—and No, ‘Manliness’ Isn’t One of Them

You may be surprised by what women *really* want in a man.

By Lisa Jones and Ross McCammon

A good man is brave, right? And strong? And chivalrous? He can replace a ball valve with a gate valve in a plumbing line, right? (That’s not a metaphor, by the way.)

Turns out, if you ask women, none of that ranks very high.

Recent online surveys of more than 1,000 women between the ages of 21 and 54 (one was conducted by Princeton, New Jersey’s opinion Research Corporation; the other was done on BestLifeOnline.com) found that women value personality far more than physical attractiveness. What women want in a man is faithfulness and dependability, a sense of humor, the ability to listen, and a sense of style. Only 13 percent of women cited muscular build as a factor in physical attractiveness. On the other hand, 66 percent of women said moral integrity will “make me quiver.”

(Quivering is good.)

Here are the top 20 qualities of a good man, divided by category:

Character traits: Faithfulness, dependability, kindness (67 percent of women said they find it a turn-on), moral integrity, fatherliness (defined as patience and caring and desire to be a dad).

Personality traits: Sense of humor, intelligence, passion (not the sexual kind, but an active enthusiasm in a pursuit), confidence, generosity.

Practical skills: Listening (53 percent), romancing, being good in bed, cooking and cleaning, earning potential.

Physical attributes: Sense of style, handsomeness, height, muscular build (13 percent), fitness (only 12 percent)

It can all seem a little daunting. To be a good man, I need to be funny and dependable and I have to listen?

Well, yeah, actually. But, fortunately, none of those requires being a manly man. It just requires being… well, cool. In the attitudinal sense. It requires self-possession. Turns out that women think being in control of your energies and appropriately channeling them is the path to greatness. Calmness may be the right move in one situation. Totally freaking out may be the right move in another. But you can be self-possessed while exhibiting either of those qualities.

You can be self-possessed no matter your personality type, too. Ryan Gosling is self-possessed. So is Steve Martin. So is Steve Carell. So is BoJack Horseman (mostly). The Rock is self-possessed. So is Timothée Chalamet. It just takes a lot of self-awareness and the right balance of action and restraint. You can be as self-possessed at your son’s baseball game as you can be at a meeting as you can be in the grocery-store checkout line or on a date.

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