If you tell me that you know a woman who is perfect for me, the first thing I’m going to think is, “But will I be attracted to her?” Now wait. Before you roll your eyes and sigh because I sound just like that stereotypical looks-are-the-only-thing-that-matter kind of guy, hear me out.
Attraction isn’t purely physical; it’s much more than that. Attraction is physical, emotional, relational, intellectual, and maybe even spiritual for some. Sure, a man wants to be with someone he finds physically attractive, but I think we all do. The problem comes when we feel that someone values our looks more than our personality or intellect or any other more substantial characteristic.
Now I will concede that the first level of attraction that most guys recognize is physical beauty. And this makes sense. Not only are men typically more visually stimulated, but this is also the normal order of things. When I meet someone new, they make a visual impression (this includes what they wear, how they carry themselves, their facial expressions) before I get the chance to talk to them at length, let alone form a friendship with them.
But in our current culture, it can be easy for both men and women to get hung up on looks, especially in a culture that constantly highlights the “perfect body” types and focuses on looks with apps like Tinder. From struggles with pornography to the mistaken idea that men constantly need sex, I know the emphasis on the physical is a significant struggle for men. I know women also see the over-emphasis on physicality and it can be discouraging in the dating arena. Personally, I think that women generally have a greater ability to verbalize what attracts them on a deeper level. So when guys then fail to share what attracts them on a deeper level, it's women who suffer for it.
OK, now on to the good news. When it comes to what a man is really looking for in a woman he dates, let me tell you that not all men are shallow. Sure, they are looking for a woman who is attractive—and I know there are shallow people out there, of both sexes—but I promise, there is a lot more to it than looking hot or not. From a guy’s perspective, there is almost always more to beauty and attraction. I asked six men to name the qualities they found more attractive about a woman than how she looks. Here’s what they revealed.
“There’s nothing more attractive than a personality that meshes with your own,” James says. “It’s the first thing I notice. How she holds herself, how she behaves around others, does she smile when she greets you, how she expresses emotion. Personality is such a funny thing, but I think that’s exactly what we’re talking about when we say, "when we met each other, we just sort of clicked."
I think James is spot-on. One of the most important things in a relationship is not if you are both great people, but if you are both great for each other, and personality plays a large role in this meshing process. The key here is to be yourself. Guys want to see the real woman—who she is, what she likes, what she is passionate about, her dreams, hopes, fears, all of it—because that is the woman they may enter a serious relationship with. So let your personality shine—we want to know who you really are.
“You can’t ‘swipe left’ when it comes to genuine attraction. This is what things like Tinder miss completely,” Matt says. “I think conversation is one of the most underrated skills today. Eventually we all get old, but hopefully my wife and I will always be able to talk to each and enjoy each other’s conversation. That kind of friendship will be the bedrock of any relationship together and definitely won’t be based on looks.”
Couldn’t agree more. The art of good conversation is dying, and friendship is key to any relationship. In fact, a good friend of mine was sharing with me last month how she knew she wanted to marry her husband. “No matter how old we got or what we looked like, I could always see myself being friends with him,” she said. It was as simple as that. They knew that their ability to be themselves around each other and to enjoy each other’s company through all the ups and downs of their relationship was a much deeper level of attraction. And this holds true for guys, too.
Sense of Humor
I’ve made a habit in recent years of asking women what their ideal man is like. Even with all the “tall, dark, and handsome” responses I’ve heard, no response has been more common than “he has to have a good sense of humor.” I thought it was interesting that this should be such an attractive thing for women, but apparently men share this desire too.
“It’s amazing how a woman with a great sense of humor can just put you at ease,” Dan says. “If I could give one tip to women when they meet a guy or are on the first couple dates, it would be to tell us what you find funny—tell us about comedians you like, something funny that happened to you recently, a great YouTube video a friend shared, anything.” Many other guys agreed, adding that humor is like a "bonding agent" and that it’s not only attractive but extremely memorable. I mean who wouldn’t want a guy to go back and tell his friends after the date, "man she was super funny, I can’t wait to see here again?"
Can Hang Out
I’m going to jump in and give my two cents on this one because it is such an attractive quality for me personally. For example, I recently bought tickets for me, my buddy, and his fiancée to go see a baseball game. Not only did his fiancée tough it out through the ninety-minute rain delay, but she genuinely enjoyed talking about the game and having a few beers with us. The whole time I kept thinking how lucky my friend is to have found a woman as awesome as this. It struck me then what an attractive quality it is when you can find someone who enjoys the same things you do, has similar passions, and is even willing to just “hang with the guys” from time to time.
All guys, whether single, dating, or married, need their alone time. We need time to relax, recharge, process, engage in our hobbies, and invest in our male friendships. Many times this can be spent with our significant other, but sometimes we just need “alone time” or “guy time.” So it makes sense then that a woman’s ability to be independent would seem extremely attractive to most guys.
“I am constantly amazed at my girlfriend’s ability to go with the flow and be independent,” Marcus says. “Sometimes I get kept late at work or have to go out to dinner with clients, which means our plans occasionally get broken. Thankfully she is so flexible. She'll use it as a chance to catch up with her friends instead. Not only does it take a huge weight off my shoulders, but it makes me want to make it up to her and spend every non-busy moment I have with her!”
Interactions with Others
“When I first met my wife, the first thing I noticed was how she immediately gravitated toward the quietest or most unsure person in the room, introduced herself, and helped to bring them into the conversation,” Theo says. “I was blown away by how she treated others, not just her family and friends, but people she had just met. I saw that and said, ‘Wow, I want to marry a girl like that!’ And I did; I married her!”
Theo’s story is a great example of what I’ll call “long-term attraction.” Yes, men like to be attracted to someone physically, but we know it’s not the be-all and end-all in a relationship. Our physical features will eventually fade, but there are some types of beauty that never will. How a woman treats others is certainly one of them, David agrees. “When I meet my future wife, I want both us to share the same values and priorities, and that means the willingness to be selfless and sacrifice for one another,” he says.
So if you’re worried that guys are solely focused on looks, stop worrying. The vast majority of us know that beauty, attraction, and love go way beyond someone’s body. And remember that for guys, genuine attraction is definitely more than skin-deep.
Photo Credit: Corynne Olivia Photography