We all know what women want in men, right? They want a muscular body (or was it a slender one?). They want long legs (or was it arms?). They want blonde hair (or was it black?).
OK, maybe we don’t know for certain, but what we can be sure of is that it’s not just about looks and physique. In fact, study after study has shown that, while women do value looks to some extent, they don’t prioritise them in the way men do.
Instead, women place a higher emphasis on personality, and the character traits that show you’re a good catch. And that’s true for short-term flings as well as long-term relationships. So here are the personality traits that women go for and how you can show them off.
Think nice guys finish last? Think again.
A study published in the British Journal of Psychology found that women hunting for dates viewed kindness and generosity as a priority.
Over 300 volunteers were shown dating profiles, some of which had been adjusted to suggest that the subjects were altruistic. For example, some of the profiles included lines about helping others or volunteering.
Overwhelmingly, the women showed a preference for more altruistic men. “If a man is kind and generous towards others – even strangers – then there’s a good chance that he’d make a good and generous parent,” explained Dr Pat Barclay from University of Guelph, Canada, who conducted the study.
It stands to reason that women are attracted to confident men. Confidence is a sign of success, or at least potential. Confident men can get a woman what she wants.
And a study published last year found that women are more sexually attracted to brooding, proud, confident-looking men than their jollier counterparts. In fact, they tended to find shiny happy blokes a bit of a turn-off.
It could be that male displays of pride – even if that’s only shown by facial expression – suggest confidence and status, and women are hardwired to look for high status men. Other studies have found that smiling can be associated with a lack of dominance, and subservient men are not likely to be high up the pecking order. So if you want to attract women, make sure you’re friendly, but don’t stand around grinning like a lunatic.
A study by the University of Northumbria revealed that women who find men funny also consider them more intelligent and honest than their less amusing counterparts. Men who wrote the funniest descriptions of themselves for lonely heart ads were seen as brainier, more genuine and a better bet for a long-term relationship, according to the research.
“The findings provide evidence that women use humour as an indication of a guy’s intelligence,” said Kristofor McCarty, from Northumbria University, who led the study.
“Intelligence is a very attractive quality as a clever man should be more able to provide resources for his offspring.”
But put those cheesy chat-up lines away. The study also found that only genuinely funny men could laugh a lady into bed. Bad gags were given the thumbs down.
OK, maybe self-delusion is the wrong term. Maybe we should say overblown self-confidence.
A study published in the journal Psychological Science found that ordinary looking men often ended up with attractive women because of sheer persistence and a mistaken belief in their own attractiveness.
The research, from the US, discovered that men could make up for their lack of physical beauty by trying their luck with an increased number of women. They may receive a lot of knock-backs, but they also have the occasional success.
Of course, this self-delusion isn’t an attractive trait in itself, but it does lead ordinary looking men to at least try to charm women with other traits, like their intelligence, wit and generosity. The only lesson to be taken is that, whatever you look like, don’t be put off by rejection. The harder you try, the luckier you’ll get.
Other studies have confirmed that women are attracted to brains, regardless of humour. For example, when a team from Elon University in North Carolina showed female students videos of men performing athletic and mental tasks and asked them to pick favourites, the women tended to go for the most intelligent men.
In other words, it’s worth bigging up your academic achievements (subtly, of course – women don’t like boasting) on a first date or even on your internet dating profile, waxing lyrical about culture or society (without hogging the conversation) or maybe just arming yourself with a really good joke.
So there you have it. If you want to increase your chances of attracting the women – or woman – of your dreams, science suggests that kindness, confidence, humour and intelligence – along with perseverance – are the keys to success.