Men have been trying to figure out what women want for centuries. But of course, the science of attraction is hard to predict — it can range so much from person to person, and it can also evolve over time along with society’s trends and expectations. That said, researchers have been digging for more answers in recent years — revealing valuable insight into what makes a guy alluring. The good news? Much of it is within your control.
„Your physical appearance only plays a small part in determining real attraction — psychologists suggest that it could be influenced more by personality,“ says Annie Garmendia, senior matchmaker at Cinqe Matchmaking.
As DatingZest founder and relationship coach Liam Barnett points out, even something as simple as getting enough sleep — which contributes to your energy levels, charisma, and physical appearance — can factor into your appeal.
All that said, it’s important to remember that attractiveness is subjective — and what makes one woman swoon might not work for another.
„Ultimately, the most important thing is to be confident in yourself and to take care of your physical and mental health,“ says Amber Shine, love coach, ACS certified sex educator, and manager at XFans Hub.
With that in mind, here are some research-backed ways to appear more attractive — stat.
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1. Prioritize Hygiene and Grooming
Fresh-smelling breath, a clear complexion, and a carefully trimmed beard — these are the little things that can make a big difference when it comes to physical attraction, according to Janell O’Leary, head dating coach and founder of Elite Dating Managers.
In other words, it’s high time to invest in some quality skincare and grooming products.
And there’s a good reason for this, too. Paying attention to hygiene and grooming makes you look healthy and motivated, both of which are attractive traits. Not only that, but these habits may suggest that you can take care of yourself — as well as your potential kids down the line.
While we’re on the subject of grooming, here’s a fun fact: A 2013 study at the University of New South Wales found that heavy stubble is the optimum length of facial hair to attract women. Over 350 heterosexual women overwhelmingly favored this level of scruff over a light beard or heavy stubble.
2. Dress in Well-Fitting Clothes
„Men who are well dressed are perceived as more confident and put together,“ explains Dr. Tara Suwinyattichaiporn, a professor of sex and relationships at Cal State University Fullerton and host of the Luvbites by Dr. Tara podcast.
To be clear, that doesn’t mean you need to go out and drop your whole paycheck on a new designer wardrobe.
The most important thing, according to Barnett, is to find clothes that fit your body. So, ditch the shrunken polos and baggy khakis, head to your favorite local department store or menswear outlet, and look for items within your budget that are made for your body type. Ideally, you want to seek out clothes that highlight your best assets — for example, a structured blazer to show off your broad shoulders or a slim-cut button-down to accentuate your lean torso.
Not sure how to find the right fit? Bring a trusted female friend or family member shopping with you — or ask for a stylist’s help.
3. Choose a Signature Scent
Don’t underestimate the power of scent when it comes to attraction.
In a small 2009 study published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science, one group of male undergraduates wore a spray with antimicrobial ingredients and fragrance oil, while the other wore an unscented spray with no antimicrobial ingredients.
When a group of women were shown silent videos of the men, they rated the group wearing the fragranced spray more attractive — even though they obviously couldn’t smell them. What’s more — men who used the scented spray reported feeling more confident.
As for what aromas do the trick, studies have shown that women tend to find musk to be particularly sexy.
And even if cologne isn’t your thing, keep in mind that even a scented aftershave, body wash, and deodorant can make an impact.
4. Exercise Regularly
This should come as no surprise, but physical fitness can play a significant role in your attractiveness — and according to Shine, that’s in part because it’s a sign of physical and mental health and well-being.
In a 2017 study, female college students were shown three sets of photographs of men’s bodies and asked to estimate their physical strength or their attractiveness. In all of the samples, men who were believed to be the strongest were also rated as the most attractive.
Researchers believe this is a primal desire rooted in the assumption that stronger men are more physically capable of supporting and investing resources in a family. After all, for our caveman ancestors, strength predicted a man’s ability to hunt for food, fight predators, and protect their loved ones.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you need to be jacked to be attractive. However, setting aside at least two days a week for strength training, and at least 150 minutes a week for cardio exercise, can ensure you stay in shape. Remember: while working with a personal trainer or taking classes may help keep you motivated, you can easily build an effective fitness routine at home with the right equipment.
5. Be Kind — and Altruistic
The saying goes „nice guys finish last“ — but that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
A 2014 Chinese study found that when young women rated men’s faces, they were more likely to rate those that had positive qualities like kindness or honesty as more attractive.
People who are kind are often perceived as more attractive because they are seen as being more considerate, empathetic, and supportive, says Shine — and these are qualities that many people look for in a long-term partner.
„Being kind can be as simple as holding the door open for someone or offering a compliment,“ adds Barnett.
If you’re willing to go the extra mile, Shine advises making an effort to help those in need. And in case you needed any additional inspiration to give back — a 2013 UK study found that women find men more appealing when they do volunteer work.
Plus, a more recent study suggested that altruism might be even more appealing than good looks.
6. Have a Sense of Humor
Not taking yourself too seriously can pay off in a big way when it comes to making women notice you. In fact, countless studies have shown that women are more attracted to men who make them laugh.
That makes sense since laughter can trigger the release of feel-good brain chemicals. The better you make a woman feel when she’s around you, the more time she’ll subconsciously want to spend in your presence.
„A sense of humor captures attention in social settings and demonstrates playfulness, which can be extremely attractive,“ says Garmendia.
Also, Barnett notes that a good sense of humor can make you seem more fun-loving, lighthearted, and easy-going.
7. Increase Your Mindfulness
If you haven’t already started, it’s high time to up your meditation game: a 2015 Australian study found that mindful men tended to receive higher attractiveness ratings from women during a speed dating session.
In a questionnaire beforehand, men were asked to rate how much they agreed with statements like „I perceive my feelings and emotions without having to react to them“ and „I’m good at finding the words to describe my feelings.“ Women were more likely to find the men who agreed with these statements as sexy and datable.
Fortunately, mindfulness is something you can totally improve. Slowing down to scan your body during exercise, engaging in breathing exercises, journaling about your present emotions, and remaining present on walks in nature are all easy ways to work on this.
As an added bonus, mindfulness can enhance your sex life and also help boost your emotional intelligence — which, according to Garmendia. This refers to your ability to detect and empathize with others‘ emotions, and to remain aware of how your behavior affects other people.
„People who are emotionally intelligent are often perceived as more attractive because they are able to navigate social situations with grace and understanding,“ explains Shine.
8. Boost Your Confidence
It’s no secret that women find confidence nearly irresistible.
„It shows that you’re comfortable in your own skin and know your own worth,“ says Shine.
Again, this is a characteristic that’s very much within your control. Shine recommends setting achievable goals for yourself, making it a point to acknowledge your positive traits and skills as well as accomplishments, and practicing self-acceptance.
Even if you’re still working on building up your confidence, Garmendia notes that you can exude a certain air of self-assuredness simply by sitting up straight and walking with a bit of swagger. There’s research to back this up, too: women are more attracted to men who walk upright and with poise, in part because moving in this way conveys a certain level of energy and health.
„Try to keep your shoulders back and your head held high when you’re standing or walking,“ says Barnett.
9. Up Your Knowledge
Whether you know it or not, brains are sexy — and there’s research to prove it.
In one Columbia University study, single women rated the attractiveness, intelligence, and ambition of each guy they met at a speed dating event — and then indicated whether they were interested in getting that person’s contact info.
Researchers found that every point increase in a man’s intelligence rating (on a 1-to-10 scale) boosted the chances a woman would want to see him again by an average of 4.5 percentage points.
Another study published in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior revealed that women find smarter and more creative men to be more appealing.
So, go ahead and nerd out on the subjects you’re most passionate about. Better yet, pick up a book or take a class to ramp up your knowledge so you have plenty to talk about on your next date.
10. Be an Empathetic Listener
It may sound simple, but sometimes just showing that you care what a woman has to say can make you instantly more attractive.
In fact, a 2017 study published in the journal Science of Nature found that women prefer men who are good listeners.
So, when a woman is talking, Suwinyattichaiporn advises showing that you’re paying attention.
„Make eye contact, nod along, and ask follow up questions,“ she says.
Another pro tip: Repeating back what a woman said, in your own words — otherwise known as reflective listening — is a great way to demonstrate that you heard her and understand her.
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