Being attractive is more complicated than straight teeth and nice pecs. Harris O’Malley shows us how.
Attractiveness is a tricky beast. It’s tempting to assume that attractiveness is summed up by your looks; throw together some perfect abs, teeth like chicklets, rock-hard pecs, a swimmer’s body and a symmetrical face and you’re good to go.
But being attractive is far more complicated than that. Physical good looks can certainly help (and the definition of “good looks” can vary pretty damn significantly) but attraction isn’t purely about your bone structure and diet. Attractiveness is a holistic attribute, something that encompasses your entire being… and it’s almost shockingly easy to change. The problem is that many men are accidentally sabotaging their own appeal. Just as there are subtle things that can make you more attractive, there are ways that you can actually make yourself less attractive. Let’s talk about some of the most common ways otherwise attractive people shoot themselves in the foot.
5) You’re Passive
One of the worst things you can do when it comes to attraction is… nothing.
Hold on, allow me to explain.
One of the oldest tropes — quite possibly the oldest — is loving somebody from afar, yet never actually doing anything about it. Oh sure, there’re REASONS why you can’t possibly confess your feelings… but the fact remains that you’re sitting there doing absolutely nothing and wondering why your beloved never notices you.
Look, I get it. You’re afraid of rejection, and for a lot of guys, it’s easier to live in the permanent fantasy of hope than to collapse the quantum state and get a definitive answer. But the fact of the matter is… it’s kind of pathetic. It’s an excuse to keep hope alive and not have to do anything; after all, why chase anyone else when you have your One True Love to think about?
But cold hard truth time: nobody likes the guy who does nothing. They’re the one sitting there continually complaining about something without ever actually taking steps to resolve the issue. The longer you let it sit, the sadder it gets and – worse – the larger it looms in your mind.
If you’re interested in someone and want that relationship to actually happen, you have to actually make your move. Wining about how sad it is that it never happened when you never did a damn thing is not only going to turn off your crush but the other, incredibly awesome people around you who might otherwise have been interested in you.
Now in fairness: there’re many men who aren’t naturally aggressive or who don’t fit into the traditional gender role of “man-as-aggressor” in relationships. And that’s fine… but there’s a difference between being the receptive partner and the guy who’s sat around with the same love note he wrote four years ago and never got around to sending1. As many, many women can tell you, making yourself approachable takes effort.
4) You Smell
You wouldn’t think this needs to be said… but… a lot of dudes need to be acquainted with some basic facts around hygiene. Anyone who’s ever been to a comic or gaming convention is very, very intimately familiar with the concept of “con funk”.
Scent is an incredibly powerful sense; it’s intimately tied to memory and emotional response — even genetic compatibility (maybe). But it also can play a massive role in whether or not people are going to want to take a roll in the hay with you. We associate smell with health, fitness and even social intelligence; after all, if you don’t recognize that rolling into the library reeking of boiled cabbage and ass is going to bother people, then you’re probably not going to be good relationship material.
But this goes beyond simple matters of remembering to shower and throw on some Speed Stick. See, some folks go in the opposite direction. Just as a guy who smells like he’s smuggling gefilte fish in his arm pits is going to get shot down, so too does the guy who smells like he’s showered in Axe.
Just as people at cons know about clouds of geek body odor, people who’ve spent time in bars and clubs are familiar with the guys who roll in wearing eye-watering levels of cologne. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a 20 year old bottle of Drakkar Noir or a $200 bottle of Yves St. Laurent, it takes very little to go beyond a pleasant scent to a walking chemical warhead.
And then there’s your breath…
3) You Play Games
There’s a saying I’ve seen come up frequently when it comes to dating: “the person who cares the least, has the power.” The idea is that the person who is more invested in the other controls the relationship and thus sets the terms of how the relationship will progress. This is especially popular in the pick-up artist scene: you want to be the one in control of the relationship because otherwise women will just make you dance to their tune and you don’t want that. Thus, you get the idea of “negging” – left-handed compliments to demonstrate your social superiority and the fact that you don’t crave the other person’s approval and that they should crave yours. Thus you get the various status games about playing “hard to get” and the completely inane rules surrounding when to call or text, lest you show too much interest, etc.
The problem with this idea is that it’s all based on relationships as a power struggle rather than, y’know, trying to actually connect with somebody. Playing these power games tells people that you’re not looking for a partner – whether it’s for life or for the evening – but somebody to control. And let’s be real here: that’s not a good look on you.
Playing power games says a lot about the person doing them; whether it’s a Red-Piller or someone who’s bought into The Rules, it’s a sign that people have little regard for the person they’re supposedly interested in and more for simply getting what they want out of them. The more you’re focused on trying to rule Barter Town, the less you’re dealing with the other person as a person. It’s a sign of disrespect at best, and people have better things to do than reach out to someone who’s treating them with veiled (or not-so-veiled) contempt. And that’s going to kill whatever shred of attraction they may have had for you.
2) You’re Trying to Look Like Anyone Other Than Yourself
OK Cupid is more than just a dating site; it’s also a sociologist’s wet dream of data. Among the many trends that crop up in the data was this little fact: the more divisive you are looks-wise, the better you do in the long run when it comes to attraction.
Now there’re a number of factors involved – including game theory (the math kind, not the PUA kind) – but one of the biggest take-aways is that someone who’s more polarizing tends to provoke greater levels of response in others. The people who aren’t into him or her are really not into them… but the people who are into them are really, really into them.
It’s a little counter-intuitive at first; you would think that being more broadly attractive would benefit you overall. However, being broadly appealing tends to mean that there’s not a lot of depth to that appeal; it’s the difference between someone seeing you as “wouldn’t kick them out of bed” level of attractive vs. “NO TIME TO TALK, GET YOUR CLOTHES OFF”.
To give an example, let’s take a look at Matt Smith.
He’s not a classic leading man in any sense of the word. His eyes are close-set and beady, his forehead and chin are huge, he’s tall and lanky… but there is a very significant and vocal population out there who think he’s sex on a stick. If he tried to downplay the features that make him distinctive, he might make himself more generically like others. But by being willing to be polarizing and own his look, he’s made things work.
Remember: you’re looking for a relationship (or two or three or…), not trying to win a popularity contest. Five people who love your look is going to be better for you than 20 who think you’re decent enough.
1) You’ve Got A Lousy Attitude
This is the big one. One of the things you may hear about frequently is “the halo effect”. Put simply, the halo effect is a cognitive bias that affects how we see and feel about others. Positive feelings about someone make us see their traits in a more positive light, while negative feelings about them make us see them as worse than they are.
Now, most of the time when we talk about the halo effect, it’s in the context of somebody’s physical appearance. For example, it’s fairly well documented that people who are conventionally good-looking are seen as being happier, smarter and all around better people. Exploiting the halo effect is part of what makes “bad boys” seem more appealing; they put more effort into their presentation and their looks; as a result, we get conned into thinking that they’re better people than they actually are.
However the halo effect doesn’t just come into play when it comes to looks. In fact, your attitude will change how people see you… and that change can be a lot harder to shift than looks. In fact, the effect looks have on attraction fade over time while personality actually can make someone more attractive over time. The more you get to know somebody, the more you tend to see them as attractive.
Unless you fuck it up by having a lousy attitude. Then you’re convincing people that no, you’re not attractive after all. When you meet someone who’s excessively negative or who believes that they’re doing you a favor just by deigning to acknowledge your existence, you’re much more likely to see everything about them as negative.
You see this with celebrities all the time, possibly without realizing it. Kim Kardashian is a good-looking woman, but people will loudly proclaim how disgusting she is based on the fact that we’ve seen her fuck. Somebody may be classically handsome, but is kind of an asshole. They may have a gorgeous face but just looking at them makes your skin crawl and you associate everything with them as disgusting or stupid. Alternately, they may not be leading man handsome, but are a sweet, golden-retriever of a person. They may not make the list of World’s Sexiest Men, but you look at them and just smile; they’re cute and cuddly and something about them just does it for you.
When you’re walking around feeling like you’re being cheated out of something you’re owed, that women are out to make you jump through hoops or that you’re inherently fucked by the universe because the fates got together and decided to screw you over, it’s going to bleed through into everything you do. Trust me: you are not nearly as good at hiding your true feelings as you think. Even things like vocal tonality can make a world of difference; the phrase “Oh God, this is the stupidest thing ever,” means two entirely different things when you say it with a tonal upswing or a tonal downswing.
If you want to be more more attractive, you have to learn how to bring the positive energy. The better people feel in your presence, the more attractive you’ll be to them. Walking around with a chip on your shoulder and a steaming pile of resentment in your brain is going to make you profoundly less attractive, even to people who think you’re the perfect man for them otherwise.