Every single one of us have areas we can improve on, so don’t despair if all these traits sound like a lofty target. All you need to do is make a good faith effort to be a solid partner; improving gradually in all of the above areas.
The plus-side is that the qualities on this list will make you a more well-rounded, well-liked person in general, so it’s not just something to do to improve your chances of landing a date or getting into a relationship — do it for yourself, too, to simply help you become a better man. So, without further ado, read on for the top 10 qualities women want men to have, and how you can start showing them:
1. Be Passionate & Adventurous
The word “adventurous” came up for many of the women we surveyed about their favorite qualities in men, but the more we pressed them, the more it became clear they wanted an open-minded man rather than a mountaineer or skydiver. For Ellen, 30, “adventurous” means a man who “likes to do and see new things and isn’t afraid of change, the unexpected… or spiders.” She goes on to add that “they should be willing to try new things and entertain new points of view.” For Louise, 38, it’s as simple as being willing to join her out on the dance floor even if you’re not a Justin Bieber yourself: “They don’t even need to be a good dancer, they just need to be up for joining me out there without putting their own feelings about dancing first.” Being adventurous is also about changing up the daily routine to keep the relationship interesting: “It’s very important that someone actually wants to get out of the house and be willing to experience things,” Miriam clarifies. “That doesn’t just mean holidays, it’s as simple as going to the park or going to a new restaurant or art gallery.” To become more adventurous, take a mental stock of the things you find yourself doing every weekend, and see if there’s room to change it up a little bit. Could you get brunch at a different spot with your girl this weekend? Are there any shows on that she might be interested in? Could you do something with her that you’d never normally do, like attend a painting class together or go salsa dancing? You might end up enjoying yourself more than you think, and she’ll be a walking heart-eye emoji because of it.
2. Be Intelligent
“Nobody wants to date a dummy,” says Naina, frankly, and it’s true – intelligence rates highly as a quality women desire in men. “I’m not saying you have to operate on Einstein’s level,” she continues, “but you should probably be able to hold a conversation that extends beyond, ‘Yo girl, are you hungry?'” However, a lot of women stressed the importance of a man not being arrogant about his intelligence. Ellen, for example, emphasized that she wants a man who is “bright, but not a mansplainer!”; that is, she doesn’t want a man who treats women as though they are feeble-minded children who need to have everything explained to them in a condescending way. So, what does this look like? For Ellen, it means being “Interested and interesting; holding your own in a conversation about things that you’re passionate about, but not trying to dominate it; and being enthusiastic and open-minded in learning things you don’t know much about.” For Priyanka, 34, intelligence is a key attribute, but she only wants “men who speak to me as an equal and don’t condescend to me in my line of work.” So, if you’re not an expert on a topic, don’t pretend to be — intelligent people don’t actually do this! Instead, listen intently and ask thoughtful questions, especially if you know you’re a wee bit out of your depth. If you’re talking about a topic you’re passionate and knowledgeable about, make sure you’re being engaging and interesting, rather than condescending and insufferable! Be sure to read about subjects that aren’t your usual go-to areas of interest to develop a well-rounded intellect, too.
When we surveyed women on things that they find sexy, a lot of women said that they pay close attention to how men treat service workers. Ces, 29, distills exactly what quality this embodies: patience. “OK, my thing is patience,” she begins. “Not in the “love is patient, love is kind” sense; day-to-day patience. nobody enjoys waiting in traffic, in a queue, for a package, at the bar, for a text, for service at a restaurant, et cetera, but when a man handles that kinda stuff gracefully, it’s a huge turn on.” “It’s a sign of two things to me,” she continues. “The first is emotional maturity. You’re a grown man, so you don’t tap your card on the bar waiting for service; you don’t huff and tut and stamp your feet at the post office. You wait patiently and be courteous, because you know that waiting is a part of life. The second thing it shows is empathy. Again, you’re a grown man, so you don’t click your fingers at a waiter or bark at customer service rep for how long you waited on hold, because you know that the people serving you are people just like you who are doing their best and that if you were in their position you wouldn’t want to be treated that way.” Patience might seem like one of those things you either have or you don’t, but that’s not true at all. Like all of the qualities on this list, it’s possible to cultivate it with deliberate practice. “I know that everyone gets frustrated, but the way I try to be better at it is imagining how my reaction is going to look to a stranger before reacting,” Ces suggests. “No woman is going to see you stamp your feet at a cafe and think “that’s hot”. I also think about how much it actually matters. Is a date going to be ruined if your drinks take an extra ten minutes? Smile and make a joke about it. It’s gentlemanly. Clark Gable wouldn’t have a tantrum at the post office, you know what I mean?”
4. Be Honest & Dependable
In unsurprising news, honesty is a widely cherished quality among women. “I’m pretty sure there’s no human out there who will deny the importance of this virtue, and with good reason,” Naina says. “Your partner is someone you invest time, effort and emotion into and having these wasted when you find out that he has been pulling the snapback over your eyes the whole time stings.” Honesty and dependability aren’t just about being faithful, though it’s a wider category than that. For Naina, that means “being crystal clear about things” and clearing up your expectations in the beginning, so you’re not leaving her hanging or promising something you can never give. Being honest also means being clear in your communication throughout the entire relationship. So, if issues arise, deal with them up front. “When a guy has the ability to communicate their concerns and desires honestly, life is 110% easier,” Miriam explains. “Simmering resentments and vulnerabilities are dealt with at the time and both parties can reach a compromise.” It’s often difficult to communicate honestly because you may feel as though your partner’s feelings will be hurt, but it’s possible to phrase things carefully and without placing blame. Practice communicating openly, honestly and non defensively, and make sure you’re cultivating an environment where she can do the same.
5. Have Shared Values
It’s crucially important in any relationship that you share core values and principles, so it’s no surprise that shared values was a key attribute that many women mentioned. This doesn’t mean being the exact same person or having the same opinion on everything; rather, it’s about having the same basic idea of wrong and right, even if you quibble about the surface-level details. “You don’t have to be two peas in a pod but you need to be growing in the same garden,” Charlotte says. “Shared values are really the foundation of a relationship. This isn’t a fake it ’til you make it scenario, either: you should know what you value, so make it known. As long as there are more hits than misses it will work. The idea isn’t to mould into but rather compliment each other, and shared values serves this purpose perfectly.” This is an area to clear up pretty early in the relationship. It’s okay if you have different political and philosophical views, but if she’s a diehard socialist and you’re an arch capitalist, for example — or if she’s a staunch atheist and you’re a committed Christian — you’re going to need to talk seriously and frankly about whether you have enough shared ground to make things work. Make sure you both agree on the right way to live and what counts as good and bad behavior, and you shouldn’t go too far wrong.
6. Be Thoughtful & Generous
Thoughtfulness is a key quality in all relationships, but especially so in romantic partnerships. Thoughtfulness involves small gestures that show you respect and listen to your partner, and this is a way to remind her that you care about her without needing to go over-the-top with flowers and chocolates every day. “Recognizing that she prefers salt to pepper, remembering she hates a particular topping on her pizza, knowing which little buttons to push to get her going: acknowledging minuscule details like these will result in maximum happiness, because it’s no small thing when she knows that you’re paying attention to all the tiniest things about her,” Naina, 25, explains. “Small kindnesses based upon really listening and paying attention, making your partner feel like you really ‘get’ her, are important,” Amy agrees. “In general, women are more intuitive and probably better at small, thoughtful gestures, so make a point of taking care of small things – sending snacks to her desk or giving her a foot rub when she’s ranting about a long day. It sounds corny, but suss out little things that will be appreciated and do them. Often.”
7. Be Empathetic
Empathy pops up again and again as a quality women are desperately seeking in men. For Ellen, that means being “sincere in your concern for other people, animals and the planet, and thinking of others and going out of your way to make sure they’re happy and at ease.” For Amy, it’s about never gaslighting her. Gaslighting is a psychological term which refers to the phenomenon of constantly denying another person’s lived experience to the point that it makes them feel crazy and makes them doubt their own perception of reality (the term comes from a play called Gas Light in which a husband constantly tinkers with the lighting levels but then denies that he’s touched the lamp at all, driving his wife insane). The term “gaslighting” was originally confined to discussions about abusive relationships in which men lie and deliberately manipulate their partners to the point that it drives them insane, but it’s often now used to describe the more commonplace practice of denying that a woman’s lived experience is real or valid. Red flags that signal that you may be gaslighting your partner are constantly saying things like “this is all in your head” or “that’s not what happened at all”. To avoid this, bear in mind that your way of seeing a situation isn’t the only possible read on it, and listen to your partner in good faith when she tells you how things appear from her perspective. It’s okay to clarify that she got things wrong or misread your intentions, but never flatly deny her reality or tell her that she’s “crazy” or “psycho.” Listening is big here, so refer back to that section if you need to.
8. Be Confident About Your Appearance
Good looks are something you’re either born with or you’re not, and besides, they didn’t top the list for any of the women we asked (honestly!). But an attention to detail rated highly as a desirable quality, and this mostly manifested in the form of guys who smell good and take care of their appearance and surroundings. “A carefully-chosen cologne will perform miracles in terms of your memorability and general allure,” explains Jen, 30, and Grace adds: “I KNOW you can master smelling good! Get some Kiehls body wash and a signature cologne and you’re set!” For Amy, 26, it’s about your environment, too: “I’m attracted to men who make their habitat attractive. It’s hard to be sexy if you’re not comfortable, and there are too many greying, flat or lumpy pillows out here. Respect your bed if you want it to be place where the magic happens: make it, clothe it in Egyptian cotton and up your duvet game. Lighting a damn candle won’t kill you! And if you can’t keep a cactus alive that probably doesn’t bode well for a relationship with a human woman.” As Amy suggests, this isn’t just a superficial requirement: close attention to detail gives important clues as to how you’ll treat your partner, so make sure you’re projecting the right impression. Ensure you’re well-dressed (think ‘signature style’ rather than ‘decked out in expensive designer gear’); clean and tidy (trimmed beard or clean-shaven, fresh breath, smelling good) and have clean surroundings (clear your beard trimmings out of the sink, clean the toilet, have a tidy bedroom — you know the drill!).
9. Be A Good Listener
The ability to listen comes up so often as a prized trait for women that it’s amazing more men aren’t tapping into this area. “The obvious thing that is attractive is listening,” says Grace, 30. “As in, guys who listen to what you say and ask open-ended questions to show they are actually engaged, interested and want to know more.” “It’s attractive if a guy is comfortable listening to someone else speak without interrupting,” Ellen adds. “Especially if they don’t feel the need to strategize solutions for every problem; they’re happy to just listen.” This is one quality which will really make you stand out amongst other men, because, as Ellen says, “I don’t encounter this quality in that many men, to be honest.” Hannah, 39, echoes the sentiment, and clarifies particular areas to pay attention to: “When they ask about stuff like your family and life before that point, then can recall details about what you said later, it makes you feel like they care, and that all of you might mean something to them.” So, make sure you’re not just hearing the words being said, but really absorbing them to the point that you can recall them at a later point — she’ll definitely be impressed by this, because it’s a rare quality. You can also practice active listening by allowing her to vent to you without trying to immediately problem-solve or tell her why things aren’t so bad. Practice saying things like “That sucks, babe” and “I’m really sorry that happened” — you’ll be amazed how much she’ll appreciate this.
10. Be Humorous
This one is a no-brainer and will come as a surprise to pretty much no-one: women like funny men. Wittiness is a universally-admired trait and women consistently report a good sense of humor as being one of their biggest turn ons. For example, Ellen, 30, says it’s a turn-on when guys “can have a laugh, enjoy making others laugh, and don’t take themselves too seriously.” However, there’s more to impressing women than being a non-stop joke machine, especially if your repertoire is full of fart jokes and lazy stereotypes. “To put it bluntly, I want witty, intelligent humor, and it doesn’t come naturally to everyone,” says Charlotte, 25. “Witty people are winners: there are few faults or flaws that wit can’t cover, and a witty sense of humor ranks highly for me.” Part of having a good sense of humor is not always being the joke-cracker, but also appreciating when other people are funny, too, including the woman you’re seeing. “Remember you’re trying to appeal to her sense of humor, not yours,” Charlotte elaborates. “Also, don’t forget that she could be just as funny (or funnier!) than you — don’t compete and don’t repeat the joke, just laugh and appreciate her humor.” Being able to make your partner laugh also means that serious topics can be handled with a touch of levity. “Things communicated with a sense of wit and humor are much easier to swallow and it’s always very important to be able to be laugh and be silly,” says Miriam, 29. Humor is an area where it’s important not to try to hard, but you can improve your chances of making your partner laugh by paying close attention to what she finds genuinely funny, and also by noticing when she’s simply throwing a sympathy chuckle in your direction. Avoid falling back on snark and sarcasm constantly — and don’t forget to appreciate her jokes, too.