Guys, Attracting Women Boils Down To This One Factor

two businessmen

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Figuring out what men are attracted to is relatively easy. Men assess attraction primarily visually: we are attracted to younger women with pretty faces, bigger boobs, some curves, and fit bodies. Sure, a few guys have fetishes for other stuff, or some “nice guys” might deny it. But, science, polls, raw online dating data (see Dataclysm), the behavior of women (make up, photo tricks to look thinner with bigger boobs, etc) and uninhibited private male behavior (i.e. the extreme popularity of 18-21 year old thin girls in pornography) all confirm it. I’m not making a case that this is moral, right, or leads to quality relationships: I am just stating the facts of raw, initial attraction. And, men can certainly grow to like a woman based on personality traits.

What women find attractive in guys is an altogether different matter. It seems like women are more confusing about what they prefer. Do women prefer physically attractive guys like David Beckham or Chris Hemsworth? Yes. Or do they prefer certain personality traits like confidence over looks? Yes. Or do they like guys with money? Yes. Famous guys? Yes. Manly men? Yes. Metrosexuals? Yes. Bad boys? Yes. Felons? Yes. Tall guys? Yes. Who the heck knows??? Yes!!!

The unifying factor seems to be that women find guys attractive that have power, or “status,” “social dominance,” or “the ability to provide and protect.” I (kind of) made this connection to power in a past article directed to shorter guys when I mentioned women probably are really looking for testosterone instead of height, but that height may be a “quick indicator” for high testosterone. It is very possible that the “power” I am going to discuss is simply a synonym for a man with a lot of testosterone (and low levels of the stress hormone cortisol), since leadership and testosterone seem to go together.

James Dean CigaretteHeather Remoff, who wrote about her own research in the book “Sexual Choice: A Woman’s Decision- Why and How Women Choose the Men They Do as Sexual Partners,” agrees that power is the main factor women find attractive in a man. This may sound shallow or antiquated from a female perspective, but it really isn’t. Replace the general term “power” with traits like “independent,” “not a mama’s boy,” “well-educated,” “in control of his life,” “confident” and suddenly I think many women will nod their heads in agreement that they like men like this. In fact, many of these traits were specifically mentioned in Remoff’s research.

The attraction to power explains why women’s sexual preferences are so elusive. According to Remoff, “power” is subjective, and it depends on what an individual woman associates with power.  I believe this is a mix of biology and social factors.

So for some women, it could be a man’s age, but for others it could be his income. Some women may associate power with a guy being a daring bad boy in a leather jacket, or even a criminal, while others see their stable professors or teachers as the ultimate sources of power. Still others may view fame as an ultimate source of power, or a man’s marriage, or perhaps him being her manager at work. Some guys can go from “friend” to “crush” in her mind through a one-off act that signifies power, like standing up to an authority or being heroic under pressure. Other women are attracted simply because he is a “man in uniform.”

This also explains why certain male physical traits are preferred among women. In the older parts of the brain, men seem to be attracted based purely on visual input, whereas women take visual inputs as indicators of a guy’s power. For example, masculine faces (signaling strength), pretty eyes (think eye contact), a deep voice, charm, tallness, and being muscular are all good indicators of power, since these help a man achieve power.

The desire for power may be why women are more attracted to images of guys looking serious as opposed to smiling, or even why a book like Fifty Shades of Grey is so popular despite being taboo for a variety of both conservative and liberal reasons.

Why power? Power indicates a man has the ability to care for the woman and her offspring. Evolution seems to have worked to ensure that men are attracted to fertile women (young women with a .70 waist to hip ratio are more fertile than fifty year old overweight women) and women are attracted to men that can ensure she and her child are protected in the wild. This all may seem crazy in a modern egalitarian environment where women don’t need “protected” from much of anything, but in the context of hundreds of thousands of years of human evolution, it makes perfect sense.

Most of these desires aren’t even consciously considered, since they are seated in older parts of our brains, making the reality of attraction seem even more irrational. No wonder the ancient Romans viewed romantic attraction as the result of getting randomly shot by a mischievous baby-god.

The biggest male losers in this “game of attraction” are low-status men, or even guys with status but who fail to convey it. The quiet and passive guys who are simply “cogs in the machine” of life and at work (or aren’t even that) lose out. Even some high-status guys can be pretty poor at actually conveying power, which is why some millionaire nerds can’t get a date, despite waving their money at women.

So, while we suggest guys look their best, increasing their perceived power is a better strategy for becoming more attractive and admired. In fact, a recent study confirmed that a dominant personality was a better predictor of the number of male sexual partners than being classically good looking. So, let me repeat that: being powerful is a better strategy for getting a date than looking good (for guys at least). I should note that neither we nor this study are suggesting rape or sexual assault is power or a dominant personality. Physically forcing yourself on a woman, i.e. acting without consent, is illegal and immoral.

If we had to describe how we help guys, it is really helping guys increase their status and power. Truthfully, since attraction happens in older parts of our brains, a guy doesn’t even have to actually have power; he just has to project it. This is why we suggest guys “fake it until they make it,” through body language changes and development of their “avatar,” discussed in Chapter 6 of our book Be Popular Now.

Faking power is easy really, with certain body language and attitude modulations (intelligence, charm, humor, etc). This is why a bad-boy Wal-Mart stock-boy could come across as more attractive to his female co-workers than a socially awkward millionaire tech start-up owner awkwardly asking for her help in the automotive department. However, the best strategy to project power is to fake it and make it, by actually getting accomplishments. The millionaire tech nerd who develops some social skills will ultimately be more attractive long-term than the reckless Wal-Mart stock-boy who will be burnt out (or dead) by thirty, neither very attractive to women.

So guys, you have to have power and convey it to ultimately be a master at dating. And, the more angles of status and power you can work (physical, income, authority), the more likely you are to succeed with a diverse group of women.

Step one is to develop general displays of power, like assertiveness, confident body language, dressing sharply, and being charming. Step two, done concurrently with step one, is to cultivate positions of power and status within your social, hobby, and career circles.

This combination of self-development will have women practically throwing themselves at you. If you don’t believe me, think of Justin Bieber, who despite being shorter than average and slightly awkward looking, represents power to millions of pre-teen and teen girls, or even Donald Trump, who despite his goofy comb-over and obnoxious attitude (and ugliness) dates models that would never give most guys the time of day.

Why Valentine’s Day Is Overrated

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

It’s almost Valentine’s Day and that means existential angst for many people, especially singles. However, out of all the 365 days in a year, Valentine’s Day is probably one of the least to be upset about if you are single or don’t have the relationship of your dreams. I have nothing against the holiday, but I still believe Valentine’s Day is highly overrated. Here’s why.

It’s A Fake Holiday

There may or may not have been a St. Valentine. And, even then, there might have been several. We know very little about any of them and most of the stories are likely just legends. Not only that, but the organization that started the holiday (the Catholic Church) doesn’t even celebrate it anymore. That’s right, they took it off their official calendar nearly fifty years ago.

However, it has survived and even thrived as a “holiday” devoted to all things romantic. While there is a basis for the love themed holiday in history, its popularity has taken off due to its promotion by various companies. As a result…

It’s About Crap Not Love

I would be firmly in favor of a day celebrating love. A day set aside to deepen connections with family, friends, and romantic partners would be awesome. However, that day is not Valentine’s Day. It has turned into a day of buying crap. While some Valentine’s Day activities are certainly meaningful, all of the money spent with it really isn’t. Having a bear that sings and goes straight to the trunk or the trash the next day doesn’t really contribute much to a relationship.

I am all in favor of capitalism. But, part of capitalism is spending your own money in a way that benefits you and loved ones. Feeling guilt about spending your hard earned money on junk just because everyone is doing it is hardly maintaining true economic freedom–or making a relationship better.

It Makes Singles Feel Inferior

While ultimately people are responsible for their own feelings, Valentine’s Day has the side effect of making single people feel bad. Not everyone wants to be in a relationship and some people definitely should not be in a relationship, especially at certain points in their life. Yet, the message of Valentine’s Day is that being single means being inferior. After all, it’s important to find true love with a man or woman…so you can buy them more crap!

It Boils Love Down To One Day

In reality, the things a person should be doing on Valentine’s Day–celebrating love, treating the other person to romance, etc.–should be done on a regular basis. I don’t mean the commercial side, but the focus on love in a relationship. It’s kind of like the people who get all cheerful at Christmas then act like Scrooge the rest of the year.

So, instead of going overboard on junk for one day, couples would be better served focusing on ways to love each other on a regular basis and work through relationship issues. But, why do that when you can celebrate your love one day with a singing bear?

So, if you’re single or doubting the purpose of Valentine’s Day, you’re not alone. It’s definitely overrated. Now, go out there and buy yourself a big box of chocolates and watch your favorite romance movie by yourself.

Don’t Do These To Your Husband…

I recently contributed some insights for this excellent article for Woman’s Day, 9 Things You Should Never Ask of Your Husband. Have a look!

I Am Discussing Dating For Older People On Sunday

I will be on Aging Info Radio on Sunday, February 8th, at 9:00 AM CST, on AM 560 “The Answer.”

I’ll be discussing “Dating Dos and Don’ts” with host Sue Zawacki just in time for Valentine’s Day. Be sure to tune in and have a listen! AgingInfo_Radio_rgb_300resAnswerLogo_OnWhite 1.21.12

The Self Defense Training Network (Self-Defense Company) Review

Girl Walking Down AlleyThis is a review for the Self-Defense Training Network (aka  formerly known as SDC Insider, which is run by Damian Ross of the Self-Defense Company based in New Jersey. The program is offered as a subscription or a one-time fee, and has been available on DVDs in the past.

At The Popular Man, whenever we work with a new client, one of the questions we ask on our assessment is whether a guy can defend himself adequately without a weapon. I have nothing against weapons and support the right to bear arms, but the point of the question is to see how physically tough a guy is. Can he actually handle himself?

We ask this because to be a popular guy, and to attract women, a guy has to have a certain level of masculinity, conveying to women that he can “provide and protect” her. The ability to defend oneself and others relates to this, and is a remarkably attractive and admired trait. In fact, I am working on an upcoming article in which I argue that the most attractive thing to a woman is power, and conveying that to her.

A little over a year ago, Jonathan and I started looking for a program we could recommend for our clients if they needed to “toughen up” some. In my own life as a teacher, I know that when I was first starting teaching high school, I remember that worrying about possible physical altercations in the classroom (I was at a public school at the time) caused me some anxiety. I know that this translated into insecurity and me coming across even weaker than I felt. If a guy knows he can “handle himself” in altercations, this is just one more way he will be mentally confident.

This was a very important concept as we developed our newest book, Size Doesn’t Matter, which is geared toward shorter guys. Short guys often feel at a disadvantage because of their small size compared to other guys, guys who could get aggressive if shorter guys stand up to their bullying.

So, how could we help guys get more confidence that they can handle physical altercations if need be? I thought about an episode of Penn and Tell’s “Bullshit” I had seen about martial arts. It covered Damian Ross and his Self-Defense Company.

When I look for any self-development program, I look for practicality. Does it work? Can it be applied in the “real world?” “Is it so thorough that if I want to know something, it is there, even if I don’t use it?”

The Self-Defense Company seemed to have all that going for it, so I signed up for a monthly subscription, and I am glad I did.

Man doing a bicep curl, sepia toneOverall, the instruction is extremely practical and simple. It is about straight fighting to win…period. There is no martial art “mumbo jumbo” or learning 20 defense moves for 20 different attacks. While all of that might be intellectually stimulating enough, it isn’t streamlined enough for me. Ross is all about either getting you out of the situation or getting the upper hand, period.

Ross relies heavily on the edge of the hand (a chop). While he admits it has critics, it can fit just about anywhere and is reasonably flexible. Even in my limited use of it in training, I can say it is much better than using a punch.

While some people have criticized Damian Ross as being a blowhard, I like his style. He has always been very pleasant, helpful, encouraging, and cool when I have contacted him for various reasons. If you join the My Self Defense Training Network, you can interact with him (and others) through the forums, as well as through the “Contact” section. You even have access to instructors who will help you in the process.

When you join you get access to the basic “Combatives” Video course. This includes 12 sections of instructional videos (with roughly 20-50 videos per section, varying in length from a minute to seven minutes each), with included pdf manuals. The drills are dispersed throughout the sections along with the training itself.

The sections are:

1. Essential Self-Defense – A very helpful basic introduction to  stances, striking techniques (including knee strike and chin jab), places on the body to attack, Ross’ basic philosophy, etc. After completing this section alone I felt a hundred times more confident that I can defend myself in most situations.

2. Advanced Methods of Striking  – This section covers advanced ways to strike someone, like the “chin yolk,” “rear elbow swing,” and “finger tip jab.” Ross also goes over things like head butts and different types of kicks.

3. Ground Fighting For Keeps – This module explains how to fight on the ground, and defend yourself in a variety of “on the ground” positions, including on your back. This section also includes various “strangle” techniques.

4. Defense Vs. Mugs and Holds – This section covers head butts, hand grabs, elbows, and other techniques to break a grip someone might have on you.

5. Escape and Evasion – This module covers getting out of situations and defending against an attacker or multiple attackers, including a technique known as the “finger dart” that everybody should know.

6. Body Conditioning – This isn’t so much about getting in shape, as it is getting your body used to the stress of fighting. I found this section the least interesting, but nonetheless, it is probably important.

7. Combat Physical Training – This is basic physical conditioning. If you are already in shape and have a workout routine that combines cardio and strength like I do, this will seem very basic and probably unnecessary.

8. Weapons Defense – This is an important section, where Ross explains how to deal with attackers with various weapons, such as knifes, long guns, and handguns. Obviously, avoiding situations where weapons might be pulled are the best, but if you ever get into a situation where someone is using a weapon, having a way of defending yourself is important.

9. Weapons Offensive Tactics – This section explains the proper way to attack with knives and clubs.

10. Combat Throws And Take Downs – If you want to subdue a guy (or finish him), getting him on the ground is important. This module, with 26 videos, covers this important tactic.

11. Old School Weapons and Tactics – I wasn’t familiar with many of these weapons (except perhaps brass knuckles and the ice pick), but they are ancient weapons that can be used for some deadly results.

12. Quick Kill and Deadly Finishes – Ross emphasizes there is no secret martial arts “death touch” like you see in certain movies, but there are ways to attack the body that can cause shock and death. Obviously, this isn’t something anyone should ever hope to use, but if you are being attacked by a drug-fueled guy double your size, some of these techniques might be necessary.

The full program also gives access to some cool pdf books, related to self-defense, martial arts, and general crime prevention. You also get access to bonus video programs (depending on your subscription level), including:

The Family Safe Program – These short videos are designed to help kids defend themselves.

60 Minute Self-Defense – This is a short, condensed version of some effective self-defense techniques.

Guardian Defense Tactics -This is a helpful series designed for police officers and those in the military. It is a nice bonus if you want some more advanced concepts that can be applied when dealing with criminals or enemies.

Protector: CSI – Taught by a police officer, this nearly two hour video covers some basic self-defense any citizen can use, designed to deal with crime, with citizens working along with police.

To subscribe, visit The Self-Defense Training Network. Note that we do get an affiliate finders fee if you join, but we pursued this option after using the program ourselves and with our clients. This review is completely honest.

Why Bad Boys Get Girls (But You Don’t)

Have you ever wondered why bad boys, with very little going for them, can get a girl but you can’t? While we don’t advocate any guy become a jerk,  bad boys do a few things right, which I explain in my newest Thought Catalog article.