What Makes a Man Attractive to Women?

a handsome musician holding a guitar

Let’s just say that if I could bottle and sell this, I’d be one rich dude.

All the men in the pick-up artist (PUA) community have tried to turn it into a science. Depending on whether you’re reading David DeAngelo, Neil Strauss’ The Game, or The Mystery Method, you’re going to hear various versions of the same themes. You have to be cocky. You have to have a sense of humor. You have to keep her off-balance by putting her down and showing her you’re in control. This blog post isn’t about arguing these points, although I think there’s definitely something to the first two.

But one thing I rarely hear from men who advise men is something I hear all the time from women.

Show me a man who is PASSIONATE and PROFICIENT at what he does.

Those are two separate ideas, so let’s not conflate them.

Passion is all about effort and energy and devotion. It’s about living, breathing, and embodying something. It’s about being so immersed in a subject that one can’t tell where it begins and you end.

A writer who comes home from his day job to squeeze in two hours of creative thought before meeting his girlfriend for dinner? Passionate.

A swimmer who wakes up at 5:30am every day to train for the Olympics? Passionate

Those weird kids that memorize the dictionary for the national spelling bee? Passionate

The flip side of the passion coin are people who are truly gifted but squander their gifts due to indifference, fear, or laziness. For example:

The musician who wants to be in a band, but refuses to answer ads to audition.

The entrepreneur who has an amazing business idea but won’t share his idea to begin developing it.

The woman who would love to be a party planner but won’t apprentice on the side to learn the craft.

Notice the word “but” in each sentence. “But” is merely an excuse that we believe is reasonable. When you remove the “but,” no excuse is reasonable. Unreasonable people are the one who move mountains.

Reasonable people can always find a reason to say “why not.” Such people don’t command respect.

Passionate people do.

Except in one instance. There’s a type of passionate person who, despite their love and drive, fails to inspire others around them. This is the passionate person who’s not very skilled.

Hate to say it, but just ‘cause you love doing something doesn’t mean you’re good at it…. Los Angeles is filled with actors, writers, and musicians who are passionate but not particularly gifted. I remember meeting a 40ish woman who still thought she was going to be the next Julia Roberts. I recall an incomprehensible short story that a friend was trying to submit to Playboy. Lack of talent is not a crime, but rarely is it attractive. Lots of quality individuals have dreams that exceed their talents.

So what we’re left with is this basic formula:

Passionate + Bad = Delusional and Sad

Dispassionate + Good = Boring and Disappointing

Passionate + Proficient = Sexy and Inspiring

Ask women (and I have) what is it about a rock star that really gets them? It’s that combination of passion and proficiency. It’s the confidence exuded by someone who gets up on stage and performs, knowing that he can successfully entertain a crowd. Rock stars and athletes are just the most visible entertainers we have. But look around at people you find attractive in day to day life.

The guy who plays guitar at campfires.

The woman who gets the crowd on its feet on karaoke night.

The guy who can rewire the TV to have stereo sound.

The woman who can whip up a Thanksgiving dinner to remember.

You can talk all you want about tall, rich, cocky guys with big egos and fast cars.

But people who love what they do and are good at it are always attractive to women.

Join our conversation (39 Comments).
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  1. 1

    Exactly! Especially if the guy’s lived long enough that he really should have some type of life by now. (Laughing, though, as I’m actually dating a guy right now who once DID attempt to memorize the dictionary and won many spelling bees. With a dictionary as a prize, ironically.)

  2. 2

    You’ve hit a home run with this one! Several months ago I came perilously close to falling for a guy who wasn’t at all conventionally attractive but who was damned passionate and proficient. Swoon! (Of course he dumped me. Perhaps my own passion and proficiency need a boost!)

  3. 3

    This is an astute observation Evan, but I’m not sure it qualifies as good dating advice. Most people aspire to be proficient at something they are passionate about (and not because it’ll improve their dating prospects.) Trouble is, it’s a long and difficult process, and most men would rather not put their love life on hold in the interim.

    1. 3.1

      Trouble is, it’s along and difficult process, and most men would rather not put their love life on hold in the interim.”


      Who says we have to? Having a love life, and also having a life aside from that, are NOT mutually exclusive. True, our love life might get better, in terms of attracting more/higher quality women, as we improve our proficiency at things we’re really passionate about, but that’s a process, not an arrival. Besides, what’s a man going to do, when he reaches the goal he was so passionate about; say “I made it, now what?”, or find something else he really wants to achieve, and being equally passionate about that?    Sure, women like to see success and achievement, and the fruits of it; but those are are only indicators that we’re not just dreamers, we also have the passion, determination, and ability to make those dreams into a reality.

  4. 4

    How true! I wish I could send this to my ex. He still doesn’t understand our split. Disspassionate + Good = Boring + Dissappointing. —-that say’s it all! In marriage that can lead to disrespect and discontent and eventually to divorce.

  5. 5

    I have to to agree those equations but I don’t know that becoming proficient necessarily means it will be a long and difficult process though it can be. When a man is passionate about something and demonstrates some skill it it tells me he’s confident. He doesn’t have to be the next Tony Parker, Eric Clapton, or Ansel Adams; he’s just good at something he loves. I do have to add that a man with a sense of humor that matches mine is also very attractive to me.

  6. 6
    M from Cleveland

    Well done, Evan!

  7. 7

    Well put.

    Proficiency can also be a relative thing. My husband is learning the piano. Plays every night. He was terrible at first, but he’s getting better (key), and so even though he’s no Scott Joplin, it’s so, so sexy.

    The other problem with dispassionate+good and passionate+bad is I suspect they’re about 60 billion times more likely to end up bitter and mid-life-crisisey than those who go after what they want successfully or those who can match their passion to areas where they can succeed.

  8. 8

    There’s a decent point here, right in the last sentence, but it’s muddled by a section that’s so confusing that I can’t get past it. In fact, it’s so confusing that I assumed it had to be a typo and spent the next few moments trying to untangle what you meant by it. Unfortunately, I couldn’t. It’s this:

    “Notice the word ‘but’ in each sentence. ‘But’ is merely an excuse that we believe is reasonable. When you remove the ‘but’, no excuse is reasonable. Unreasonable people are the one who move mountains.”

    You sort of contradict yourself sharply over the course of two sentences. First, you point out that what seems reasonable (the excuse) actually isn’t. Then you seem to come out on the side of unreasonableness. And disregarding the fact that “Unreasonable people are the one who move mountains” is enough of an empty pseudo-profundity to be a bad Successories poster, I’m pretty sure that you end up saying the exact opposite of the point that you set up.

    But I can’t be sure, because you then muddle it up again by saying, “Reasonable people can always find a reason to say ‘why not’. Such people don’t command respect.” All told, I have no idea what you consider to be reasonable and unreasonable here, or which you think is better. I think you think that being unreasonable has its value, but the writing is so tangled that that’s ultimately just a guess. If I can’t figure out what you’re trying to get at, it’s hard for me to take any of this to heart.

  9. 9
    Evan Marc Katz

    I generally don’t respond to comments, but Marc makes a fair point. My language was muddy. So please allow me to try again, in linear fashion:

    People who say “but” are content to come up with excuses.
    Such people invariably think their excuses are reasonable.
    Those who forgo excuses and decide to become “unreasonable” are the ones who ultimately move mountains.
    Unreasonable people are always looking for creative ways to get things done.
    Reasonable people are more likely to focus on why things can’t be done.

    Now back to our regular programming…

  10. 10

    Thanks to Marc for asking, and to Evan for clarifying – I had the same problem with that paragraph! 🙂
    And I agree with the main point – a person who clearly loves what he/she does, and is good at it, is attractive.

  11. 11

    Ok- agreed with Marc, and still feel that it is all unclear or way too simplistic.

    Maybe the point is that a man (or woman) who confronts his/her fears, challenges, and blocks to forge ahead with a passion (and what about vision?), is more likely to succeed and gain competency, and so be attractive.

    This does seem to be true. Competency and Skills often equate to power. And Power is a powerful aphrodesiac.

    However I also hear the woman who found her husband, striving to learn the piano, very ‘sexy’.

    Maybe there is an attractive quality that comes from dedication, focus, and ability to follow through and grow, regardless of whether it leads to mastery?

    Maybe if the partner is not at all interested in the particular arena of mastery of the man – there would be NO appeal.

    Maybe it is the attention and care a man demonstrates in managing his business, art, or other, that appeals to a woman who might feel he could then attend to her as well?

    Looking further back to this prescription for ‘attractive’:
    “You have to be cocky. You have to have a sense of humor. You have to keep her off-balance by putting her down and showing her you’re in control. ”

    These are also too simplistic and the last statement disturbs me.

    I do not think it is necessarily true. I wonder about the value of these advisors and the interpretations of men listening.

    Cocky in a way that exudes confidence – yes
    Cocky in a way that is arrogant and self-centered- not to a mature woman

    Humor in a way that is teasing, fun, and enlightening- yes
    Humor that shows negativity and comes from a hurt place, that tends to sarcasm and may be mean and hurtful- No to a healthy listener

    Off- balance in a way that she is surprised and cannot put the man in a category to shelve and forget- so she wishes to know adn experience more-yes

    Off-balance in a way that is so unpredictable and unaccountable- or indicates possibilities of mental illness (or results from the man being a liar- gambler- cheat) No

    Putting her down or showing you are in control- NO
    I do not think putting ANYONE down is positive or really necessary to enhance one’s appeal-

    To challenge someone to grow, to take charge and lead in an adventure (sexual or other) can be VERY appealing-

    (and this can go both ways)

    The NEED to control and demean (or put down) comes from insecurity and often a lack of SELF-CONTROL, awareness, and compassion.

    This is NOT appealing to a mature woman (or man)

    Curious to hear responses-
    I think it is important for Evan and readers to realize that the ideas here are presented as observations, some with research to back, and some really coming out of the writer’s own preferences.

    We are not all the same and these preferences vary, even for the same person, with time/age/experience. That is the beauty.


  12. 12
    manish malvi

    I m vng those all in me wch mostely all women require, but i m talking very less.. dint get any topic so make a huge disattractness,,,i think…..wt i ve to do?

  13. 13

    I wish you would write more on the topic, didn’t quite get the message…

  14. 14

    Hah! Sounds like a longer version of the 3 B’s from that independent film the Tao Of Steve ( based on a true story )

    1. Be excellent
    2. Be desireless
    3. Be gone.

  15. 15

    omg Marc you are so right!

    A few years ago, i met this awesome guy and we clicked like you wouldn’t believe, i mean on all levels. Besides being really hot, he was responsible, kind, funny, understood me, etc etc.

    On our second date at the restaurant, he got real passionate about this house he wanted to build, and started scribbling pictures on napkins for me, and whatever else he could find.

    My heart sank.

    Why? Because his house idea was so “out there”, so ridiculously idealistic, fanciful…based on a total I Ching concept, complete with the octagonal footprint and indoor waterfall falling THREE stories….

    I thought, Oh here we go again…I grew up surrounded by ineffectual loser-dreamers, and this guy is talking about this in-the-next-galaxy house like he’s SERIOUS??! We saw each other a couple times after that, and lost contact.

    Then one day a couple years later, I was surfing on the web and stumbled over this article about this house, “The Phoenix,” one of the fabulous houses showcased in Cincinnati: Home Builders Association of Northern Kentucky’s annual home show.

    There on the screen was an article about Bill’s house. The house I’d thought only made of dreams. There it was in front of me, out of his head, and in physical form, planted in the dirt and baking in the sun somewhere in Cincinnati. And i’d missed it. All of it.

    I was stunned. And my admiration and awe shot off the charts. I sat there, amazed, here was a man who had a dream, and he LIVED HIS DREAM. He made it happen!

    The implications are enormous.

    1) He dreamed this outrageously unusual house.
    2) He completed professional drawings and spec drawings and elevations and god knows what else for his presentation portfolio. 3) He approached and won the approval of some lucky financial institution to foot the bill.
    4) He managed to get the right building codes to build this unusual house.
    5) He convinced a builder to build it for him.
    6) He convinced the city to let it happen.
    7) And he bid and WON a place in the home show.

    This house with the 3-story indoor waterfall.

    How many guys do I know who have all those different skills? Have that kind of drive?

    That kind of PASSION???

    I misjudged this guy. Big time. He went WAY over the top, and …I missed it. I missed the journey…I could have BEEN there, cheering him on, been his friend, laughed with him, cried with him, heard him in his angst when things were maddening–imagine the road he’d been on!–and finally, celebrating with him.

    I missed it because i judged a man based on my sad experience with my own family. And I regret it.

    There ARE men out there. Men who are amazing. I will not settle.

  16. 16

    Meggie, that is an awesome example that I needed to hear at this time! thank you sooo much for posting that!

  17. 17

    to meggie,

    ..oh, yes, at a certain age, we see all kinds of beautiful rainbows, clowns juggling, etc…I remember those times….,

  18. 18

    Alison wrote: “Maybe if the partner is not at all interested in the particular arena of mastery of the man – there would be NO appeal.”

    How true!

    I dated this one man for a time who was simply obsessed with tango. Attended all lessons within his proficiency level given by the studio he signed up at, every single day, all concerts/shows he knew about, and such.

    He had no ability for it. He had no sense of rhythm and was tone deaf, and actually mentioned that people made fun of him at first. He wanted me eventually to join him in the lessons, but I was afraid seeing him dance would be such a turn-off that I could no longer remain attracted.

    As for how much value I give this particular pursuit – I personally think it’s corny and old-fashioned. He himself admitted there was no one in his group under 40. The bigger problem, though, was that he insisted that I develop some all-consuming passion for something. And I happen to pride myself on my innumerable interests in various unrelated fields, and see no reason to become so [what I see as] limited.

    So a few comments from him of this nature I let slide until I finally snapped. And I said to him, “Do you think your tango obsession makes you any more appealing to me?? At best, AT BEST, it’s not an obstacle. YET. And if you have to be so passionate about something, I’d rather it were something more masculine than a form of dance.”

  19. 19
    Abdul Muhamed

    “YET. And if you have to be so passionate about something, I’d rather it were something more masculine than a form of dance.”

    He he he… Whatever. There are “masculine” dances, like capooera and forms of brakedance… Anyways, if you can’t dance, there are pepole who can…

    Cheers. 🙂

  20. 20

    When he asked “like what?”, I replied, “electronics, cars, weapons, anything!”

    And who says I can’t dance? I am trained in belly dance and flamenco.

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