What makes someone attractive? Good question! After all, what’s appealing to one person is ‘Are you kidding?’ to another.
We all know people who think they’re God’s Gift to the world but really aren’t (Andrew Tate). We all also know at least one person who has no clue what a knock-out they really are.
Measuring the length of noses, legs or breasts offers no clue at all for general appeal because so many other factors come into play (proportion, cultural preference, age).
But there are characteristics that all attractive people share – and they’re probably not what you’re expecting. How many of these 13 less obvious qualities can you answer ‘Yes’ to?
There are characteristics that all attractive people share – and they’re probably not what you’re expecting (stock image)
1. You’re average looking
Yep. That’s right.
Many studies support the theory that being average is more universally attractive than being off the scale good-looking.
This makes sense when you think about it.
First up, the average person is more attainable. We feel like we have a chance at pulling them, which ups their appeal.
Tracey Cox says that attractiveness isn’t just about physical features – it’s about being kind and understanding too
Second, having a mate who lots of other people want, isn’t a particularly pleasant feeling. You’re constantly on the alert for mate-poachers and the pressure is on to look or seem worthy enough to keep them.
We feel comfortable around what we’re most familiar with. Everyone might stare when someone stunning walks past but we’re more likely to fall for someone who’s the same attractiveness level as our friends.
2. Both sides of you match
The more symmetrical your face and body, the more good-looking you’re considered and the more attention you get.
It’s not the result of nasty brainwashing by society either – even babies go ga-ga for symmetry.
Far more manipulative than social media is Mother Nature. She consistently protects the healthiest of the species by making sure those from the strongest gene pool (in this case, the symmetrical) are seen as the most attractive.
While no body is ever truly symmetrical, appearing ‘matched’ helps immeasurably.
Research suggests people with symmetrical bodies usually lose their virginity much younger and have more sexual partners than their lop-sided friends.
3. You’re kind and understanding
Think attractiveness is all about physical features?
In one illustrious study, researchers asked people what they valued most in a mate.
The winner wasn’t wealth, and it wasn’t beauty. Top of the list was ‘kind and understanding’ followed by ‘exciting personality’ and then ‘intelligent’.
Yes, men did value appearances more than women did and women valued wealth more than men did. But neither money nor looks made it to the top few.
Women want different things at different times
Fickle? Who us?
Research proves women go for different types of looks depending on what we want from the relationship.
Women who are out for one night of sex chose good looks over men with good personalities. The opposite happens if they’re after something serious.
Time of the month also manipulates the type of man we’re attracted to.
This was nicely illustrated by an experiment which allowed women to control the features on a computer-generated face. By moving a bar, the women could make the man’s face more masculine or feminine looking.
Most of the time, the feminine face won our heart because we trusted and felt safer with this sort of look. But during ovulation, when we’re at our most fertile, the women pushed the bar in the other direction to select the most masculine face possible.
Evolution (again) is at work here: the man with the most sex-typical face is the guy with the most testosterone. The one who’ll father healthy offspring and be physically strong enough to protect them from the dangers of outside world.
Post ovulation, when lust takes a backseat and logic settles back in, the women rejected the masculine men. They were then voted too aggressive and womanising: ‘a man like that would want lots of sex and seek it elsewhere if he didn’t get it at home’.
The classic bad boy versus nice guy scenario, played out by Mother Nature.
4. Your voice is pleasant to listen to
A bad voice, like bad breath, can make attractiveness plummet in an instant.
Squeaky, strident, screechy voices. Too loud, too quiet, mumbled or monotone – none of these will do you any favours.
Studies reveal that men prefer higher pitched voices and women prefer low-pitched: no surprises there. Interestingly, though, both sexes prefer breathiness in the voices of potential suitors.
Our voices give a big clue about our personalities. Women with little girl voices, tend to be ultra-feminine and giggly. High-powered people speak loudly and with conviction.
5. You smell nice
Smell rarely makes the ‘must-have’ lists for what we find attractive in a partner. But strong, unpleasant body odour can render Bradley Cooper a 1/10 with a single whiff. Ditto over-powering, off-putting perfume or after-shave.
The person who showers regularly, wears clean clothes, observes good dental hygiene and wears deodorant is streets ahead on the attractiveness scale, even if it’s not high in our conscious choices.
6. You smile a lot
Smile and the world doesn’t just smile with you, people fancy you more.
Research proves our evaluation of attractiveness is strongly influenced by the intensity of a smile. In fact, the study found a happy facial expression can compensate for relative unattractiveness.
This works for both sexes but particularly for women.
The stereotypical moody male stranger is still seen as sexier by women but, for men, smiley women draw them in.
7. You’ve got big eyes and a big mouth
Big-eyed babies aren’t the only things we’re charmed by. Most people prefer big to small eyes in adults, too, and are more enticed by a pout than thin lips.
Researchers created computerised versions of the average female face before getting test groups to rate their attractiveness.
The first set were awarded an average attractiveness rating.
In the next set, researchers increased the eyes and lips by ten percent. It got this result: the faces were seen as younger and more beautiful.
Once these features were exaggerated further however, the faces took on another characteristic. They were universally judged as sexier.
Women line up for lip fillers for a reason.
But don’t forget the lip gloss…
8. Your lips are plump and glossy
Sex obsessed creatures which humans are, anything which reminds us of sex catches our eye.
A female with full, glossy, red lips is a turn-on because her lips mimic what (he fantasises anyway) is hopefully happening elsewhere: the vagina also ‘plumps’, moistens and darkens in colour when aroused.
9. You take care of yourself
A ‘fertile’ face and fit body is seen as a beautiful one.
Clear, fresh skin, shiny eyes, glossy hair – a healthy-looking face like that tends to come attached to a body which is bursting to conceive. Evolution guides us to the people most likely to keep the planet populated.
Another reason why healthy people are more appealing: in caveman days, we needed a strong, robust partner to help chase away and hunt wild animals.
Taking out the bins isn’t quite the same but a partner who looks fit and healthy enough to look after themselves – and us if need be (we’re pregnant, sick, old) – still trumps one who doesn’t.
Looking tired is also a turn-off.
One study asked participants to rate the attractiveness of people who’d been deprived of sleep or had a good night’s sleep. No prizes for guessing who won.
10. You walk young
Swinging hips and good posture make a person appear more attractive. There’s another crucial element to harness if you want to be seen as sexually pleasing: flexibility.
Flexibility is what makes people appear to ‘walk young’ – an instant winner in the best-looking stakes.
Get even more votes if…
11. You stick your bum out
The Kardashians are onto something: the perter and more rounded the female derriere, the stronger the sexual signal to men.
Bottoms are so integral to sex appeal, zoologist Desmond Morris believes they’re even more important than the two matching bumps on our front.
Females of all other primates send sexual signals via the colour and smell of their bottoms, which, since they walk on all fours, are in full view of potential mates. Humans have evolved to walk upright, and we tend to face people, which means our bottoms aren’t on constant display.
This is to our detriment.
A Texan study found women with a pronounced curve in their spine – specifically a 45 degree back-to-bottom curve – were rated more attractive.
Another subliminal sign of health and fertility.
12. You wear heels
Heels lengthen legs and shorten bottoms. According to the Harper’s Index (yes, bizarre as it sounds, there is an index for measuring this), the average increase in the protrusion of a woman’s buttocks wearing heels is 25 percent. (This, remember, is a good thing.)
They might not have their own index, but a tight, toned male bottom also rates extremely high on the inviting scale for women.
13. You remind them of someone they love or loved
We fancy people who look or act like other people we love or have loved.
From the moment we’re born, our brain continuously feeds us physical data about people close to us. It divides these characteristics into ‘people I like and were nice to me’ and ‘people I don’t like who hurt me’, then it tries to generalise.
If two-thirds of the people you’ve disliked had bushy eyebrows, you’ll be suspicious of everyone who has a hair or two extra.
If it was the opposite, you’ll subconsciously stand to attention at the sight of them.
When we meet a potential partner, our subconscious checks against the ‘liked people’ list in our heads and tries to find the closest match. The more ‘chemistry’ we feel, the more matches we’ve found.
We do the same with gestures. The way she brushes the hair from her neck, the dimple he gets when he smiles, all affect our opinion of who’s sexy, who’s not.
True, it’s not something you have any control of if you’re trying to attract a mate. But it does explain those strange matchups which leave everyone scratching their heads thinking, ‘Really? I don’t get it!’.
Have you listened to Tracey’s weekly podcast? You’ll find SexTok with Tracey and Kelsey here. You’ll find new products in her sex toy ranges on traceycox.com, along with more advice on sex and relationships.
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