Wednesday, 9 October 2013

What Women Find Attractive

Well, well, well. As you know, this is a blog for WOMEN, and I discourage men from reading as much as possible, in part because too many men think the internet is for insulting people. If I tell men over and over that my blog is only for GIRLS they might read it, but they will scorn to admit it by leaving messages in the combox. Manly men do not whine in my combox; they send me emails proudly signed with their real names or upbraid me at dinner parties.

However, some of you girls link to Seraphic Singles on Facebook, which is cool except when your male Facebook friends lumber over and start whining in the combox, particularly about "American women." Frankly, I don't give a flying crumpet what men (usually American) think of American women; I'm Canadian and this is officially a British, and a Scottish, blog, and few men know as much about women as women, so why are they wasting my time?

Still, if American men crawl, whining and anonymous, into my combox when British and Polish men scorn to do so, it suggests that their principal problem is that they can't attract women. And no wonder. Crawling anonymity is not very attractive.

So today, while such guys are still hanging around wondering when their comments will appear (never), I thought I would talk about what women find attractive in the hopes that the men will actually learn something and stop thinking women don't like them because they don't have fancy cars. My husband doesn't have a fancy car. He doesn't have any car. He used to have one, but he used it for book storage, and then failed his driving test, which basically makes him the man I was meant to marry.

What my husband has, on top of kindness, Catholicism and brains, is an interesting way of life, with an interesting position with an interesting firm and interesting friends, who also abound in kindness, brains and, very often, Catholicism. He is pleasant-looking and confident and dresses reasonably well, having been a Young Fogey in university. His life is so cool when he asked me if I'd like to share it, I said the girly equivalent of "Heck, yeah," which is "Giggle, giggle, giggle." If we end up living in a tent, at least he'll be witty about it, and presumably he'll still wear a jacket and tie to Mass.

Having got this nice husband, I could retire from being pleasant to any other man ever again, were it not for the fact that my husband is still somewhat sociable. He drags me to places where men are, and I don't mind because his friends tend to be attractive people. I don't mean people who are running-away-with-attractive, who by definition I would not find attractive, as I would not be attracted to people so wicked as to want to run away with married me. I just mean attractive enough that I wouldn't rather stab myself with a fork than talk to them for fifteen minutes. This means confident, reasonably cheerful, reasonably witty men with something interesting to say. (If they aren't chatty, they at least dress with panache, so I have something nice to look at.)

They have head the latest news, and watched the latest documentaries, and have traveled recently to somewhere interesting. They are confident, yet curious about other people. They don't use bad language, at least not in English, or only very occasionally, when some interesting drama has broken out. They are well read, and they enjoy whatever it is they are doing, or if they don't, they are actively looking for something else. They offer or return hospitality. They find out what local social obligations are (e.g. a bottle to a party, thanks to the hostess), and they fulfill them. They have good table manners, but do not throw fits if a cat walks across the table. They take pains not to embarrass anyone(although a bit good-natured ribbing among men seems to be okay with men) or humiliate anyone, or take part in group-shaming women or prolonged demonizing of whole ethnic groups. (Rhetorical denouncements of historic enemies can sometimes add spice to dinner, as long as no historical enemies happen to be there at the time.) They are kind to those weaker than they, and quick to put an amiable-looking stranger at his ease. When they are in the wrong, they admit it as only the bravest men do, and they try to set things right.

And that's enough for me. What do you girls think is attractive in men?


Anonymous said...

"He used to have one, but he used it for book storage, and then failed his driving test, which basically makes him the man I was meant to marry."
That was hysterical and lovely. Seraphic, if you and B.A. are ever in the midwest, please come over for dinner and I'll introduce you to the most charming and delightful people I know.

I love the way you describe your friends. They sound C.S. Lewis-y in the best way.

I find men attractive when they're grateful for small things in a strong way. That is to say, they don't react with womanly emotional frippery, but they count their blessings and can see the grace of God in details. They don't feel entitled to things.

I also find men attractive when they can plan things. I'm a dreamer and I stress sometimes, so when a person can come in and lead with warmth, humor, and an easygoing effectiveness...I've had crushes sprint up solely from how men made dinner plans.

I also like men who can roll with the punches, who can be rejected or argued with and not have it affect their sense of self. (So, the antithesis of whiny pathetic anonymous commenters.)

And men who go out of their way to be kind to the small, weak, or hurting. The guys who take small children's concerns seriously, who go out of their way to open doors for people holding packages or on crutches, who tip a waitress extra if she looks stressed and who make time to listen to people they don't know well. That particular sort of generosity hits straight in my heart.

Grad in a big city said...

Psh, money.

Not only do I not give a flying fig about cars (to the point of being a bit disdainful to those boys who care all too much), but I would rather have a nice, inexpensive home-cooked meal that someone took the trouble to prepare for me than a fancy restaurant dinner most nights.

(Note: this is not about who does the cooking. What I like in a man is someone who wants to spend the time and effort to take care of me, rather than just foot the bill.)

Bee said...

I am a woman in the U.S. and I approve this list. Auntie has some very good specific examples. In general, to me, attractive qualities are: compassion—particularly in the U.S., you avoid casting mean-spirited aspersions on entire groups of people with poor formation, lack of love, or struggle with sin. Interests that you speak to positively—-meaning you are upbeat, not ranting about the articles you read and the problems of the world today. Understanding attitude—-appreciating that not all women act or look the same or have the same interests or ways of expressing openness but still getting to know: that some are shy, not bubbly; some may be snarky about one topic, but not necessarily others; some love watching sports and drinking “masculine drinks” but are inwardly dying for the opportunity to get dressed up sometimes, too.
And most importantly: balance. Of the few men I’ve dated (perfectly fine fellows, just not suited for long term), all had balanced approaches to life: faithful to Catholic Church teaching, but not draconian about every little thing; balance of amusements intellectual and decidedly not; balance of work and social life (It was always clear I was dating him, not him+his best buddy, nor an afterthought).

Of course individual attraction to another is deeply personal. I do my best not to exclude men on superficial qualities (color of hair, type of build, etc.), but an answer of “no thanks” should not be taken personally by the guy, because you are probably wonderfully attractive in your own right…just to someone else.

Mel said...

My husband is 25 pounds heavier than he'd like to be and no longer young, his hair is turning grey, he wears clean but very ordinary clothing, and he drives a rusted-out Buick that he loves because it is big enough to fit his height comfortably. We're not poor, but certainly not rich either. I married him because he is intelligent, funny, solidly Catholic, gentle with children, kind and generous to those weaker or in need, and manly; he stands up for himself when he needs to, loves his family, and has never said one single mean-spirited or unkind thing to me even though we broke up twice before getting married.
I've only known maybe one or two women in my entire life who actually go for the money-and-flashy-cars type of man.

Heather in Toronto said...

"He doesn't have any car. He used to have one, but he used it for book storage, and then failed his driving test, which basically makes him the man I was meant to marry."
That is... priceless.

I am not currently looking for a man, but that doesn't mean I don't know what I consider attractive in a man. Here are qualities that I consider attractive.

Confidence is attractive. Not the bravado that is really just a thin mask for insecurity. Proper confidence, as in knowing yourself, your strengths, and your interests, and not being ashamed of them. If you love books so much you'd rather fill your car with them than drive it, chances are you'd like to attract a girl with similar tendencies, who will find your car full of books irresistible, as per Exhibit A above. So embrace it!

Respect is attractive. Treat your family and friends well, and be considerate to strangers. In particular, the way you speak to and about your mother, sister(s), and other women already a part of your life says a lot to a woman who might want to be a part of your life too.

Intelligence is attractive. An overly inflated awareness of one's own intelligence, on the other hand, is not.

A sense of humour is attractive, although some forms of humour are more attractive than others. Laughter at cruelty or misfortune inflicted on another is unbecoming, as it violates the "respect for others is attractive" principle. Crude innuendo and toilet humour risk landing you in "annoying kid brother" territory. Bad puns are hit-or-miss: if you love them, go for it, as you will be happiest with a spouse who appreciates them and can respond in kind. But in general, I think the reason nearly all women say they want a man with a sense of humour is that we want someone who knows how to have fun and who doesn't take the little things in life too seriously.

Good health and proper grooming are attractive. No, you don't have to be some godlike specimen of physical perfection. But you should look like someone who knows how to take care of himself, because you are looking for a mate, not a nanny.

Anonymous said...

I met my husband on a sort of a blind date (truth be told, we met on a dating website, but I know that is a sore subject, and not for everyone, and I am not here to argue that point at all). We met at a restaurant, talked for hours, and then he drove me home in his old slightly beat-up Camry. My previous boyfriend, who was really not very nice at all, had a love affair with fast and flashy cars which I never understood. So when this guy that I hardly knew took me home in his old Camry -- all the while being a perfect gentlemen, opening doors, being respectful and polite, etc. -- I was completely charmed. I was not at that point won over; I thought he was nerdy, and too infatuated with me, and so I was not immediately interested. But his simplicity and sincerity spoke to my heart, that is for sure. He was hard for me to ignore. Now we are married, and I often tell him that it was his Camry that won me over. It is a joke, but honestly there is a lot of truth in it! My husband did not have a lot of pretensions, and I had dated so many people with pretensions, so he was a breath of fresh air. He still does not have a flashy car, and I love him for that. In fact, all the new cars go to me. I have been blessed. * Lisa *

Bookworm said...

I hope it wasn't any of my male friends who complained about American women yesterday. :( Sorry that happened.

I have to say, my favorite things about men change based on my growing list of my least favorite things. I really don't like insecurity: the neurotic worrying that they aren't ever going to measure up. Having been in that place my self, I have a lot of compassion for the men and women who have those worries. However, I wouldn't marry a man like that. I eventually grew up and gained my own confidence. I need my husband to be at that same place as well.

I know a guy who is incredibly patronizing, going so far as to call girls something along the lines of "Little [first name]." That particular guy also didn't allow the girl to talk for herself. He would ask a question and then attempt to answer it for her. I think he was like this because he was nervous around girls. I think, subconsciously, he felt that patronizing them and making them seem small helped him feel bigger or more in control when he was talking to them. He was also always beating himself up. When he was rejected or felt like people were ignoring him or had a disagreement with a girl (I think he was different around guys), he would sulk and refuse to talk to anyone for months on end. He really liked me, but I couldn't ever see myself with him.

Positive things now: sense of humor, generosity, humility, kind to children, optimistic, strong Faith, integrity, speaks well of women and treats them with kindness... these are the things I value in men.

Katy said...

This is a fun game!

This is what makes me swoon:
Holiness: not defined as knowledge or constant talking about the faith, but rather expressed as extraordinary charity and humility)
Virtue: putting others first, doing the right thing, and being disciplined about responsible and virtuous habits.
Confidence: independence (social and financial), keeping insecurities appropriately under wraps in most settings. Exercising conversational and social competence.

Kate said...

This is a great post and has some great comments as well. Here's my (very short....) list:
- Confidence is really important. If a man doesn't take himself seriously, I can't either. If a man is constantly apologetic, I want to slap his face. Bless his little face...
- Intelligence. I don't care about degrees, but someone who is interested in things and can run circles around me in some areas (mechanics, plumbing, and technology are good bets) is very attractive.
- A sense of humor. I don't take myself very seriously and I like witty repartee.
- Catholic. And by Catholic, I mean "head of the household" kind of Catholic. I grew up with a Protestant dad - he's since converted - and I do love a man who knows the mysteries of the Rosary and reminds me to say my novenas.
- Also very attractive - a man who can make decisions. I'm quite capable of making decisions and they're usually the right ones, in all humility. However, I really, really appreciate a man who takes my opinions and feelings into account and makes decisions for me.
- Good with children. A man who can rock a baby to sleep after changing a diaper is a real selling point.
- Money - and by this I don't mean rolling in it. I mean capable of holding down a good job and making enough money for me to stay home and homeschool our nine boys in comfort. Men who are still in school after 30, who have debt, or who aren't capable of being independent are not attractive to me at all. I did the school thing, I paid off the debt, I have a good job. Maybe this makes me a feminist...I don't know.
- Lastly, I find men who can get me out of my melancholic/phlegmatic shell very attractive. Sometimes these haven't been the "good" boys - but they are the ones who know how to read a woman and let her know that her feelings matter.

Katie said...

Reading the other ladies' lists has helped me developed my thoughts on what I find attractive in men.

Four indispensable qualities in an attractive man:
- Competent
- Confident
- Virtuous
- Intelligent
To really click:
- Great sense of humor
- Generosity of spirit
- Optimistic, but realistic
- A good conversationalist - capable and genuine in expressing himself, and possessing a variety of interests
Amaazingly attractive:
Humility - demonstrated through being considerate and compassionate; taking time and effort for others; capable of giving direction/correction with gentleness
Knowledge, competence, and interest in a specific subject - it doesn't really matter what, as long as it's appropriate and in proportion

Discipline - setting goals and making sacrifices to achieve these goals

Physical aspects are superficial - they matter somewhat, but not nearly as much as the interior qualities.

Domestic Diva said...

In addition to the many wonderful things others have listed, I have to add that my dad is always on the lookout for what is best for his wife & family, no matter what it costs him. It's a far cry from righteousness masking selfishness, which I have seen in some men. It's genuine concern for others' well-being. Not obvious in the early days of a relationship, but boy, that's a winner in my book.

29 in Aus said...

I will pretty much confirm everything that has been said above and add: cheerful, and selfless.

Thanks, Auntie :)

thepinkeminence said...

I agree with much of the above. My favorite things in men are blue eyes and charm, but to be actually compatible with someone he'd have to be Catholic and thoughtful about it, intelligent and intellectually curious (but not necessarily well-educated), ambitious and hard-working (but not necessarily well paid), funny, taller than I am, generally good-natured, and be fond of babies. I also like practical men because (as was mentioned above) I know I can be a bit spacey.

Sheila said...


So many guys like to hang out with women because the women will listen to them. So they rant and lecture and complain, and the whole time the woman is saying, "Yes. Really? Oh, my. I know what you mean."

This does not mean they aren't bored to tears. Maybe they aren't, but this is just polite listening. Men who have mastered the same technique, of actually actively listening when someone's speaking and aren't just waiting for them to finish, are extremely attractive.

I read a book years ago called "How to Talk to Practically Anybody About Practically Anything" and it would be highly recommended to anyone who wants to know how to draw out a dinner party guest or a date. Hint: the interview approach isn't it.

Um, what else? Positive. Not constantly whining about how his troubles are other people's fault, but willing to admit he's made a mistake.

Basically adult -- not living in his mother's basement, not piling on debt. Hopefully having a job he cares about, not just stringing together part-time stuff, but in this economy I don't blame anyone for being underemployed.

Speaks well of others in my presence, because that tips me off they will speak well of me in others' presence. People who gossip to me will gossip about me.

Physically I have my own preferences, like everybody. But I think basically physically fit is always something attractive, though not necessarily essential to everyone. We all know men and women both put on pounds after we get older, so in your twenties and thirties if you're already paunchy, it'll only get worse. I'm not really keen on being a widow to diabetes or heart disease. So eating right and exercising won't do any harm to a man's chances with women.

Cars? When I married my husband he had a ten-year-old eight-passenger van. So nope. I'm American, for the record.

Jam said...

Tallness. Dreamy dark eyes. OH WAIT we're supposed to go past that. :P

When I am attracted to men, I do often have that "your life is so interesting, I would like to be part of it please" reaction. This isn't a sort of "wow you get to jet around the world every weekend" sort of thing. It's more about a man evidently enjoying his life, appreciating and even being proud of his friends, having lots of interests.

I find it totally attractive when a man explains something he does that he loves to me. It could be his job, it could be his hobby. I don't know how to explain this, but there's a kind of genuine interest and enthusiasm that just lights up anyone and makes them more attractive. And then -- important corollary -- a guy who is genuinely interested in what I do; oho, so attractive. (This isn't necessarily a "we're interested in the same things" thing, it's more about taking an interest in *people* and being able to focus on someone and share something human-to-human.)

Of course it helps if we're on the same page religiously, culturally, intellectually, and so on, but these are the two qualities I can think of that make a man attractive even when those things aren't there. (Also tallness and dark eyes. ;) )

MK said...

A man of action is very attractive. By that I mean a man who walks the walk and backs up his beliefs and philosophies by his actions. Also, if he's unhappy about something he takes steps to change it and doesn't wait around for whatever it is to sort itself out or for someone else to take care of it.

Elizabeth said...

And Friendliness, not just to attractive or eligible females, but to oldies and kids too. Also confidence (especially in themselves and their decisions) and a good sense of humour. It goes without saying that those who demonstrate responsibility (keeping down a job, getting a better job, saving for a house, looking after their extended family, and any other type of responsibility you care to add) just add to the attractiveness-level. It's important to keep to appointments or commitments you've made too ( except in an emergency or course) - because guys, though you shouldn't be reading, we do notice when you have said you will be somewhere (choir practice, group dinner type of thing, I mean, not your one-on-one coffee date), or do something and you don't!(I'm talking without good reason, of course).

Bernadette said...

These are some of the things I find highly attractive in a man:

- A sense of humor: a man who laughs, and who can make me laugh, can be well nigh irresistible.
- A lively mind, interested in many topics, willing to learn about things he doesn't know, able to sustain an interesting conversation.
- Kindness, both in word and deed, particularly to those who have no claim on him.
- A willingness to serve and care for those around him, especially in the small, often overlooked details of life. The kind of guy who would be willing to scrape the frost off my windshield on a cold day, or take the trash out without being asked.
- A certain groundedness or stability - this can be mental/emotional (doesn't indulge in drama, is able to deal with having emotions in a mature way), or life circumstance (he knows who he is, and is fairly settled in a particular vocation or path). Someone you can rely on to be able to handle life's shocks without completely falling to pieces.
- A deep love of God - holiness is very attractive.

There are other factors that might make or break a relationship - for example, whether or not we share the same values, or if we think the same things are fun (e.g. if I think a nice night out is having dinner and a movie with friends, and he thinks a nice night out is getting completely wasted at a bar with strangers, things probably aren't going to work out). But these are the things that make me interested in finding out whether or not we have those shared values, or enjoy the same things.

Meredith said...

My husband drives a blue Honda Fit. The first time we met, he gave me a lift in it, and it was not the car itself I noticed but the fact that he had named it Rhonda. We name cars in my family, and right away that made him seem familiar, and showed that he had a sense of whimsy.

I always imagined marrying a man with hawk-like, Gallic features and jet black hair. My husband has twinkling blue eyes and a bald, close-shaven head. He also has nice strong shoulders and is a good bit taller than me.

The holy Trinity of husband qualities, in my book, is Witty, Kind, and Catholic. Sean teases me and makes me laugh a lot. He is unbelievably patient and kind, and he never says a cross word to me. And he takes the initiative in our spiritual life.

Also, I'm rather introverted and he has a lot of friends that he has introduced me to. I know that if we go somewhere or host a dinner, his lively conversation will save my from my own awkwardness.

Sean may be sweet and charming and good at talking to little kids, but he also has a pugnacious Brooklyn side which comes out when he is driving on the freeway and when he is venting his work frustrations. I like that just fine; a bit of fight in a man is good. ;)

I suppose that the men who have whined about "American women" think that said women only go for men who use anxiety and dread to keep them interested. Perhaps they also hinted that Am. Women possess waists that are undesirably thick, culinary skills that are less than adequate, and personalities that are less than docile? News at 11!

Bernadette Rose said...

Isn't it interesting how many of us find kindness/gentleness in a man overwhelmingly attractive? If the guy is strong and manly to start with, that just totally makes us melt. Do you suppose the opposite is true? So many "trad" types run around urging women to be all sweetness and light because that's what men find feminine and attractive. But I have a theory that, given a woman has a truly tender and feminine heart, men like to see a spark of gallantry--something high-hearted and courageous. Robert Louis Stevenson said it in the sequel to "Kidnapped": "It puts heart into a man, to see a woman brave...."
I'm suggesting, ladies, that the crown of manly virtue is gentleness, and the crown of feminine virtue is courage.
Any thoughts?

Sheila said...

Meredith, you're such a newlywed. ;) Makes me smile to see another happy seraphic alumna.

Jam, this line is exactly true: "I find it totally attractive when a man explains something he does that he loves to me. It could be his job, it could be his hobby. I don't know how to explain this, but there's a kind of genuine interest and enthusiasm that just lights up anyone and makes them more attractive. And then -- important corollary -- a guy who is genuinely interested in what I do; oho, so attractive."

I love to hear people get excited about their stuff, men specifically. The only thing I love more is to have someone get excited about MY interests. :D