Women: What Makes A Man Interesting? You Know, That He Can Fix?

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 13.266% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

I’m writing a piece that’s the flip side of You Weren’t “Nice,” You Idiot, You Were BORING, wherein I hope to explain to the timid young dudes out there how to acquire a personality. This article is intended to be friendly, sympathetic, and helpful.
And so I ask: As a woman, what makes a guy interesting to you? You know, that he can actually fix?
Because the temptation is to say, “Well, I want a hunky, handsome guy,” but not every guy can be hot. Or make himself hot. The temptation is to say, “I want a guy with a compelling personality,” but unless you can break that down into what a compelling personality is and how to get there, then basically you’ve given some pretty damn useless advice.
What I’m looking for are actionable items that a guy can work on to make himself someone that you would be interested in hanging around with on a regular basis.
(It’s comparatively easy to get a first date, depending on how you approach a woman and her personal level of “Why not, what the hell,” but the types of dudes I’d be looking to help here would be the ones who get one or two dates and then their partners drift away, disinterested.  And they don’t know why they’re just sort of background noise to women at large, all they know is that for whatever reason they’re not memorable.)
What I’ve already got is stuff like:

  • Have your own interests, and don’t be ashamed of them. Because a person who only talks about what you want to talk about becomes boring really quickly. Find some hobbies, something to discuss besides “I really like you, you know that?” so that when you take her somewhere, you can take her somewhere cool.
  • Be interested in things that you’re not familiar with… Which is to say a lot of nerds have a bad habit of tuning out when people start talking about things they don’t know about, figuring that anything they don’t understand can’t be interesting. But listen. Ask questions. I don’t know much about baseball, or wedding dresses, or the weather, or dentistry, but if you treat it like, “Oh, maybe I can learn from this person!” and ask questions, you’ll find most people are actually happy to educate you. And then you know more things to talk about.
  • …but don’t be afraid to express disagreement. A dude who bobs his head for everything isn’t a person, they’re an organic rubber stamp. If your date is saying that “21 Dresses” is the best movie ever made, it’s okay to say, “You know, I didn’t care for that!” as long as you’re not disdainful of her choice. Sometimes it can lead to a more interesting conversation about what you didn’t like, and what you do like in movies. There are a small contingent of people who only want to hear reflections of things what they like, but they tend to be terrible fucking partners anyway; don’t be afraid to respectfully tell someone you didn’t love what they loved.

…and so forth. But I’d like some feedback from women on things guys can do to make themselves more attractive as a long-term partner (or, alternative, things dudes have done to establish themselves quickly that they’re not a long-term partner). I’ve discussed psychological things thus far, but it could also be physical tricks like “Don’t have a messy bachelor’s apartment” or “Learn to dress well” (as long as you explain where to go to learn how to dress well).
And so, again, I ask you:
As a woman, what makes a guy interesting to you? You know, that he can actually fix?


  1. Kri
    May 12, 2014

    As a twenty-something currently in the throes of figuring this out for myself (but with a little experience under my belt), the most important things I look for beyond the first date fall under something like “assumption of equality” or treat others how you want to be treated.
    If you want something, chances are I want it too. Always assume this when dealing with anyone, and particularly partners. Gender differences are pretty moot when you get to the bottom of our rationalizations.
    This extends to everything.
    Basically, if you want it, try giving it first. It might prompt me to return the gesture. I want to be challenged as much as I want to be cared for.

  2. Autumn Dryden
    May 12, 2014

    There are a lot of complex factors but I think I can boil down a few of them. My current bf is actually a pretty good example. When I first met him I was not wowed. He was a little too vanilla, bordering on boring, for me. In fact after a half dozen dates I almost ended it, for that reason. So I told him I wasn’t super excited about continuing, and he immediately stepped up his game. He asked for one more chance, let me know he appreciated the feedback, and told me he did truly care enough to get better. I gave him that chance and we’ve been together another 8 months so far. At this point I can truthfully say I’m in love with him and very glad I gave him that chance.
    Things he did that changed him in my eyes:
    1. He listened to me. That doesn’t mean he slavishly hung on every word and had no opinion of his own. It means he didn’t brush me off. He paid attention, and changed his behavior just a little bit as a result. He’s not a different person. He didn’t change his personality. He just put in more effort into the relationship.
    2. He works on himself constantly. He works out, he reads books, he has opinions on current political and socio-economic developments. He’s a feminist and he boycotts Walmart. I know he would do those things regardless of whether we were dating. He has a rich life, with hobbies and interests of his own. He’s a bit nerdy looking, maybe walks with a funny gait. But even in the months I’ve known him he’s started to show a little muscle definition and he’s getting more physically attractive over time. These things show me he’s not just talking about health. He’s active about making life choices that help his body.
    3. He’s really nice. I don’t mean in a boring “he’s too nice” way. I mean, he will drive 40 minutes across town to bring me the wallet I accidentally left at his place. He will help me move furniture. It’s little actions like that that let me know he cares about me.
    4. He’s confident. Boy has an ego. Which is attractive because … he can back that shit up. He’s cocky when he knows he’s done his research and has a solid foundation for what he’s talking about. If he’s not aware of something, he’ll learn more about it until he does. Confidence, even cockiness, is attractive when it’s deserved. I’m confident too. I don’t want to waste time with someone who’s not.
    5. He’s a decent dresser. Now there’s a lot of room for improvement here but part of how I try not to suck as a girlfriend is in not nagging him about his style. What I mean by decent is he’s figured out a few styles of shirt beyond polis and tees that look good on him. He seeks out those shirts. He wears tasteful, guy necklaces. He shows off his assets in an understated way.
    6. He’s good in bed. This is not a minor thing. If the dates get to where sex happens, bad sex can and will kill a budding relationship. He’s got some skills. Now part of the reason I almost ended things with him at the beginning is that he wasn’t really wowing me in bed. But I was honest about what I wasn’t enjoying, and he immediately learned how to do things better for me. We talk about sex a fair bit. He’s getting better and better at giving me a great time in the sack. We talk too about how different every woman is in bed, and how what works for another gf does nothing for me, and vis versa.
    When we met, he had another gf besides me. They’ve been dating for two years. Since meeting me, he’s also started dating two of my friends that he met through me. All four of his girlfriends are confident, attractive, successful women. He’s doing a great job at keeping all of us interested in him through the ways I mentioned above plus a lot more. He’s also getting better and better at communicating openly and listening.
    So on the surface, he might look like a kinda boring guy, but the reality is he’s a great boyfriend and four women know it.

  3. Kay
    May 12, 2014

    Two things that are very important to me, in both women and men, are confidence and a sense of humor that is not mean.
    I see confidence as finding value in yourself that isn’t dependent on lack of value in other people. That is, you like and respect yourself, and you don’t need to tear down or judge other people in order to feel that way (including the person you’re having a conversation with.)
    As for a sense of humor that isn’t mean, snark and sarcasm can be entertaining, but when you first meet someone, they tend to come across as more boring and rude. Be able to laugh both with someone and at yourself when necessary.

  4. Saoki
    May 14, 2014

    I can think only of 3 things:
    1. Don’t be sexist and don’t say “not all men”.
    2. Be honest, specially with your feelings.
    3. Don’t worry about how long it will last or whether or not she’s really into you. Cherish your time together.

  5. Beverly
    May 14, 2014

    Competence. Lots of other things matter too, but if you are looking for a way to get women to be interested in you, just choose something and practice until you are really good at it. I can’t explain exactly why it works, but it may be that I subconsciously think “Well, if he can’t be bothered to learn something well, what does that say for his potential relationship skills?”

  6. Silona
    May 14, 2014

    I have gone on a bunch of dates lately. All smart interesting dudes that hold their own. I am also a smart interesting woman that holds her own too.
    But being such an independent gal, it is interesting in regards to the lack of chemistry. I might be broken but I do think a fella has to in some way show some interest beyond friendship to create something chemistry wise.
    I might be too masculine and confident. But the younger fellas seem to be pretty good at letting me know they are interested.
    So I would add to your list… something about letting a gal know she is special in some fashion. Nothing creepy but it can be as simple as just saying “wow you know you are one of my favorite people to hangout with and I wanna be with you more and see about taking it further.”
    I have to admit – I do it thru wee gifts and messages that just show I’m thinking about them when I travel and such…
    also i love the site artofmaniless.com.
    Also fixing stuff is sexy, making things is also neat.
    The biggest mood killer for me is whining… dear god… Prefaced venting is ok… but preface it 🙂

  7. Julia
    May 16, 2014

    Emotional maturity. I have no patience for men and women alike taking out their emotions on me, demanding that I fix their emotions, or always trusting that their emotions are the perfect indicator of truth. For me it’s virtually impossible to help someone else mature emotionally, also it’s fucking time-consuming. I prefer when they arrive to the relationship at least at the level of “Hey, I recognize this as my problem, I can explain if you want. I’m working on it.”
    That ties into self-reflection. People actively trying to understand themselves and take some control over their own head are HOT to me. In rare cases that it doesn’t automatically create hotness, it helps me respect them for who they are, and I simply cannot be with a person I don’t respect. Mind, I respect and disrespect people on very reasonable terms. I’m not at all into random displays of authority, power and masculinity or whatever. To me, relationship is a partnership between two equals. If you think you’re superior to me, you’re of course entitled to think that, but don’t expect me to hang around.
    One other thing that comes to mind is something I’ve recently realized that everyone I’ve loved and all my friends did, and what I automatically do as well: we treat each other first and foremost as fellow humans. My sense of self is that I’m a person. Being a woman, of certain age, looks etc. – that’s just details to me. That’s not to say I need people to deny acknowledging my gender or age, I just subconsciously distance myself from anyone who immediately assumes all sorts of dynamics and shit just by my physical traits. So I suppose it’s essentially a call against prejudice.
    So to summarize, in my book, wanting to constantly grow as a person, self-reflection and emotional maturity are what will advance you from “I’m not sinking any more time into a third date with this guy” to “What a pleasant human, let’s hang out more.” I believe you can solve a lot of other problems just with these tools.

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