Dating is rough. That’s the truth. When asked the relatively simple question, “How does a real man know a real woman?,” I find myself quick to start listing the things that I find unattractive in a woman as opposed to what I am actually attracted to, which is frightening. I liken it to when my father was teaching me to drive, and for the first time we ventured onto the highway. As we worked our way over to the fast lane, my hands wary on the wheel, I took comfort in his sole words of advice, “Look at the lane, not the wall.”
We all have bad dating stories, and that’s why we (hopefully) aren’t married to those people. Even more important than the dating is taking the time to acknowledge what attracts us. Aside from the obvious physical appeal, here are a few things that your average good guy finds attractive:
I think that confidence is an often overlooked element of attraction in discussions on dating. In one sense I think that it is overlooked because it’s obvious, yet also because it is incredibly complicated. You can’t just sit down with a person who struggles with confidence, say, “go forth and be confident!,” and then *poof,* like one of those “deaf person hearing for the first time” videos, it all of a sudden clicks. Though I admit that I am a sucker for those videos!
We all struggle with having confidence on some level, but it isn’t rocket science either. You find power when you realize that you are unique, which in itself gives you worth. Not every woman is supposed to be Zooey, or Jennifer, or Adele for that matter. People are all uniquely attractive, and bringing varying backgrounds and experiences to conversations is how we all grow. You will set yourself apart when you understand this and have your own style and personality. Honestly, having your own opinions, and standing by them, makes us men proud to be with you.
Self-respect, huh? Now if you’re thinking that this is a bit too close to confidence, hear me out. I’ll agree that they are related, but I think that these both stand individually, and don’t always come together. This may seem somewhat counter-cultural, and I write it knowing that there may be people out there who disagree with what I’m about to say, but I stand by it one hundred percent.
Definitely not the only, but one of the biggest, and most attractive ways that you should be respecting yourself is sexually. I make no comment on how many dates before “this” or “how far is too far?” You should, and hopefully do, grasp the concept that your body is exactly that, it is yours. The physical aspect of a healthy relationship is important, but that being said, I think that it can often cloud our perception of relational intimacy in its most pure form.
Whatever that means for you, be it a “one-month rule” or waiting until marriage, any true man will respect your decision. This may or may not sound odd to you, but as men, we value and respect the relationship more, the more you value and respect yourself as a woman. Look at it this way, is there anything that would give you more confidence in yourself and your relationship than knowing that the person you are in the relationship with is dating you because of you, and not your body?
Now I know that I said I didn’t want to make this about things that guys don’t like, but this is a big one! There is nothing more unattractive than a girl who is waiting around for Prince Charming with no sense of personal direction. If that is your game-plan, you really aren’t giving men a whole lot more to be attracted to outside of your physical looks. Realistically, a lot of men will walk away from these types of women because they require such high maintenance.
You don’t necessarily need to have the desire to be in the Oval Office or to own your own business someday, but having goals is important. It not only helps you realize what you truly value in life and what you want to invest your time in, but it shows a man that you have a greater vision than where you are today.
There is also a lot to be said about becoming more like the man you want. If you are looking for a great guy who will meet your “hypothetical” (read: relationship-stifling, ill-conceived) check list, it’s, without question, a good idea to be working towards being the type of woman he would want.
Along with having your own aspirations and striving to better yourself, possessing the awareness and tact to help your partner better himself is incredibly attractive. As I alluded to, this is a tricky area, and definitely needs to be navigated with care, but if done correctly, and in the right moment, this is a trait that will serve you both.
The reality is that you are starting a relationship together. Best case scenario, you will spend a fair amount of time together and for a good while. It is completely within your jurisdiction and best interest to appropriately, and kindly, suggest ways in which your partner can grow. But it’s all about how you suggest that you work out together, or that he try out a photography class or two to see if he likes it.
To give you an example, I personally became aware of this in a relationship a few years back, when the woman I was dating asked if I would be interested in following along with a financial course that she was taking. Neither of us was in a terrible financial situation, but she realized that being in somewhat similar life circumstances, this was something that would make me a better person, and ultimately a more attractive person for her to be in a relationship with too. The fact that you show interest in your partner, and his well-being highlights your willingness to invest in the relationship (no pun intended).
I saved this one for last, because one of my biggest gripes with dating culture and young people as a whole today is: having completely unrealistic expectations. In a society obsessed with life-hacks and K-Cups, we all need to engage in the journey again. You see, men know where they stack up against the other men in our community. We aren’t oblivious, and having a woman who respects us for who we are, versus our social status, is one of the most inspiring aspects of a relationship for us.
By no means eschewing the importance of self-respect and confidence and as such, knowing that you truly deserve a great guy, please realize where we are in life. We’re all as guilty of this as the next person, but we potentially pass up a lot of great relationships based on those people not fitting into our cookie-cutters. Our cookie-cutters are again, most likely based more on what we don’t like as opposed to what we do.
The reality is that we all have a past, and you will most likely never find the “perfect person,” but remember that you are dating the man that he is today, and the man that he will be tomorrow because of your relationship together. Whether he doesn’t have a brand new car, might not look how you thought he would, or isn’t as far along in his career as your cousin’s husband is, whatever it may be, re-evaluate if that is something that is truly a deal-breaker for you. Realize that this is a part of who he is, and take joy in the opportunity of growth with him.
In parting, take comfort in knowing that real men do exist, and that they hate dating just as much as you do, but if you are honest and intentional with yourself and in your relationships, you will find the right person for you. Look at the lane, not the wall; there’s a good chance that a man around you is exactly the man you’ve been trying to find. In addition, remember, we’re all guys, so if you think you’ve got a good one but he has a bit of a thick skull, hopefully that skull is protecting a brilliant mind and caring heart, so don’t be afraid to let him know that you’re interested.
Jeff Barnes manages Record Plant recording studios in Hollywood, catering to artists ranging from long-time clients such as Elton John and Slash up through today’s top 40 regulars. Approaching his 30’s, Jeff spends his time outside of work competing in endurance events with varying distances of long distance running, and triathlon, in addition to volunteering with his church. Jeff also finds enjoyment in taking moments to embrace process and heritage through pour-over coffee, cigars, and a glass of Scotch (neat). Follow him on Instagram @barnaclej and Twitter at @SirBarnes.