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.
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.