Only Four Words Stand Between You and the Girl of Your Dreams

March 26, 2010

Reader Steve wrote recently to request a post written specifically for the guys – What do women find sexy?

I’ve been thinking about it for a week or so, and the answer is not complicated. Women are sexually attracted to men who exhibit social dominance. What’s very complicated is the implementation of that objective. Many men have trouble knowing how to go about getting social dominance.

  • How can I be confident with women if I don’t have a lot of experience with them?
  • How can I compete with the guys who seem to naturally dominate a group like they were born to it?
  • Does being socially dominant mean turning into an asshole?

Telling a guy to become socially dominant is not helpful. Mystery provided a lot of instructional material when he wrote the Mystery Method, but it’s outdated and has other limitations:

1. It was written for picking up women in bars and clubs, and it focused on short-term success, i.e. getting beautiful women into bed. There are many men who would like to meet a quality woman for a long-term relationship, and for them it’s beneficial to focus on Day Game and women who are not “hired guns.”

2. Mystery is a magician, and he perfected openers and routines using magic and card tricks. Today there’s nothing more pathetic than a guy in a bar whipping out a deck of cards or offering to read your palm.

3. MM also requires a lot of time in the field, a lot of resources, and a lot of practice getting rejected. It can be extremely effective, but let’s face it, most guys are not going to undertake a program of sarging in bars every night for months to pull off the kind of transformation that Neil Struass did.

Bobby Flay is Hot (You had to be there.)

I’d been thinking this over and trying to come up with concrete, useful information to share with guys, but nothing was really getting cemented in my brain. Yesterday, I was flying home to Boston when I noticed that the TV screen in front of me was tuned to the Food Network. I know the cooking shows are wildly popular, but I haven’t ever watched any of them. There was an OK looking guy, nothing special, talking to the camera and assembling ingredients on a counter. Meh. He put some tuna steaks on a grill to sear, then picked up an onion in one hand and a chef’s knife in the other. He proceeded to dice that onion into perfect little squares in about 15 seconds. The knife flew so fast it was almost a blur. He then did the same thing with a bunch of celery. Then a cucumber. I was riveted.


This guy, Bobby Flay, was masterful. I know that there’s nothing special about dicing vegetables quickly. It’s basic training for cooks. But there was something about his body language, the way he held and wielded his tools, that was really hot. I put on my earphones and watched the rest of the show – God, he was sexy.

Next up was this clown:

Guy Fieri (Also hot, believe it or not.)

The minute I saw this head I knew he could never be sexy. I can’t even tell you how not my type this guy is. I watched him handle lamb loin chops with his catcher’s mitt hands. Then I watched him mix up a vinaigrette. Nuthin. Finally, he gently folded dough over caramelized pears to make a strudel. He lovingly tucked the ends under with those fat, beefy fingers.


It doesn’t matter what a guy looks like. Guy Fieri is proof of that. It doesn’t matter what he does for a living or in his spare time. What matters can be summed up in two words:



In that order. This is what you need to be socially dominant. There are a million ways to accomplish this. It does not matter what you are interested in. What matters is that you absolutely love it. And that you are very, very good at it (or working to get very good at it). Once you have this in place, you must display and share your expertise to achieve dominance. Mystery wrote about this as Demonstrating Higher Value than other men. You’re probably thinking “Give me a break, these guys are natural performers, they were super confident to begin with!” That may be true. What’s important is that their confidence (and their comfort) comes directly from their skill.

When I was in grad school, my roommate and I decided to throw a rager in the spring of our first year. We distributed about 200 invitations that said “Wicked. Party. Come.” There was one guy who everyone knew was really into music – kind of like John Cusack in High Fidelity. He’d worked in the record industry, and he offered to help make a mix. He invited me over one night to choose some songs, and as I entered his room I saw about 40 linear feet of LPs. In modern day terms, that would be a couple of thousand CDs. I don’t know what his filing system was, but as we discussed possible choices, he went straight to each album and pulled it out. He really, really knew music. I distinctly remember thinking how HOT that was. He was suddenly so much hotter than he was in Econ! He knew it too – he was really on top of his game that night, and he pounced, haha. (Reader, I married him.)

Did you know that pregnant women often get crushes on their male OBs? And that mothers of newborns find male pediatricians adorable? It’s a cliche that every university has some old goat professor who has a way of seducing students. And female patients often crush on their male therapists (contrary to popular belief, this is not transference).

Women find it intoxicating when a man derives authority through mastery. However, just being an expert is not enough. If you’re amazing at World of Warcraft, but the only people who know it are other guys online, it really isn’t going to help you get chicks. You must find a way to display your skill, a way to strut your stuff in front of women. Again, it doesn’t matter what you love to do, what matters is that you find a way to share what you know.


Some interests are easier to display than others. If you’re into fly fishing, that’s a cool thing to talk about on a date, but you’ll have to find a woman who loves the outdoors to demonstrate your expertise. Still, your passion and mastery can be communicated in conversation, and you can present authority that way.

Anything can be sexy. I’ve personally observed men achieve social dominance via the following interests:

  • collecting Mission-style antiques/junk
  • Frisbee
  • dog love
  • U.S. Presidents
  • political activism
  • brewing own beer
  • playing guitar (Duh, you can get away with this even if you’re broke as a joke.)

Of course, not everyone will be equally enchanted by the brew you haul out of your bedroom closet. Which brings me to the last crucial ingredient:


You need to identify and meet like-minded people. Once you have figured out what you like, and worked on getting good at it, you need to find people who like the same thing. OK, fly fishing might be tough. So join the Appalachian Mountain Club and go on some group hikes. A woman who loves the outdoors will probably be thrilled to fantasize about standing in a cold Montana river as you show her how to bounce the fly on top of the water.

If you can meet women who share your interests, you can also benefit from social proof as they witness the respect you command from others in that particular community.

This bears repeating: It does not matter what you are interested in! A poetry slam, acting in community theater, old books, quarks, jazz, hoops. If you can find a way to include a woman in your interest, you will earn serious cred by virtue of your expertise.

Passion. Mastery. Display. Compatibility.

It sounds like a lot, I know. But the truth is, women respond to social dominance, not specific subject matter. If you can find a way to share what makes you tick, you will exude confidence, and you will get laid, er, I mean, female attention.

Girls, what do you think? Have you ever thought a guy was hot because he was really good at something?

Guys, does this make sense? Does it feel “doable?”

  • Very good advice. It's interesting that you just picked up on all the guys on the Food Network. It seems like a lot of the men I know are good cooks these days, and it's not just to save money. Great food is a very fast path to a woman's heart on two levels. First, a man who insists on very good food is displaying social value. If you were told you had to go on a date with one of two men, and all you knew about either was what they had for dinner last night, would you choose the guy who had a Big Mac combo, or the guy who had sushi? (Assuming you don't hate sushi, I guess…)

    Second, as you said, if you're good at cooking, women will get all tingly when they watch you do a julienne cut on a yukon gold.

    Actually, there's a third reason cooking is great for attracting quality women. If you are a great cook, you're eating better quality food, and will be healthier than if you eat fast food all the time. That's attractive.

    I think you really need to add one piece of advice to this list, though. Part of being attractive is being a prize to be won. When a man displays interest in a woman, he's changing the power dynamic and giving her the opportunity to reject him. Attractive men are good at displaying interest without asking for approval. They're just giving information and moving on. This also displays high social value because it conveys an attitude: "Yeah, you're attractive, and I might be interested in you, but it takes more than a pretty face for me to get all crushy."

    It feels counter-intuitive, but one of the best ways to get a girl attracted to you is to indicate a little interest and then move on to something else. Most unattractive guys (chumps, in PUA) lock on once they've decided to approach a girl. They're in until they get a phone number or get rejected. This displays a lack of social value AND desperation. Better to display interest early, move on to something else for a while, and then come back — or better yet, wait until she comes to you. This can be done in a group without physically walking away. Just say something flirty, then spend the next ten minutes talking to one of the other girls or guys in the group.

    We are funny creatures, we humans.

    • Hamby, you make a good point. I think food is sexy. Eating is sexy, because it's elemental. But nothing is sexier than eating the food you prepare. This can be a very hedonistic experience. And when a guy cooks, women melt.

      Re your additional advice, yeah, I'm on board. A bit of takeaway can be very effective. So if a man is displaying authority in some area, and he senses that he's sparked some interest, the worst thing he can do is get all crushy (great word!). He needs to nurture his role as an authority figure – the woman wants him to do this!

      One thing that's important to remember, I learned this when I was doing a lot of acting. When you audition, the director wants you to be right for the part. When an actor gives an audition, they are offering a solution to a problem. It's the same here – a woman wants a guy to be right for the part. She wants a guy to produce that tingle of attraction. Once he accomplishes this, he needs to follow through by being comfortable in his newfound credibility, or he will undo all his good work.

      • ATS

        I love reading this blog because it gives me an insight into a sociocultural environment so different from ours. What hamby says about guys pulling back or waiting till she comes to you might not work for here, though, because women are used to men doing all the moves in my culture, and a man who shows disinterest is written off. Case in point is the constant complaint I get from American born and raised Filipino men who go after women born and raised here–the guys complain that the girls here "play hard to get" while the girls get unnerved because "he's moving too fast!!"

        • Haha, that does sound like a huge cultural divide!

  • Passer_By

    Sounds like the 4 words should be "Brandish a Sharp Knife"

    (I guess I'm no longer a "passer_by". Maybe I should change my name.

    • Haha, I do think a guy at the stove is super sexy. He has to have it down, though. No nerves. I would say to guys: choose a menu and get good at it. Then execute it for a woman you like. Cooking is great because it requires performing tasks and can dispel nervousness in conversation.

      When I was single, if a guy cooked, and poured good wine, I knew that sex was likely. My husband did this the first time he invited me to his place, and I can still remember the menu 25 years later.

      Food and sex are natural partners.

  • I think male sexuality is by definition ACTIVE. A woman can look attractive just standing somewhere if she is dressed right. A man has to be doing something. Doing it with skill is even better.
    My recent post The Thank You Prevention Method

    • Very true, Athol. That's especially true in terms of displaying social value. Women never, ever, ever approach a guy sitting by himself at a bar. Women do occasionally approach guys who are doing something interesting. Women constantly approach the singer in the band.

      The more interesting the thing you do, the more attractive you are.

      • Whew, I just have to say, I'm relieved this post passed muster with Hamby and Athol. You are two very smart and discriminating dudes!

        • P.S. Hamby, CommentLuv will feature your newest blog post if you register with your URL!

      • Michael

        Very true, Athol. That’s especially true in terms of displaying social value. Women never, ever, ever approach a guy sitting by himself at a bar. Women do occasionally approach guys who are doing something interesting. Women constantly approach the singer in the band.

        The more interesting the thing you do, the more attractive you are.

        This is understandable, as women who are doing something get more attention than women sitting alone.

  • I think this is spot on. I would also add, conversational style. Some guys have a dismissive tone that is *extremely* off-putting. "You wouldn't like this, it's really sophisticated." I know one guy who's "always the friend" and I think his major problem is that in conversation, he has a very dismissive, kinda negative, condescending tone. An optimistic, in-love-with-life, tone does it!

    • This is key! A superior attitude is always a lady boner killer! Sometimes I think men get off track when trying to do "cocky." Successful cocky guys always include an invitation of some kind – a way of getting a woman more involved. Straight elitism is just off-putting.

      • I think there are two things American men really need:
        1) We need to take "Game" from the PUA community and turn it into "Guy Training."
        2) We need a whole new chapter on the difference between cocky and arrogant.

        As you say, cocky is a way of bantering. I like Mystery's approach to it even though I'm not always fond of the way he executes it. His theory is that you tease (or neg) and then move on without giving her the chance to get all defensive. Psychologically, I think what's going on is that the neg or teasing is a continuity break. Girls get approached and crushed on all the time, and they have a set mental routine. Women are designed to say no a lot, and that's what their brains are doing… unconsciously thinking of reasons why this guy won't do. "He's too short. He's got a beer gut. He has a receding hairline. He has… What? I sound like a chipmunk when I laugh? Did he just insult me? Do I sound like a chipmunk? Oh, wait… what's this new thing he's doing? Oh, neat… he knows how to juggle."

        Snark aside, breaking continuity keeps a woman off balance, and that's attractive in its own way. So functionally, a neg creates uncertainty, which is good, and it also creates a break in the continuity, which is a break from the norm… which is also good. The trick is to do all of this with a genuine and warm demeanor, not a superior one.
        My recent post The Story of Easter, Part 3

        • I totally agree about Guy Training. Game needs an update, preferably in a way that makes it more accessible to a greater number of people. Maybe 75% of the benefits can be derived with only 25% of the work, or something like that.

          The reason cocky works is that it = rock solid self-confidence. A guy who says, "You know you want me" is communicating that based on experience, he is good at reading cues, and also has a high success rate with women. This will literally cause a woman to second-guess her own judgment.

          Neg is a terrible name, and I'm not crazy about deliberate attempts to target a woman's self-esteem. However, I will say that playful banter is always sexy. Always.

        • I have a love-hate relationship with neg theory. The hate part is because negs are the easiest path to the dark side. They work. They're like that magic blue lightning that shoots out of the emperor's fingers. For bitter men who enjoy pumping and dumping, negs are one of the easiest fastest ways to get into a girl's pants.

          But here's the thing. Negs don't have to be mean or hurtful to work, and Mystery, et al, are right about approaching "10s." Most really hot women won't give a guy the time of day unless he proves to them that he won't take their shit.

          Women are designed to get tingly in the presence of high value males. One of the marks of high value is that a guy can get a better woman than you. The biological programming says, "If a guy of higher value than you wants you, take him!" Like it or not, when a guy tells a girl something is wrong with her, it's sending the message "I'm higher value than you." It's the easiest way for a guy to send the message, too. So unfortunately, it's part of the 75% of Game that's accessible to most men with only 25% of the work. Blame natural selection, but it's just the reality.

          My recent post The Story of Easter, Part 3

        • Makes sense. If it wasn't so effective, there wouldn't be so many women with their panties in a twist over it!

        • vera44

          It works. When there's one guy who is telling you you're not that great when most guys are fawning, you're kind of like, who else has he dated that's better than me? It's a DHV (demonstration of higher value) right there. The last guy I dated did this, and I was intrigued not because I had low self-esteem & wanted to be insulted, I kind of wanted to know how he thought and really figure out why he had said that because it was so uncommon. It made me pay attention, so to speak.

        • LesserBeta

          Remember, if you've read the Mystery Method, he tells guys to guage their negging on the attractiveness of the woman. If a woman is a 5 and her self-esteem is low, negging is obviously a risky venture. If she is a 10 and/or completely full of herself, neg away.

          In fact, sometimes if a girl is a particularly big attention whore with a huge ego to boot, it's really satisfying to neg her just to bring her down a notch. And it's much deserved in some cases.

        • LesserBeta

          If you recall from the Mystery Method, he tells men to guage their negging based on the attractiveness of the woman and her self-esteem (which are often correlated). Negging a 5 with low esteem is a risky venture that may end up with her hating you. If the girl is a 10 with high self-esteem, neg away. If she is a particularly big attention whore with an ego to boot, negging her is not only necessary, but feels very satisfying too!

        • LesserBeta

          If you recall from the Mystery Method, he tells men to guage their negging based on the attractiveness of the woman and her self-esteem (which are often correlated). Negging a 5 with low esteem is a risky venture that may end up with her hating you. If the girl is a 10 with high self-esteem, neg away. If she is a particularly big attention whore with an ego to boot, negging her is not only necessary, but feels very satisfying too!

        • Haha, I couldn't help but laugh over this, but there's one assumption you're making that isn't valid. Not every 10 has high self-esteem. Our culture is one where even the most beautiful women feel insecure about their looks – there have been documentaries about supermodels who think they're ugly, fat, etc.

          You may be negging a 10 who's just coming off a breakup with a guy who dumped her for someone else, or a woman who has healthy but not excessive self-esteem.

          On the other hand, if you know the woman and she is all about ME, ME, ME, by all means neg away!

        • Aldonza

          I'm glad you mentioned this. Many of the very beautiful women I've known have had low self-esteem. A good many of them don't even consider themselves to be beautiful. Seems to me the "neg" may also be nothing more than a screening mechanism for such women.

        • Interesting – meaning that if her face crumples she's an easier target?

        • Aldonza

          Perhaps. I think that if a neg works, it is because you've hit a tender spot in a woman's psyche. A spot that she feels somehow compelled to prove you wrong about.

  • grerp

    In the words of Napoleon Dynamite: "Girls only want boyfriends who have great skills. You know, like nunchuku skills, bow hunting skills, computer hacking skills…"

    High Fidelity was so much better as a book. Cusack's breaking the fourth wall was supposed to maintain the first person hilarity of Hornby's prose, but it really didn't work. The novel is so funny. I should re-read. A definite peek into the single guy brain for women.

    Another skilled and dominant TV how-to guy: Cesar Millan. I really think he is sort of superhuman. The way he says, "German Chepards" is actually sort of sexy.

    Susan, your RSS feed has issues. I've tried several times today to subscribe using both Firefox and Safari, and I can't seem to make it go. Just an FYI.

    My recent post Piece of Advice # 9: Take a sabbatical to a third world country

    • grerp, that's a great quote! I'd forgotten that completely. I agree that High Fidelity was better as a book. I love Nick Hornby, and I'd be willing to say that the British version is almost always better than the American version. It really is a good novel, and I love the main character's Top Five lists. All-Time Top Five Breakups, etc.

      Of course I'm aware of Cesar Millan, and I'm a dog person, so I should know his show, but have never watched it. However, I don't doubt for a moment that he comes across as sexy.

      Thanks for the RSS heads up. Ugh. Will investigate this weekend.

  • reformed_tomboy

    I think it's very true that showing a level of mastery is attractive. I've found myself growing bored with guys who just don't seem to have any drive or ambition.

    My current crush has been an on again, off again crush over the years since we grew up together (one of those weird relationships of being really good friends over the years and being incredibly close with weird non-platonic undertones). What has suddenly made him pop back into the forefront has been his sudden drive to improve himself and really excel in his field as he finishes up university.

    I think more than just straight up mastery is the ambition to achieve mastery sometimes. It's fine to be unsure of maybe where you're going with your life when you're still young and in school, but showing a desire to find something that will work for you.

    And I agree – cooking is incredibly sexy!

    • Hi reformed tomboy, thanks for commenting! I agree that ambition or determination often fill this requirement. That's why I think that working toward a goal can be as effective as having achieved it. What's key is the confidence that gets communicated when someone knows they are on the right path, pursuing something that they are really interested in. That too is passion.

  • I always thought the four words were: "Want to hang out?" Sometimes that's all it takes.

    • If you're having success with those four words, you're in good shape! Some men are naturals – they achieve social dominance just by standing in a room. Other guys are not shy, but constantly get friendzoned. They are social, but not dominant enough. And many guys struggle just to suggest hanging out with a woman they find attractive.

  • The very first "what does the guy I marry need to have" list I ever made had this on it "he has to be passionate about something…anything." It could be his car, or climate change, or cooking, or music, or movies, or skiing, or gear, or SOMETHING.

    John Cusack woos me.

    Also, strangely, Skater Boys. And I think it's because they are constantly with their skate board. they dress like they skate board, they live for that skate board. and that is strangely attractive.

    I really think sense of humour is the sexist thing of all. A guy who can be silly and funny but not mean is the hottest thing ever.
    My recent post Cheese 32: English Stilton & Big. Exciting. News.

    • Yes! Women love funny guys, no question. What's not to love? Wit displays intelligence, and laughing is one of the most fun things ever.

    • vera44

      Can it really be anything though? Because most of the guys I've dated love sports with a passion, know all the stats on the teams, have fantasy teams, etc. Unless I'm watching them play (that's hot), it's a total bore for me even though they are passionate & have mastery of the subject.

      • Well, it's no fun to watch someone watch something, right? Guys who are fixated on the stats, play Strat-o-Matic, etc. are generally not sharing their interest, and sharing is key. So a guy who's a baseball, fan, say, needs to find a compatible woman who would have fun going to some games. He could teach her how to score a game, maybe share his personal, passionate opinions about certain players, etc. This way he displays with a compatible woman — the third and fourth words of the formula.

        • ExNewYorker

          Take the girl to the ballpark…being at the park is a different experience than just learning the stats, or even just watching it on tv. If she doesn't know the game well, that's a good opportunity to teach (this applies to whatever sport you choose to go see live).

          If she's a compatible woman, she'll be ok with that. She may never become a true sports fan, but she'll understand it's important to you and that she'll need to be ready to go when FC Barcelona or the Yankees come to town…

        • I'm not really a sports fan, but I am more than happy to go and share my husband's enthusiasm for his favorite teams. And it helps to learn the game – I find that I often enjoy myself if I let myself get caught up in it. When you're committed to someone, you are more than happy to meet them halfway. In my experience, my husband doesn't take this for granted. He's very appreciative when I pay attention and ask questions.

  • ATS

    OK, these are my own personal experiences–

    Re playing guitar, heck YES!!! First bf was a self taught electric guitar virtuoso who listened to Paganini concertos for inspiration and could play licks as fast, if not faster, than Yngwie Malmsteen. Didn't matter that he was short and average looking–he was HOT as far as I was concerned, and I was with him for three years. These days he's a well respected rock guitarist in the local music industry as well as a DJ for a well known rock radio station, still single, and still having women half his age swoon over him.

    What got me initially hooked on hubby was his passion for reading, and it's something that we have in common–we still enjoy talking about books, recommending this author or that to each other. Apart from that, he's a well established industry leader in his field of business, constantly invited to the Senate or Congress for his input whenever measures involving his industry are being introduced, and apart from constant TV and radio interviews, was once actually on a nationally televised round table discussion with the President as the representative of the business industry he's in. To this end, he never stops reading business books, goes on business seminars, works hard to make our brand recognized nationwide, and constantly dreams up business strategies to put our company in the forefront, which he has done very successfully. What makes me hot for him even after all this years? And made my respect for him grow exponentially? It's not just the fact that he's so good at what he does, it's that he's SO dang low key about it!!! Never brags, never announces that he's going on TV interviews, NEVER name drops, doesn't wear flashy designer brands or drives a flashy car. Yet he commands respect wherever he goes.

    THAT is confidence. Which is very different from cocky. Women like the first, get turned off by the second, because confidence is based on who you really are and knowing your own worth, while cocky is based on image and feeling superior over other people.

    • I agree about reading – being well read is a skill that is available to everyone. Just reading a lot makes you an interesting person. My husband and I tend to read very different things, but we'll both share interesting thoughts and discoveries from our reading, and it makes for lots of interesting conversation. I've never understood couples in restaurants who appear to having nothing to say to one another throughout a meal. It's painful to observe, and the solution is such a simple one!

  • VJ1

    Yes, quite. Yet another active example of this, found on the Net, (Knew his mum Barbara too):

    Me, I was eventually left with pick up games of political arguments with local DA's, which was unchallenging indeed. Cheers & Good Luck! VJ (On the road somewhere near a fog horn too, evidently…)

  • Penapina

    completely agree!
    all men I have had a crush into had some skills that made them special to me! usually, intellectual ones by the way!

    • Hi Penapina, I agree with this. Smart women find intelligence sexy in men. Yet a lot of brainy guys have difficulty relating to women. I think it's important to develop interests that you find stimulating but that can potentially be shared with another person. Reading is great for that, as ATS points out.

  • This is an excellent analysis of the question. It seems easy and almost self-evident, but it is vastly superior to most of what is written on this topic, and offers a great picture, not only of what women find attractive in men, but also of how men can become better men.
    My recent post How to Be a Good Wife

    • Thank you, Stuart. That is high praise coming from a trained therapist!

  • Chili

    This is good advice because the concept of a "hobby" comes more naturally to men than to women. Most of the men I have ever met are strongly passionate about one or two specific things (usually they are divided into two categories: music and sports) and enjoy talking about these things and doing these things with their friends, and sharing them with their romantic interests.

    Women on the other hand generally either do not have any particular hobbies, or are not as invested in them as men are. When I get together with my friends, we literally just talk about what is happening in our lives and how we feel about these events more than we actually go out and do something that we collectively feel passionate about.

    There is evidence for this phenomenon:

    I'm not trying to say that women can't be passionate or anything like that. Whether this is socially constructed or not, women are not as focused on specific activities as much as they are on feelings and problems. Women strive to achieve mastery in communication more than anything else.

    • Chili, I think that makes sense. Women are comfortable spending time with each other sharing intimacies, offering support, etc. Men generally don't talk with their friends that way. They are much more comfortable spending time with each other participating in a shared interest.

      All men really need to do is find a way to share their interest with women. Most women I know would be happy to learn about a sport from a guy they were romantically interested in, even if they wouldn't sit down alone to watch Monday Night Football.

  • collegegirl

    Spot on. Men with interests, hobbies, passions, whatever you call it instantly make themselves more attractive. At least, it works on me! Personally, he was talking about how he loved his major and his interest in urban planning. Sounds dry but he made it work. My questions is.. does this happen in reverse too? I found myself talking about my interests and hobbies and more often than not I get the "ohh.." and a look, to which I have to follow with a "haha yeah.." to acknowledge it, and move on. It's not like they're weird off-the-wall interests, but I feel like talking about my school involvements and hobbies scare people off. At least it's a buzz kill topic.

    • Hi collegegirl, don't you just love the wisdom we get from the guys here? Honestly, they've changed my blog!

      I'll second what Hamby says, but I do think guys are more likely to be in a relationship with an interesting woman. At least that's true of smart guys who are interested in more than sex. Early on, it's all about sexual attraction, but what flips the switch to make a guy fall in love? Then other stuff comes into play, and it makes sense that a curious and active person with passions is going to be more intriguing than a hot but boring and lazy woman. She's also likely to be more independent, which is better for her, as well as their relationship.

      • Ah, very good observation, Susan. Let me put it another way. Your hobby doesn't make me want to have sex with you. But once we've had sex and I'm thinking about committing to you long term, your hobby might well make you more desirable.

        It's that whole value thing again. An interesting hobby might well add value to you as a long term mate, especially if it's a shared interest, or something a guy thinks he might like if he tried it. (And on a more cynical note, girls with hobbies have something to do on Saturday while college football is on. That's no small thing.)

        • Aldonza

          LOL…in general, *breathing* is enough to make a guy want to have sex. We don't need no stinking hobbies!

          This comes back to women using short-term dating strategies and getting frustrated with not finding longterm partners. If a man isn't sexually interested in you, precious little you can do (other than a major makeover) to change that. But if a man is at all interested in a longterm relationship, of course your hobbies, interests, passions, etc. count.

    • Mike

      Men with interests, hobbies, passions, whatever you call it instantly make themselves more attractive. At least, it works on me! Personally, he was talking about how he loved his major and his interest in urban planning. Sounds dry but he made it work. My questions is.. does this happen in reverse too? I found myself talking about my interests and hobbies and more often than not I get the "ohh.." and a look, to which I have to follow with a "haha yeah.." to acknowledge it, and move on. It's not like they're weird off-the-wall interests, but I feel like talking about my school involvements and hobbies scare people off.

      Depends. Are we talking short-term sexual relationship or LTR/life partner/mother of children, etc. and are we talking mature guy or immature guy.

      In terms of raw sexual attraction, the male tingle so to speak, your hobbies and interests don't matter at all UNLESS maybe they coincide with our interests…even then probably not. Maybe this is a redundant theme, but I sense that many women just don't get this given what their attraction switches are (and because they are so different) but it really is 100% physical looks (ATF).

      So if you are talking to an immature guy looking for sex or a short-term sexual relationship, then yes, talking about your hobbies and school involvements is a complete buzzkill but maybe that is a good thing because you'll send the wrong kind of guys away quickly unless that is what you are looking for as well.

      If you are talking to a mature guy looking for his future wife and/or mother of children, then talking about these things is a very good thing because it allows us to see who you are as a person, what drives you, and what your character might be like.

      So to summarize, depends on what you are looking for and who your audience is.

    • The short answer is no. It doesn't work in reverse, unless your hobby is dressing up in schoolgirl outfits and doing stripteases for your boyfriend.

      That isn't to say that men don't want girls with hobbies. Most guys do. But a girl's hobbies aren't boner inducing. When a girl is doing a hobby, she's not doing her lover. So no… hobbies don't turn guys on.

      Oh, but FYI, if you're talking to a guy and he starts getting bored or distracted when you talk about your hobbies, there's a 78.3% chance that he's trying to get in your pants and wishes you would let him show off his hobbies some more so you'll jump his bones.
      My recent post The Story of Easter, Part 3

    • Yes and no.

      I have never done short-term, never been my interest really. But the guys who do short-term don't care much at all about your interests — what I mean is that it isn't an attraction vector. Just isn't. Key difference between men and women that we see even well into the 20s and 30s — career women expecting men to be attracted to their status, which isn't what attracts us, really.

      For long-term, compatibility is key. I do prefer a woman with her own hobby/passion. My girlfriend, who is finishing up her PhD thesis, has many hobbies and interests — knitting/sewing; professional sports (hockey, football, college basketball); cooking; reading. Many of these are compatible with mine (okay, not the knitting part …), which really drives compatibility and comfort level and, yes, attraction, for me, because I am a LTR type. And I know she cherishes in me my own "mastery" areas that are not shared by her, too. But for me it's about compatibility.

      • It's good to know how the triggers are different for STRs vs. LTRs, but in general you'll find few women seeking the STR, and probably none at all here. Still, it's helpful to understand male psychology/priorities. If we accept that there is no such thing as Girl Game – a guy either thinks you are attractive or he doesn't – then female strategy only makes sense once the attraction is present, and you're trying to cultivate a LTR. Until then, a woman's hobbies seem irrelevant, though you can get to that point quickly, e.g., the first date. A woman had better have something interesting to say then.

        Re women assuming their status attracts men, this is true, and I really don't understand it. Frankly, even at b-school it was clear the men preferred the undergraduate women. I think men often assume that highly educated women will be total ballbusters, with good reason.

        • Matt Gambale

          I think there are a lot of men who would prefer a woman of status for any sort of relationship, all else being equal. Our problem is twofold. First, anytime we add another criterion our number of prospects goes down. Beautiful high-status women are a small subset of beautiful women. Second, high-status women are much harder to impress, particularly given the likelihood that most of the high-status women we have opportunities to meet are in our own fields. For example, I used to be a mid-packer in college cross country and I wouldn't get any benefit from that when I flirted with other athletes. They knew I was average. But if I mentioned my mile time to some non-runner girls — even though I hardly ever ran races so short — I'd definitely perceive a positive change in their attitude toward me. To them, the fact that I could finish half a lap behind the world record was amazing. They didn't realize that millions of other guys could do the same.

          Your business school classmates who gunned for undergrads were simply trying to trade their best asset on an exchange where they knew a disparity of information would work in their favor. They'd get more bang for their buck, so to speak.

        • Haha, Matt, even after all these years that is good to hear! I hadn't thought of it that way, but it certainly sounds plausible. I have always wished that being smart helps women attract men, and I do think it helped me – I can't imagine my husband being married to some bimbo. We share a lot of intellectual interests. I hear a lot of guys say, though, that all they care about is how hot a woman is.

          Hey, I'm impressed that you ran CC in college. That alone puts you at the top of the athletic pyramid.

  • Aldonza

    Yeah, a guy who has a passion will always trump the passive ones. And yes, that passion can even include World of Warcraft. (Dare I mention the crush I had on a Tauren Shaman?)

    For women, we should seek out places where normal guys have a chance to display mastery. Clubs and bars are not the place. If you're still in school, there are *tons* of clubs for all sorts of interests, ranging from the athletic to the geeky. If you're not in school, is nearly as good.

    And if a guy is glazing over when you talk about your interests, walk. I'm serious. If he isn't interested in your out-of-bed passions, it's because he's already categorized you as a short-term relationship.

    • I've heard really good things about meetup groups, thanks for that link. I agree with you about a guy displaying boredom when he's listening. I get it that guys want sex, but they need to respect that many women want some intimacy first, and that's not going to develop if the guy is so impatient he wants to dispense with the niceties.

    • Yes, I agree with this.

      One thing I always advise younger guys is this: find a passion and pursue it. Men *rock* at this, really, once we find something that generates that degree of interest. And I mean other than women, heh. Even if it's WoW or motorbikes or poetry or skiing or whatever. Find something you're passionate about and pursue it. It defines us as men, really.

      • That's why I think it's brilliant as a strategy for attracting women. Something that guys naturally do really well is a total turnon for us. I think a lot of guys don't realize how sexy it is – women like to see passion even if they don't have the same exact interests. And many women really are pleased to be included or even tutored in something that is a man's passion.

  • Mani

    LOL Susan, I definitely love the way this post was written, especially the part about Guy 🙂 I totally agree with you. I know a boy who is not considered conventionally cute (he's the got the stereotypical "dork" look down), but goodness, whenever I'm around him I find him crazily irresistible. Why? Because he's SO smart. And smart equals dead sexy in my opinion. So whenever he explains something to me, I melt. He has a mastery of what he does for sure, and attraction factor goes up 200% because of that.

    It was an enjoyable read! I also think that this can be somewhat applied to girls as well – when girls have a passion for something in life, that can contributed to attraction factor and is sexy as well. Having a pretty face is just scratching the surface – doing your own thing and loving it is actually what I think keeps guys around, or ultimately causes them to be attracted to you for something more long-term.
    My recent post

    • Mani, you have gained a lot of wisdom since you first started speaking up here! I give you a lot of credit – and I do think you will find a super smart guy whose passionate about his subject a better bet than those assbags around campus.

      I agree that women also benefit from this advice, both in terms of personal development and also being good LTR material, as you say.

      • Mani

        Thanks susan, your comments always make me smile!
        My recent post

      • Mani

        Thanks susan, your comments always make me smile!
        My recent post

  • Melissa

    "Girls, what do you think? Have you ever thought a guy was hot because he was really good at something?"

    Definitely! Once, I was seeing this guy who was so not my type. He was actually the opposite of what I typically consider attractive but you know, I was giving it a try, because he seemed very into me and I've always been a bit too picky for my own good. But honestly, i didn't feel that tingle LOL. However, because he was trying to get a job in a company that i'm well connected to, he sent me his resume. OH MY GOD i read that resume and it was like softcore porn!!! The guy had everything: Ivy-league schooling, 3.9 GPA, unbelievable work experience, fluency in 4 languages! I remember I was so aroused when I finally saw him again he thought it had something to do with his new cologne! LOL

    • Haha, Melissa, what a great story! I have to say, I love how the women are speaking out about guys who are smart. I totally agree – those are the genes that turn me on the most. Guys will often say sexual attraction has nothing to do with that, and it's probably true that the smartest guys get laid less, but that's mixing up cause and effect. It really is about social dominance, which requires social skills.

      • I think you're right. We tend to create a false dichotomy. Smart guys all have advanced degrees, and spend all their time in labs mixing potions together or building computers out of paper clips. That's only a small subset of "smart guys." Some guys are viciously smart AND socially savvy. They've applied their intelligence to social dominance. These are the guys who ALWAYS have beautiful, intelligent wives/girlfriends.

  • LesserBeta

    College girl,

    It is interesting how you say your bf was attractive due to his passion for urban planning. It just so happens that's my major and career path. I remember showing some of my urban photography to a girl (who has long friendzoned me) who I was 'dating' at the time and she was intrigued by it. I even took her to a place where I knew had the best view of the city and waited for the sun to start going down so we could see all the lights.

    Same thing with skating. I am an amazing skater (used to be one of the top speed skaters in the province and even competed in the Can-Am circuit with present-day Olympians). I know it's a great DMV and an excuse to hold hands. The trouble is getting this date arranged without the girl flaking.

  • LesserBeta

    "Neg is a terrible name, and I'm not crazy about deliberate attempts to target a woman's self-esteem. However, I will say that playful banter is always sexy. Always. " – Susan

    If you recall from the Mystery Method, he tells men to guage their negging based on the attractiveness of the woman and her self-esteem (which are often correlated). Negging a 5 with low esteem is a risky venture that may end up with her hating you. If the girl is a 10 with high self-esteem, neg away. If she is a particularly big attention whore with an ego to boot, negging her is not only necessary, but feels very satisfying too!

  • LesserBeta

    "Neg is a terrible name, and I'm not crazy about deliberate attempts to target a woman's self-esteem. However, I will say that playful banter is always sexy. Always" – Susan

    Remember, if you've read Mystery Method, he tells men to guage their negging based on a woman's attractiveness and self-esteem (which often tend to coincide). If she is a 5 with low self-esteem, negs are a risky venture which may cause her to hate you and feel insulted. If she is a 10 and full of herself, neg away. If a girl is a particularly big attention whore with a big ego, it can be very satisfying to neg her and bring her down a notch. Sometimes it's just downright necessary with these women, if even you're not interested in her in a romantic sense.

    • Aldonza

      I don't believe attractiveness and self esteem coincide. In fact, I've found that women who base more of their own self-worth on their appearance tend to be less secure overall.

  • Il Capo

    "Guys, does this make sense? Does it feel “doable?”"

    It's not enough without further training. Young beta guys will usually be too-humble about their accomplishments and will be ignorant of girls' attraction. If they do fall for the girl, they'll do everything wrong and turn her off, for eg.: the nerdy guy who's really smart is hot until he realizes he likes you, writes you a poem and becomes creepy overnight.

    • Il Capo

      (continued) What you are advocating is one path towards inner game without going through the routines-phase. It could work short-term, but the results won't be pretty mid term: guys will learn nothing from it, go full beta once in the relationship and will be left behind shortly after.

      • Ouch. That actually makes a lot of sense. The problem is that too few guys will have the wherewithal to go through the routines phase. It would be good to boil Game down to its essentials, though I hear you – there's no getting around the practice part.

        This post addresses what women find sexy, what will generate sexual attraction. But you're right, a guy who looks hot one minute, realizes it and then turns into a puppy has totally shot himself in the foot. Sustaining the attraction is key.

        • P.S. Il Capo, I sent the link you provided recently to several guys who emailed me, and I have heard good things back. That is a very good piece for less experienced guys.

        • Il Capo

          Good to hear that.

  • Jacko

    I know this post isn't a sociological dissertation, but I do have an observation. Your two examples are males that are in their early – mid forties. That's fine, and it also proves that men can grow and mature. It just so happens I was reading another blog the other day about how in the near future we will have a surplus of males in both the west and in China. Younger males will be competing with older and more mature males for females. It is curious that your examples have breached the beginning of middle age, and also worrisome that guys in their 20's and 30's may not be getting any poon. If women are attracted to social dominance, and an average 40 year old is more dominant than a successful 25 yr old, we will be facing a severe sexual dystopia, if we are not already there.

    Nonetheless, I agree with you. Men have to 'do' things. Women need only be alive and breathing.

    • Jacko, that is a very good point, and one I hadn't considered. It's true that I highlighted two older guys here at the top of the pyramid, but that's because I happened to catch their shows. I don't think a 21 year-old woman expects a guy to display great knife skills. She's immature too – her tastes are influenced by youth culture. The young guy is the one brewing his own beer, playing guitar, or being awesome at Ultimate Frisbee or beach volleyball.

      Also, I know in Game circles it's generally accepted that a man's age is not a hindrance, and may even be an advantage. This can be true, but in my experience most women don't want to go 10 years up. They want a partner from their own generation – someone who's also hooked on Lost, watched The Real World as a teen, and likes the same music. Only a social dominant male who is also powerful/wealthy will be hot to young women. So a professor can pull it off if he has ample opportunity to display authority, but the average guy around town won't be so successful.

  • Some guy

    I should probably weigh in here.

    After an awful childhood that ended with the death of my mother, I decided to take a chance in my late teens and early twenties and studied Arabic. I later took up French as well, and then got a Master's in African history. This was from 1994-2000. I am a handsome man (though thin, which is not a plus for men), and yet my interests did nothing for young women at the time. They were just too unconventional. I would have done much better if I had been a DJ, skater or even a drug dealer, but I also knew that this would be a waste of my youth and not nearly as interesting long-term as being able to travel the world, speak different languages and relate to things that lie outside my original cultural background. Sure, I dated in my twenties, but I didn't have much in the way of long-term relationships. When I was 25 I was diagnosed with Crohn's disease, which is a real drag if you choose to look at it that way; I was in the hospital six times that year and had to cancel three dates from my hospital bed. Despite all of this, I have always been very successful with friends, whether men or women; I have no trouble being 'one of the boys' with men (and I like it very much), and yet I have always had many female friends as well because I have a decent degree of emotional intelligence and I like psychology, so I actually enjoy talking with them about their feelings and the people in their lives, etc.

    I am 35 now and I live in Spain, so I now speak Spanish and Catalan as well. I have no trouble meeting women now. I am very sociable, I can speak all these languages and, to be honest, all those hard knocks I endured when younger really toughened me up. My troubles with women now are mostly in finding one that interests me, because a pretty face and a shoe collection simply does not cut it. I also find that people tend to view dating as some kind of power game ("You're admitting you like me? Well then I'm outta here. Haha, I win!"), so that doesn't help either. Anyway, my point is that yes, it seems like a cruel joke — when you're a young man and are popping a hard-on every five minutes in the most unlikely places, it's very 'hard' too think about anything but women. I know! But if you can overcome your current frustration and just work on yourself, trying to be the right person instead of searching for the right person, while letting all the girls run after the bartenders and indie band guys in the meantime (don't worry, all those guys will end up with ruined credit and no prospects and the girls will be looking elsewhere when the party's over), then you can shine brighter later on, and better.

    I've also typically been a bit understated and humble about my accomplishments when around new people (I kind of shun the limelight), so I probably could have even more success than I do, but I like to save surprises for later. It's more fun.

  • Some guy

    To be clear, I'm not advocating celibacy throughout a young man's twenties. What I'm trying to say is that I think men are more attractive when they are dedicated to some purpose or have some long-term goal they are working toward. As much as woman say they want to be the center of a man's world, they really don't. They don't seem to get all that excited over a man who is only excited about them.

    And it makes sense, because many women are quite boring, frankly. Also, I might add that I have known guys who didn't have a lot of ambition and dated very ambitious women. The guys thought that this was a great arrangement, and that the woman could lead while he would just chill and decorate the house. Maybe this works out sometimes, but I kind of suspect that what these super ambitious women really craved a man who was even MORE ambitious than them, not less.

    This may also be one reason why women are so turned off by videogames: they represent the opposite of ambition. They are closed little worlds that do not open onto the real, larger world that we actually live in. So guys, drop the videogames and do something interesting. Do it for yourself, and women will probably follow, even if it does take some time.

    • Some guy, thanks for sharing this, it's an awesome story! Your can-do approach do life is pretty amazing – you have clearly thrived and moved forward despite some very, very difficult challenges.

      I agree that women don't want a man who will stay home. When I read about marriages where the woman is earning all the dough, and the guy is the caregiver, I wonder about the sex – I just don't think that arrangement could make either party feel sexy about the other.

      I also agree that many women are boring or otherwise not worth the trouble. Sometimes men get so focused on looks, that they take up with a woman who has little to say for herself. This drives us smart women crazy, haha!

      Finally, I think it's interesting that you have found that you are successful with women in Spain. I do think American culture is fairly dysfunctional around mating, and I wonder if Spanish women behave differently.

      Thanks for commenting!

      • Some guy

        Actually, I know one couple like this who seemed to stay together mostly because of the sex, but that's probably an exceptional case. On average, I would assume the same as you.

        Spanish culture is certainly different. For one thing, I believe it is rather unusual to go on five dates with the same woman without having sex. Part of this is because the sexual revolution came here a bit later, in that it is happening now (in the 1970s the country was still very traditional and ruled by a fascist government, and when that ended in 1977, society began opening up in many ways). I also don't think Spanish women are nearly as concerned with their 'reputation' as American women are. In fact, the American women who come here are quite sexually free with foreign (not just Spanish) men, but they tend not to sleep with American men. Of course we have to account for the exotic factor here, but the way I see it (and of course I may be wrong), it is also because an American man would be irresistibly tempted to catch the first plane back to the States, drive to her sleepy little village in New Hampshire and tell her neighbors all about how she likes it from the back. So she can't do that, obviously.

        And yes, smart women could do everyone a favor by stopping once and for all the silly practice of playing dumb in order to avoid intimidating the men they like. Unfortunately, many women (especially when young) seem to be attracted to men who find forward and capable women threatening. When all the women act dumb, and mostly indistinguishable from each other, of course men will end up picking the prettiest one, since that's all that distinguishes her anyway.

        Likewise, men could do everyone a favor by no longer rewarding vacuous beauties. A gay friend of mine says that whenever he overhears a woman telling some totally boring story and nobody is telling her to just shut up already, you can be sure that she's gorgeous. This annoys him to no end…

        • I wasn't aware that smart women play dumb to please men – I think of that as some kind of dumb blonde routine from the 50s – Marilyn Monroe. I'm a bit surprised to hear that still goes on post-Women's Movement, but I suppose people will always do what they think works.

          Re the gorgeous woman telling the boring story, I hear that! Hamby, another reader here, once said, "Show me a beautiful woman, and I'll show you a guy who's tired of her shit." It's a slightly different sentiment, but no doubt they are the same woman!

    • "This may also be one reason why women are so turned off by videogames: they represent the opposite of ambition. They are closed little worlds that do not open onto the real, larger world that we actually live in. "


  • Steve


    long time reader, first time "replyer" . 😛

    Every time I read one of your columns about how men should act to get women, it reminds me of an old independent film called The Tao of Steve from 2000. However, on this post, you stated Rule #2 of the Tao of Steve almost directly. I think you even see the roots of "The Game" in some of the things the main character does in the film.

    The basic plot of the film centers on Dex, an overweight slovenly kindergarten teacher in New Mexico who despite his appearance has sex with multiple women. Over the film, he states his "rules for being Steve" as he starts to reflect about whether they may not be the best rules to live by. The rules are as follows:

    1) Eliminate your desires.
    2) Do something excellent in her presence, thereby proving your sexual worthiness.
    3) Retreat, for as Martin Heidegger said, "We pursue that which retreats from us".

    I'm not sure if you've ever seen the film, but I think it relates a lot to your post & thought you would enjoy it!

    Hope all is well,

    Steve G.

    • Steve, welcome, thanks for commenting! Ah, I love that film! I haven't thought of it in ages, but I really, really enjoyed it. I also found that character hot! He's actually pretty cute, even if he is a bit chubby. And of course, it has a happy ending for all of us women, yay.

  • Rebekah

    I think what some men, younger men especially, don't realize is that confidence is a learned skill. Anyone can learn to carry themselves with confidence, and have confidence with the opposite sex. Trust me, I was one socially awkward girl in my 20s, and especially after my divorce when my confidence was shot. I had to relearn how to have confidence and not come off as a bitch.

    Being socially dominant does not have to turn a guy into a raging asshole. I personally am not attracted to the guy in the room that has all the attention. You know the one I am talking about. He walks in and everyone flocks toward him. They laugh at his jokes, hang on his every word. He seems to have it all. Sorry, it's flash. In my personal experience guys like this are only like this in public. Now that guy in the corner of the room that is taking it all in. He is who I am going to gravitate toward. He is not avoiding people, he is observing, choosing his conversations and actually participating in them. It's quiet confidence, not flashy "confidence" that draw me in.

    • Absolutely, still waters run deep and all that. The most observant guys are the most intriguing. And they're less likely to spout nonsense. The showboat = player. Proceed with extreme caution, danger lies ahead!

    • LesserBeta


      You may have been socially awkward in your 20s, but that doesn't matter. A guy will probably think that it's cute and tease you a bit. A girl will think it's pathetic and avoid you.

      Though I agree with you about quiet confidence versus flashy confidence. A few of my guy friends have what I would consider "flashy confidence" and when you get to know them, you'd be surprised with the insecurities they're hiding. But nevertheless, someone who is sure of himself and knows what he wants, but is intraverted, will be judged as not having enough confidence by female onlookers.

      • Mani

        I have to disagree, LesserBeta. A few of my guy friends in the past have been socially awkward, and to me, socially awkward guys are cute, and I like to tease them a bit 🙂 I don't know if they like it or not, though – some guys are responsive and warm up to me, others just completely shut down. So it depends. Maybe I am some freak-of-nature type of girl, but yes, I just find them…endearing. It still depends on the guy, but for the most part I would much rather date a guy who isn't completely cocky and flashy. Perhaps I am a little more understanding, because I am socially awkward myself (getting better at it, though!)

        Being socially awkward as a girl has it's disadvantages too 🙁 sometimes the things you do might be cute, but in the highly competitive dating world today (at least with people in college, like me) if you are awkward, your dating pool shrinks by a lot. (the only exception I would think is if you're crazy spectacularly super model gorgeous, but the majority of women aren't – self in included – so.) Since people who are socially awkward are more shy to being with+ don't interact as well with other people, this cuts down the amount of people you talk to, which cuts down the amount of potential of dating partners (as opposed to being out there 24/7), and puts even more stress on cultivating relationships with the few people you do already know. Of course, this is just from perhaps observation…maybe others have had more luck with this, but not me :/
        My recent post

      • vera44

        I disagree. I think guys look for girls who are socially competent. That's what being the "hot girl" is all about — she and her friends are all about the same level of hotness, but she's the leader and so gets the quarterback / prom king. I think guys definitely look at your friends to determine where you rank socially — do you have hot friends? What kind of group is it — artsy, high powered business, hippie, etc? Guys definitely judge girls by their social circles / competence.

        • I agree with this. There is no question that cocky works for women. Whenever you see a really, really good-looking guy with a significantly less attractive woman in a committed relationship, it can usually be traced to her confident attitude. She may be the only woman who keeps him on his toes, and the guys who are used to getting everyone they want will often respond to this challenge.

        • LesserBeta

          "Social competence" is one of those very vague terms. By social competence, do you mean if she knows how to treat/relate to others? Does she know how to do her own laundry and drive a car? Does she say the wrong thing at the wrong time to the wrong people?

          I hope it doesn't mean she must be popular or have a cocky attitude. In that case, you may be confusing cause-and-effect, where physically attractive women tend to be more popular. It's not the popularity of the girl that makes guys drool over her…it's her face, hips, boobs, etc.

        • LesserBeta

          I can't speak for every other guy out there, but I find it adorable when a girl has a bit of a geeky streak. It can be really cute. Plus, it helps me relate to her. I'm actually not a fan of girls who are full of themselves. I've just personally had bad experiences with them and choose to stay clear.

          On the other hand, I've met girls who seem very young for their age. 22 year olds who don't have a driver's licence and have no intention of doing so. Their parents get them the jobs they've had, etc. I get the whole "man has to be the leader" thing, but jeez, I kind of prefer if she's on my level. I DEFINITELY understand why women have an aversion to guys who live at home at 30 and don't know how to do their own laundry. Is the discussion on "social competence" tied to this in any way or are we just talking about a popularity contest?

        • LB, I'll let vera define just what she means by that terms, but I think a lot of what you're talking about relates to maturity. If a girl can feel comfortable showing her geeky side, she's OK with who she is, and if you find that quality compatible with your own personality, that's a win, or at least a potential match.

          It's also mature of you to be over the girls who are selfish and entitled, having learned from experience. That's something we humans don't always do.

        • I’ve just been doing some research on popularity, as it happens. And one thing that I thought was interesting that in the psych literature popularity means visibility, not being well-liked, and the visibility is refers to relates to the opposite sex. So if a woman gets a lot of attention from guys, based on her physical appearance, this will give her the aura of popularity, whether or not guys (or girls) like her personality.

    • Esau

      Rebekah, I would agree with you but not completely. I think confidence is a learned skill, in that it is developed from experience. But I don't think it's something a person (male or female) can usually directly learn in the same way one learns chemistry or playing the piano; confidence is more a set of unconscious habits and reflexes. Where does it come from? For the large run of people their degree of confidence follows directly from how their life has gone. If people have generally responded well to you, treated you well and given you what you want, then (in most cases) you will naturally develop confidence; by contrast, if people have responded poorly to what you do and treated you badly, then it's virtually impossible to develop confidence naturally (at least for a sane person, psychopaths are another matter).

      It actually takes a little bit of thought to define "confidence;" my favorite definition is "the expectation (rational or otherwise) that people will, most often, respond to you in the way you want them to." In this light, you can see why confidence would be supremely, centrally attractive: because it encodes how other people have treated you, it is a great marker for status.

      While I can see that it makes cold, hard sense for things to be this way, I still lament the centrality of confidence as a status marker because I think it disadvantages a large number of good people. If you've had a hard life early on, say up through high school or thereabouts, for whatever reason (peers or family) , then if you're basically honest it will be very difficult (effectively impossible, IMO) to have confidence in your college-age years. It's _hard_ to act in an unnatural way, especially if you're reflexively honest and so have no talent for acting, fakery, duplicity or deception.

      Susan often extolls the virtues of the Game approach, which for many young men is essentially a way to learn how to display the habits of confidence without having had the experience which would have produced it naturally. Ideally, the real success the Gamer then enjoys leads to a new base of experience which supports genuine confidence; the short form of this sequence is "fake it till you make it." I don't doubt that this can happen as advertised. But I still lament the lives of all those good good and honest people who happened to be mistreated, and who now need to "fake it" against their natural instincts as the first step in getting the normal life that they should have had already.

      • I think this is very true, Esau. Faking it till you make it is incredibly hard. It can require looking nonchalant and cool while your heart is pounding and sweat is beading on your upper lip. This is why I think acquiring a real skill is beneficial – you can derive confidence from a specific competence. It' s not some nebulous approval that must be bestowed upon you by other people, based on some random vibe you manage to give off.

        I like Game b/c it is essentially a form of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – it requires so much practice that it inures a person to rejection, which is key, as rejection is inevitable in mating.

      • LesserBeta

        It's interesting how you bring up how life experiences contribute to your level of confidence later in life. From grades 5-9, peaking in grade 7, I was picked on ruthlessly. It was really in grade 9 where that started changing as I started working out and practicing the art of standing up for myself. I was also speed skating very competitively, which helped. I started making more friends outside of the misfits, but I was still socially awkward. Life started improving, but then I moved, changed high schools, and had to establish myself again. In my university years, I was a lot more popular, but I still find my inner game is affected by my past experiences at a very deep and subconscious level.

        A friend of mine played a little game with me not too long ago. She told me to list the things I like about myself and remind myself every day. She told me to think of what things I don't like about myself, cast aside those I can't control, and focus on changing those I can control. Sometimes just reminding yourself that you have selling points makes all the difference, especially when we spend too much time dwelling on our insecurities (even as a society).

        • I really like your friend's advice! Positive self-talk can be extremely useful, especially if you've gotten into a habit of putting yourself down. Also, I love separating out the things that can be controlled. It's a relief in a way, to learn that you can't fix everything even if you want to. You really don't need to change everything about yourself to see a change in your life. Changing one thing can be hard enough, but it can also make a detectable difference.

  • Tvulture

    Good post Susan. Here's a thought.

    Who is the better choice, a man who is a master at just a few things, or a man who is just pretty good at many things? The master gets more attention (which was #3, display), so I bet he wins. He could be hapless at a lot of other things, but maybe the women will stick around anyway because it's endearing. Strategic Mastery may work best with an equal dose of Strategic Haplessness.

    Several fellows wrote that they wouldn't be interested in a woman's hobbies or skills unless they wanted to be with her for a long time. I wonder if the women here would say that too about a man who is not outstanding at anything but who still seems to handle most of life's jams without going to pieces.

  • Interesting thought – yes a bit of haplessness can be endearing, but just a little bit. I can tell you that on the occasions when I perceive that my husband is inept, my attraction for him falls off a cliff. Perhaps this is why men hate to ask for directions – ineptitude is perceived as weakness, which really does turn women off.

    I would definitely say a man should have one or more things he is passionate about. The passion is sexy, and so is the mastery. I guy who is OK at a lot of stuff is not going to be terribly excited about anything – and that makes him boring company.

    I don't think a man has to achieve outstanding mastery. As I said in the post, there's nothing very complicated about chopping an onion, even quickly. He really just needs to demonstrate that he has undertaken a task and done it well. It could be grilling, edging the lawn, fixing the car, it doesn't matter.

    And yes, a man who is generally confident of being able to handle whatever comes along is far more appealing than a man who fears going to pieces. I don't think women expect infallibility – and we like to support and nurture men when they struggle, by the way. It's not about being superhuman, more about developing yourself and demonstrating that you are an active, can-do sort of person, IMO.

  • MuleChewingBriars

    Susan –

    I don't think enough is made of a woman's intelligence. I don't know that intelligence in itself is enough to turn a man's head, but real, two-standard-deviations brainyness illuminates a woman's features and adds sort of a bonus to her looks. It won't make a two a ten, but I've seen it make a five a solid seven. In the same way, dullness muddies even an attractive girl's looks.

    Very, very smart girls, IQ 160+, intimidate men. I knew a girl, an athlete, tall, dark-haired, Selma Blair looks, Richard Feynman brains. She married a gorgeous dullard who cheated on her. She divorced him and that was when I knew her. I gave it the old college try but didn;t make the cut. 🙂

    But at least I wasn't intimidated.

    • Mule, this is bound to reassure the women readers, brainy types for the most part. I think there must be variation among men on this issue. I've heard guys say intelligence is not important, and others say it is. When I was dating I had guys tell me they really liked it that I was smart. I guess as in every other aspect of finding the right match, it's different strokes for different folks.

      I do give you credit for going after the super smart hottie – another thing I hear is from men is that they feel too intimidated to try for the woman they find extraordinary. I'm sorry you didn't make the cut, but if a woman that smart got all the way to the altar with a dullard, she probably is destined to go that route again. (At least I'd like to think so.) Many women just don't learn.

      • MuleChewingBriars

        According to geneticists, a child's intelligence comes from his or her mother. Men would do well to keep that in mind.

        Smart women have an animation about their features that slower women don't. It's worth at least an additional cup size 🙂

        • Ah, that piece of research is one of my very favorites! I think it came out of Harvard – in any case it concluded that the IQ gene for sons is carried on the second x-chromosome. I'm not aware of a follow-up re girls, but the implications are clear for men:

          If you want smart sons, you can't afford to marry a bimbo.

          While a woman, on the other hand, will have no such problems if she decides to marry a "mimbo." 😉

        • I'm confused on the whole "intelligence carried on the X chromosome" When I took a genetics class, I was taught that one of a female's X chromosome was all but completely inactivated into a Barr body, and which X was inactivated was random. Also, I don't know how there is an "averaging out" of Xs with females when one is a Barr body, but it seems that having only one X is the reason why males are more common on the extreme ends of the IQ bell curve.

          The class was at the 200 level, so maybe I needed to take a 400 or 500 level class to understand it.

        • Well, it's Greek to me, I get most of my science from the Discovery Channel, haha. But here is the link I was referring to:

          I recall hearing a program on this on NPR about five years ago – it definitely made a splash at the time.

      • ExNewYorker

        It'll depend on the guy, but generally a woman needs to be "attractive" physically to a guy at some level. Once that threshold is met, depending on the guy, a measure of intelligence is good, particularly for a LTR. However, just as important is the woman's attitude…a disagreeable woman is off limits for a LTR, no matter how hot or how intelligent.

        • I'm glad to hear that. Good women hate it when a girl they know is just awful nabs a good guy. Disagreeable women are definitely STR material, but some of them can drag that out for quite a while…

    • Kurt

      I call b.s. on this. I have never in my entire life ever been intimidated by anyone intellectually, whether they be men or women. Sometimes high-IQ women are pushy/bossy and if someone doesn’t want to date them, they rationalize the rejection in their minds by assuming that the guy was intimidated intellectually, even if that was not the case at all.

      • Kurt, perhaps you weren’t intimidated because you were secure in the knowledge that you were smarter than all of them. I have heard that men don’t like the idea of being with a woman who has a higher IQ than they do, in general. However, you’re very right that pushy, bossy women will excuse their lack of success with men by essentially claiming that they’re too good for everyone. I addressed this in my recent post

        • Kurt

          Intelligence is very attractive to me; maybe that is why I am not intimidated by intelligent women. There are intelligent women who might be very interested in poetry, plays, opera, or other things that I consider to be extremely boring. I and many other guys have no interest in things like that. I wonder if some woman just assume that if a guy doesn’t like to do the same boring things as them that the guy is either not intelligent himself or is somehow intimidated intellectually.

        • Well I certainly don’t. My brother, for example, is a really smart guy with a penchant for baseball stats. I also consider wit a key indicator of intelligence. I think intelligent people have the whole spectrum of interests (OK, well maybe not dog fighting), and their intelligence comes through in different ways.

        • Kurt

          When I was in law school I was friends with a classmate who got almost a perfect score on the LSAT. She was a nice girl, I thought she was really smart, and I know she really liked me. However, I was not physically attracted to her at all. I was attracted to her intellectually, but she just didn’t have the physical shape to which I am most attracted.

          In a utopian society, my ideal woman would a National Merit Scholar with a 140+ IQ and would be nice and have an athletic build. Now that is hard to find.

        • Yes, it would be hard to find. Very few people have it all. Still, I imagine there are quite a few women that meet your criteria at the best universities. Maybe not the NMS – that really does weed out many intelligent women. Not so many of those to go around.

        • Kurt

          It is an unrealistic requirement. I attended a top-14 law school and there were several in my group of friends and I am sure there were others whom I did not know about. I bet that Harvard and Yale had lots of them.

          Unfortunately, I think that a large % of women at top law schools have serious emotional or depression problems. I don’t know how it is at medical schools or business schools, but the rigorous requirements of law school make some men and women get crazy. A girl a year behind me committed suicide presumably because she couldn’t handle the pressure. I am also convinced that numerous other women were either on Prosac or were seeing therapists either during law school or after.

          This craziness wasn’t limited to women, however – I knew another guy who had to sit under special UV lamps because he would get depressed during the overcast days of winter.

        • Hmmm, that’s an interesting question – the neurosis quotient at various kinds of professional schools. I can tell you that business school was not a lot of pressure. In fact, I don’t think I ever missed the Thursday night MBA Happy Hour. Medical school and law school both seem profoundly more stressful.

  • When I took Calc II, there was only one girl in the class. One day, she had the solution to a problem no one else in the class could get. It was pretty HAWT. Well, not really but it was impressive nonetheless. She was pretty to boot, too.

  • Allright, let's hear it for the smart girls! Basically, what I'm hearing is that smart guys appreciate smarts in women. LAX meatheads may not feel the same way….

    • MuleChewingBriars

      It depends on how the Game is being scored. You yourself said that in your day the Big Man On Campus was the guy with the hottest girlfriend. I remember those days. Now, its the guy who bags the most and cares the least. So, yeah, the Meatheads aren't going to care. They will, however, pretend to care, which for a lot of women will produce the same result.

      Its very sad, though. I don't think the Game should be scored until you see how the grandkids are going to turn out. I knew a guy in college, a proto-player, a perfect storm for the early seventies. He burned a swath through the post-Roe-v-Wade sexual landscape like Sherman marching through Georgia. I heard about at least four illegitimate kids. He played well out of my league. Some of his former conquests are now prominent and well-known women; businesswomen, Broadway producers, etc.

      I ran into him on a flight in 2003. The intervening 30 years had been kinder to him than to me, so he didn't recognize me. He was running his Jurassic Game down on a very disinterested twenty-something who was actually yawning in his face. For the first time in my life, I felt sorry for him. I gave my wife and kids a special hug that night when I arrived.

      • Meatheads pretending to care are truly HAZMAT for women. What amazes me is that so many guys will go through the motions, obviously fully aware they are being deceitful, and then move on without any sense of guilt or responsibility. There's a callousness there that is troubling. There have always been men like this, but I think the current sexual environment rewards this behavior, and so is creating more of them.

        Wrt your college buddy, haha, karma's a bitch. I don't know why 50 yo guys think hot young women will want them, when they can probably nab the younger version. If a guy is super wealthy, yeah, that works, but even then, let's face it, those young women DO NOT feel the tingle, except in their wallets.

  • Polyamorous Desi

    “It doesn’t matter what a guy looks like. Guy Fieri is proof of that. It doesn’t matter what he does for a living or in his spare time. What matters can be summed up in two words:


    Bad advice. I know you mean well Susan, but some young, innocent, unsuspecting video game addict is going to take this to heart.

    Guys, it DOES matter what you look like, and it MATTERS EVEN MORE what you do for a living AND what you do in your spare time.

    Let’s not fool ourselves here.

    So much dating/relationship advice just gives people false hope and sets them up for huge disappointment later on.

    • I don’t mean that it doesn’t matter if a guy has a good job, interests, or is well groomed, etc. It just doesn’t matter so much what his particulars might be. What you find attractive will be very different from what someone else finds attractive. I truly believe that every person should practice self-development, which can only improve their lives.

  • Z

    The post makes good sense. As for doability… notice that mastery and passion alone will not cut it. As a guy who spends most of his time “in the lab”, passionately working on interesting problems with hopefully a substantial mastery, I can testify that it is easy to get no results whatsoever because of the near complete lack of women in my field. It seems that science is as bad as videogames in this regard. That opportunities to show off passionate mastery will make a man attractive is nearly certain, but some domains offer many fewer opportunities to show off skill than others. It’s annoying because I was convinced that my skill would make me attractive but I hate to admit that it’s not enough.

    • @Z
      Yes, you are right of course. Having the skills is not enough, you must have the opportunity to demonstrate the mastery. For STEM guys, I suggest pursuing an outside interest – cooking is just one example. It’s a way to get out there and meet more women, and get good at something in the process.

  • Plowboy

    I’m coming into this a year late, but while your idea sounds plausible in theory, my own experience tells me that real-world application might be a sometime thing.

    Two of your examples, cooking and home-brewing happen to be favorite hobbies of mine. However, while some women definitely found my skill in these areas intriguing once they got to know me, I don’t think they ever got me acquainted with a woman I didn’t already know. Other skills/hobbies are just more “public” in nature and might get a woman’s attention on the front end, but since I never cooked or brewed in public, they didn’t work for me in that way.

    • @Plowboy
      It’s true, you need to have the opportunity to display your mastery in order to gain attention for it. So cooking would work well for say, a third date, and if you can serve some of your own beer, she’ll undoubtedly be impressed. Many skills won’t generate the initial attraction, but can demonstrate high value and therefore help sustain or increase it.

  • Jennifer

    Great job, Susan. This also explains more what people mean about “social dominance”; I used to fear it meant they were bossy to the people around them, haha.

  • Glenn

    So basically I’m screwed.

    Strangely this was me

    “In modern day terms, that would be a couple of thousand CDs. I don’t know what his filing system was, but as we discussed possible choices, he went straight to each album and pulled it out. He really, really knew music.”

    but no female was ever anywhere near me or my music collection so the chances of getting laid from it were zero.

  • Glenn

    Quote “This may also be one reason why women are so turned off by videogames: they represent the opposite of ambition. They are closed little worlds that do not open onto the real, larger world that we actually live in. So guys, drop the videogames and do something interesting. Do it for yourself, and women will probably follow, even if it does take some time.”

    Does reading blogs on the internet count as “something interesting”?

  • Geoff

    I think display is close, but not quite right.

    If you’re an expert at World of Warcraft, there is a very easy way to display it. You simply play in front of a girl and kick some elven ass or something. But that’s lame and will only be attractive to a tiny subset of the female population.

    More accurate is “social status through mastery”. If nobody cares about your mastery, you won’t be attractive. But if people love food, then mastery of food gives you social status, because people will follow you in order to have good food, better food than everyone else.

    Social status through mastery leads to display, because people are interested in things that are cool. They want to see them and try to understand them, or at least associate themselves with them.

    • @Geoff
      Thanks for your comment, I think you’re right about that. The thing you are mastering has to be valued by those observing.

  • holy shit susan that was beautiful.

    you are officially on my good side again 🙂

  • I mean, of course there is much more to it. But what Susan wrote was essentially Roissy commandment #3 (the most important commandment imo) from a female point of view — which might actually be MORE persuasive than the way Roissy wrote it:

    III. You shall make your mission, not your woman, your priority

    Forget all those romantic cliches of the leading man proclaiming his undying love for the woman who completes him. Despite whatever protestations to the contrary, women do not want to be “The One” or the center of a man’s existence. They in fact want to subordinate themselves to a worthy man’s life purpose, to help him achieve that purpose with their feminine support, and to follow the path he lays out. You must respect a woman’s integrity and not lie to her that she is “your everything”. She is not your everything, and if she is, she will soon not be anymore.

  • The thing that never fails to get my attention are guys who are good at math. It is one of those qualities that I’ve found to be irresistible.

  • Jennifer

    So basically Susan, “day game” is just your average good social skills?

  • This article is so spot on Susan. Men just have to be able to show they have a passion other then themselves and their own little world. A man who can be passionate about stamp collecting or his dig, is showing just how much life he has in him. Opposed to the man who just sits and plays the xbox 360 or hangs on the couch watching ESPN. I would assume there are different levels pf passion. For me though passion for a football team and the passion to get out in the world are two very different things. Anyway kudos on an excellent article, it was enjoyed.

  • Eva

    Susan, I think what you wrote is very true! Definitely works on me, and caught me totally by surprise! I used to live with 3 male housemates for more than 2 years, we still hang out quite often, they are my very good friends and I think of them as of my older brothers, no other feelings whatsoever. Last Friday we went together to a bar to see one of my housemates performing with his band. He was playing djembe and then drums. I liked their music a lot, we were having fun dancing with other friends, and then I noticed how he was playing the djembe. He was very focused and his fingers were not only hitting the drum – he was STROKING it with tenderness, like something precious, it was almost sensual. He was not showing off, like you could imagine a stereotypical drummer might do – it was just him doing what he was passionate about. And my knees turned suddenly into a jelly and it struck me – he was so hot! Not just hot – he was THE MAN. I am 30 and that never happened to me before. And that moment I was absolutely in awe, because for all those years I’ve lived with him and known him I have never ever once thought of him that way. And the best thing about it was, that it was genuine. He was not playing to pick up ladies, he was playing for himself. That’s what got me the most. Great blog Susan, I really enjoy reading it!

    • Eva, welcome, and thanks for leaving that comment – what a great story!

  • Richard Aubrey

    Had something happen recently. Considering everybody involved, with one exception, was over fifty and most were married, it doesn’t have much to do with hooking up.
    Group project. I was in charge of a part of that. Made a few calls, couple of arrangments. Folks showed up as arranged, did the stuff without much or any supervision, finished up. My wife went to a function including most of the larger group–church–where part of the discussion was how good a job Aubrey had done. Seemed to me to be a pretty low bar. Kind of disappointing.
    Which puts me in mind of college, and of a couple of guys in high school. The guys were good at the various things they did. They were masters, in fact. In retrospect, the stuff I did in college I did pretty well. Can you have passion and mastery if it doesn’t seem to get you fired up outside the actual activity?
    Example: I was in the judo club. Couple of girls came to see me compete. I was in the club. The Varsity light-heavy was injured, so I got slung in to at least tire out the opposition. Div I intercollegiate judo was a MAJOR jump up from club competition. Probably illegal to run an unregistered sub, too. I did about medium. They were practically jumping up and down afterwards. Me, “Um, yeah, missed that last guy. Want to get a beer?”
    There were some other things I did where other people I found out later thought I was pretty slick to be doing them but it never occurred to me. Just got it done, went on to something else.
    One of the guys in high school knew everything there was to know about supporting drama amd he could do it. Lights, stage mechanisms, program production, sound, ticket printing, etc. Had a bunch of unauthorized keys, so if the janitors weren’t around to open things in the evenings…. But unless you needed him for something like that–and everybody knew he was the go-to guy for it–you’d never know anything about it.
    He, and I, must have had passion or we wouldn’t have been good. Takes too much work to do it casually.

    Reminds me of my first Officer Efficiency Report. The battalion commander said I was the best second lieutenant he’d ever had working for him. I just lacked enthusiasm. His view of enthusiasm was sort of like having a seizure, so I could see his point.
    If my experience is not unique, there must be a lot of guys who have mastery but don’t think much of it. Does that mean others, most particularly women, wouldn’t, either? Or not even notice?

    I’d suggest the next step is to take your mastery and your passion and deploy them for effect. Seems showboaty to me. Wouldn’t do it.

    If I watch a cooking show, especially the chopping, it’s for the same reason some folks watch NASCAR.