What it means to be an attractive male nowadays is anybody’s guess. I mean, shit, I certainly wouldn’t know. I’m a web writer with a dad bod and have, somehow, scored myself a 10. On one end, you have women who love the archetypal beefcake—you know, the dude who posts his protein powder purchases on Instagram. And, on the opposite end of the spectrum, you’ve got women who dig the lanky hipster who swears by Wes Anderson, despite not having reached the credits in any one of his films. And then there’s… guys like us. The best bet we have to navigate the dating scene with no cohesive knowledge about what women want is to consult science… so I’ve done just that. Here’s the most compelling research on how to be more appealing to the opposite sex.
1. Get a tattoo. A study in the journal Personality and Individual Differences found that men with body art are more coveted than the average unadorned Joe. The subjects, 2,500 heterosexual men and women, looked at shirtless men with various smatterings of tattoos and then rated them on a series of qualities. Ultimately, women said that men with tattoos were more aggressive, dominant, masculine and healthy than men of the non-tatted variety. Oh and because of the perceived higher levels of testosterone, inked dudes were believed to be better in bed. So there’s that, too.
2. Sport a beard. According to a vast majority of women, dudes with beards (no matter the length) are preferable in almost every way. This comes courtesy of a study conducted by the University of Queensland, which asked 8,520 women to rate men with different levels of stubble on general attractiveness and relationship longevity. Women found that men with full beards were more suitable for long-term relationships and marriage than baby-faced boys (who were considered best for one-night stands). Researchers suggest this is probably because beards are considered dominant, so a hirsute hombre would theoretically make a better provider.
3. Be tall (or at least fake being tall). We can argue against it all we want, but science has proven time and time again that women like their men tall. The reason, even older research has found, is that taller men are generally considered manlier and more powerful, and they can pass on their genes to children. A more recent study by Konkuk University in Seoul has taken things one step further and found that women who marry taller men are happier long-term, too.
4. Be funny. Women like funny. This isn’t news by any means. But just how important this trait is might be of interest to you. According to a 2007 Richard Lippa study (based on the results of a BBC online survey of over 200,000 people in 53 countries) women overwhelmingly rated humor as the most important trait in a male partner, as it is commonly seen as a sign of intelligence.
5. Seek women a few years younger. The University of Dundee found that women, especially when financially independent, really dig older dudes. This has been dubbed “The George Clooney Effect.” The study of 3,770 women found that older men have “a greater opportunity to accumulate status and resources.” And, basically, women like men who are already established in their own lives.
6. Show off your pooch. If you got it, flaunt it. And by “it,” we mean your dog. Research has found that not only do dogs facilitate communication among humans, but they also make us all more attractive to the opposite sex. The study was simple: They sent a 20-something dude out on the town to hit on women and attempt to get their numbers, both without a dog and with one. Just 10 percent offered their number when he was solo, but 30 percent gave their digits when the pup tagged along.
7. Drink your beer. A study of 2,000 women carried out by clothing brand Austin Reed sought to discover what women want in men to form a proverbial “perfect man” of sorts. The study uncovered many strange revelations (he must be at least 6 feet tall, must take only 17 minutes to get ready and must eat meat, for instance). But perhaps most interesting of all: Men who drink beer over wine and other spirits are deemed profoundly more attractive.
8. Carry an instrument. I know this sounds ridiculous, but it works—even if you don’t actually play an instrument. A study published in Psychology of Music found that, after sending a man to the mall to compliment women ages 18-22 and ask for their numbers, a guitar case was the best item to carry while doing so. When the subject toted a guitar case, he was 31 percent more likely to get a woman’s number than when he lugged a gym bag or nothing at all.
9. Embrace your dad bod. I don’t know how or why this is, but women actually find the dad bod attractive… and thank God for that. According to research from Yale University, men with some pudge are generally considered to be interested in more important things like raising children than they are in seeking extramarital affairs. For obvious reasons, this was found to be greatly appealing to women. Who knew a beer belly could say so much.
10. Wear red. The next time you’re getting ready to go out and find yourself standing in front of the mirror perplexed about what to wear, opt for red. A study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology showed that women find men in red more sexually desirable, since the color is associated with power, social status and money.