Since forever, society has been painting a picture of what the average man finds attractive in a woman—hot body, pretty face, and feminine features are the big ones. And while some of the stereotypes are true, there are a few things that men do and don’t like in a woman that might shock you!

To be clear, you shouldn’t change anything about yourself to be more attractive to a man. The most attractive quality in any person that overrides all the others is confidence and self-acceptance, so never do anything that doesn’t feel right to you. This information is just to quench some of your curiosity about how the male mind works, not to pressure you into changing yourself. Plus, when you’ve got a connection with someone, the research, statistics, and trends pale in comparison.

So how does that male mind work? Read on to find out what you had totally wrong about men’s preferences!


15. Don’t Starve Yourself, Love Yourself

Good news! Contrary to what many women think, the average man actually doesn’t prefer women who are stick thin. The mission that so many women have to obtain the body of a Victoria’s Secret Angel is unrealistic, and frankly, unnecessary if your goal is to appear better-looking to the opposite gender.

For most men, the overall size of a woman is less important than the ratio between her waist and hips. The hourglass figure is more appealing than what we know as the traditional model’s figure, and studies have shown that men like it when a woman’s waist is 70 percent the circumference of her hips, whether she’s a size 24 or a size two. But please don’t go crazy with waist trainers and procedures to build that shape if it’s not who you are—this might be what’s conventionally attractive, but with the right guy, the size of your waist isn’t important.


14. Faces Are More Important Than Bodies

If you asked most women, they’d guess that men care more about their bodies than their faces. According to a recent study conducted by the University of Austin, that’s not entirely true! The research found that when men were looking for a long-term mate (someone that they would commit to), a woman’s face was more important to them than her body, even if she did have the perfect waist to hip ratio.

What’s more, research gathered by the Kinsey Institute shows that during those late-night steamy sessions, men do enjoy actually looking at their partner’s faces and not just their bodies. Of course, this varies from man to man, but overall, studies do indicate that when they’re looking for someone to settle down with, men will notice your face before they notice your body, which might be why women subconsciously spend so much time making up their faces. Do with that information what you will.


13. Unless He’s Looking for a Short-Term Fling

This is where it gets interesting. When on the search for a long-term partner, men tend to care more about your face than your body. But if he’s looking for a one-night stand, he’s more likely to be interested in your body and less in your face. One study conducted in 2010 revealed that men who looked at photos of women and thought about them as a short-term fling indicated that they cared more about what her body looked like than her face.

Biologically speaking, it makes sense that a man pays attention to a woman’s body when he’s thinking about getting busy with her. Early men relied on body cues that helped him figured out whether a potential partner was already pregnant or even fertile, to tell him whether it was worth it to pursue her for a fleeting good time. The result is that today, he is still likely to pay attention to those cues, even if they’re no longer important.


12. Men Aren’t Just Visual

One stereotype about men that society constantly feeds us is that they care more about looks than what’s on the inside. Refreshingly, studies have shown that personality actually counts for a lot, for everybody. The University of Westminster conducted one study where they surveyed 2,157 male students to find out what they perceived to be the most attractive trait in women. The results showed that personality wins out over looks.

When provided with a list of personality traits applied to each woman, men selected a wider range of body types and sizes that they deemed to be attractive. So basically, though a guy might not like short woman, he’s likely to overlook that if she has personality traits that he likes. Research from a group of Chinese universities found the same result, which was labelled the halo effect. The magic internal qualities in question included honesty, positivity, and respectfulness, as well as other positive personality traits.


11. Your Contour Doesn’t Have to Be on Point

Yes, studies have shown that men do take into consideration a woman’s face when they’re looking for a long-term partner. But does an attractive face look the same in the mind of a woman as it does in the mind of a man? Not really. While many women go to extreme effort to make up their face to the point that a Kardashian does, research suggests that all this does is impress other women. Some studies have found that men prefer women who wear up to 40 percent less makeup.

If a hot contour and a flawless wing make you feel good, then you should keep doing them! As long as you’re wearing makeup for you, it will boost your confidence and help you shine. But if you don’t like makeup (or all the freaking cash you blow on it!) and you’re only doing it to get guys to like you, don’t bother.


10. Adventure Isn’t Just for Men

Another thing society teaches us is that men are the most attractive when they’re being, well, manly. You know, climbing mountains, branding cattle, chopping wood etc. And in comparison, women are the most attractive when they’re doing feminine things like cooking and picking flowers. But according to science, being an adventurous risk-taker rather than a delicate flower-picker is actually attractive on both men and women.

Studies have shown that being open to taking particular risks make women much more attractive to men than their counterparts, who are less brave. In other words, the average man is also attracted to women who are adventurous. The study, conducted by the University of Alaska, showed that the risks that were the most appealing were anything with hunter-gatherer ties—skiing, rafting, hiking, and other activities similar to what our ancestors might have gone though. Risks that were more modern, like driving without a seatbelt, were seen as less attractive.


9. You Can Be Sexy with Your Clothes On

Since women’s bodies are so beautiful, it’s logical to think that showing off more of them equates to being more attractive. While most men will find women without their clothes on appealing, they tend to be just as attracted to women who are fully covered up, especially when they’re looking for a potential mate. Part of this has to do with the fact that personality counts for much more than we think, so it’s not necessary to go to the effort of taking off your clothes to entice someone. Research has shown that men also like the idea of being the only one to see certain parts of a woman’s body, finding her less attractive when everybody else has seen it all too.

That said, if you feel empowered by showing off a body you’ve worked hard for, all the power to you. Don’t alter your clothes or behavior to suit the preferences of the average man (or any man)!


8. A Little Messiness Goes a Long Way

A lot of women believe that men are attracted to those who are well-groomed and generally kept together nicely. Sure, there are men who value elegance like that in a woman. But some men are just as (if not more) attracted to women who are a little messy.

Having mismatched roots and fading highlights in your hair might make you want to grab the nearest hat and run away before anyone sees you, but experts have claimed that a lot of men like this grungy sort of look, since it makes a woman look like the girl his mother told him to stay away from. Among the other behaviors that women are embarrassed about but some men actually like are walking home barefoot, which suggests rebellion, wearing smudged makeup, which reminds them of how you look in bed, and going to bed with old PJs, which suggests you’re confident in yourself and not trying too hard.


7. Imperfections Are Okay

The journey to perfection is frustrating and never-ending—many women could erase a lot of stress from their lives if they understood that nobody actually expects it of them, least of all men! There are a number of reasons why a man actually enjoys your little flaws and imperfections, and one of them is that it helps him to relax around you—if he sees you’re not perfect, he doesn’t feel the pressure to be perfect himself.

“Shortcomings” that women try to cover up from men include things like stretch marks, skin blemishes, and extra weight, but specialists say that these things could actually allure men. Stretch marks in particular might remind men of the fact that their partner carried a child or he might like them because they’re something only he has seen. It’s been suggested that men also like some belly fat since it makes a woman feel soft and curvy.


6. Acting Dumb Attracts a Certain Type of Guy

Acting less intelligent than you are is a go-to move for a lot of women and many young girls when trying to attract a mate. Forget whether or not it’s a good idea (it’s not), but does it actually work? Some studies suggest that it is a turn on for some men.

What kind of men are they? Research has shown that they are men who are looking for a woman to sleep with and not much more. Logically speaking, the kind of man who is attracted to a ditzy partner might feel intimidated by a woman who is as intelligent or more intelligent than him. That brings up all sorts of questions, like whether he believes women are inferior and likes to have that stereotype confirmed or whether he’s looking for someone to control and manipulate and knows he won’t get away with it with a smart woman. Interesting stuff!


5. Voice Counts for Something

A woman’s voice does actually have a small impact on how attractive a man finds her. Most women desire a voice that’s husky (think Alicia Keys), but in actual fact, men tend to prefer the opposite: they are seduced by voices that are higher in pitch. University College in London hypothesizes that this is because men associate a higher voice with certain feminine features and a certain figure, whether or not that is accurate of that person or not.

Volunteers in the study rated higher-pitched voices as being more attractive, but once they got too high, the appeal started to fall. The research concluded in the end that a man’s ideal female voice is relatively high-pitched and breathy. But don’t despair if your voice is more like Alicia Keys’s—we don’t think she’s ever had a problem getting dates! Studies have also shown that women subconsciously speak in a higher pitch when chatting to people they’re attracted to.


4. They Can Tell Things

You might think that men are only attracted to you based on the qualities that you display (both internal and external). They can’t be turned on or off by something that you don’t show or reveal to them, right?

Wrong! Research shows that humans are actually able to detect a number of bodily chemicals which help them to determine a potential partner’s reproductive status, and these can make you more attractive. One study which had men smell worn T-shirts of women at different phases of their cycle showed that men are more attracted to women who are ovulating. He obviously won’t know on a conscious level that you’re ovulating unless you tell him—it’s all a subconscious thing. And while men are naturally more attracted to women who are at that stage in their cycle, those in committed relationships are less attracted to women who are ovulating, since their need to protect their relationship tends to override their desires.


3. You Can Act Interested

If movies like John Tucker Must Die teach us anything, it’s that women should play hard to get when trying to attract a man. According to this line of thinking, no man wants something that’s easy. While smothering him after the first date is probably a bit much, some experts believe that it’s actually desirable when a woman is honest about how much she likes a man.

Doing things like drunkenly ringing him to tell him that you miss him might make you cringe, but the Psychology Department at London Metropolitan University claims that men actually find this kind of behavior reassuring and attractive, since it’s basically a compliment. Studies have also shown that relationships have a higher chance of succeeding if both partners regularly appreciate each other. Men are much more likely to get frustrated if they feel like it’s a one-way street, and they’re not getting any feeling back.


2. Neuroticism Is a Good Thing

We all wish we could be that person who doesn’t worry about anything. But research has shown that contrary to what many people think, reasonable amounts of neuroticism is actually attractive to men. Obviously, taking it to extreme lengths might do more harm than good, since few people are attracted to someone who’s too wound up, paranoid or controlling. But a moderate level of the trait is actually a good thing in the eyes of men!

Scientists have the theory that when a woman portrays herself as being slightly neurotic, potential mates get the message that she will be a good mother since she’ll be concerned with the welfare of her children. Whether or not you’re planning to have children shouldn’t make a difference, since most men aren’t actually aware of why this characteristic is appealing to them in the first place.


1. Don’t Be Afraid of Aging

Women everywhere are terrified of aging, and one of the reasons could be because they think appearing older will make them less attractive to men. More good news, ladies: this isn’t always the case! Another study found that men whose mothers were over 30 years old when they had them are likely to find older women attractive when in search of a serious relationship. Men looking for flings didn’t show the same preferences in the study, but the research did show that the age of a man’s mother does affect the age of who he finds attractive.

Experts think that this is because the relationship between parent and child is often the first long-term relationship in a person’s life, and this can influence all the other relationships that follow. As adults, we tend to feel secure when we’re presented with patterns that reflect those in the relationship with our parents, so this could be why some guys actually prefer women to be older.


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