Marcel Proust wrote, “Let us leave the beautiful women to men with no imagination” — and if you’re loath to take dating advice from a French author who wrote a 10,000-page novel about a guy eating a cookie, well, you’ve clearly been brainwashed by decades of movies, TV shows and magazine ads. Me? I empathize more with all those less-than-perfect single women out there. I’m talking about those ladies who may not know that most ordinary guys are attracted to the quirks and so-called “flaws” they’re terrified will doom them to a lifetime of singlehood.
Now that I’ve opened that door, there’s no way to avoid the one supposed “imperfection” that keeps women awake at night above all others — their weight. Allow yourselves to be reassured by Dr. Judy Kuriansky, author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Dating, who says that “many men like plus-sized women with soft bellies. This often happens when they had a mother or nanny who had that kind of body and they felt comforted and enveloped by the mother figure — protected from the world or the insults of other children. Also, men like women with large hips for anthropological reasons — it used to mean that the woman was fertile.” And in my own experience, the vast majority of guys (at least, the ones who aren’t on TV shows or in movies) don’t care much about a few — or even 20 or 30 — extra pounds.
So what other surprising things do a significant number of men find attractive about women? Here are five for your delectation:
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1. Glasses. Says Jeff, posting on the Yelp.com message boards: “Every guy loves a girl in glasses, but women never seem to know that. It’s not like we’re keeping it a secret — why would we? It’d mean fewer girls in glasses! Some glasses-lover needs to infiltrate Cosmopolitan magazine and get the word out!” For some guys (mostly the lazy ones who grew up watching teen gross-out comedies), glasses connote a nerdy personality and a high IQ, which can have their own intrinsic appeal; others appreciate them as fashion accessories, while still others have a natural affinity for them because spectacle-wearing women remind them of their mothers or early childhood crushes.
2. Freckles. Just as the deodorant-producing industrial complex has created legions of denatured, pheromone-free men (it turns out that plenty of women like guys with an earthy, musky scent), the powers-that-be in the cosmetics industry have convinced women that their natural freckles need to be buried under thick slabs of spackle and bronzer. Tonja Weimer, writer of the syndicated “Savvy Dating” column, says this is all based on a huge misunderstanding: “Freckles represent being unaffected, natural and relaxed. To some men, they also make a woman appear somewhat ‘innocent’ and less jaded.” If you don’t have freckles, try wearing less makeup, which many men also appreciate.
3. An independent streak. In my own experience, the worst thing a woman can do — whether it’s on a first date or after 20 years of marriage — is subsume her naturally ebullient personality in an effort to be more “accommodating” to her partner and avoid making waves. Most guys like a brisk, good-natured argument, and if you nip this possibility in the bud by constantly replying “I agree” or “Yes, you’re right,” the relationship (not to mention the conversation) will go absolutely nowhere. On the other hand, though, playing devil’s advocate in every conversation just makes you seem combative. So if you find yourself disagreeing more than not with your date, maybe it’s time to look for someone that’s a better fit for you, personality-wise.
4. Plain Janes. Standards of beauty in today’s media-saturated world have become so artificially elevated that many otherwise attractive women are convinced they’re “homely” because of a slightly bigger nose or a crooked smile. The good news is that most guys don’t care about this stuff; the bad news is that a small minority of men have self-esteem issues of their own and will take advantage of yours when given the opportunity. Eric Weisholtz, co-founder of GetOnTheCouch.com, says that “a man may see a woman who is kind of attractive, a bit awkward, unrefined and — whether she knows it or not — in dire need of someone to coach her toward virtue. It’s like finding a ‘make your own girlfriend’ kit.” Don’t feel like being part of a science experiment? Find a guy who likes you for who you are, not what he can make you change about yourself.
5. Assorted quirks. Fran Drescher, star of The Nanny, had a piercing, snorting, abrasive laugh — and all it did was send the ratings of her show through the roof and make her a millionaire many times over. That laugh also unmasked a secret crush that most guys didn’t even know they had: the hot girl with an unexpected quirk. Says Lisa Steadman, author of If He’s Not the One, Who Is?: “You know you’ve met someone who’s a keeper when he or she compliments your quirks. Whether it’s the snort in your laugh or the way you twirl your hair when you’re thinking about something — or the fact that you have to double-check that you hit the alarm button on the car when you get home at night — the right person will think your quirks are adorable.” Remember this the next time you’re feeling self-conscious about slurping your straw three times as you finish your iced latte. You might just have the guy next to you entranced instead of annoyed!