Dr. NerdLove discusses the number one quality women find attractive in a man, and offers tips for how to increase that factor in your life.
Men spend a lot of time worrying about being more attractive to women. Men tend to feel as though they’re at a disadvantage when it comes to dating and consistently look for the magic bullet that will maximize their efforts. Because of the pervasive belief that sperm is cheap and eggs are expensive – the idea that women grant sexual access only to those who offer the best “value” – they tend to focus on the most obvious aspects of what supposedly makes men attractive: looks and material wealth, with “status” following third.
The problem is that they’re working on the wrong areas and a misunderstanding of just what makes somebody appealing to women. Yeah, good looks can help – nobody denies that being gorgeous doesn’t have an impact on one’s life – but not only is it not the only thing that counts… more often than not it’s not even in the top 5 of what makes a man attractive.
More than looks, more than money, more than whatever nebulous definition you want to give to “value” or “status”, the most attractive aspect of a man, that x-factor that nets him attention, attraction and dates is…
Over the years as I was trying to make my transition from “dateless loser” to “ladies man”, I got to know a wide variety of folks who were good with women. Some were blessed with every advantage – classic good looks, money and charm – while others had to work for their success. And yet there were a few people in my social circle who could – to put it charitably – punch well outside of their apparent weight class. They were not classically handsome – in fact, many of them were fat and balding. They weren’t “high-status males” with impressive jobs or flashy cars and fancy clothes. They didn’t have useful contacts for the social climbers or the money for those supposedly hypergamous women looking for the next level. They were strictly average dudes… who still managed to date sexy, intelligent, ambitious women.
Their secret was very simple: they were fun to hang around with. If you talked to them, then you were going to enjoy yourself. They knew how to make people feel good. They were genuine interesting people with stories to share and a genuine interest in getting to know the people they talked to. They made friends wherever they went. The bouncers, the bartenders, the waitstaff… they all loved these guys within minutes of meeting them. Everybody knew who they were. Everybody wanted to hang out with them.
Small wonder that they were so consistently successful.
The fact that they were fun to be with was all it took to flip those attraction switches. Being fun, being able to help someone enjoy themselves transcended looks and status. It gave them a notable, long-term advantage over the guys who were all surface and flash, the ones who only had a handful of tricks and routines to rely on and the ones who got by on social pressure and status games.
It took me a while to appreciate just what they had but once I understood, it was like a new world opened up to me. I began to see just how integral being fun was to a successful dating life… and I started to understand how to integrate it into my approach towards women.
“What Do You See In That Guy?” “He Makes Me Laugh”.
It’s a very simple premise: we instinctively like people who make us feel good. The better they make us feel, the more we like them.
It’s known as the Reward Theory of Attraction—we are attracted to people whose presence or behavior makes us feel appreciated and liked. When the feeling of pleasure at a person’s involvement in our lives outweighs the costs (someone who’s fun to hang around with but who causes problems through his behavior, for example) then we tend to be drawn towards that relationship over others. The brain increases dopamine and norepinephirine, which regulates the brain’s pleasure and reward centers. We associate the pleasure with the person and thus want to spend more time in their presence.
This is part of why a sense of humor ranks so highly in every poll about what makes men attractive. Laughter produces endorphins that go straight to the pleasure centers of your brain and relieves physical tension and stress in the muscles making you feel more relaxed. Making you feel good triggers the instincts that tell us that these are people we should like and enforce that feeling with a shot of dopamine.
Many geeks and outcasts learned in high-school that being funny as a means of self-defense; making people laugh helped keep you from getting your ass kicked. Who knew that one day you could turn it around and use those same skills as a part of a way of getting dates?
However, as much as making people feel good makes them like us, there’s more to it.
Someone who is fun tends to be more confident in themselves – after all, it’s hard to be fun when you’re too worried about looking silly or acting childish. Fun people are also positive; excessively negative people suck the energy out of the room and kill the mood while positive people help generate energy. Fun people make others feel comfortable and have a better grasp on how to read people’s signs and moods and can adjust themselves as needed. This makes the difference between someone who’s fun and someone who’s just a clown: fun people can find the line and know when things are appropriate or not while a clown tends to blunder on regardless of mood or intent. Fun people are interesting – they tend to have diverse interests that they enjoy and have stories to share.
Fun as Dating Strategy
This isn’t to say that it’s just a matter of telling a few jokes until you manage to laugh them into bed.
Being fun is a holistic part of dating and attraction—it influences everything about what makes someone attractive.
Once I understood the appeal of fun, I began to recognize how it formed the underpinnings of everything I’d learned up to that point—and how much I had seen it in action over the years. My friend Miles—he who attracts women the way cheese attracts mice—was successful not just because he looked like the bastard son of Hugh Grant and Rob Lowe but because he knew how to be fun. He was naturally outgoing and positive and instinctively understood how to make people feel good, how to feel special. He was a genuinely nice guy who liked to tease and play around with everyone—especially the girls he was attracted to – and they would respond with great enthusiasm.
Take bantering and antagonistic flirting, for example. I enjoy bantering as a means of flirting because it meshes with my personality and it’s a method of screening for the type of women I am most attracted to. I get a charge from sharp women who enjoy that sort of witty duel-by-wordplay. When done properly, it’s a game of verbal sparring back and forth, matching wits and humor with gentle ribbing and sexually charged teasing… and it’s insanely fun for everyone involved.
Being fun and helping others have fun is a way of keeping dates and potential relationship partners engaged and invested in the relationship. It’s a vital part of the chemistry that helps ensure that not only will she enjoy the first date but that she’ll be interested in coming back for a second… and even a third date. The worst dates aren’t the ones that go badly but the ones that are utterly unremarkable. A bad date can be salvaged after all; a boring date just drains the life out of everyone involved.
Even building sexual tension involves understanding fun. Proper, deliberate sexual tension is like a roller-coaster ride: the deliberate slow build-up of anticipation at the very beginning cresting at the absolute height of almost unbearable frustration and the sudden thrill of the release at juuuuust the right moment. Even little tricks like the “almost-kiss” are built on the idea of fun; it’s unselfconsciously, deliberately cheesy… and yet when delivered properly, it’s silliness is a significant part of it’s appeal. You’re playing a naughty game like a pair of horny teenagers, seeing just how far you can push things before one or both of you simply can’t stand it any longer.
The more that you can bring a sense of fun into your dating life, the more success you will have.
Fun As Social Proof
Much is made about the concept of social proof: the idea that the behavior of others is a model for how one should act. In a social context, a person with social proof—say, a crowd of people around him has been vetted by others; people are responding positively to him, therefore he is someone others should want to get to know and pay attention to. It generates something known as the halo effect—where positive aspects of a person influence others into assuming more positive aspects about them. People like this person, therefor he must be cool.
Pick-up artists often try to manipulate social proof as a way of establishing to others that they’re cool or desirable. This is often managed by trying to be surrounded by attractive women; the effect is to say “These beautiful people find me compelling; clearly they know something you don’t, so you should find me compelling.”
And yet being fun is a simpler and more organic way of generating social proof—without having to rely on status games or trickery. To be fun is to bring legitimate value to an interaction rather than trying to leverage social contracts and often coercive tactics.
Think of it in terms of a party. There’s always those people who are seen as being the life of the party, who tend to have many people hanging around them. These are often (but not always) the most fun people. When people see others hanging around and wanting your attention, others – like that cute brunette you’ve had your eyes on—will naturally gravitate towards you. The fact that others view you as someone to spend time with will help invoke that halo effect that will make you shine even more in other’s eyes.
Even if you’re on the introverted side of the personality spectrum, you can make fun-as-social-proof work for you; it’s a matter of establishing a reputation as much as it is about being seen in the “proper” light. Introverts often work best in one-on-one situations and so can take advantage of the situation by having interesting, intense conversations. Being fun isn’t just about being the entertainer, it’s about how you make others feel.
How To Be Fun
The most obvious way of being fun is to be funny; after all, the appeal of a man with a sense of humor is nearly universal. However, not everybody is going to be a laugh riot, nor is it the only way to be fun.
So what are some other ways of bringing more fun into your dating life?
Pick Offbeat Dates
Everybody’s done dinner and a movie; you want to stand out by taking your date somewhere different. If you can’t be funny yourself, you can always borrow somebody else’s sense of humor for the night and take her to a comedy club or improv performance. If you’re dating a foodie, try signing up for a couple’s cooking class or a wine tasting. You want something different than what she’s used to—novelty helps produce dopamine in the brain, after all.
Explore Your Passions
It can’t be said enough: a person who explores and pursues their passions in life and can communicate them to others are people who are interesting. So many people live day-to-day humdrum lives of boring routines; having passion makes you stand out. It’s an attractive trait, one that women adore because people who are passionate have drive and intensity. They have taken charge of their lives and their enthusiasm carries others along… and that is incredibly fun.
Embrace Your Competitive Side
There’s nothing quite like a little rivalry to liven things up. The playful smack-talk, the tension when scores are tied, the thrill of victory… these get your hearts pumping, the juices flowing and the senses come alive. Few things are quite as fun – or arousing – as a friendly competition. Bowling, laser tag, mini-golf, go-kart racing, pool… as long as there’s a contest for winner and loser, you’re likely to have fun.
Master The Art of Conversation
The old adage is true: interested is interesting. We love nothing more than a chance to talk about ourselves to an audience that really gets us and wants to know more. All too often we don’t encounter people who actually want to converse so much as people who are waiting for their turn to talk. Being a master conversationalist and utilizing active listening can lead to long, deep and in-depth discussions about life, the universe and everything… and make you both feel as though you’ve known each other for years instead of hours.
Just as few people have passion in their lives, few people are interested in finding new experiences. Sometimes it’s worth going out and doing things just because you know there will be a story involved at the end. Take some chances and try things you’ve never done before… and build that bond between the two of you by experiencing them together. Whether it’s exploring your city without a map or a plan and just letting whim guide you, signing up for a beginner’s line-dancing session, going geocaching or even an impromptu picnic out under a blanket of shooting stars, you should make a point of finding exciting new opportunities for escapades and exploits. Sharing these new and awesome adventures will be more fun than you could ever imagine… and bring you closer together than you ever dreamed.
Originally appeared at Paging Dr. NerdLove