Sure, some typical moves — a hair flip here, an eye batted there — will attract a man... some of the time. But you may be surprised at the things guys really can’t resist about women, and some of them are the very qualities women fear will drive men away — from letting a curse word fly loose to leaving all kinds of makeup near his bathroom sink. Here’s why these habits (and others) can actually win a man over...

1. He loves that you indulge at dinnertime.
Guys love women who like to eat — not ladies who say they aren’t hungry and then pick at their date’s food all night. Paul, 30, who lives in Boston, thinks that food may be the reason he fell in love with his fiancée: “When we first started dating, I thought it might be awkward if I wanted greasy food like wings — I figured she’d think it was fattening or unhealthy. Women I’d dated in the past only wanted to go out for salad or sushi. But she was enthusiastic about eating all kinds of things with me. I loved that easygoing attitude of hers.” Aside from showing that you’re not high maintenance or neurotic about your weight, that kind of unabashed enthusiasm also tends to translate into other areas — including the bedroom. “A woman with a healthy appetite for food tends to have a healthy appetite on all levels, and being affectionate is absolutely a part of that,” explains Barton Goldsmith, Ph.D., author of Emotional Fitness for Couples: 10 Minutes a Day to a Better Relationship.
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2. He loves your occasional outbursts.
You may worry that it’s not ladylike, but occasionally letting a curse or rant escape your lips at an unexpected moment can be a major turn-on. “Hearing a woman use profanity out of context gives a guy a shock of adrenaline,” explains Ian Kerner, Ph.D., author of Be Honest — You’re Not That Into Him Either and DSI: Date Scene Investigation. “Men like women who can be tough and assertive, and as long as she doesn’t take the talk too far, it’s a positive thing.”

3. He loves that you aren’t a neat freak.
Believe it or not, guys find the proliferation of hair products, accessories and unidentified stuff strewn about your apartment oddly endearing. “I love that my wife makes a bigger mess than I do,” says Ziad, 31, of Durham, NC. “When she cooks, food ends up all over the place. It shows that she’s carefree, and it reminds me to enjoy the moment rather than worrying about the consequences.” This laid-back mind-set also carries over into your weekend wardrobe. “Guys love a woman who’s not trying too hard,” explains Dr. Kerner. “Most men think a pair of boxer shorts and a ratty old T-shirt around the house is your most attractive look.” So don’t spend hours choosing the perfect date-night outfit or getting your place in House Beautiful-worthy shape, because men love you just as you are — in your comfortable, slightly sloppy glory.

4. He loves your extra padding.
Sure, you’ve heard that men love women with curves, but how about those extra pounds you’ve been trying to sweat off at the gym? There’s a good chance that your guy loves them, too. Just ask 26-year-old Nick: “My girlfriend exercises regularly, but I think the little pudginess in her thighs is sexy because it shows she’s not perfect.” Sure, your extra padding may make men feel a little better about their own couch potato bellies, but there’s also a biological reason why men like this. Psychologists at the University of Texas determined that men were most attracted to women with hourglass figures — regardless of their weight. They theorize that men unconsciously seek this body type because it signals that a woman is able to procreate.

5. He’s fascinated by your knowledge of the things you’re passionate about.
A man becomes fascinated by whatever it is that gets you all hot and bothered — regardless of whether or not he shares the same interests. “It’s not about knowing facts — it’s about being passionate about something,” says Mira Kirshenbaum, author of The Weekend Marriage: Abundant Love in a Time-Starved World. “These are things that are important to her, not just stuff meant to impress a guy.” This can be passion for a subject as seemingly obscure as agricultural practices of the Mayans or as popular as Spanish as a second language. He may not quite get it and he may not want to have all-night discussions about it, but he definitely appreciates the fact that you’re a smart, interesting woman who thinks for herself and doesn’t mold her interests to match those of her partner. Your interests also fuel what Dr. Kerner calls the process of self-expansion. “The more you expand as a person,” he explains, “the more the relationship expands.”

6. He loves a good head rub from you.
Don’t get me wrong — men love it when you grope their erogenous zones. But that’s not the only type of touch they crave. Adam, 28, of Roanoke, VA, confesses: “I love how my wife rubs my head at night.” Sweet, yes, but it also feels oh-so-good: home to hundreds of nerve endings, the scalp is an often-neglected zone. And light touches anywhere can achieve a similar effect, since they cause his body to produce vasopressin, a feel-good relaxation hormone that also promotes bonding. Another positive side effect? Initiating any kind of physical contact sends your man the message that you want him just as much as he wants you — and that you truly care about him.

Matt Schneiderman has written for Stuff, Cargo, and Sync magazines.

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