What Makes A Man Attractive?
By: Corrina Horne
Updated January 20, 2021
Medically Reviewed By: Whitney White, MS. CMHC, NCC., LPC
The question of attraction is an important one. When looking for a partner, you are likely to look for someone who "lights your fire" and inspires the desire to go deeper and forge a more powerful connection. The rules and guidelines dictating attraction between men and women are varied and diverse, and there is no one set of characteristics that either gender finds concretely attractive. So, what is it, exactly, that makes a man attractive?
The Heart of Attraction
The attraction is the initial spark of interest in someone and some of the glue that keeps a relationship going. People who are no longer attracted to their partner, in some capacity, will likely witness the breakdown of their relationship and may go in search of someone with whom they are more compatible. There are different types of attraction, but the heart of attraction is this: seeing someone with whom you can imagine spending your time. This might mean seeing an extremely physically attractive person and easily imagining engaging in a sexual affair, or it might mean talking to someone and experiencing a powerful pull toward the ideas, energy, and thoughts they offer.
There are three primary forms of attraction: physical, mental, and emotional. Physical attraction usually gets the most attention, as it is often considered the most easily measured form of attraction and is certainly the first type of attraction most people experience. The physical attraction might follow a pattern, such as a woman who almost habitually dates men with a full head of hair or a man who routinely dates women with an hourglass figure.
Mental attraction is attraction marked by someone's ideas, attitudes, and mental abilities. Some people, for instance, prefer individuals who have a large interest in sports. Others prefer people who love to talk politics and are greatly invested in current events. Still, others like stoic people, and others are attracted to people with upbeat personalities.
Finally, the emotional attraction is an attraction to the emotional behavior or energy of someone else. Some people prefer partners who are particularly effusive in their declarations of love and affection, while others are drawn to more mysterious and detached partners in their approach. Emotional attraction is largely influenced by upbringing. How your parents or other family members engaged and interacted with one another is likely to color and influence how you want to engage and interact with your own romantic partners.
How Important Is Attraction?
The attraction is an important part of any relationship, as attraction is the initial spark of interest that gets two people together and is the glue that keeps a relationship moving forward. Attraction does not initially have to fulfill all three aspects of attraction to be useful, though; you might find your physical attraction quotient is through the roof with someone but discover that your emotional and mental attraction doesn't quite line up. You might adore someone's personality and feel powerfully attracted to them for that reason, but feel stuck by the lack of physical attraction.
The attraction is also important because each type of attraction can influence the other types. You might see someone you are intensely attracted to physically, and it might be easy to overlook or accept any seeming "deficiencies" in emotional or mental compatibility as a result. You might find yourself developing a physical attraction to someone whose emotional and mental attraction is as high as it gets. In any romantic relationship, the attraction is likely to play a large role.
Attracting a Partner and Keeping a Partner
Attraction can be instantaneous but can also putter out just as quickly as it arose. There is a difference, then, between the kind of attraction that spurs the desire to get to know someone and the kind of attraction that keeps someone coming back for more. The attraction that resides entirely in any one of the three types of attraction might not be sustainable long-term; being only physically attracted to someone can fizzle out quickly, as looks change regularly, and someone's physical appearance is unable to bear the weight of an entire relationship.
In the same vein, though, a relationship might struggle if the two of you are attracted to one another's personalities, but there is no physical element involved. Physical attraction is often an important part of a romantic relationship.
Emotional attraction can similarly dwindle if neither of the other types of attraction is involved. Physical components of a romantic relationship are often important to couples. Although this is not always the case, the mental attraction also plays a powerful role in whether two people are drawn together.
It is when the three types of the attraction come together that couples usually have true staying power. Being attracted to someone physically, mentally, and emotionally will make sure that the two of you can sustain a longer-term relationship, as it means you are compatible with, attracted to, and drawn to your partner in several ways, rather than placing the entire weight of your relationship on a single aspect of being together.
What Makes a Man Attractive?
So, what is it exactly that makes a man attractive? It depends on the intended target. If you are looking for a female partner, the traits that she finds attractive in a partner will likely look different from a man searching for a male partner. For that reason, the focus will initially rest on what a woman finds attractive.
From a biological perspective, it seems that a man's physical proportions matter little in many of the ways that people usually think; enormous muscles, such as those found emblazoned on superhero movie posters and plastered in department stores, do not matter as much as the length of a man's legs; one study found that women found men with average-sized legs more attractive than those with legs that fell on the shorter or longer end of this range. Strong jaws, overall health proportions, and height were also associated with physical indications of attractiveness.
Apart from the physical, however, women have consistently been drawn to a sense of humor. Several studies have indicated that women prefer individuals who have a sense of humor when looking for a partner. Women consistently rated men with senses of humor as more attractive than their non-comedic counterparts and considered the ability to make others laugh an important part of creating a strong, healthy relationship. It was also important for women to have partners who laughed at their humor too.
Additionally, women seem to be drawn to kindness, as one study concluded that women were far more likely to engage with men who displayed some amount of kindness, whether that is through simple gestures, like holding the door for someone, or helping someone to their car, or more lifestyle-based acts of kindness, such as volunteering.
Finally, women seem to prefer men who are, in many ways, similar to them. This can mean physically similar, such as sharing a hair or eye color, or similar in their beliefs, as is the case in people who possess the same religious, political, or social ideas. As a whole, people seem to naturally prefer and trust people who are like themselves and gravitate toward similarity.
What Men Find Attractive
What makes a man attractive to a man will differ from what women find attractive, but not necessarily by much. Just as women are looking for stability, connection, and romance in their long-term partners, men search for similar traits in their own long-term partners.
Men typically look more to physical fitness as a marker of attractiveness and compatibility when searching for a male partner, though the exact reasons for this might be complex. Although not all men must bear the godlike visage of a superhero, men are more likely to place a high premium on physical attraction first, followed by other forms of attraction.
Apart from differences in physical importance, however, most men are similar to women in their search for familiarity; men are just as likely as women to seek out individuals who share some (or all) of their values, including their religious, political, and social belief systems, and similar backgrounds and family histories.
What Makes a Man Attractive?
Although there are some differences between what makes a man attractive and what makes a woman attractive, there are some key features among all humans that dictate attraction: physical appearance, similarity to oneself, and the belief that the two of you can work together. The secret of what makes a man attractive, then, does not lie within some framework known only to the women of the world or the people searching for a relationship; it is also largely dependent on you, what you believe, and how you see the world because men and women both gravitate toward similarity when looking for a mate.
If you find that creating confidence or feeling content in who you are is difficult or even impossible, therapists (such as those found on Regain.Us) can help bridge the gap between how you see yourself and the person you actually are. When looking for a relationship, it helps to focus less on what you might be lacking and focus more on the traits and experiences you have working in your favor and cultivating your own self-esteem and gratitude. These will work hard for you to make sure you experience a healthy, well-rounded relationship filled with rich, lasting attraction.
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