What Makes a Woman Beautiful to a Man?

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About Dr. Adam Sheck

Dr. Adam Sheck is a licensed Psychologist, Couples Counselor and Mission Specialist, supporting people in connecting to their mission, passion and purpose at ownyourmission.com. He especially relates to men dealing with the issues of the second half of life at menafterfifty.com. You can find him on Facebook when he's not busy writing for The Good Men Project.

Comments

  1. I have no doubt in my mind that men find other things “beautiful”, other than looks. But I also know that while a lot of men that will give a list of reasons why they love their partner, for her wit, intelligence, humor, kindness; it never completely outweights the importance of a woman’s looks. Why do I believe this? because a majority of men, whether in relationships or not, through the course of their life, will still seek out idealized versions and images of idealized women even through the history and course of the monogomous relationship they share with their partner. So it’s great that men find other things beautiful about other women. I never doubted that they didn’t. But it’s not really that big of a “comfort” as a woman when we have these discussions because after having these discussions, its probable that many men will go off to look at the exact idealized images women struggle agaisnt regularly and that society pits up against. It’s almost akin to “Do as I say, not as I do.” Until men stop falling victim to these unrealstic and fantasy images of women, women will always have some bondage to the way men really want us to be vs accepting us for who we are or highlighting our other qualities over our looks.

    • @Erin….

      “Until men stop falling victim to these unrealstic and fantasy images of women, women will always have some bondage to the way men really want us to be vs accepting us for who we are or highlighting our other qualities over our looks.”

      Well, I really do not think most men think this way. Most men in America, like women, are overweight. Frankly, I find it hard to believe that such men really would focus strictly on looks AND feel they can get these “hot” women. If so, they are simply being delusional.

      Personally, I always go for an average looking women. My primary desired quality is for her to be a good human being, intelligent, great personality, honest, compassionate, and have a nice ass. There a lots of such women in America.

      We all have our personal preferences. It’s like ice cream. My favorite flavor is vanilla bean. Same with men and women. But, to expect that you (not your (personally) should be entitled to the most conventionally beautiful mate is silly.

      Honesty, few of my male friends have the attitude you described. Yes, I know such men exist (as do women).

      • I believe we are having a little miscommunication. I don’t think most men believe they are realistically entitled to the most convetionally beautiful mate. I do think men supplement their needs in other way through things like pornography or other mediums. So yes, I know men fall in love and have relationships with more average women. I have never doubted that men infact do love a woman’s smile, eyes or sense or humor. However, despite all this, there are millions and millions of men still turning their eye for fake images of women in the media or regularly using porn to supplement their sex lives.

        Alot of men may not believe they are entitled to conventionally beautiful mates in real life. But many men do seem to believe they are entitled to the endless vacuum of conventionally beautiful potential mates that are paraded around before them in our society in a regular basis.

        • @Erin…

          Sorry I did misunderstand you.

          “But many men do seem to believe they are entitled to the endless vacuum of conventionally beautiful potential mates that are paraded around before them in our society in a regular basis.”

          I really don’t know. Most of my business dealing are with white men. I can say with 95% you have described most of them to a tee. Not all but around 60%-70%. However, with my Asian, black, and Hispanic male friends I do not see this at all. I am sure it does exist with some.

          I know of not one single black, Hispanic, or Asian friend who has asked his wife or LT girlfriend to get a boob job or harp and whine about their weight. It’s just a cultural difference I think.

          I do not watch porn. So, what motivates men (and women) to do so I cannot say. It’s the same with strip clubs. Waste of money AND inappropriate for married men or men in serious LTR. Just my view. Maybe it is just a form of entertainment for them. Or it could be due to a lack of sex from their wives or girlfriends. I went 6 years without sex in my 20s and 2 1/2 years while married in my early 40s. I never sought out porn, hookers, or strip clubs.

          • ogwriter says:

            @Jules
            Think about it Jules. You have the benefit of seeing the world through a much bigger lens than most. You can comfortably,compare and contrast the cultures of Asians, Hispanics, Blacks and whites. therefore, you get to sample multiple reflections of who you are. For instance, if you were only provided the opportunity to see yourself as black women see you hat might not be such a good thing for you. Makes one wonder why someone would choose to be with someone or be in a culture that didn’t treat them well.

    • Hey Erin, Like I’ve said else ware in this article, this Oct. 4th marks 38 years the wife and I have been together. You want to know what made me feel I just had to be with this woman all the time? OK, actually it was 2 things. Her smile, that came so easily and often, and her laugh, that came just as easily and often. Yeah, physically, we were both a lot ‘Hotter’ back then (and in fact, she has aged much better than I) But when I came home today, I was greeted with that same wonderful smile, and as a lifetime ‘class clown’, I was still able to make her laugh. And THAT’S what makes her still beautiful to me!

    • racati* says:

      while your assessments don’t sound wrong to me, it maybe more of a two-way street than you acknowledged. Women desire very attractive men, too. Guilty as charged. I realize there are more options for conventionally unattractive men than conventionally unattractive women to come out on top at the end–statistically, overweight men (of a certain age, anyway) earn more money than their slimmer counterparts, but with women it’s the exact opposite. The inequality is real, but it’s less of an imbalance in moral failure than you presented. The imbalances at hand go way beyond individual choice and preference.

  2. Great post Adam! For me, I think it’s all about the world each individual creates. Now that’s coming from a 35 year old. In my twenties, I had periods of feeling super attractive… and then not. What I learned from both was this: when I felt loving and lovable, when I loved the person I saw in the mirror, everything in my life worked, including professional and personal relationships. You have to love the skin you’re in. Now the beauty industry might be colluding in having women believe that they need to be in somebody else’s body but each of us (especially after we hit Saturn Returns between 28 and 32) has to come to a point where we say, “What THEY think of me is NONE of my business” and proceed to define what beauty looks like for us. The problem I see in so many people today is that they are chasing the wrong things and not feeling good in their skin… and that leads to unattractiveness. I’ve seen heavy and thin women attract fantastic men and the only common denominator was this: they loved themselves, knew they had a lot to offer, and put their best selves out there… and detached from outcome. Far too often, we’re waiting for other people to tell us we’re beautiful before we actually believe it… when it really works the other way around.

    • ogwriter says:

      @Kassandra
      You make so much sense but as I am sure you know, how someone perceive themselves to be is reality.The beauty industry is a reflection of who we are, which is exactly why it works so well. Attempts to assign some diabolical and insidious intent to harm women in order to sell beauty products is ludicrous. Arguments to the contrary have yet to provide anything but academic theory as proof of their charges and they simply ignore valid evidence that questions their belief’s.
      A Ground hog Day remix. Nothing changes. That wouldn’t be so bad if men didn’t have to pay the price.

      • I agree with Kassandra said myself but I disagree with that it’s some kind of “joke” in regards how the beauty industry and society in general treats women and their looks. It is a very insidious target that does harm women in order to sell beauty prodcuts Ogwriter. And as a woman, I feel that every day. And I actually find it offensive that you’ve decided it’s a joke. It’s not. Now I can choose to believe in myself or believe the industry and that’s the choice I can make. But that doesn’t mean how society treats women and looks isn’t a very real threat. As for men having to pay the price, I have no clue what you even mean by this when it seems to me that women are the ones that pay the price. Especially when you see movie after movie of aging male actors with young up and coming starlets. Or you see men like Charlie Sheen still get hit tv shows with women half his age. Or you see the female actresses playing “moms” to younger actresses that would have had to be 10 when they were born. Or when you see how popular pornography is among men and how much of porn promotes the same looks ideals of youth and beauty.

  3. ogwriter says:

    @Erin
    I am not sure where I should begin. Lets see, what about suffering because one is considered less than optimally attractive/ Do you really believe that I haven’t experienced this sort of thing? I used to bleach my skin, straighten my hair etc.,etc..,etc., all in order to do the impossible, look more white. I also suffered from all of the traditional self hate that is a part of the package when one doesn’t like oneself. In fact, it is a safe to say, still, that many,many black people still suffer this way. The black “beauty” models this behavior. Things haven’t changed much. For some.
    Should I be upset because some white or Asian ,or whatever woman won’t give me the time of day because I am black and unattractive to her? Something had to change, so I did. Society is going to change, but it will change slowly. You told me that once or twice in reference to my frustration with being invisible on GMP. Or you could be unhappy as shit. The truth is even with out being considered attractive to certain women and millions of Americans, live is sweet anyway.

  4. ogwriter says:

    Erin
    I don’t keep track of Charlie Sheen’s career or commercials and magazines and or most print media,but I do marvel that women crawl all over him. However, he does have money and power. Most women like those things. I learned a long time to ago that I should not rely upon broken systems to evaluate and facilitate my self image. And I gotta say, that in real life and the movies some younger women do go for older men. According to an article on the Huff post, older women are certainly digging younger men. Should one be upset about that too. Given my experiences with being told-straight out-not just through exclusion-that you look like an ape and having grotesque, misshapen images of you be used to sell products and dehumanize you’ I realized it made little sense to look for leadership from the that culture. You and I see America through different eyes. I don’t want to be a part of the mainstream consciousness, that would be a mistake for me. In light of what I have experienced after coming out on the other side, with so other pressing issues to deal with, it is silly- and selfish-to spend so much time on this subject.

  5. I am having a chuckle at all of this. I am a 55 year old woman (white and blonde) with physical disability and mental illness. By all the relevant criteria of the beauty industry all this plus being overweight should ensure that I am not viewed as attractive. This life equation should see me luck out in the love department. Rubbish I’ve been loved and I have loved. Was married to a man who adored me for 14 yrs and had my son with. Now I am in the most wonderful relationship with a man who at 34 is twenty years younger than me. He loves all of me and is my full time carer while I am the breadwinner so to speak. I knew him for several years before I took his invitation to explore more with him. Why because I believed in my own limitations more than my possibilities. We have lived together for three and a half years. They have been some of the best years I have ever known. There is much laughter, some tears and much joy. He has my love and an opportunity to be who he is. A gentle caring man who keeps aquariums and breeds fish and loves to cook and keep house. He is a tall strong very attractive man who does not drink and never enjoyed pubs and clubs. His preference has always been for women older than himself. I have no doubts about being loved, physical passion and intimacy have never been better. I am a happy and contributing member of my community. I have friends and family who are loving and supportive. I have a wonderful quality of life and I can assure you all it had nothing to do with Estee Lauder, Clinique, Vogue or being a size six with augmented breasts. Love is seeing someone’s soul and inner beauty and knowing just where you want to be. No limits ever.

    • Coral

      If it has to do with inner beauty, you’d be in a relationship with a disabled overweight 55 yr old man.

      I’m just calling a spade a spade, Coral. You probably consider the kind of a man describe above unattractive (despite being equal to you) but you come here and give a lecture on how physical beauty doesn’t matter while inner beauty does.

      He is twenty years younger than me. He is a tall strong very attractive man
      Clearly, it took more than seeing ones soul and inner beauty for you to be attracted to him.

  6. ogwriter says:

    @Carol:Bravo.All of this whining is so damn exhausting.

  7. ogwriter says:

    @Carol
    Thank you for so graciously putting this issue into, what I think is, the proper perspective. I fear we get so wrapped up in our stuff that we loose perspective frequently, incorrectly thinking the world evolves around our individualism. It doesn’t. If one belongs to the right group, flexing one’s individualism in this manner is a powerful weapon. Is there something to be said for the fact that “the media” exploits OUR collective pain and insecurities for profit, of course. Nonetheless, we are not children nor are we wholly separate from the media. The media does what it does because we allow it too. And we sit in our mental cubicles, bitching and complaining so loudly that we can’t hear that others are struggling similarly, What’s the point to that behavior? I do know this.The behavior is by definition divisive and not in the least bit progressive.

  8. I’m always haunted by the old adage “tell a beautiful woman she’s smart, and a smart woman she’s beautiful.” It makes me have a hard time fully accepting either compliment at face value. Also, I tend to be called “hot” a lot more often than “beautiful”- I know it’s meant as a compliment, but there’s an element of shallowness to it that stings a bit- like I’m only attractive in a sexual manner, and my overall essence, personality, etc, isn’t anything of value.

  9. What a lot of women want to know is why a particular woman may STOP being beautiful to a man. It’s warm and fuzzy to think about universal, eternal beauty and how men think the women they love become more beautiful over time. That’s certainly common enough to warrant a tribute.

    Now, the flip side. Why do some women stop being so beautiful to the men who found them beautiful before?

    • “Why do some women stop being so beautiful to the men who found them beautiful before?”
      Not all men are the same but some reasons include – Because their personalities and behaviour change to be abusive or bad, they got older, they got fatter or thinner, they had their body go through changes and skin is less taut, skin damaged from UV to become leathery, damage from drug n alcohol abuse, sometimes peoples feelings just change. I’d say it’s mostly to do with personality changes though since plenty of men still remain attracted to women whose bodies age and change. Some men will be very superficial and only like “fresh” new/younger bodies in their 20′s but I’d say the majority don’t care all that much.

      Universal beauty is a myth, there are women I find extremely attractive that some others find ugly. Beauty for me only gets the notice, the personality is what really drives the desire although existing beauty will be heavily increased once I grow mental feelings for someone….quite simply the “5″ can become a 20 type stuff.

  10. Tim his looks frightened me so much that I ran from contact with him for nearly three years. I had to stop running to find his soul. You make a lot of assumption about both of us in your statement. You don’t sound very happy. Is that why you felt the need to verbally poke me. I don’t see the world through society’s blinkers. I am one of the marginalised. I have psych and physical disability. Why would I think anyone would even see me. Let alone love me. Black, white or green,!!! 35, 45,55,65. But he did see me and he did fall in love with me. He likes being a carer and homemaker and I paint and do short term contracts as a consumer consultant in mental health and as a consultant in transition to independent living for people with disability. Point is everything says it should not have happened. But the miracle is it did. If you slow down and make yourself open to possibility joy happens, love grows, and life becomes so full you can get breathless thinking about it. I hope you all feel that way at least one time. But Tim I don’t think it will on a comment page on an article.

  11. wellokaythen says:

    In my experience, some women in my life have become more beautiful (defined any way you want) over time. Others have become less beautiful to me over time. Others have remained unchanged.

    It’s lovely and precious and even necessary to cherish women who are constantly or increasingly beautiful to you. I just think any article about what makes a woman beautiful to a man should also tackle the question of change over time. Beauty does not always grow. Sometimes it diminishes. Sometimes it simply endures (and sometimes its endurance is the real miracle). If we’re really out to understand the ways that men look at beauty then we have to ask why it changes.

    If we men really want to be forthcoming and open about how we look at beauty, we have to be willing to look at it warts and all (so to speak).

  12. I understand and appreciate what you are saying. Beauty is in the eye (and heart ) of the beholder.
    I disagree with one thing that the love and admiration of a man is what makes a woman beautiful, that is false. The sky is blue whether or not anyone sees it. A rose in a forest is beautiful whether its ever seen or not. A woman who is without a man to love and admire her is still beautiful. And there are many reasons, good reasons, why a woman wouldnt want a man to love her, not because she isnt beautiful or worthy, maybe she has been hurt and chooses not to share herself. All women, and all beings are beautiful whether others have the intellegence to see it or not. Men who seek beauty just based on media, that is not love, that is ego. These men feel inferior so by dating a “hot media approved girl” they become acceptable, maybe winners, to thier peers. I have found that beautiful, secure, loving men dont always go for the “hot” girl but for who they desire because they are secure in their manliness and are in relationships because of joy and love and not ego. I feel sorry for girls who are “10″s because many of the guys around them dont really love or care for them but are using them for thier own egos. Both parties loose here. I agree that when you Love someone they become beautiful to you and that is REAL love. Thank you for your article.

  13. This truly is a lovely article.

  14. Adam: yes, you are definitely onto something here. Real beauty transcends the physical. Great work.

  15. Well, somehow I missed this article until now, but I’ll comment anyway. These two sentences are just, well frustrating as hell: “But what I’d really like to talk about is how a man creates beauty through his perception of a woman. Yes, I firmly believe that the love and admiration of a man has a role in creating beauty in a woman.”

    Cuz, you realise that is PRECISELY what Mulvey was talking when she discussed the “male gaze” right? That is absolutely objectification, right there. A woman’s beauty is CREATED by a man observing her? In that scenario the woman is an object to be observed, and the man is the subject who observes and therefore defines her. That’s messed up, mate.

    • And yes, I did see this tacked on sentence, “This beauty-endowing mechanism isn’t something unique to me or to men in general.”

      But, frankly when you have an entire article devoted to the idea that men create beauty in women, and it’s titled “What Makes a Woman Beautiful to a Man,” a single sentence saying ‘I don’t mean JUST men creating beauty in women,” doesn’t cut it. Not when this entire article is read in the context of a sexist culture like ours. Not when the rest of the article is so full of patriarchal nonsense.

    • Creates beauty as in finding things beautiful about her to him? Eg, the nose on an actress I saw yesterday was super duper cute, and her overall facial structure I found to be beautiful, I created beauty for ME and me alone, others of course have their own idea of beauty.

      “Not when this entire article is read in the context of a sexist culture like ours”
      You do realize your confirmation bias n other things that colour your view will change the context of his message right? When I read creates beauty I thought straight away he meant for him alone, another way of saying he found something beautiful? Maybe it would better to say the love n admiration helps to add to beauty, as in the male view for straight women will be helpful for their view of beauty just as the reverse is true where womens’ ideas of beauty in men help shape our view of beauty.

      Just a different way to look at it, no idea if I am right or wrong though so the author can answer that.

  16. Pure Darwinist Bunk and Dreck of the Highest order. This article is full of so many fallacies and falsehoods, it disgust me. This clown purports to be an authority?

  17. I read it as how The man defines beauty in woman to himself. Not how he is defining it for others or for her. And in that context, i completely agree. His example of his friends thinking him crazy for finding a certain woman beautiful at a certain time in his life when they clearly did not agree was spot on. Especially, after He has moved on down the line he looks back in retrospect and doesn’t view his definition of her beauty in the same light. I imagine many many men who have been divorced thinking of their Ex in this way as they read this.
    I love the piece. Not only as a hopeless romantic myself who loves women & find them to be immensely beautiful creatures across the board, but also because I do believe the author is on to something and what my society is trying to do to my daughters and how they define their own beauty sickens me.

    • Unfortunetly Sledge, sometimes how men define it for themselves individually still finds a way to seep into how women define it for herself as well.

      Can you share more about what you see with your daughters and how society is trying to define beauty for them? What you seem them experience or go through and what exactly sickens you?

  18. ogwriter says:

    Society doesn’t exist as a seperate entity,completely foriegn from, and to, the will and values of the common person.Furthermore,women exert tremendous influence in defining beauty standards for themselves and others.And yeah it sucks if one cannot meet the top standard. But not every woman turns bodyimage or not meeting THE beauty standard into a cause celeb.Women are not the only who must deal with this issue,not by a longshot.Nonetheless,because of politics and insecurity,it is percieved exclusively as a woman’s problem.MEN and WOMEN define what is attractive and alluring to each other.In both cases,what represents the MOST beautiful, of course, is narrowly defined.Even that myopic definition is fluid.In that fluidly rests the means of salvation for those,probably 99.9 percent of all Men and WOMEN,who don’t meet THE standard.The problem is, most of the insecure folk are too narrowminded themselves to see the opportunities to escape.

  19. Adam,

    Really nice piece, thank you. I am curious, your room the impact of the love of a man on a woman, isn’t it the love – romantic love I assume – of anyone, male or female? It seems a bit narrow or hetero-centric to limit loves impacts to our bias or unconscious norms about gender, relationships and love.

    • Jim,
      Thanks for your kind words. I would agree with you, that this mechanism of beauty/love is true for most men as well as most human beings. As a man, writing for the Good Men Project, it is a fine line I walk: if I speak for men, some people judge that I’m paternalistic and not including women. If as a straight man I speak for men, some will consider me hetero-centric. My challenge is to be specific, yet inclusive, AND to have thick enough skin and to recognize that I’m writing to support people.
      Thanks again,
      Adam Sheck

      • schrokit says:

        It’s wonderful that you think your supporting people, but isn’t the POV that *matters* actually the one of those who can say ‘this supported me’? Otherwise that’s an awfully hubristic and borderline arrogant thing to say.

        I think it’s clear your article comes from a good place, but I genuinely found everything from the title of the piece to some subtle yet still outdated ideas about women, to be offensive to me, as a woman. It stills feels largely cloaked in objectification however magnanimous it purports to be.

  20. I believe so, that you’re on to something I mean. Because even I, a woman have experienced this. In fact, two of the guys I’ve loved the most I didn’t initially find attractive. It wasn’t until I got to know them that I began finding things that I really appreciated about them and yes I mean physically. For example, my last boyfriend. I took one look at him and thought, nope. But then, I had a conversation with him and we hit it off. Then as time went on I started looking at his jaw line, the way his cheek bones were placed and I absolutely loved it. And I couldn’t get enough of kissing his face and rubbing my face on his. The other guy, I fell in love with his shoulders and I just loved it when he had his shirt off.

    The most beautiful person ever, to me anyway was my best friend. And the reason wasn’t because she was actually the most beautiful person ever (although she did have initial attractiveness) but because I loved her so dearly and through that love I found all of her to be extraordinarily lovely. Particularly her nose and hair. And so I would give her a kiss on her nose whenever she’d let me. I believe that the more we love a person, the more we focus on what we like about them. And those little bits become so endearing that we can’t get enough of them. It’s when we begin to dislike them that their flaws become ever present. And who knows, maybe if we find something to like about someone’s appearance, we’ll begin to appreciate them as a person a little more. So it may work both ways.

  21. I appreciate the points this article makes, so thank you for that. What seems most important to me is how one percieves her (or him) self. In the same way that a happy person’s sense of joy can be enhanced through love, so too can one’s sense of beauty. It is unfortunate that so many women (and men) are not able to feel beautiful until they meet a person who sees that beauty. So with regard to your daughters, and I realize this is not news, it is important to support their positive self-images so that they recognize how they are beautiful without anyone else’s help or gaze. I can attest to feeling more beautiful when one is in love, or when one is surrounded by love. There have been many nights in the company of friends my heart felt it was filled to the brim, and people would comment on a glow that I think represents the beauty and joy of the soul. But each of us must know that we are beautiful as individuals, and can let that beauty become magnified through our response to love.

  22. I can’t ignore when he says “A man creates beauty in a woman when apreciate them” that is only a man’s game.
    A man creates beauty in a woman that wrong way, when they figure themselves out across the woman’s beauty. By choosing, watching or feeling atracted to them but also it gets creepy when it comes that they build they concept of that idea of the woman’s beauty straightly related to their capacity to be a man(like they need to get the girl everybody wants to feel what they represent, and they tend to magnify the value of that power) And when they reject them, they made a hate ball that grows inversely proportional to their social skills to apreciate a woman like a person.
    When they get real-nonedipo love, they learn to apreciate womans like persons, but untill that, a woman is just a weapon to being while they don’t understand themselves, just like the girls that lives for their image and will never be happy or feel a person.
    The most stupid about everything that is that superficial, is that is a happines that only last seconds, and it turns randomly to whatever place that has a random major power of atraction. Then a woman’s mind goes the same, and that is infinite wasted energy but the person is very poor and finite.
    The power of seeing the beauty is the power of see the infinite and to understand your own limits as a observer and then learn to magnify your humanity and create like a human more that a simple thought, without falling in love with everything, because is the same small thing, like when you learn to listen to music or you just dance like a dumb with the popular track in the radio.

  23. Speakyourmind says:

    A great and true article.Hope many girls knew this and wouldn’t have a hard time deciding weather they are beautiful/attractive.Also,it’s great that we are aware of media’s control over our minds.Thanks for the good article.

  24. Seriously ladies, getting your nose bent out of shape. Have you not ever been around a man that admired you? And this made you feel good, and encourage you? Mirror, he uses that word. I like the point of the article, meaning that our soul is beauty….beauty has a beholder whether it be the woman or the man admiring her…and he encourages her in her beauty. My take away. Sexist? really? I don’t know about that, I mean men and women are different, but this admiration and encouragement can go with any relationship.

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