What do men want in women? It seems like an easy question to answer. As a man, you’d think I could easily tell you what men find attractive in women. Yet my series of failed relationships led me to question all my beliefs about dating and relationships.
Along the way, I learned three things about what men like in women.
- There’s what men say they like in women.
- There are things guys notice about woman instantly thanks to biology and the subconscious.
- There is a powerful arousal template at work in all of us.
My questions took me on a journey that led to me finding my partner and true love, Daisy. Allow me to explain a bit.
What Men SAY They Like in a Woman
Brandon Wade of SeekingArrangement.com surveyed three thousand successful men to find out what guys notice first in a woman. In order of preference they responded as follows:
- The quality of her verbal and written communication
- The way a woman carries herself when she walks. Grace is important.
- A sense of self. Says Wade, “A common deal breaker with employers during an interview is a candidates’ pretending or exaggerating their understanding of a certain subject. Our survey found that this was also a big pet peeve among successful men looking to date, particularly in cases where women lied about the extent of their knowledge when it came to current events, politics and culture.”
OK, that’s what successful men SAY they want. What about the average Joe?
Another survey about what men prefer in women lists the things men notice about women in this order:
We can go on with countless surveys, each slightly different from the next. You get the point.
What men say they notice varies a lot. Answers vary with culture. They vary according to personality type.
It turns out that genetics and our subconscious might be responsible. It might also explain why what we say doesn’t match what we do.
What Men Want in Women, According to Biology
Here’s what some scientific research has to say about attraction and beauty.
One mistaken belief about what men find attractive in women is that it’s determined by the culture in which we live. For instance, it seems obvious that a man in the US will notice different things about women than a man living in a tribal island culture.
But that’s not accurate. The studies about beauty and attraction quoted here found that there are indeed universal standards of attraction. Here are some interesting findings.
- “Attractive faces are only average.” Using a method for creating “average” looking faces, they found that people in general are more attracted to average faces. Facial symmetry matters more than looks. Langlois & Roggman. Psychological Science (1990)
- “In the west males prefer females who are shorter than average while females prefer males who are taller than average.”
- People tend to marry those who resemble themselves.
- “Universally, men prefer women who are lighter than average (relative to local population) and women prefer men who are darker than average (relative to local population).”
Another famous study by psychologist Devendra Singh found that waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) matters. Men in all cultures, not just the West, are most attracted to women with a WHR of 0.7, which translates to the hourglass figure.
His hypothesis was that this preference is, like facial symmetry, tied to better health, especially reproductive health.
Studies have proven that women in the ideal range (0.67-0.8) are healthier, more resistant to disease, and conceive easier with fewer complications.
(Women, on the other hand, like a WHR of 0.8 to 1.0 in men, but broad shoulders are a bigger turn-on.)
The Arousal Template and Why Men Are Attracted to Certain Kinds of Women
In addition to biology, our subconscious is always at work in our lives.
According to Patrick Carnes, Ph.D., author of Facing The Shadow: Starting Sexual and Relationship Recovery, an arousal template is “the total constellation of thoughts, images, behaviors, sounds, smells, sights, fantasies, and objects that arouse us sexually.”
We all have an arousal template. It includes everything we just talked about, and then some. This template is formed over time and influenced by childhood (especially trauma,) relationships, and all that we process through various media.
In working with a therapist, I discovered that my template included an attraction to women who exuded a sense of danger and edginess. Danger was exciting and fun to me. But it replicated my dangerous childhood in an alcoholic family, where I never felt safe. It was a shocking discovery.
I was attracted to incompatible women with whom a healthy relationship was next to impossible. There was never long-term safety in my relationships.
Unless we’ve done some serious self-examination about the choices we make in life, we’re doomed to repeat them. This is an exercise best done with a licensed therapist.
Color and Men’s Attraction to Women
An article from the University of Rochester, Psychological Study Reveals That Red Enhances Men’s Attraction to Women, discusses a study about color and attraction.
In the study, a photo of one woman was shown to men. One version had her in a red shirt. Another had her in a blue. That was the only difference.
One of the questions asked was,
“Imagine that you are going on a date with this person and have $100 in your wallet. How much money would you be willing to spend on your date?”
Under all of the conditions, the women shown framed by or wearing red were rated significantly more attractive and sexually desirable by men than the exact same women shown with other colors. When wearing red, the woman was also more likely to score an invitation to the prom and to be treated to a more expensive outing.
The red effect extends only to males and only to perceptions of attractiveness. Red…did not change how men rated the women in the photographs in terms of likability, intelligence or kindness.”
Conclusion – Will My Attraction to Women Lead Me to True Love or Another Bad Relationship?
Attraction between men and women is far from being understood. Yet despite the mystery surrounding attraction, genetics, and the subconscious, there is a simple way to cut through the clutter in your search for a great relationship and an ideal partner.
We can pay attention with our conscious mind to the things that we can change. Our mind is, after all, the main distinguishing feature between us and animals. We can change behaviors and thinking that have led us astray.
Other studies about what attracts us to each other have shown that we are drawn to others with similar values and beliefs. Not only do shared values affect our initial attraction, they’re the glue that holds us together.
Dr. Seth Meyers, in Why a Man Chooses One Woman Over Another, draws on his experience as a clinical psychologist to answer that question. He found the most common reasons for choosing one woman over another are:
Compatibility in Sex, Affection, and Social Groups (must fit in with each other’s crowd.)
Shared Lifestyle Values with regard to Family Life, Social Life, and Traveling (do you need time to take trips with your buddies or do you want your partner to go everywhere with you?)
Ultimately, successful long-term relationships are built upon far more than sub-conscious desires and biological traits passed down to us from our ancestors. We have a choice in the matter.
It pays to:
Get to know yourself well and to define the values and beliefs that are important to you.
Understand who you are attracted to and why.
Define your ideal partner. How else will you find them?
Create and follow a plan for your dating success.
The payoff comes when after taking action, you find your way to a true and lasting love.
For more on how to succeed in mature dating, download The Secret to Mature Dating Success. It’s free.