Men Like Women Who Show Affection. Seriously.

girl kissing a man because they like woman who show affection

I love this. New study confirms what we’ve already observed.

Men respond to women who show their physical interest in them on a first date.
Women are turned off by men who show their physical interest on a first date.

The short version of this is that women like men who play it cool and that men like women who make them feel good – interesting, masculine, sexy, trusted (which is the central premise of my book Why He Disappeared.)

Men are simple, ego-driven creatures. If you think he’s cute, funny, and fascinating, chances are he’s going to want to spend more time with you.

Which is why the key for women – although you may not want to believe it – is to ACT INTERESTED in a man if you’re interested in him.

“Men who perceive women to be interested in them rated the women as more feminine and sexually attractive. They also showed more interest in having long-term relationships with the responsive women than with the nonresponsive women.”

No duh!!

I’ve never understood the “women playing hard to get” thing. Men are simple, ego-driven creatures. If you think he’s cute, funny, and fascinating, chances are he’s going to want to spend more time with you.

As to why women are turned off by men who are interested? “Women may think the men are trying too hard to win their affection and get them into bed. Or, women may see responsive men as eager to please, or even desperate,” Birnbaum said. Perhaps, the researchers noted, women may view a responsive man as vulnerable and less dominant.”

So there you have it, guys. You can be thoughtful and chivalrous, but don’t kiss her ass. And there you have it, ladies: scientific proof of everything I’ve always suggested.   Ask him questions. Laugh at his jokes. Touch him on the hand. Touch him on the knee. Reciprocate when he kisses you at the end of the night.

Men respond to women based on how we feel around you.

Make us feel good and we ain’t going anywhere.

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  1. 21

    I couldn’t agree more, Evan! Every time I was genuine with a guy, it almost always led to positive results. Guys need a green light. It’s simple: if I were a guy, I’d MUCH rather pursue the flirty, genuine girl who shows her interest in me by just being herself and asking questions about me than the girl who gives me mixed signals or looks like she’d bite my head off if I approached.  

    With my current boyfriend, he was incredibly nervous and later told me he never thought a girl like me would be interested. When he suggested we get together, I said yes. When we spent time together, I told him I liked him. I was genuine with him, and he attributes that to my “colorful” personality and willingness to be open with him. Had I been afraid of showing my interest in him, we wouldn’t be where we are today. Guys like girls who are approachable, I.e. those who are nice, smiley, approachable, and genuine in their interest.

  2. 22

    I definitely treat my men well and am affectionate but that doesn’t guarantee they stick around. There are other factors that enable a relationship to last. Posts like this are useful, but more so useful to people who have low EQs or have difficulty opening up to people. If you are emotionally available, it’s natural for you to behave in loving and affectionate ways.

  3. 23

    Usually, if I like a guy by the end of the first date, I’ll look him in the eye, smile warmly and say “I really like you.” or   “This was fun and you are great”.   Is that so hard to do? I don’t usually like to kiss right away (herpes, ebola and other stuff you know…).   But I will give a peck on the cheek, a warm clasp on the hand, or let him breathe in my perfume on my neck with lots of close conversation and laughter.
    Can’t a girl just say “hey I think you’re fantastic! Let’s do this again.” Then seductively disappear behind her apartment door? Does a girl have to slob down a dude, or touch his man-parts in the car after a first date to convey that she digs him?   Are men this dense?   I think not.
    I think the point is that affection, warmth and making a man feel good are about more than physical gestures.   You have to let things “breathe” and evolve naturally between dates.
    Men please hear me on this: here are the signs a grown woman (who doesn’t play games) is interested in you enough to sleep with you: She shows up looking good and being enthusiastic.   She lets you hold her hand, or cup the small of her back to lead her through the door, allows you to pay the bill for several dates, and she takes your calls between dates. Wears dresses, heels and lip gloss on your dates.   Eagerly laughs at your stories and can recall some details.   Let’s you plant a kiss on her at least by the end of the third date and melts into you when you do.
    Hope this helps you.   You don’t need to guess at it.   If you keep giving and she keeps receiving, trust that she likes you.   After all, you want us to trust that you won’t hurt us physically or emotionally. So extend some trust that she’ll reciprocate physically as soon as she’s comfy to do so.

    1. 23.1

      YES! AGREE!
      Men, please heed this advice, that’s how decent women show their interest in you!  

  4. 24

    Kay @ 23 . . .She lets you hold her hand, or cup the small of her back to lead her through the door, allows you to pay the bill for several dates, and she takes your calls between dates. Wears dresses, heels and lip gloss on your dates.   Eagerly laughs at your stories and can recall some details.   Let’s you plant a kiss on her at least by the end of the third date and melts into you when you do.

    Very good list, I would also like to add this to “allows you to pay . . .” and that is, will go with you on a low cost or no cost date.   A girl will allow a man “to pay” if she’s not into him the same as a man will sleep with a woman he doesn’t like.  
    To weed out the gold diggers, I suggest a man keep his wallet shut on the first few dates.   (if a girl really likes you, she’ll be thrilled to walk that scenic nature hike with you)  

    1. 24.1

      PS – If I really like a guy, there will none of this waiting for a 3rd date to kiss !

      1. 24.1.1

        Emerald Dust (great moniker!)
        Agreed.   Obviously if she’s into the guy a kiss will prob come sooner, but at least give it until 3rd date.   And don’t expect that the kiss will immediately to lead to touching a boob or hands down pants next.   Slow burn fellas, slow burn! lol.
        And if she likes you and knows you are cash strapped, she will go on the low-cost but inventive types of dates. What you lack in cashola, make up for in imagination. That’s what’s impressive and opens up a girl’s heart.   But I can tell when a man is being lazy and cheap.   That’s a turn off.   Pick a cool spot with atmosphere, $2 artisan tacos and an indie band playing and then conversation and I’m good.   😉

        1. Henriette

          I’m not sure “obviously” applies to all women.   If I am starting to like a guy, I probably won’t kiss a guy before the 3rd date, in part bc I could be a bit nervous and tongue-tied.   I’m more likely to kiss a guy on the 1st or 2nd date if I’m NOT developing any attraction to him bc a. the stakes are low b. I might be torn as to whether I like him enough for another date and figure a kiss will help me make up my mind.    

  5. 25

    I read this thread with interest….it seems all the women who kiss on the first day think it is the way everyone should be, and the ones who don’t kiss on the first date think THEY are right.   Hey, how about we all have different personalities, different experiences, and different backgrounds.   I have kissed on the first date, not kissed on the first date, sometimes the first scenario became my bf, sometimes the second scenario.   People are unique, interactions between unique humans (not robots) can be messy and unpredictable…isn’t that what life is all about?

    I have one other comment about the kissing a  stranger and getting herpes (cold sores or  type 2).   For the ones who say they have kissed a million times and never gotten it, good for you.   Some cancers are extremely rare, and you have .01 percent chance of ever getting it, but if you are the one who got it, you 100% got it. Same for  cold sores. And is someone does not know you, they may or may not tell you when they are getting one and you can’t tell. If they know you, they will MOST LIKELY tell you.   But it is an embarrassing thing to admit sometimes. How do I know?   Because I get them.   And they are not a little annoyance. They are horrible. They hurt, they spread and one becomes two, they can give me a fever and a headache if it is a bad one, they can last for  up to 10 days and be unsightly.  We poor inflicted dread the tingling  feeling and start popping the  Cyclovir like crazy hoping to stop it from coming out.   I can’t eat nuts, cantaloupe,  no orange juice, NO MARGARITAS! (too much  acid), no lemonade, the list goes on.   And those foods are banned from me FOR LIFE because they do kick off  sores.  Have to watch my stress levels, get enough sleep…so don’t act like getting a “little cold sore” is no big deal.   When  I have an outbreak, I  can’t kiss anyone at all for 10 days!, not my bf, not my children….and to top it all off, they have linked cold sores to Alzheimer’s… is it as bad as having cancer? No. But do I wish I never got the damn things in the first place EVER?   Hell yes!

    And I am a kind person.    I do not want to “share my disease”.   If I even thought I was getting one, I was adult enough to tell others so they  weren’t exposed if I could tell they were about to kiss me, as they are highly contagious.    But sometimes, I would  be out on a date, or in  bar, and some idiot guy would decide to just kiss me with no warning…and guess what, I had a cold sore he couldn’t see.   And if he was stupid enough to kiss me with no warning, then he was stupid enough to  get it, and I didn’t tell him unless I KNEW HIM.    So enough about that, I was just annoyed by those on here who think it is no big deal. It is, it sucks, and I wish I had never gotten  them 30 years ago  from the asshole who thought it was “no big deal”…..    

    1. 25.1

      So, soulsister, what do you   recommend people like Flonie and I who are scared of catching something from a new person? As you mentioned, if you ask a person, there is no guarantee that they will tell you the truth because it’s embarrassing and around date 4, you are still a stranger, plus like Julia, said it could make the person not talk to you again if you say you want to wait to kiss because you are afraid of kissing someone you don’t know until they are tested.

      I don’t have them, but I see a lot of guys with them and they look nasty and painful. And like your story, I have heard so many stories from people who have caught something from someone who lied and said that they are clean  

      1. 25.1.1

        Gabri’el,  I just ask. Most people will give you an honest answer if you ask them directly, in a pleasant, non-aggressive way.   If others want to  take the chance and  kiss (or  exchange body fluids) with  strangers, fine for them. My  body and my health are my responsibility. If someone doesn’t like me asking or they get  offended, that is their problem, not mine.  My job is to be an adult and take care of myself to the best of my ability, even if it means asking hard questions sometimes.   The only guys who ever got offended by me asking were guys I wouldn’t have stayed with anyway, so they weren’t worth the risk.   Every friend I know who has gotten herpes I or II, got it from a casual encounter. They never got it from someone who cared for them and took responsibility so they didn’t pass it on.   If  I get something from someone I care for, and I take a calculated risk with all the information, then we were careful and so be it. If I get it and have to deal with it for the rest of my life from some guy I was too worried about offending but he was just a passing ship, then I didn’t do my job of taking care of myself and it is on me.   And no, I didn’t end up a spinster, I have a steady bf I met on match.   And yes, I asked before he kissed me on our third date, and I told him my status.   No one got offended….because we are both ADULTS.  

      2. 25.1.2
        Karl R

        Gabri’el asked:
        “what do you   recommend people like Flonie and I who are scared of catching something from a new person?”

        If you’re worried about catching cold sores (primarily caused by HSV-1, but they can be caused by HSV-2), I have one simple piece of advice … stop dating altogether.

        According to a couple journal articles:
        “for HSV-1, estimates of prevalence should include the age under consideration. For instance, the prevalence in young adults is 20% to 40%. Each year beyond age 29, another 1.5% of patients reportedly contract the infection, up to age 50. By age 70, the prevalence approaches 90%.

        About 20% of people who have HSV-1 exhibit symptoms (cold sores). When I went in to get tested for STDs, the doctor wasn’t going to run a test for herpes (including genital herpes, HSV-2) until I specifically requested it. I could have gotten tested and still not known.

        My wife and I both have HSV-1. We’re asymptomatic (she’s had one cold sore in her life, I’ve had zero). I wasn’t surprised that we tested positive, because we’re old enough that the odds of us having been exposed were high, and I suspect we both had been exposed before we met. (Since her father gets cold sores regularly, she was likely exposed through him.)

        Gabri’el said:
        “I have heard so many stories from people who have caught something from someone who lied and said that they are clean”

        Heck, they don’t have to lie. They just need to get tested by a doctor who thinks HSV isn’t worth testing for. (Since it can’t be cured and it doesn’t impact duration of life, that doctor recommended against testing for it unless someone is symptomatic.)

        Depending on the test used, an asymptomatic person won’t test positive for the presence of antibodies until 21 to 120 days after exposure. Therefore, in order to be sure a person tests negative, you have to wait 120 days after the last time he/she has kissed someone. (Testing someone with symptoms can be done far more quickly.)

        Does your family tend to give each other pecks on the lips? If so, you could catch HSV-1 from your grandparents, kids, etc. (and given the number of kids in my elementary school who had cold sores, I know that’s a common way it’s transmitted).

        The only practical way to avoid exposure is to avoid kissing anyone on the lips. Ever. Even if a man tests negative, he could be exposed later on when he gives his mother a peck on the lips, then pass that on to you.

        My (personal) solution was much simpler. I assumed that I would eventually be exposed, and then I stopped worrying about it. If I ever get cold sores, I’ll treat them and go on with life.

      3. 25.1.3

        Your standard std test doesn’t screen for herpes.   You could have the virus and not know until you have an outbreak.   I got type I from my SO even though he never had a visible outbreak while I’ve known him.   He did tell me he had it.   It was several years before I contracted it.   

  6. 26

    Too much affection too early equals seduction which is a sign of insecurity.   Yes, if you are interested you must show it but too much is not good either.   How much is too much?   Good question.   

  7. 27

    For crying out loud, showing interest physically does not mean you have to be all over the guy nor does it mean that you have to do anything that you are uncomfortable doing.
    A little bit of leaning in here and there, a little brush on the hand if he tells a joke, etc.   Totally harmless.   You will know what is too much based on your level of comfort.   But of course men like women to show affection.   But it could be just the little, simple things.

  8. 28
    Mary H

    Hi, Evan! I have a question for you!

    I recently read   Mars and Venus on a Date by John Gray, and I’m sort of confused because I wonder how what you’re saying interacts with what he’s saying.

    Gray says that masculine interest is active, whereas feminine interest is receptive — that is, that the man during courtship is asking questions like, “How can I make her happy? Does she like me?” and she’s asking questions like, “Does he make me happy? Do I like him?” He says that if you reverse this order, the man starts saying to himself, “Wow, she really likes me. I wonder if I like her,” and the woman is saying to herself, “I really like him — how can I win him over?” The dynamic is reversed.

    Basically, men are the pursuers, and women are the pursued. Do you think that if a woman shows interest and demonstrates that she likes the guy, he’ll get complacent, put his feet up and say, “Well, she already likes me, guess I don’t have to do anything”?  

    1. 28.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Gray (and I) tell women not to pursue, but to be pursued. But guess what? If he’s taking you out, he IS pursuing you. You’re just letting him know it’s WORKING. There’s no contradiction.

      1. 28.1.1
        Mary H

        Thank you!! So, in an instance where he’s taken me out on a date, and (on the date) I’ve given him a sincere compliment or told him something I like about him, that’s affection and not pursuit?

        1. Adrian

          Mary it’s all in the context of the action. You know he is attracted to you, your job (according to Evan and Mr. Gray) is to let him know if you are giving him permission to continue trying to court you and win your affection by subtly encouraging him. According to my understanding of the women on this site, your job is to judge the consistency of his actions and goals, -does he want a relationship with you or is he just faking it to get sex-.  

          You pursuing him would be you calling him and asking him out, if he doesn’t call you in the beginning of the relationship to ask you for a date, always saying how attracted to him you are, etc… in the beginning of the courtship, at least that’s my understanding that I’ve gained from reading this blog  

  9. 29

    Hi Adrian (post 3.3.5),

    Your question was not for me, but as it wasn’t addressed and since STD tests are something I’ve requested from lovers all of my life I thought I’d share my approach.

    First, I only have intercourse with boyfriends as per Evan’s definition and my first time was at 20. I’m also a serial monogamist and my relationships have all lasted a year or more, so my number of lovers is on the smaller side. I had a lot of fun getting creative and being intimate as we build to *that* point and I would say my boyfriends did, too. When interest in going all the way was communicated by either party, I’d basically say something like: “I’d really like for us both to get STD tests before we have intercourse. And, in the meantime, I’m happy to continue getting creative.” I think it’s important for the requester to include him/herself. I even got an STD test when I was a virgin, because I didn’t want my bf to feel awkward.

    Of course, the first tests I had were free because we were in college and the student health service provided them. As adults with varied health insurance, the tests can be quite expensive! I paid $250 for a full panel in 2013, as did my current bf. But then, our respective insurance stinks. So, if cost may be a factor, it might be nice to call around to clinics for prices or offer to help pay for it.

    All of the men I’ve had this conversation with responded positively and it opened up a great opportunity for discussion about past partners, etc. They seemed relieved by an open conversation and got the test immediately! Grin. Maybe I was just lucky, but maybe open and honest is what most people appreciate. I think it also communicated to men that I was very selective about my sexual partners and they were one of the lucky ones.

    To this day (I’m in my fourth decade), every one of my panels has come back perfectly clean. I’ve never asked about health issues before kissing, and I’ve kissed dates that were not yet boyfriends. It’s fun.

    Best of luck to you however you decide to navigate your love life.


    1. 29.1


    2. 29.2

      Keep in mind they don’t test for herpes UNLESS YOU specifically request it.   Go check your testing results.   If it’s not there, ask for it next time.

  10. 30
    Karl S

    I had a couple of experiences in the last few days that made me think of this article.

    I went on a date with a girl, let’s call her R and it went quite well. She was smart, attractive, interesting to chat to. We had a great coffee, but when we said goodbye there was no hug or kiss (nor on the hello I realized). That’s OK for a first date I suppose. We scheduled a second soon after.

    But then i met another girl, let’s call her S. She was also smart, attractive and interesting to talk to. But when we met she gave me a big hug. When I made her laugh as we walked she grabbed my arm. After coffee we went to the park and she sat down right beside me. We were kissing immediately.

    I wasn’t sure whether to have that second date with R now, but I figured it was worth seeing her again to sort of out my feelings. When I met R again I went to kiss her on the cheek but she moved her head and I kissed the air. “Oops, it seems I missed you there” I joked and tried again, but she actively recoiled, saying “I don’t really do hugs or kisses. Sorry”. Right then. When we walked to the park and sat down on the bench she placed herself on the far end away from me. Half an hour into date 2 I made an excuse to leave, admitting that there wasn’t much there between us. She seemed surprised. Taken aback even.

    Now I don’t know whether R would ultimately be a better match for me in the long run, but I can sure as hell tell you I lost interest in her the moment she recoiled from me on date 2. Not even a kiss on the cheek! I’d rather take my chances with S, even if I’m blinded by chemistry right now.

  11. 31

    Hi. This is interesting. And as a guy I can tell you it is very true. If i am out with you on a date it means i like you. I am affectionate and i understand your interest by reciprocated affection.

    I am surprised how women on here want to tell men how they show interest when men are telling women how they actually want it shown. I think its better for women to listen to what the men say they want the affection that speaks to them.

    A lot of women also say oh i dont show affection on the first few dates coz im sassing out the guy….fair enough but consider this, in the courtship game there are things each sex does that they may not necessarily understand or feel a natural need to do but does it anyway because its how we understand the other sex responds to and makes them feel valued. And what this post is saying it will not hinder your chances with a guy if you show a bit more affection on a date, even if you are still not sure about him yet. Coz trust me the man is also doing stuff he wouldnt naturally do on the date but does it because he believes it helps him convey his attraction to the lady. Remember by affection we dont mean ripping his clothes off we mean little things like sitting close to him that your arms touch or when walking you wrap you arms around his. Things like that convey the message that you enjoy his company and feel safe around him. And this is what any genuine msn wants his love interest to feel. Trust me the guy will stick around for more….

    I also think that this thread highlights just how women it seems feel like they dont need to learn about what turns men on and they know everything about men. How can women tell us men how they want to us how they show interest? Shouldnt you women ask men how we men want women to show interest? Just like we men ask women what turns them on and what they like. It only makes sense. And what men are saying is showing more affection will only improve your odds.

  12. 32

    The average woman probably doesn’t show physical affection early (e.g.first date) because it’s such an intimate thing to do and women are often looking for signs that a guy has an intellectual / spiritual side to his need for love. Unfortunately when we read stories of gang rape of women, physical signs of affection   will be lower down on a woman’s list of what to do when she’s meeting a new guy.


  13. 33

    A woman should do what feels best

  14. 34

    I agree and I do do this on a date.    I am fine with a peck on the cheek or even the mouth but a guy that tries to cram his tongue down my throat on the first date in public is a huge turn off.    If I like a guy and feel like he likes me I will initiate a kiss as well.    A guy should never seem too over eager in all senses of dating.    It makes them seem like they want sex, are desperate or are protential stalkers.    So guys go with the peck and let her actions dictate where things go from there.

  15. 35
    Susan Edelman

    I don’t see a  link to the study.   I just see a link to someone’s article about the study.

    “Responsive” can mean a lot of different things to different people. What  exactly did they mean?

    Thanks for the update!

  16. 36

    But, when I show affection he literally disappears. Every time.

    1. 36.1

      @Rox – that’s too bad.   But the only person whose behaviour you can control is you.   If your boyfriend behaves badly (and it sounds as tho’ he is) when you are sweet with him, then end it.

  17. 37

    Why do SOME men make a woman out to be “easy”   or “less than” when she pursues him?   Biblically speaking, the bible says “A MAN WHO FINDS a WIFE finds a good thing. Which “implies” that MEN are to pursue WOMEN….. NOT the other way around.

  18. 38

    As a painfully shy guy, I had no ability to ask women out verbally. I always asked women out just by kissing them. This worked 2 out of 2 times, haha. I am 26 now.


    I think we live in a multi cultural world where no one will agree on anything. I think I don’t understand flirtatious language unless it involves romantic or sexual puns. For some reason, touch jives with me far better than speech for most applications. I usually try to avoid women who cannot understand my point of view, because communication is a major building block for a relationship. At the same time, I wish the best of luck to the verbally inclined.

    I think this article suffers from the relativity in the intimacy scale. How affectionate is too affectionate or not affectionate enough? Is a,”warm,” female one who let’s slip that she likes a man in black shoes while her suitor is wearing black shoes? Is a, “warm,” female one who grabs a man’s thigh in a movie theator? I think this is the real dilemma everyone seems to beat around the bush on. I think this dilemma grows as dating expectations get decreasingly defined. I think every couple needs to sort of negotiate these expectations on the first date, or we as a society need to pick some arbitrary standard and stick to it. Personally, dating high functioning autistic girls works for me, because everything is communicated explicitally. I strangely found that to be the most functional relationship I had, and despite the long talking negotiations about expectations, we still had romance and passion.

  19. 39
    Karmic Equation

    Funny story.

    When I was in my 20s, I played a lot of volleyball. One night I had to give one of my teammates a ride home. Forgot why.

    Anyway, we were chatting and laughing and I touched his knee. Maybe something was particularly funny and the touch was an emphasis. I honestly can’t remember why. It was just an automatic thing. No thought or motive went into that touch. (I’m also the hug hello and/or goodby type).

    I was in a relationship. I was NOT interested in the guy. But he looked at me like I was going to rape him or something. I didn’t apologize because I felt that apologizing would have blown that innocuous touch way out of proportion.

    But he and I were on stilted terms after that. It was weird.

  20. 40

    I kissed a man on the first date on the lips as a quick peck, and on the cheeks.   He went haywire internally.   At the end of the date he kissed me back while embracing me.   Broke up with me a few days later and said it was one of the reasons I should have realised that he didn’t want to pursue anything further.   I’m so hurt as all I was trying to do was show affection.

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