it till you make it” is, in most cases, not very good advice, and we’ll explain why and where it does work).
Guys also need to be able to display social skill, and the status that derives from being able to proficiently operate in social groups. For example, a lot of what attracts women isn’t how you interact with them, but how you interact with your male friends, with other women, and with other people in ways that they can observe. By getting in the habit of having fun in all of your social interactions with anybody, you’ll be building your social network, your confidence, and your conversation abilities, and you’ll also be displaying your attractiveness to other women. Courtship becomes a natural extension of having a fun social life, instead of a creepy set of tricks you use to manipulate women.
6. Good Bodies: Physical Health, Fitness, and Competence
Though looks are far more important to men than to women, women do care what you look like. No one is attracted to fat slobs, and women are no different. This is because they want a mate who shows willpower in his life-habits (e.g. eats healthy), and who will be a provider, protector, and good lover, and have all the other good things that come with a healthy body.
Yes, genes greatly influence height, body shape, and overall health, but get this: the things that women value the most are the ones that guys can do a lot to improve. For example, muscularity, body fat, stamina, immune function, energy level, sexual vigor, and athletic skills are all ranked very high as important traits by women, and all of those can be greatly improved if you just put some basic work into them.
The problem is that most of the nutrition and exercise advice that guys get is bullshit, and a little bit of up-to-date knowledge can make it much easier to eat right, exercise efficiently, and build your functional fitness.
No matter what shape you’re in now, you can become dramatically more attractive to women within six months by following our simple recommendations about sleep, nutrition, weights, sprints, and supplements–and yes, we’ll even walk you through this stuff as well (in fact, we already have a great plan outlined here. It’s formatted as a book about testosterone, but the diet and exercise recommendations are virtually the same).
7. Material Proof: Income, Wealth, Consumerism, and Security
Consumerist capitalism works hard to convince young men that they must make a lot of money, go into a lot of debt, to buy and display a lot of goods and services in order to attract women. This just isn’t true at all. During some of the periods where I was most successful with women, I was poor (and that’s true for many guys).
Yes, women care about a guy’s material success – but mostly because his education, career success, income, and wealth are hard-to-fake signals of his mental health, intelligence, willpower, assertiveness, and extraversion. Basically, most women care about your money only because of what it means about you (though of course there are women who care about it because of what it can buy for them as well).
The money itself is only useful up to a point: if a woman could support a family with some security on your likely future income (or yours combined with hers), extra wealth beyond that is really only useful if she’s a luxury-addict or gold-digger. The reality is that almost all women would rather have an interesting, fun, middle-class husband they loved to be with than a dull, workaholic millionaire they didn’t spend much time with. In particular, women care more about how much time, energy, and thought a guy is investing in her than how much money he spends on himself or others.
It may not seem that way to you, but in this case, the evidence is very clear that what women say they want and what they pick are the same thing: they care about who a guy is and how he relates to her FAR more than they value how much money he has.
8. Aesthetic Proof: Your Clothes, Car, and Home
A little taste goes a very long way with women, who tend to value men’s aesthetic sense very highly. How much style do you show in your everyday life? Women generally want your whole ‘extended phenotype’ (your body, clothes, car, furnishings, home, lifestyle, and social media) to be stylish, intriguing, and beautiful, with a mix of cuteness and seriousness, and modernity and nostalgia.
This especially applies to visual display items, like clothes. Most guys either don’t think about what they wear at all, or they go all the way to the other end, and are vain about having the “best” (most expensive, most transient) fashions. Men who dress well, but in an understated, classically stylish way, are very attractive to women — especially in America, where so few (straight) guys bother.
At the very least, make sure your clothes and shoes and things aren’t repulsive. Having normal, acceptable taste is actually a big benefit, because most guys have terrible taste in these things, and repel women with their choices.
If you spend just a little time learning some style basics–nothing fancy or complicated–and buying a few versatile, high-quality items, you’ll be better-dressed than 90% of guys and be substantially more attractive to women. We’ll help you with this, quite a bit, because it’s so easy for small changes to get big results here.
9. Romantic Proof: Signaling interest and commitment
Women aren’t just interested in your individual traits and signals of quality; they also want reliable, hard-to-fake signals that you’re interested in them specifically, and show the right level of escalating commitment as the relationship lengthens. This can get very complicated for guys, and we’ll go over it extensively, because a lot of guys get lost here.
The problem is that most guys either ignore women’s desire for romantic proof entirely (which women label ‘commitment-phobic’ or simply ‘douchebag’), or they escalate their commitment too quickly (which women label ‘clingy’ or ‘creepy’, or the worst ‘stalker’). We’ll help you figure out the middle way.
The Unifying Principle
This list above might seem long and intimidating. But it’s very realistic for most guys. Remember, we’re not saying you have to be perfect at everything. In fact, you don’t even have to be great at any one thing, you just have to be decent at most of them to be attractive to at least some women. This should crystallize everything for you:
The key unifying principle of male attractiveness is EFFECTIVENESS.
Not greatness, not amazing or anything like that. Just being effective is enough. I mean this in all aspects of life: health, success, social interaction, work, etc. No woman in any culture is attracted to ineffectiveness; whether it’s impotence, or powerlessness, or lack of a job, or anything like that. Women are attracted to men who are able to effectively operate in the world they live in.
Can you be effective at most of these things? I didn’t say great or amazing–just effective? If so, you will be attractive to women. And the more effective you are at more things, the more attractive you will be.
Conclusion: Be Encouraged
If this list seems daunting, relax. It’s not as bad as it seems. In fact, it’s a benefit in disguise.
Like I’ve told you before, there is no magic bullet to attractiveness. There is no “one thing” you can do to immediately change everything. Most guys come to me asking what that is, as if they think there’s a secret to it. There’s not. It’s the accumulation of all the things about you that determine your attractiveness, not any single factor.
Women don’t evaluate you with a precise checklist. They arrive at an overall impression of your total mate value by examining everything about you; your whole suite of traits. Some women will care about some traits more than others of course, but the point is, even if you are only decent at each thing, that fact alone puts you ahead of most guys (who are totally lost at everything).
Be grateful you’re not the guppy fish, where your tail size and color is just about the only trait that determines your mating success. Small-tailed guppies have no options; they’re stuck as losers.
But you’re not stuck–there are dozens of traits and skills you can cultivate to attract women, because humans are not a simple species with a single mating factor, like the guppy fish. We’re a complicated, big-brained species, and females are attracted to many different traits that you can cultivate, not just one. These traits can effectively be combined in an infinite number of ways, giving you all sorts of options in ways to develop your attractiveness.
This is such a crucial point for you to understand, I’m going to repeat it:
We live in a species where females are attracted to many different traits that you can cultivate, not just one. This means you have many options in your path to attractiveness, and all are equally valid and effective.
You don’t have to be an athlete or a movie star or a famous chef. The idea that only rich, successful, famous guys get girls is so wrong, and so toxic to most men. If you can be good at a few things, and acceptable at the rest, then you’ll not just get a woman, you’ll be able to have lots of good relationships with lots of good women.
1. You can understand what traits and behaviors women prefer, and once you understand them, you can adapt these qualities in yourself to become much more attractive to women.
2. The basic list of male traits that women care about:
-Strong Spirit: Mental Health, Resilience, and Happiness
-Good Brains: Intelligence, Openness, Knowledge, and Humor
-Tender Defender: Balancing Agreeableness and Aggressiveness
-Strong Will: Conscientiousness, Maturity, Hard Work, Ambition
-Social Proof: Extraversion, Confidence, Status, Prestige, and Fame
-Good Bodies: Physical Health, Fitness, and Competence
-Material Proof: Income, Wealth, Consumerism, and Security
-Aesthetic Proof: Your Clothes, Car, and Home
-Romantic Proof: Signaling interest and commitment
-The Unifying Principle: Effectiveness
3. These are traits in men that women actually select for in real life, not just our guesses.
4. Females are attracted to many different traits that you can cultivate, not just one. This means there is no single way to be attractive to women; these traits can effectively be combined in an infinite number of ways, all valid and potentially effective.
5. You don’t have to be amazing; being acceptable at most of them is usually enough to be attractive to many women and have many relationships.
This is an ongoing, developing series, and we are testing how the presentation of this information is resonating with our readers (you). Our goal is to help guys get the relationships they want with women, so please feel free to give us feedback:
Does it make sense? Are you learning from it? What did you not understand? What do you want to know more about? Does this explain mating in way you can relate to?
Any feedback you have, either good or bad, I’d love to hear. Email me here: [email protected]
[END NOTE: Originally this piece also explained why women select these traits as opposed to others, but that piece ran WAY longer than I thought it would, so I split the part about “why” into another post. I’ll be posting that piece on Thursday this week, so stay tuned, you get two posts this week.]
Where To Start If You’re Lost With Women: