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The 4 Things Women Look for In Men – Skills You Can Master

by | Mar 15, 2020 | straight men |

Forget looks, humor and status. Here’s what women are actually looking for!

There is an unlimited amount of advice out there for guys and dating in general. The problem is, lots, if not most, of the advice is unhelpful, neutral or outright bad! Especially when it comes to what women look for in men.

Every article seems to be telling you something different about what women want in a man. “Be Alpha!” “Be Sensitive!” “Be Fit!” “Dad Bods Rule!” It can be downright confusing.

So let’s do a deep dive on what do women ACTUALLY want and then, better, how to give them that and fold it into your own personality, so it becomes part of you and not just an act.

Dating is a mix of biology, sociology, psychology and anthropology. Granted, so is everything we do, by definition, as those are the four tenets of humanity.

But with dating, each of these concepts come into play at different times and it’s important to understand how they impact us. Trying to deny it or ignore it is just going to cause you unnecessary problems.

A quick note before we dive in: This post, which is an adaptation from my forthcoming new book, is on the longer side. But bear with me. I am going to tell you how to master the 4 skills that have helped hundreds of my male clients be more successful in love–and in life. Learn them and they will do the same for you!

So What Makes a Guy’s Pulse Skyrocket?

So, as a guy, what is the first thing that you notice a woman? At the beginning what is it that catches your attention?
I’ll make it easy for you. It’s looks.

We men are visually-oriented daters. We need to find the female physically attractive in order to find her whole being attractive.

I equate women to birthday or Christmas presents. What is on the inside is obviously the most important. But it’s the gift wrap that first attracts you to the package.

There have been times where she may have great wrapping until you open it up and realize it’s empty inside.

On the other hand, there may be gold inside, but if it’s wrapped in dirty newspaper, you’re never going be attracted enough to look inside.
Symmetry, hair and hips are queen

Science says symmetry

But just because it’s a simple word doesn’t mean that it’s a simple concept. There have been studies showing that we prefer symmetrical faces.

Take this example from Little and Jones, which proposes that “symmetric faces are attractive because symmetry indicates how healthy an individual is: while our genes are such that we are designed to develop symmetrically, disease and infections during physical development cause small imperfections.”

As the famous anthropological researcher G. Rhodes put it in Evolution and Human Behavior, “We used morphing techniques to alter the averageness and symmetry of individual faces. Increases in both traits increased perceived health, and perceived health correlated negatively with rated distinctiveness (a converse measure of averageness) and positively with rated symmetry of the images. Perceived health correlated negatively with distinctiveness and asymmetry.”

Translation: we may have an evolutionary predisposition to symmetrical faces because of perceived health.

Likewise there is a lot of research into hair…

Evolutionary psychology and related approaches are considered as rationales for the belief that women’s hair is a signal for mate selection and attraction.

In one famous study published in Evolution and Human Behavior, a sample of women were approached in public places and surveyed as to their age, hair quality, marital status, hair length, children, and overall health.

A significant correlation between hair length and age indicated that younger women tend to have longer hair than older women. Hair quality was correlated with women’s health.

Consistent with the principle of intersexual selection, the results of this study indicate that hair length and quality can act as a cue to a woman’s youth and health and, as such, signify reproductive potential.”

what women want in a man

…and skin. “Thus, skin color distribution, independent of facial form and skin surface topography, seems to have a major influence on the perception of female facial age and judgments of attractiveness and health as they may signal aspects of underlying physiological condition of an individual relevant for mate choice.

Thus, perception-wise, good hair and good skin equals good health.

36-24-36? Almost…

There are also many (many!) studies done on the waist-to-hip ratio of what men find attractive. “Results show that in each culture participants selected women with low WHR as attractive, regardless of increases or decreases in BMI. This cross-cultural consensus suggests that the link between WHR and female attractiveness is due to adaptation shaped by the selection process.”

To translate, men, across all cultures, find 7:10 waist-to-hip ratio the sexiest, no matter the weight of the female. Examples would be Sofia Vergara, Scarlett Johansson or Beyoncé.

So why is a .70 ratio so appealing in women? As evolutionary psychologists explain, “the .70 waist-to-hip ratio suggests that a woman is more fertile and better suited for bearing children.”

Biological imperatives are ruling us in secret!

So while “looks” seems simple, there is a WHOLE lot of biology going on there that we are unaware of.

What this boils down to, if you take it at face value, is that males are looking for the best “breeder,” physically speaking. Now don’t think this is the sum total of a woman’s value, it’s obviously not.

There is a lot more going on that adds to the whole. This is just one piece, but it can be a complex piece.

Now let’s become what women ACTUALLY want!

Now women, on the other hand, look for four traits that are the qualities of a good man, right off the bat.

Take a minute and see if you can guess them. What do girls look for in a guy? Go ahead, because what you think will have repercussions which we will discuss.

What did you say? Was it humor? Looks? Money? Status? Stability?

Here are some of the other answers that my clients have responded with over the years: bearing, assertiveness, liveliness, safety, their friends, kindness, ambition, intelligence, responsibility, manners, grooming, patience, height & strength.

So while most guys know intrinsically what catches their eye first, they have a hard time pinpointing what it is exactly that women are looking for.

You are what you project

Now the reason I asked you to think of yours is because that is what you are consciously or unconsciously projecting.

If you think women are looking for money, you will talk about your nice apartment or your sports car. If you think women are looking for humor, you’ll try to be funny.

If you think they are looking for manners, Emily Post will have nothing on you! You are creating your own reality.

So what is the answer? None of those. While many of them are great secondary characteristics, they are not what first catches the attention of the ladies.

No woman ever has wanted to pounce on a guy because he responsibly pays his bills on time. Likewise, “He’s so safe! It turns me on so much!” said no woman ever.

The 4 things women look for in men

Here’s what women want in men. I call these the Big 4 traits, and if you want a woman to like you, you must must acquire them.

  1. Confidence
  2. Leadership
  3. Image
  4. Power

Many of the things above are part of some of these characteristics, but not the whole. So let’s run through these.

Confidence

It’s king, so become its master.

First up, let’s talk about Confidence. This is one that most women know they want from men and usually are aware of it.

But what is confidence? We bandy these words around a lot, but if you don’t know specifically what they mean, it’s difficult to grasp the whole.

In its easiest form, confidence is the surety of one’s own decisions. The bearing, the attitude, the body language all come out of being sure of yourself and your decisions. Imagine you’re at work and you hand your boss a TPS report.

“That’s great John but this line three doesn’t look right, are you sure?”

“Totally sure.”

“Really? Because it seems that…”

“It’s right. I know it. I did the math three times.”

You are confident that you are right because you’re confident in your decisions. But sometimes that surety can get lost in the world of dating. Imagine the next scenario:

“Hey Sarah, I want to take you to my favorite restaurant, Blue Water Grill, this weekend!”

“Really? I’ve heard it’s not that good. My friend went there last week and said the service was bad. And I saw on yelp that it only has three stars.”

“Well, I mean, it’s not really my favorite restaurant. We can totally go somewhere different if you want.”

Many times as men, you are brought up being told, “As long as she’s happy, that’s all that matters.” The same mentality of “happy wife, happy life.”

So the guy is doing exactly what he thinks he should be doing and is trying to make her happy.

However, what he’s showing her is that he’s not sure of his own decisions. If it was his favorite restaurant before her comment, what should it be after her comment? His favorite restaurant!

The confident man’s exchange would go more like this:

“Hey Sarah, I want to take you to my favorite restaurant, Blue Water Grill, this weekend!”

“Really? I’ve heard it’s not that good. My friend went there last week and said the service was bad. And I saw on yelp that it only has three stars.”

“What? That’s crazy. I’ve been going there for years and never had a problem. I don’t know what experience your friend had, but they have a top notch maître d, a fantastic wine list and their oyster selection is second to none! We can totally go somewhere else if you want, but you’re going to miss a phenomenal meal!”

The confident man doesn’t need to be forceful or push his opinion. He can bend in any direction.

What is more important is sticking by your opinions and choices. It’s better to live and die by the sword than it is to waffle around, trying to figure out the women you’re with wants.

Here’s a hint: you’re probably wrong in what you think. So at least, if you stick by your decisions, at least you’ve got the weight of confidence behind your choice.

If you show up on a date and she says to you, “Pink shirt?”

You say, “Hells yeah!”

What you don’t say is, “Oh, most of my other shirts were dirty and I said I’d show this shirt to my coworkers and…” None of that matters. You chose a pink shirt. That’s all that matters. You stick by your choice.

At the same time, know why you believe something. If you say that Blue Water Grill is your favorite restaurant and she asks you why, don’t say,

“Oh, I dunno. The food is pretty good.” That answer inspires no confidence.

What women want in a relationship

Many of my clients equate confidence with lack of vulnerability. Sooooo not true. In fact, the most confident people are the ones who willing you show you their faults. When it comes to what women want in a relationship, vulnerability is at the top of the list.

Look, we all have scars: mental, physical, emotional. The confident man is okay showing you them. I have told my clients, “I can confidently tell you that I have no musical ability. I can confidently tell you that my greatest fear is getting old.”

Confidence is not hiding these. In fact, it’s about embracing them. No one is perfect and the more someone tries to appear that way, the more foolish they tend to look to others.

When you want to talk about confidence out in the real world, out at a bar, it’s the same thing.

If a confident guy sees a pretty girl across the room, he makes a decision, “I’m going to go talk to her.” Then he walks directly up to her (usually with shoulders back, in a direct line, with eye contact) and introduces himself. He was sure of his decision to go talk to her.

If someone lacking in confidence made the same choice and started over, he might get cold feet halfway through and veer off in another direction. He was NOT sure of his decision and thus, didn’t follow through on it.

Leadership

Become the pied piper and lead like a boss.

The next one is Leadership. Most women don’t realize they want this from men consciously. And the ones that do, can’t ask for it.

If a woman asks you to become a leader and you become a leader, what did you just do? You followed! So just by the act of asking you to become a leader, she removed the ability for you to do it. It’s a sad Catch 22.

Many people confuse leadership and confidence and think they are the same thing. A person might be an effective problem solver, a great communicator, a good mentor but lack the confidence to inspire people to follow her. Likewise, you can also have confidence without leadership.

My favorite example of this is Jim Carey’s character, Lloyd from Dumb and Dumber. He is completely confident in himself (erroneously) but he makes horrible choices and is a terrible leader, getting them into all sorts of trouble.

dumb and dumber meme

So, leadership and confidence may walk hand in hand, but they are very different from each other.

The two types of leadership

Now, there are two types of leadership.

There is physical leadership and emotional leadership. Examples of physical leadership are opening doors, making the phone call, choosing the place, picking her up, leading her through crowded spaces, etc. All very important things.

Emotional leadership is learning how to lead the conversation, maintaining the energy on a date, leading the sexual progression as the relationship deepens. Also very important things.

Women really appreciate a good leader. Like, a lot!

I feel there may be a biological or paleopsychological imperative in women regarding this. In the olden days, we’re talking wooly mammoth olden days, effective leaders were the mofos standing in front of the cave defending their family against any predators.

They were the ones that moved the groups in search of food and resources. They were the ones that literally made life or death decisions.

So women still act very viscerally to a good leader. And again, a good leader isn’t one who is bossy or forces his way onto others. He finds the best and most effective path for everyone involved.

There was a phrase I heard from an old military man that I really liked about leadership. I’m going to mangle what he said, so please don’t send me nasty emails telling me I got it wrong. “An effective sergeant is one who can make decisions quickly. Even better if they are the right ones.”

What this means is that an effective leader can make split decisions, on the spot, sometimes without all of the data that they need. If they are wrong, they can adjust later.

But what they DON’T do is sit around, frozen, trying to weigh out all of the possibilities and end up not making any decisions.

Don’t be afraid to choose the wrong thing! We all do! I have! So many times.

But I’ve also had some of those go absolutely fantastically right as well! (I managed to set foot on the field of Yankee Stadium after my team had won without permission or getting in trouble. But I had to make a split second decision and I took my chance!)

Embrace failure. Don’t fear it.

Here’s another scenario for you. Imagine you called her, set up the date, choose the spot and told her to meet you at Blue Water Grill. Good leadership skills so far.

However, when you get there the restaurant is closed. Doh! Now she’s upset looking at you. So, as the leader that you are you turn to her and say, “North, South, East or West?”

“What?”

“North? South? East? Or West?”

“……..”

“Choose a direction, north, south, east or west and in that direction lies our night! We’ll head that way and make a night of whatever we find!”

“Oh! Okay!”

Now her eyes light up and she starts to get excited because you’ve grabbed the reins of the night and are going to lead the two of you into the great unknown. It’s exciting and different and you’ve managed to lead the night away from a disaster into an adventure.

Don’t be afraid of failure. In fact, losing your fear of failure is huge step in this process. We’ll get into that later.

Image

Clothes make the man–here’s how to dress to impress a woman. 

Here we come to Image. Yes, looks are part of image but there is much more to it.

Make no mistake: women want a man who knows how to dress.

Have you ever seen a couple where the woman is attractive and then you look at the guy and go, “WTF?!” The classic joke is that it’s either the size of his wallet or the size of something else that keeps her around! But you can see this all over the world.

I would not call Billy Joel “classically attractive.” But who did he marry? Christie Brinkley! The biggest and hottest supermodel of the 80s! But he’s the Piano Man, you say! Of course, but we’re just talking about looks right now.

christie brinkly hot

Whereas men NEED to have the physical attractiveness to find a woman attractive, ladies are much more forgiving on that front. (Thank heaven for that!)

So then what is image?

It’s what you want the world to perceive you as. My favorite definition is “it’s your non-verbal conversation with the world.” The world looks at you and tries to figure out who you are and what all the little parts of you mean.

If I dress in a LeBron James jersey, warm-up pants and Air Jordans, what does your image say? It says, “I like sports!” So I might ask you who you were rooting for in the playoffs.

If you had on khaki pants, button up shirt, a tweed jacket with leather elbows, facial hair, black framed glasses and smoked a pipe, what does your image say? Perhaps a college professor or philosopher. Maybe then I will bring up Nietzsche.

I love image because you have so much control over it! I change my image up all the time.

Sometimes in winter I’ll sport a full beard with the sides of my head shaved and wear it long on top. I wear corduroy, big Caterpillar boots and baggy jeans.

In the summer, I may be clean shaven, wear my hair in a part, have on white shorts with an electric purple polo shirt and be sporting multi-colored boat shoes.

Two completely different looks and images. And that’s okay, we have many different facets of ourselves and it’s fun to let different ones shine at different times.

You don’t have to dress like Don Draper

Getting a women to like you doesn’t mean that you need to be wearing a 3-piece suit all the time. What it does mean is that when a gal looks at you, she’s looking at (and judging) every little part about you.

So if you know they are going to mentally chew on stuff about you, might as well choose something on purpose.

For instance, if you were in the military and you like talking about the military, you could wear your dog tags. If you are a painter, you might wear jeans with some paint splots on them.

I try to have something on specifically that could engender conversation and that will speak to who I am.

If you get good at this, it’s fun to mess with people! Maybe I will wear out a basketball jersey and bring up philosophy. Or I might dress in a suit and talk about building furniture. It jolts people’s perceptions and keeps them on their toes.

But for now, just try to figure out what image you want to portray and go with that. If you need some help, ask your friends (the ones that will be honest!) what they feel your image is. It can help you see yourself as others see you.

Need more inspiration? Check our favorite first date outfits for men

Power

Nope, it’s not status or money that women are looking for.

Lastly we come to Power! Power is a word we’ve all heard and we pretty much get what it is. But again, in order to truly own anything, we need to know it inside and out.

Tons of men, when asked what women are looking for say status, money, ambition, etc. And they think that these equal power. They don’t.

Many powerful people become rich, become high status. But it’s a by-product of power, not power itself.

So what is power, exactly, and what kind of power do women want from men?

Take a moment yourself and see if you can actually define it. It’s tough! It’s a very esoteric notion.

In its simplest form, it is the ability to influence your environment. That’s it.

We usually think of power in a grander scale, but everyone has power. Everyone can influence their environment.

There are two types of power that I refer to. There’s big power and quiet power.

Big power

You asked a woman out and you take her to your buddy’s restaurant. When you get there, there’s a line out the door. Do you have power? Do you have the ability to influence your environment?

Yes, you do! You go up to the front of the line and ask for your buddy. “Oh sorry Mr. Jones! I didn’t realize you were here. Right this way!”

You aren’t (or shouldn’t be) doing it to show off or look awesome. It’s just that it’s your buddy’s restaurant and you don’t feel like waiting! That’s big power.

will smith powerful man

Quiet power

Same scenario. You take her to the restaurant and there’s a line out the door. But this time you don’t go up to the front and announce yourself. Maybe you’re having a good conversation, maybe it’s a nice night and you want to be outside more, or maybe you’re afraid she’ll think you’re showing off.

Do you still have the same power? Do you still have the same ability to influence your environment? Of course you do, you’re just choosing not to use it at the moment.

But that doesn’t mean you don’t have it.

You eventually make it up to the front and the hostess says, “Oh Mr. Jones, I didn’t realize you were waiting in line! You should have just come up to the front.”

Now your date is looking at thinking, “Wow, so he had the power to jump the line the whole time but didn’t do it? I wonder what else he has power in that I don’t know!” That’s quiet power. Both are useful to use at different times.

When you really start to actualize what power is, it becomes amazing

For instance, if you’re at work, you have the power to influence your environment and everyone’s day by yelling at the top of your lungs and running around the office like a crazy person. Are you going to do that? Of course not. But you still have the power to do it, you are just choosing not to use it.

Likewise, if you are out at a bar, you have the power to influence everyone’s night by going up to each group and telling them a joke.

Will you do it? Probably not. But again, you, YOU, have the power always, at all times to influence your environment and the people within it.

Power is such a weird thing. If you think you have it, you have it. If you don’t think you have it, you don’t.

Eleanor Roosevelt once famously said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

quote about men's power

Any time you meet a new person, be it male, female or animal, they are trying to figure out what the power dynamic is. Are you over them? Under? An equal? It’s you that gets to decide where you fall.

Power is not as hard to create as you think

Power is also something that you can create out of thin air. Here’s an example that happened to me many years back.

I was visiting my brother in Philadelphia and we were out at a bar with his friends and we were talking about my career and power. So I told them we were going to do an experiment.

I pointed at one person and asked them to name an alcohol. “Vodka!” Great! Pointed to another of his friends. Give me another alcohol! “Triple Sec!” Okie dokie! Now someone give me a mixer. “Egg nog!” (It was close to Christmas.) Oooooooh, good one!

Okay, now we are going to invent a shot with vodka, triple sec and egg nog. Someone give me an adjective. “Wacky!” Now a noun. “Walker.”

There we go. We have a shot called the Wacky Walker and it’s vodka, triple sec and egg nog. Now, this shot is the best shot in the world! We all love it. We are going to order it and tell everyone in this bar about it.

We started ordering ourselves, bought them for the bartenders, bought them for new friends and basically got almost the whole bar trying and loving our made-up drink.

I had influenced my environment, the entire bar and everyone in it, with something that I had made up out of thin air!

Granted, his friends were impressed (**wipes off shoulder with a smug look**) but I wanted to impress upon them that power was subjective, it could be created out of nothing and anyone could do it at any time.

On that note, realize that while you can, so can others. So just be…aware that someone you consider to have power may have just created it him/herself.

Bring it From the Page Into Real Life!

We just went deep into what girls look for in a guy.

I know just reading something isn’t necessarily going to immediately change your life. But these are skills, like any other skill, and need to be practiced in order to improve them.

If you wanted to learn German, or painting, it would take at least a couple of hours a week, specifically dedicated to that practice in order to improve.

Consider dating the same way. You need to get your reps in! Unless you are going out weekly and speaking to dozens of people to practice, you’ll need to find other ways of getting it in.

I recommend speed dating as a great way to practice. NOT to get a date! It’s just for practice, to get in your reps. Come in with a game plan and try to improve.

Remember, the things that women are looking for in men are Confidence, Leadership, Image and Power.

C-L-I-P.

So I want you to put a paperclip in your wallet, workstation and where you get ready in the mornings. Every time you look at your clip, I want to remember that is is what women want in a man:

CONFIDENCE!
LEADERSHIP!
IMAGE!
POWER!

Keep learning, practicing and moving forward and nothing will stop you!

Next up

Now that you know what women really want in a man, you may be feeling ready to go out and meet some ladies. That’s great!

But dating is hard, and the truth is most men really don’t know what they’re doing. So before you get started, here’s my best dating advice for men

 

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Dating Coach , Hunt for Advice
Hunt Ethridge is an award-winning dating and relationship expert with over a decade of experience helping people become the best, most dateable versions of themselves. He has founded 3 dating companies including the International Dating Coach Association. He has been featured on CNN, ABC, NBC, FOX, Vanity Fair, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, New York Post, Maxim, the Huffington Post, Telemundo, Yahoo! Shine and more. A top expert in his field, he’s consistently called upon for insight, collaboration, and speaking engagements and has over 100 dating advice articles all over the Web. He was voted the #1 Male Dating Expert in the country at the 2016 US Dating Awards.
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Dating Coach , Hunt for Advice
Hunt Ethridge is an award-winning dating and relationship expert with over a decade of experience helping people become the best, most dateable versions of themselves. He has founded 3 dating companies including the International Dating Coach Association. He has been featured on CNN, ABC, NBC, FOX, Vanity Fair, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, New York Post, Maxim, the Huffington Post, Telemundo, Yahoo! Shine and more. A top expert in his field, he’s consistently called upon for insight, collaboration, and speaking engagements and has over 100 dating advice articles all over the Web. He was voted the #1 Male Dating Expert in the country at the 2016 US Dating Awards.
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