Straight men have pondered the answer to this not-so-simple question since the beginning of time: what do women want? The answer will not be found in a Mel Gibson rom-com, but it might be lurking in a research paper.
Science is doing its best to solve the age-old puzzle of the female brain. Scores of experiments have attempted to name things women find attractive in men, with varying degrees of success. The studies are often small, and rely on iffy self-reported feelings for results, but at worst they provide food for thought, and at best they offer real insight that could take you from dud to Don Juan.
Here are six science-backed traits that women find irresistible.
Good Looks, But Only Sometimes
Take the abs of Matthew McConaughey, the biceps of Chris Hemsworth, and the flowing locks of young Brad Pitt, and you have the perfect man – right? Physical attractiveness can be a factor, but it’s not as important as you might think. Study after study after study has confirmed that while women choose better-looking guys for flings, they fall for other qualities for long-term relationships.
A Sense Of Humour
Ask a woman what she likes in her partner and she’ll almost always say “he makes me laugh.” It’s not news that ladies love a man who can tickle their funny bone, but science helps explain why. One study found that a good sense of humour is sexually attractive because it reveals intelligence, creativity, and other ‘good genes’ or ‘good parent’ traits.
A Furry Friend
No, it’s not just a stereotype – women really do love men with dogs. Studies suggest that dogs facilitate social interaction between humans. Another experiment found that dog ownership can increase the long-term attractiveness of men, as it indicates the ability to nurture and suggests tendencies for relationship commitment.
Time to brush up on your CPR and sky-diving skills. A study confirmed the prediction that women would prefer physical risk-takers (brave, athletic, fit) over risk-avoiders as long-term mates, but only if the risk was taken during an altruistic act. Another experiment discovered that modern risks are considered unattractive for either sex, while risks that harken back to our hunter-gather history are attractive when undertaken by men.
A study published in The Journal of Social Psychology observed that both males and females significantly preferred altruistic mates for long-term relationships, and the size of this preference was greater than for other traits in mate choice. Women are especially likely to choose a mate based on his tendency for prosocial behaviour.
Last but not least, one that doesn’t require a complete personality overhaul or the commitment of owning a pet: wearing red can make you more attractive to women, according to research published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology. A man sporting the vibrant hue is perceived as better looking, more sexually desirable, and higher status.