What men want

A week ago I posted about some of the qualities I find most attractive in men, and how I try to incorporate those same qualities into my life. I asked my male readers what kinds of qualities they seek in a mate.

Several responded and I thought it would be handy for my single female readers to read what the men had to say about the virtues they find most attractive:

Speaking as a 26 year-old single man, the virtue I admire the most in a woman is kindness. Not simple niceness or politeness, but genuine kindness which has strong elements of gentleness and compassion. I say that, because looking back, the women I have had the strongest affinities for and think of most fondly have generally been characterized by kindness. Besides, many of the complaints from the manosphere about the difficulties associated with women are nullified if a woman is truly kind (e.g. a kind woman wouldn’t take a man to the cleaners in the divorce courts).

Thinking about it now, kindness is arguably the most feminine of virtues, which creates a nice symmetry with courage and man.

Another reader:

1. Gentleness/kindness in speech and action.

2. Loveliness. Which I think might overlap with but is not exactly the same as physical attractiveness. Or rather a lovely woman might not be attractive and an attractive woman might not be lovely. A kind of quiet light.

3. A love for children and the otherwise vulnerable. A good heart.

4. A love and appreciation for the beauty of simple and ordinary things. Strives to make the world around her more beautiful for those she loves.

5. Has a high tolerance for bursts of rhetoric that can devolve into ranting and then back again. Maybe she can even appreciate a man like that.

Some more qualities from a different reader:

Things I value in a woman:

Modesty. My thoughts on modesty are extremely counter-cultural, but that’s because I think most everyone has almost completely lost a reasonable sense of modesty. And it’s not just what a woman wears, it’s the music she listens to, the tv she watches, the locations she goes to, the situations she allows herself to be in, and the way she talks and comports herself around men.

Poverty of Spirit. Materialism and vanity tend to go hand in hand, and a woman unwilling to make significant material sacrifices isn’t likely to appreciate the lack that comes with children.

Joy. This is the big one where I have to say it’s something I find attractive (in the broader sense) because I lack it. Someone who doesn’t complain, who’s always smiling out of genuine happiness and warmth is someone that I would want my children being around a lot.

Hospitality. There are two mothers of friends that I know who are particularly hospitable, and there’s something incredibly feminine about them. Wherever you are, when you’re with them you feel at home.

Of course not exhaustive, but those are the highlights.

I want to thank all the men who shared these. I don’t know about other women, but I found these wonderfully insightful.

What surprised me most was how often ‘kindness’ came up. This isn’t something I’ve ever thought much about when it comes to men and the virtues they desire in women. I think it is an important one for us women to consider, though.

Our society is infected by an obsession with the self. Everything is permissible – nay, virtuous – as long as you’re pursuing your own desires without harm to others (whatever that means). As a result, kindness has become drastically depleted in our world. I also think it’s extraordinarily hard to be a genuinely kind person if you haven’t had good instruction during your upbringing.

Really, being a gentleman or a lady is just an extension of kindness – and I don’t know of any woman who doesn’t want a gentleman, or a man who doesn’t want a lady (if they’re being very honest).

Poverty of spirit is a beautiful virtue as well. I can totally see why a woman who exhibits poverty of spirit would be very attractive to men. I agree that there’s a connection with vanity there, and let’s face it, nobody likes someone who is vain and selfish. Poverty of spirit also implies a certain detachment from the world, something that can be especially tough for women.

Joy and modesty are particularly feminine virtues (though they do apply to men as well), and I think it’s good to be reminded that decent men are drawn to us when we exhibit God’s grace through modesty and joyfulness.

At the end of the day we should all be striving to embody virtues like these not just to be attractive to the opposite sex, but for our own sakes. If I had the power to make myself truly kind, lovely, joyful, modest, hospitable and poor in spirit, of course I would! The great news is we do have this power. But we can’t just snap our fingers and make it so.

We can choose kindness when we’re dealing with a difficult person; we can choose to be joyful when it’s been a rubbish day and we’re tired and just feel like being grouchy; we can choose to wear something less flashy and short knowing we might not be as noticeable as we’d like; we can choose to forego buying something we want but don’t really need in the interest of becoming less attached to material things. Virtuousness is the long battle and not the work of a moment, after all.

It’s especially hard for us because it means fighting against our culture, which shamelessly promotes selfishness and a self-centred approach to the world. But nothing worth striving for is easy, either.

My advice is just take it one day at a time. Maybe one virtue at a time. And don’t forget to pray – no point doing it alone when help is available.

Update: from a comment:

I think these lists cover important bases but I see one gap common to them all that I’d like to offer some thoughts on. As a man, I think there are important reasons to find wisdom deeply attractive in a woman. This can have different aspects or inflections, if you care to put it that way: insight, good sense, intelligence.

I do think it’s proper for a man to exercise a leadership role in a Christian marriage. But a leader wants help and good counsel when it comes to taking decisions, not someone whose lack of gravity is going to make that role harder. For my children’s sake, I want both their father and mother to be able to give them sound advice on how the world works. Especially so if I have daughters, where I expect there will simply be certain things that I won’t be able to make sense of as well as a mother with a good head on her shoulders. And having a wise wife also just makes marriage more pleasant. To take things back to Jane Austen for a moment, no man with any sense wants to spend the rest of his life married to Mrs. Bennet! Lastly, let’s not forget that Wisdom in Scripture is famously personified as feminine.

And from another comment:

What about a sense of humor? The early seasons of The Simpsons (until the late 90s) are great. It’d be difficult to be with a girl who doesn’t appreciate the early years of The Simpsons.

20 thoughts on “What men want

  1. Ah, Miss Hitchings. Thank you for this. Well done.
    It is often difficult (meaning not easy, as well as painful) to recognize how much we have all lost. How much has been taken from us. How much we ourselves have destroyed.
    I have said before that this problem will not and cannot finally be solved by being on the internet. Yet, maybe we can start to find here an antidote to our poisonous anticulture.
    If so, many of us still may not ourselves be the beneficiaries of this change. It is, nonetheless, well worth pursuing.
    Sincerely,
    Underground Thomist.

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  2. Hello Anna! First time commenter here. First let me say, I think you’re speaking to a hard struggle in many people’s lives, including my own, and a serious problem within the Church. So thanks for all you do, and keep at it.
    I think these lists cover important bases but I see one gap common to them all that I’d like to offer some thoughts on. As a man, I think there are important reasons to find wisdom deeply attractive in a woman. This can have different aspects or inflections, if you care to put it that way: insight, good sense, intelligence.
    I do think it’s proper for a man to exercise a leadership role in a Christian marriage. But a leader wants help and good counsel when it comes to taking decisions, not someone whose lack of gravity is going to make that role harder. For my children’s sake, I want both their father and mother to be able to give them sound advice on how the world works. Especially so if I have daughters, where I expect there will simply be certain things that I won’t be able to make sense of as well as a mother with a good head on her shoulders. And having a wise wife also just makes marriage more pleasant. To take things back to Jane Austen for a moment, no man with any sense wants to spend the rest of his life married to Mrs. Bennet! Lastly, let’s not forget that Wisdom in Scripture is famously personified as feminine.

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  3. I think the worst legacy of Feminism is that it has damaged or destroyed these virtues in a non-trivial percentage of the female population. It’s a mental virus that can make even women who have objectively never been “oppressed” and who are objectively “privileged” feel like a righteous victim who has no obligation to be kind, forgiving, lovely, etc. More often than not it serves to make women feel like they ought to be rude, nasty and vengeful.
    One of my favorite examples is this:
    https://dalrock.wordpress.com/2015/07/31/the-ugly-feminist-secret-weapon/
    The general spirit of that is common to the point of being all but universal among women who are at least somewhat committed to feminism.

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    1. The cult of oppression seems to be a feature of Western society these days. I was reading the latest edition of the Christian Century last week and saw an article about United Methodist congregations in Texas. The author of the article seemed preoccupied with how LGBTs are treated in these churches. Jesus, sin, evangelism, etc are apparently minor concerns in the Church of the Oppressed. I guess after you’ve tossed out all of traditional Christianity, all that’s left is social justice.

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  4. Thanks! Good one!
    The link to your article at top of page didn’t open for me.
    I haven’t read the child abuse and Pell articles yet. Do they relate to dating?
    Blessings,
    Gxx
    Sent from my iPhone
    >

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  5. What about a sense of humor? The early seasons of The Simpsons (until the late 90s) are great. It’d be difficult to be with a girl who doesn’t appreciate the early years of The Simpsons.

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    1. Concur. This is what everyone is lacking these days, everywhere. Everything has become so amazingly joyless, and the people of the west so sadly dour. People should be forced to wear Groucho Marx glasses and speak only in rhyme on a first date or something, to make all that posturing as comical as it ought to be. 😉

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  6. I think one of the biggest things men want these days is pretty simple: the benefit of the doubt.
    So much of dating life as a man these days is being scrutinized for evidence of your unfitness, knowing that even the tiniest misstep (say, being five minutes late, or misreading a mood) instantly “proves” you to be the insensitive/sexist/chauvinistic jerk that everyone suspected you were (by virtue of being a man)—and then the pile-on begins.
    But even aside from such incidents themselves, that sensibility is pervasive—that you’re being tolerated and granted an audience only so long you’re amusing and submissive—and it’s not flattering.
    Massive turn-off, and avoiding this general attitude has meant avoiding most dating of any kind since my divorce. It usually emerges during a first date, or even a first conversation—like a disclaimer. She doesn’t need you, she only accepts the best, she’s met a lot of losers and dealt with them appropriately; she’ll trust for the moment you’re not yet another of them, but she’s not pinning her hopes on it. Just so you know.
    As a first topic of discussion, it’s not the sort of thing that makes you want to stay and finish dinner, much less ask for a second date. Not a great deal, especially when you’re the one paying!

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  7. I see Sean1868’s list didn’t make the cut, but in a list of what men want in a WIFE you do a disservice to your readers not to mention one in particular (bolded):

    Feminine, not an atheist, not promiscuous, not arrogant.

    The issue of guaranteed paternity (arising out of having a woman who has displayed the strength of character not to sleep around) is but one reason. It also shows that she takes her faith seriously.
    It’s important.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes…for me promiscuity is a big turn-off. A while back a female acquaintance who’s umm … had some experience … complained to me that Trump doesn’t respect women. I thought to myself, “Maybe he doesn’t, but you don’t even respect yourself!”

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  8. While all of the the above listed characteristics are definitely desirable in a partner, there is a big elephant in the room here that no one is mentioning. i.e. How she looks. This may sound “superficial” but it is an important element of attraction.
    Let’s go through the list.
    Firstly, a normal range BMI between 18.5 and 25 with due consideration given for particular circumstances. I know I might be being hard here but in none of the couples used to illustrate the header to this blog are the morbidly obese or hirsute featured.
    Secondly, she cultivates an air of femininity and class: There has to be an avoidance of both the porn-star and feminist look. This is a very hard look to achieve these days, especially as the the fashions tend to favor the trashy over the classy. I know Kate Middleton is not your typical woman but she manages to get the “look” just right.
    Thirdly, no tattoos.
    Fourthly, no idiotic piercings.
    In addition to the above, typically there is another element with regard to character that needs to be mentioned. I understand piety but there is a danger in some of the religious women of being too intense. Jesus becomes your boyfriend instead of the real physical person next to you.
    Finally, there is a world of difference between prudery and modesty. Slutty behaviour is really off-putting but so is asexuality. Although this is a very broad generalisation, European (Southern/Eastern) women tend to have a better grasp of this than Australian/American women. A friend of mine–Very Catholic–who migrated to a very Catholic Eastern European country was told she should get rid of her Australian clothes since they made her look like an uptight school principal.

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    1. Tatoos are definitely an immediate turn off for me. I also have a hard wired level in my brain on reasonably thin. Overall looks are not as key if that goal is met though. Can’t help that wiring and I would rather do without than go with someone I don’t start incredibly attracted to.

      Not chastising anyone, just agreeing that looks matter at some level and some of it is hard coded. Supermodels are not required, but so many woman are farther enough from that that they have lost the attraction trigger at the start.

      Few talk about that issue however, so it can be the elephant in the room, as you note.

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  9. I was chatting about this yesterday to a married lady friend. The lists of qualities above are both good and realistic, but to find that lady, a man has to LOOK for her with persistence and courage, and not give up or become embittered or angry if he’s not successful right away.
    Thanks to poor or absent fathering, a lot of younger and approaching middle-age men lack confidence in themselves and in their ability to win a spouse. I see this in some men around me, and in the wider community.
    Men have that questing spirit written into them: to become a man, he needs to separate from his family of origin and go into the Dark Forest, the Wide World, the Desert, or whatever you want to call it. His father is ideally the man who should lead him there, and then give him a hard shove in the right direction.
    But without a wise or strong or benevolent father or father-figure, he is very vulnerable to being devoured, and there are plenty of wolves – porn culture is particularly devouring young men. So it’s no surprise that spiritually and emotionally – and sometimes physically – some men are unwilling to leave the Castle and go on the quest at all.
    Instead they seem sometimes to expect the Lady to fight her way through the forest and make it alive to his door, so he can have a look at her and maybe be interested, or maybe not.
    Guys, the Quest is not easy. It’s hard and dangerous, because the payoff is so great. Yes, you will be rejected by almost all the women you date, because statistically, most relationships fail. Learn to deal with rejection like this, and don’t take it personally. Learn also from your mistakes!
    Learn how to talk to women. Stop using porn and alt-right MGTOW websites as an anodyne for your internal pain and loneliness. Instead, seek out good men – good mentors who can father you into adulthood.
    And learn to think outside the box. There are noble women out there, but they too may be recovering from injuries. They may be single mothers who are determined to make a better life for the child they chose not to abort, despite immense pressure. They can and do show all the qualities you are seeking. I hear ‘men of God’ dismissing these women as future spouses, which is a bit odd considering that it was good enough for St Joseph to raise a child that wasn’t made of his body. It’s also been good enough for some excellent men I know personally.

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    1. Phillipa, you’ve got everything backwards.

      Instead they seem sometimes to expect the Lady to fight her way through the forest and make it alive to his door, so he can have a look at her and maybe be interested, or maybe not.

      Newman’s gentleman always lets the lady go first. Chivalric behavior always defers initiative to the woman.

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    2. Another bit of advice to the young guys. We’re trained today to ensure that *everything* is 50/50, to ask her about *everything*, to turn *everything* into a well-reasoned, non-pushy discussion, especially if we want to be what our mothers told us to be—”nice.”

      “I thought maybe we could do something together.”
      “Maybe…”
      “Okay, maybe. What sorts of things do you like to do?”
      “I don’t know, what were you thinking?”
      “Well, here are some options, let me know which you think sounds best…”
      “The third one, I guess?”
      “Okay, good. Now we’re getting somewhere. What day are you available?”
      “Uh, most of this week I guess. Thursday?”
      “I can do Thursday. What time? Early evening? Or is later better? Or I could come around brunch time?”
      “Maybe 8ish? Er, in the evening.”
      “Okay. I think we should do that then. I think we could have a really nice time!”
      “I suppose we could.”
      “Should we call it a date?”
      “Okay, I guess it’s a date.”

      Kill me now. This is what makes women move on.

      Sadly we men are actively trained do this in everything. Because our early feminist mothers and our schoolteachers have drilled into our heads that this is what women want, and the wider culture is doing it, too. Look, dating isn’t a NATO summit. Take the initiative.

      “Hi. I’d like to take you out to dinner. At Frank’s. On Friday. At eight. Say you’ll come. I’ll pick you up.”
      “I—well, I—suppose I could—”
      “Exxxcellent. I can’t wait. See you Friday!”

      Smile while you say it. Look enthusiastic. Let your male energy do its thing. Stop purposefully putting on the “enlightened deliberative, even-tempered nonpartisan face” in hopes of coming across as “nice” like you’ve been told women want you to be. Suppressing your enthusiasm makes you seem creepy and manipulative. If you like her, just let it show.

      There’s no one exactly right way to do it, but there is exactly one wrong way to do it, and that’s the dull, milquetoast, inoffensive way. Women are not, in general, a fan of utterly inoffensive, forgettable men. All that stuff the nurturing women told you early on came from their brains, which is exactly the part of the self that people don’t fall in love with.

      And if she says no? Smile, compliment her one last time with generous spirit—and move on with the same friendly smile.

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    3. It does no good to bang the podium and say “Man Up!” over and over and over, when plenty of men exist who have done all the things you requested – they are confident, educated, socially and financially competent, and even still attend church! – but have no opportunity to meet any eligible Catholic women, because parishes no longer provide any social assistance in that regard.

      And what do I mean by “social assistance?” Dating services? Singles groups? No, none of that. I mean that parishes no longer function as communities. There are no social events where a single man can show up to volunteer and demonstrate his character, so that a grandmother might notice and suggest to him “you should meet my neighbor’s granddaughter’s co-worker, who attends XYZ parish in the next town over, I think you might be a good match”. Especially for men who have “separated from their family of origin”, this is so desperately needed now. Nudge me toward some single mass-attending women and I’ll take it from there.

      Platitudes like “LOOK for her with persistence and courage” annoy me beyond belief. For all I know, I’ve been attending mass with eligible single women for decades. But absent any ways to meet them, what is a single man supposed to do? Ogle all the women during mass, and then approach them one-by-one in the parking lot to discover that they are married and their husbands didn’t attend mass that day? Because honestly, that’s the only “social opportunity” I’ve ever seen.

      Let’s be realistic.

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    4. The reward is great? A woman can dump you for any reason today, even if she did marry you, and no one will hold her accountable in the slightest. You can start raising another man’s kids and she can still dump you for alimony and possibly child support. Is that the prize?

      You can get a used model that has been ridden by many others, leaving you with the bill and problems because of all that past use. Is that the reward?

      Note that you note NOTHING a woman must do, cleverly dumping it all on the man.

      Add to that the fact that even the worst looking women expect a top quality man and are unwilling to even be really friendly and nice (over time) and you end up with the mess we have today.

      Quit blaming others for the consequences of choices women have made. Many (most?) would rather fool around with a hot guy (or many) for a while than to keep themselves for a simpler man. Remember that most of the women on a dating site recently said that 80% of the men on the site were below average. That is impossible by definition, but it shows how impossible the quest you want to set men on so you can continue to have your pick. That may be a great deal for you, as a woman, but it is not for the men you are trying to compel to work against their own interests.

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  10. They may be single mothers who are determined to make a better life for the child they chose not to abort, despite immense pressure. They can and do show all the qualities you are seeking. I hear ‘men of God’ dismissing these women as future spouses, which is a bit odd considering that it was good enough for St Joseph to raise a child that wasn’t made of his body.

    We’re familiar with the “man up and marry those sluts” shame tactic. Or, the “anti-slut shaming” tactic, as you may call it.

    And you’re patently wrong anyhow. St. Joseph was going to divorce Mary when he thought that she was carrying another man’s child. He was even called RIGHTEOUS for how he planned to go about it. And it wasn’t until he learned that the child was from the Holy Spirit that he was on board with joining that project.

    Widows are one thing altogether. Another category. But women don’t get to jump from one bed to the next through their 20s, showing utter disregard for the statutes of God, and then demand a devout (but sexy-as-hell) man when they’re ready to settle down in their 30s.

    Seriously, ya’ll complain about the lack of virtuous men who spent their 20s making the right choices and preparing for their future families; after all, guys who don’t do that aren’t “marriageable” and factor into why there is such a “lack of marriageable men”. But men are supposed to fight through some kind of gauntlet of worldly hazards on some “Quest” for a “Lady” who is still wiping her mouth (Proverbs 30:20) as he drops the dragon’s head at her feet?

    Good luck with that happy ending.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Being able to put up with passionate beliefs and working with a man as needed (as noted in the OP) is truly a good thing and often missing.

    I would still be married (almost 30 years before it was nuked) if my wife had worked with me rather than just quitting because I disagreed with her. Sometimes I would have stuck with my beliefs, but other times I would have relaxed and gone a different way. That takes a woman who really cares about growing the relationship more than getting her way. Missing that will just make the woman feel controlled and is not good for either side.

    Most men want a woman who will work them, but finding that is quite hard. It is also impossible to gauge ahead of time, especially with society and even religious groups pulling against it.

    My grandparents argued plenty, but they were deeply committed to each other. I don’t see that much (unfortunately) today.

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