A few years ago, I discovered the world of online dating advice. At the time, I felt like I had discovered a super power. Until that point, I thought that your success with women was fixed and there was nothing you could do about it. Finding out there were techniques I could use immediately to improve was like discovering the holy grail.
Unfortunately, these tactics and “blueprints” were horrible. They were inaccurate and produced few results. Dating coaches and pick up artists claimed to have found the “science of attraction” but it was a pseudoscience at best. They really just shot at the dark and taught what worked. It was far from a rigorous scientific process.
Now, that has changed. In the last two decades, tons of new experiments have been done by actual scientists on attraction. There is a lot more data you can trust and the results can be counter-intuitive. This is the men’s dating guide I wish I received years ago. And it’s all here for you for free.
The lessons I learned and will share come from a book called Mate: Become the Man Women Want. The book is based on extensive research on into evolutionary biology and mating. A man who is really good with women (Tucker Max) partnered up with a Ph.D. to go through thousands of shocking studies.
Humans are lucky creatures because there are so many areas (behavioral, social, fitness, mental health, fashion, etc.) we can improve. Other animals are screwed with what they were born with (like how long their antlers are).
Table of Contents
This article is organized into different sections, including all the major pillars of attraction you can improve.
- Why Signaling Matters A Lot
- The 5 Pillars of Scientific Attraction:
- Jack-of-All-Trades Beats Specialization
Each of the following pillars will be broken into three parts: why it matters, how to improve it, and how to display it.
While some of these may look like common sense, it is not what it seems. Intelligence is not the intelligence you’re thinking of.
Now, this is a fairly comprehensive article, so if you’d prefer a quick, minimal checklist, click the button below to get it.
Why Signaling Matters So Much
Here’s something shocking:
Men with the same traits as you do much better with women just because they know how to display what they have more effectively? When I first heard this, I was outraged. I’m just as smart, athletic, and hard working as that other guy. But somehow, he gets all the women?!
But it makes sense the more you think about it. How is she supposed to know you are mentally healthy, financially stable, and fit when you were dirty, baggy clothing that hides your physique and makes you look homeless?
If you don’t display your traits, she can’t feel attracted to you.
The truth is that women are unconsciously assessing everything you do. You are sending signals based on how you dress, move, interact, and who you hang around. She doesn’t need to talk to you to decide if you’re her type. Attraction isn’t a conscious choice.
It’s Not What’s On The Inside That Matters
Maybe you were told (or you reasoned yourself) that if people don’t take the time to know you, it’s their loss. It’s what’s inside that matters.
This is wrong, and often used as an excuse to make no effort to display what’s on the outside.
We’re all wired to judge everyone else and show our inner traits through our outer behavior.
Just Telling Her Doesn’t Work
Men and women are in a constant evolutionary arms race. One party is rewarded for tricking the other into believing he’s more valuable than his actual traits are. The other party is rewarded for seeing through deception. Therefore, women have evolved to emphasize displays of traits that are hard to fake.
Lying is easy to fake. Telling them you’re smart, funny, or rich doesn’t work.
Showing them is harder to fake and works better.
For example, it’s hard to fake owning three sports cars and a mansion. At some point, she’ll be found out if you can’t afford them. That’s why men have evolved to buy such expensive things. It’s hard to fake having a fit, symmetrical body. It’s also hard to fake having the intelligence to tell funny jokes, solve difficult problems, and play music.
- Don’t tell her you’re funny. Make her laugh.
- Don’t tell her you’r smart. Keep a thought-provoking conversation.
- Don’t tell her you’re confident. Keep her at ease.
- Don’t tell her you’re faithful. Stay faithful.
Stay Ethical Above All Else
A major theme throughout these teachings is to stay ethical. On top of all the downsides to lying (exes seeking revenge, feeling like garbage, unhealthy relationships), being honest will lead to more rewards in the long run.
For example, pretending you are rich will only get you somewhere until you’re caught. Then, you’re back where you started. But developing and displaying the traits (like willpower) that lead to wealth stays with you forever. And it doesn’t require you to spend tons of cash you don’t have.
The Top Ways To Signal Your Traits
Other animals are born with what matters and can’t change it. Humans are lucky enough to be able to improve what they have and signal behaviorally, mentally, and morally. You control how you signal, not someone else. You have the power of changing how you signal.
Here are some of the main forms of signaling women look at. We’ll go into more detail on some of these later on:
- Age, sex, and race
- Grooming and smell
- Size, body shape, and movement
- Facial expression
- Fashion (clothing, shoes, and jewelry)
- Taseful or Ridiculous?
Why does it matter?
Intelligence is a primary driver of financial and social success. Women instinctively look for highly intelligent partners. Several studies show women can accurately assess how intelligent a man is in two to three minutes. Intelligence is almost as highly heritability as height.
In fact, a BBC study of 120,000 people across 53 countries showed that the most attractive traits in a long-term mate in descending order of importance were:
- Humor (a form of intelligence)
- Physical attractiveness
- Moral values
- Communication skills (a form of intelligence)
As you can see, three of the top eight were forms of intelligence.
At its core, women like intelligence because better brain function helps her future children have a better chance at surviving and reproducing. Intelligence increases the chance that you will you bring home more resources (money), your maturity, your consideration for your partner, ego development, moral reasoning, and parenting ability.
Now, you’re probably wondering…
“If that’s true then, how come girls ignored me in school even though I was smart?”
Because book smarts are the weakest form of attractive intelligence.
There are different forms of intelligence and book smarts is just one of them. The seemingly dumb athletes that got the girls in school had indicators of other forms of intelligence you did not. These were demonstrated through their social status, friends, and their humor.
Women haven’t evolve an instinctive attraction yet because book smarts only correlated to incredible wealth in recent times. Women value more standard forms of intelligence that predicted a good life partner and father.
How To Improve Intelligence
There are six types of intelligence that women are attracted to:
Social intelligence (SI): the ability to understand other people’s desires and beliefs, and to operate effectively in social relationships and groups for the benefit of everyone involved.
SI evolved so we could anticipate needs, cooperate easily, resolve conflicts, manipulate, deceive, or influence others for our own interests (this is not saying you should do some of these). Many book smart people are weak in SI (this shouldn’t be surprising).
Emotional intelligence (EQ): the ability to understand and use your emotions to guide effective thinking and behavior and to read others’ emotions accurately through their face, body, and speech.
Women are attracted to EQ because high EQ men are less moody and dangerous, and more empathic and cooperative.
Verbal intelligence (VI): the ability to use words effectively, to express yourself well, to connect with people, to resolve arguments, and to lead groups effectively.
VI predicts your ability to tell good stories and jokes, to carry an exciting conversation with active listening and topic flow, to have charisma, and to have fun pillow talk after sex.
Practical intelligence (PI): having the street smarts to cope effectively with daily challenges by selecting and shaping your tactics and tools to fit your context (real-world skills).
Examples of this include understanding subway maps, tax forms, barbeque recipes, and car engines. Or finding your way around in a new country or area. Think standard skills a husband should have.
Women’s romantic fantasies often have a man demonstrate impressive PI in emergency situations. Women are attracted to PI rather than academic intelligence because a lot of the problems their ancestral husbands faced were on a practical level rather than an abstract mathematical level.
The electrician or mechanic who has high PI is not stereotyped as intelligent compared to the bookworm. But they are smart, just in a different way.
Mating intelligence (MI): the ability to understand the other gender, anticipate their needs and desires, and display intelligence in romantically attractive ways. This also involves making good decisions on mating markets, dating venues, and individual women.
If you go through the entire book Mate, you will drastically improve your MI. You will learn shocking differences in perspective for women that you never considered, like why women care so much about physical safety before anything else.
Academic intelligence (IQ or book smarts): the ability to do well on tests, get good grades, and obtain technical skills, like math or programming.
IQ is valued by society because it predicts your ability to succeed in work and make money. The frustrating part is that women are not evolved to feel attraction to raw IQ. What is appealing is using your IQ to display your value in attractive forms.
A college degree is not as attractive as you think. Many men overestimate how recognizable their college’s name is to the country. Most of what successful people learn happens outside of school.
What you will get from your college degree may mainly be the prestige of the school rather than the education. Find a college that actually teaches you or has a nationally recognized name.
Many of these forms of intelligence overlap. Your general intelligence draws upon all of these. That is what women instinctively evaluate you on.
How To Improve Your Forms of Intelligence
Genes constrain how smart you can get in some areas. But don’t give up just yet. You can still improve many forms of intelligence in through habits and skills, and by avoiding lifestyles that deplete your brain health.
Get enough sleep and have proper nutrition. It seems common sense, but do you actually do it? Sleep deprivation makes you fat, weak, emotionally unbalanced, and stupid. Get at least 8 hours a night.
There are plenty of nutrition blogs that go into more detail on nutrition. Get enough of the good fats in your diet since your brain is made of fat. It will improve mental energy and clarity.
Learn new things. The more you understand the world, the more you can discuss and debate ideas with other people and turn this into action.
You don’t have to learn and know everything. Gain expertise in one thing and use this to understand everything. Use your expertise as an analogy to understand other things. For example, let’s say your expertise is as a mechanic. You can show someone your understanding of an engine as an analogy to understand marketing. The more mental models you understand, the easier it is to find a metaphor to connect with.
Start with an expertise you like. Learn in whatever way works best for you. It does not have to be through books, it could be through video or audio. Women care more that you are smart about something than what it is.
Test how smart you actually are about your subject by:
- Teaching. Can you explain your topic in a way that is interesting enough to evoke curiosity?
- Write a one minute essay on your topic and compare it to the Wikipedia version. If yours completely sucks in comparison, you may need to improve.
- See if you can explain the coolest details and deepest principles. Ask if you did well.
Get a job or volunteering opportunity that develops intelligences you are weak in.
Look for jobs that:
- Improve your weaknesses.
- Amplify your strengths.
- Broaden your horizons.
Ask yourself these questions before taking a job:
- What am I going to learn specifically?
- What mentors will be there who can teach me?
- Who will I work with?
- Is this a good mating market with cool women?
- Is it unusual and adventurous, which will give me cool stories?
Here are some job ideas:
- Waiter, server, or bartender
- Your social and emotional intelligence increases because your tips depend on it.
- You will also be more comfortable in bar and restaurant scenes on dates.
- Your practical intelligence increases because you have to master different skills, prioritize demands, and coordinate with coworkers.
- Retail sales, no matter what you sell, improves your social intelligence because your commissions depend on it.
- It teaches you how to have a win-win exchange of values, which defines all relationships.
- You learn skills applicable to every relationship and job you will ever have.
- If you can sell, you can persuade.
- Work or travel overseas
- This is great if you have little experience of different cultures.
- By exposing yourself to different people and societies, you improve your social and emotional intelligence and broaden your perspectives.
- Ask yourself what are ten things you would love to learn or experience that you cannot learn at home? Choose three you think that would be most attractive to girls and do those.
- You do not need to learn a foreign language while traveling. There are many countries that already speak English, like Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Malaysia, and Sweden.
- Start-up companies
- Starting your own company or working for one will shock you out of your comfort zone.
- This builds practical intelligence because it demands energy and mental effort. You have to master many skills and juggle a lot of things.
- This builds social intelligence because you learn to cooperate with coworkers and customers.
- This builds verbal intelligence because you learn to pitch ideas, run meetings, design Web content, and/or write good ad copy.
- Hang Around Smart People
- You become the average of the five people you spend the most time with.
- Sit in on lunch room conversations to improve social intelligence.
- Check out what coworkers are tinkering on in their free time.
- Hang out with people who are good at making friends or are ambitious.
How To Display Your Intelligence
Use humor. Humor is one of the best displays of attraction and intelligence because it is hard to fake and therefore, a reliable predictor of good genes for women. You can lie about how rich you are but you can’t lie about how funny you are. Your jokes either make the girl laugh or they don’t.
Research shows that being able to make someone laugh reveals that you have high levels of many forms of intelligence. Humor requires mental agility because you need to see different angles of a life situation that others miss. It also requires social intelligence to be able to package your jokes around cultural and societal norms.
One study showed that the smarter you are, the more likely someone will rate you as funnier. But just because you’re smart doesn’t mean you’re funny. One study showed that having a higher IQ doesn’t help with mating success if your level of humor is the same as your competitors. Take some improve and stand-up comedy classes to work on your humor.
Use conversation and storytelling. Conversation is a great way for women to judge intelligence, creativity, personality, and moral value.
Have a couple clear, funny, engaging, short stories about where you are from, who you are, and where you are going when asked. If you stutter, stumble, and only manage to say your name, it won’t look good.
Learn what’s actually interesting about your stories (not just what you think is). Practice telling stories with friends and get feedback on what’s fascinating and boring. Prepare them so you can remember them and share the highlights with women.
- Be engaged when you talk.
- Talk articulately.
- Be able to talk about your feelings and emotions (this does not mean you have to cry).
Show off creative skills. Having creative skills is a hard-to-fake intelligence signal.
Revive old skills. If you have spent hundreds of hours practicing piano, drawing, or writing, don’t waste it. It’s easier to revive and repurpose than start from scratch. Change your classical piano skills to modern music making (something girls actually like, such as EDM) or write stories on a blog.
Creative skills can be applied in different ways. Physically, you can show it off through dance. Socially, it can be down through managing people. Through a business, you can create stories through your products, like Disney or Pixar.
Teach. What you teach does not have to be fancy. It can be attractive just to be able to explain and teach how to change a car’s oil and brakes.
Do not explain something to her like she is a naive child though. Being condescending does not make you attractive. Respect her intelligence because she is probably as smart as you.
Keep it simple and know when to keep quiet. Intelligence also means knowing that you have a lot to learn.
- Be willing to ask what something means if you don’t know.
- Keep quiet on complex topics you don’t understand, like politics.
- Keep your language simple. Using unnecessary, big words signals insecurity.
- Have good grammar (know the difference between their, they’re, you, and you’re).
Show rather than tell. Rather than brag about your IQ, GPA, or SATs (which is socially unintelligent), demonstrate it.
Do not tell someone you are funny; make them laugh. Do not say you are handsome; show pictures. Do not say you are ambitious; show ambitious projects you are part of.
The Right Amount of Assertiveness and Agreeableness (The Tender Defender)
What the heck does this mean? Everyone has tried to be an asshole or nice guy at some point to impress girls. Both are too extreme and backfire. By being the right amount of kindness and assertiveness, you become the perfect attractive blend (the tender defender).
Don’t believe this is attractive? Look at the male lead in any romance novel. He is protective, kind, and assertive rather than cowardly or rude.
The scientific definition for this is:
‘Social interest’ that is displayed through co-operation, empathy and identification with others, and the striving for intimacy, camaraderie, and selflessness. –Braun & Bryan 2006
A simpler definition may be kindness, cooperation, and empathy.
You might think agreeableness is B.S. but there are plenty of studies that have found this personality factor as a key indicator for attraction, especially for longer term relationships.
Women list kindness as one of the most desired traits in a boyfriend, but guys misinterpret what that means. They get the details wrong. Kindness is not the same as not standing up for yourself. You can be nice and still voice your opinion when people mistreat you.
Why is Agreeableness Attractive?
Females evolved to favor men who are more kind and empathetic because they are less selfish, violent, deceitful, narcissistic, and likely to cheat, abuse, neglect children, and kill children if they turn out to be illegitimate (a common act for our ancestors). Also, because they get along better, more able to resolve conflicts, more likely to respond to problems, create kids that are easier to raise, accumulate resources in a society that requires cooperation.
But then why aren’t all men evolved to be nice by now? Probably because there are other factors at play:
- Some men fathered kids through deception, force, or bribery.
- During harsh war conditions, women may have traded off the preference for kindness for stronger men to survive.
Women are attracted to reasonable amounts of:
But only when it is warranted. Back off if she tells you she doesn’t want it. An example of an act women adore would be a man helping a man who just got hit by a car because it shows signs of a good partner and husband.
How to improve your kindness
You will genetically get more kind as you move past your teenage years, but there are exercises you can do to improve it now:
- Take care of a pet or volunteer at animal shelters, zoos, farms, or pet stores because it will teach you how to be care for someone else.
- Take care of children. Reconnecting with siblings or nephews is one way. You can help with homework, look after them at playgrounds, or feed them. Studies show that women are especially attracted to guys holding babies or demonstrating child-care skills.
- Mentor young people. You may not be a superstar but you can still be a role model to someone younger and women will respect that.
- Care for the sick, injured, or old. The Red Cross offers cheap, fast certification courses in CPR, first aid, pet care, and other medical skills. You could also volunteer in a retirement home or hospital.
- Learn and improve your empathy from entertainment. Expose yourself to a variety of people of different genders and ages in any form of fictional stories to understand emotions like tragedy, sadness, or loss.
How to show your kindness (and why it matters that you do)
If you do not show attractive traits you develop, women will assume you do not have them. Here’s how you can show your kindness:
- Project warmth by smiling, making eye contact, using humor, playfulness, and nonsexual touch. You could also show photos of you laughing with friends, hugging family, or taking care of a pet for online dating profiles.
- Show real interest. Be curious about what they have to say and what interests her rather than just wait for your chance to talk.
- How to test this. You may think you showed interest but did you really? After a date, try to list five facts you learned about her. If you can’t, you didn’t show enough interest.
- Show you do not take life too seriously with moderate amounts of self-deprecating humor. Poke fun at yourself. But not so much that you come off as serious and low self-esteem.
- Show empathic ability, dedication, and kindness to others. Tip the waiter generously. Give a some money to homeless people. Or show that you care about a charity, cause, or the environment with what you buy (eco-friendly soap) or what events you attend (charity). You don’t have to spend a lot of money or go crazy with it. (Note: I had to chime in here. The soap stuff seems like B.S. to me. That seems like a super-fringe level of kindness that goes unnoticed 99% of the time despite your best efforts. Rather, make sure you treat people kind when she is more likely to notice.)
- Stay kind and considerate when you are sexually aroused. When turned on, men become less kind and do rude, creepy, exploitative, or violent things before a women wants to. Showing restraint can show off your empathy.
- Mention that you volunteer (but not too early on or in a braggadocious way). It’s hard to pretend that you care when you go every week.
- Develop a reputation for being generous to strangers, friends, the earth, society, and/or family. Give thoughtful gifts and help others without asking for anything back.
Women want men who are assertive but in ways that protect, not threaten, them. Assertiveness means being protective, decisive, and formidable. It’s about standing up against unfair offers or treatment.
Why Is Assertiveness Attractive?
Aggressiveness and dominance are heritable and helpful to a man’s success (unless it is so extreme that you become a bully). Men had to be violent enough to kill animals to feed their family and strong enough to protect them from natural disasters, predators, rival tribes, and the mentally ill.
Women find dominance more attractive than physical attractiveness. Their attraction to assertiveness intensifies right before ovulation, where they are especially attracted to dominant, assertive men who speak in a deep voice and have a masculine build.
Women rate protective men, especially in romantic rather than work settings, very attractive. Risk-taking is attractive to women, especially in short-term mating, because it shows you are willing to put yourself out there to protect a women.
How to Improve Your Assertiveness
Develop practical real-world skills that deal with traditional obstacles of life. This will improve your protectiveness, hardiness, and formidability. Examples include: learning how to run, climb, swim, sail, fly, use power tools, repair, survive in the wild, start fires, track, evade, navigate, read a map, or pick locks.
Learn self-defense. It’s hard to show verbal confidence in threatening situations if you do not have the physical skills to back it up. Learning martial arts in the modern world is more to cultivate the confidence to know that you could win a fight rather than to actually get into fights. Women can read if you can actually fight and defend them based on your confidence (unless you are a great actor, which is tough).
There are many different martials arts. Choose a practical one that actually helps in real fights. This could be krav maga, which is focused on surviving against weapons. Or it could be MMA, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, wrestling, or Muay Thai. Taekwondo might be avoided because it’s more for show than practical use.
How to Be More Assertive (Without Overdoing It)
For non-assertive Nice Guys, it seems hard to be more assertive. What if people won’t like me after you do? What if the confrontation destroys relationships or your reputation? I get it. The fear of rejection or embarrassment can be strong.
If you’re struggling, realize that not speaking up communicates that your needs don’t matter and that you aren’t don’t believe you are worthy enough to give yourself the self-love to ask for what you want. It shows that you struggle with the necessary vulnerability to risk an unfavorable response. You are worthy. You can be vulnerable.
Being assertive doesn’t require aggression.
Be dominant, protective, and decisive… but not to an extreme level. Make sure your risk-taking is about protection rather than immaturity and endangering your life or health. It’s not just about having the ability to defend someone. It’s about having the ability to do it effectively and decisively when needed.
Show that you are willing to punish, ostracize, or stigmatize people who deserve it. Make sure you have that ability (study martial arts for example).
Do not be overly protective to the extreme, especially when they do not need or want your protection. This can be a turnoff, especially in the modern world. Don’t be overly possessive or assume she cannot take care of herself in situations she can.
Honestly, it’s hard. It’s a delicate balance. What appears protective to one girl could be overbearing to another. You have to be able to assess if something is a real threat and accurately read the reaction of the woman.
How to Display Assertiveness
Use nonverbal behavior. Take up more space, put your arms out, legs apart, project competence, vigilance, and formidability.
Make decisions quickly and get tasks done. Our ancestors had to act fast because if you did not, you were killed by predators. Showcase your fast decision making. This could be something as simple as deciding and ordering drinks for everyone quickly in a noisy bar.
Be sexually dominant. Shows aggressive ability and confidence especially for women embarrassed to ask for it.
Play sports. Aggressive sports show dominance and athletic skill in combat and warfare.
Women perceive athletes as more energetic, ambitious, and competitive (and therefore more attractive).
Dance (with energy). The energy you display when dancing displays your formidability.
(I had to chime in here and also suggest verbal ways. In the office or your personal life, stand up for yourself when someone is mistreating you. Start small.)
The Truth About Nice Guys and Assholes (Exposing Misconceptions)
When most people think of the word kindness, they think of the “nice guy” who never gets the girl. In reality, these nice guys are people pleasers who will do anything for a girl no matter how badly she treats you. Also, they are often only nice when it helps them (I recommend the book No More Mr. Nice Guy if this is you).
When people think about assertiveness, they may think of the “asshole” who seems to always get the girl despite being rude. They assume that women are attracted to the rude behavior. But this is wrong. Women are turned off by the rude behavior, but put up with it because of other attractive traits, like assertiveness and physique.
You should be assertive and stand up for yourself or someone else who is unjustly being mistreated because it is the right thing to do and it’s attractive. But avoided being overly rude.
Nice guys are kind, which is attractive. But they lack assertiveness, which is not attractive. Assholes are rude, which is not attractive. But they often they make up for it with assertiveness (and other attractive traits).
How to Combine Kindness and Assertiveness the Right Way to Become a “Tender Defender”
In any relationship with a women, you will probably be in the tender mode 95% of the time and the defender only 5%. How you display yourself in the 5% will determine more of her attraction than the 95%.
Avoid the dark side of assertiveness and kindness. Do these instead:
As hinted at earlier, there are traits mistaken for assertiveness and kindness that you should avoid. They are often extreme forms. Avoid these because they repulse girls:
- Ready for the unexpected
Here is a Real World Practice to Put it into Practice
You go on a dinner date. You make sure she gets the seat with the better view she always likes to demonstrate empathy. You let her order and you are decisively quick in your order. In fact, you chose where to eat quickly rather than play the endless “I don’t know. What do you want to eat?” game.
The server brings the wrong food and spills it on her dress. You picture the three choices you have:
- An overly submissive “nice guy” would do nothing because he is scared of making a scene. Your date interprets this as “not courageous enough to protect me” or “does not care about me.” She says she is happy eating the wrong dish but is actually resentful.
- An overly aggressive “asshole” would be too aggressive too early. He blows up as if sewage was sprayed onto his wife’s wedding dress. Rather than evaluating and deciding on an approach, he curses out the server, pushes him around, yells for a manager, and escalates the confrontation too much. Your date may at first be impressed by the decisiveness, but quickly realizes you are more focused on (and controlled by) your rage than her protection.
- A tender defender politely but assertively gets the problem fixed. He assesses how his date feels. Is she willing to wait for the right order? Does she want the restaurant to pay for her dress? He makes sure the server is aware of his mistake without losing face and suggests ways of correcting the errors in accordance with her feelings. It may be to wait for the order if she is okay with it or to ask for a free dessert as compensation. He might realize that she feels unattractive with the stains and assures her she looks gorgeous still.
You intelligently choose option three.
Mental Health (Happiness)
Why Do Women Care?
Women unconsciously look for happy and mentally healthy men because an absence of good health is dangerous. They have more to lose through reproductive ability and physical threat.
Good mental health signals safety, children free from mental illness, a good partner, and a good potential father. Women can feel disgust, fear, or anxiety around a man with poor mental health. They can judge mental health even faster than physical health.
When you say something oddly irrational, it’s a sign you are psychotic. When you lose your temper, they worry you could be dangerous. When you look depressed, they think you will be an energy drain.
Happiness is a great sign of mental health. Happiness is the overall sense that life is going well. It is quiet contentment and enjoyment of your daily activities in life. It not the temporary delight you experience after getting a gift. It is not acting super manic like an energetic, life coach. It is not being jazzed temporarily like a lottery winner. You can still be sad at times; it has its functions.
How To Improve Mental Health
There is a spectrum of mental health: from poor to average to strong. Your goal is to get to the strong end because it’s most attractive.
Fortunately, some of the most attractive traits – like happiness, humor, resilience, playfulness, and open mindedness – are signs of good mental health. Mental disorders prevent your ability to display these traits.
The first three tips work quickly to improve mental health and may seem like common sense. But common sense isn’t so common. People don’t get good sleep, nutrition, or exercise.
Sleep 8 Hours A Night. Sleep deprivation disrupts mood, kills emotional resilience, causes hallucination, lowers rational thought performance, and makes you crazy.The National Sleep Foundation recommends 8 hours a night for adults aged 18 and older.
Eat Nutritiously. Fast food is bad for your brain. Excess sugar and grains can affect your entire body, hormones, and mood. There are plenty of nutrition blogs and programs, like Weight Watchers, to help you.
Exercise More. Studies show that regular exercise improves mental health and happiness as much as antidepressants — with lower cost and fewer side effects. Our bodies are genetically wired to live the lifestyle of our ancestors, where exercise happened daily. Without getting enough, your happiness drops.
Get At Least 30 Minutes of Sunlight On Your Skin a Day. Sunlight causes you to make more Vitamin D, one of nature’s strongest anti-depressants and health boosters.
Do 3 to 5 Small Random Things You Enjoy A Day. Research shows that a reliable way to cultivate happiness is to fill your day with lots of little experiences that make you happy. This gives you a break from grinding duties.
This creates a feedback loop of anticipation, enjoyment, gratitude, and spontaneity. Choose activities that increase social engagement, support, and your other attractive traits.
- Catching up with an old friend (social proof).
- Trying out a dance fitness class (physical proof).
- Watching stand-up comedy (intelligence).
It is important not to sacrifice all of your short-term enjoyments for a long-term goal.
Meditation. The science is clear. Even twenty minutes a day increases happiness, focus, and emotional stability, while decreasing irritability, anxiety, and stress. Meditation is just focusing on your breathing without reacting or focusing on your thoughts. There are many free meditation guides that show you how simple it is.
Longer-term lifestyle practices. These investments take longer to see effects, but are worth it:
- Improve Your Friends and Relationships
- Spend time around happy people you respect and want to be like.
- It can take time to find good people and develop relationships, but it’s worth it.
- Move to A Happier Place
- If a certain climate (like rain) depresses you, move.
- If you feel anxious in a large city, move to a town.
- Get A Good Therapist (if needed)
- Mental illness is not your fault, but it is your responsibility. It can be due to life circumstances outside your control.
- The right therapist can be useful.
- There is no shame in getting professional help to improve your mental health, emotional intelligence, and life skills.
How To Show Your Good Mental Health
Women cannot examine your brain so they look for signs of mental health. The top five signs are happiness, humor, playfulness, openness, mental resilience.
- Show Happiness
A great way to display your happiness is to do things that make yourself happy with her, like cooking breakfast, drinking coffee, or sex. Show your enthusiasm and explain why you love doing something. Smile more.
- Be Funny
Depressed and mentally unhealthy people do not make jokes. Humor requires you to understand social norms and how to violate them in light-hearted, non-threatening ways (social intelligence). You also have to understand others’ beliefs, desires, fears, assumptions, and values.
Making fun of yourself without showing low self-esteem shows confidence that narcissists don’t have. Take improv classes to improve your humor.
You do not have to be as funny as a professional comedian. A few jokes per date is enough.
- Be Playful
Humor is being playful with language. Playfulness is being playful with everything else in life.
Playfulness releases tension and disarms.Be able to switch from seriousness to playful immaturity and back when the situation demands. It just requires reawakening your inner kid and adding a touch of adult observational comedy.
See situations as opportunities for fun rather than serious burdens. The world is your playground.
Gauge how playful she is willing to be so you do not go too far. The safer she feels around you, the more playful you can be.
For example, you’re on a date at a museum. You see a naked painting. Talk about why you like the paint strokes and talk about some historical stuff to show you’re smart. Then, joke that you also like the boobs.
Another way is to have a date at Chuck E. Cheese’s rather than a boring restaurant.
Use self-deprecating jokes. If a girl is iffy about going to Chuck E. Cheese’s, tell her you just want to recruit some child labor or that you only get aroused by crushing the dreams of children at games.
Tease. This can be tricky because you can overdo it and offend her. Here’s an example of it done right: You are walking together outside and a homeless man scares her. You position yourself so she feels safe but also tease her by pretending it was her ex-boyfriend.
Goof off when doing boring tasks. Have fun together when you have to shop or do chores. Violate social norms of how you are “supposed to shop” without hurting anyone and amusing yourself. Put on funny clothes or a wig.
- Be Open Minded
Try new foods, places, people, cultures without overwhelm or stress. This shows ability to judge risk (because you haven’t adopted any extreme, weird beliefs), adaptability, and resilience (if things go wrong). Mentally unhealthy and socially anxious men stick to what they like and are not open.
- Try new drinks.
- Try new dishes.
- Watch different genres of movies.
- Listen to new genres of music.
- Show resiliency and adaptability to tough life changes.
This is a great indicator of emotional stability, maturity, and optimism. Calmly, quickly, and effectively solve unexpected problems when they come up.
Respond adaptively to stressful situations. For instance, if a tire goes flat, you don’t need to fix it yourself but you need to solve the problem without freaking out or depending on Mom. Your general adaptability matters more than specific skills to her.
Ask how your male idol would handle the unexpected event and do that. Don’t stress. Never complain. It’s unattractive.
Willpower is the ability to restrain from temptation and do what you don’t want to do. It’s important towards your future success. It will help you make money, get fit, and be an understanding partner.
See my article on willpower for details.
In this context, physique is defined as any visible signs of health and fitness: body shape, body size, and energy levels. Nothing will do more to increase your attractiveness than being in shape, especially for short-term mating. A study Frederick and Haselton proved muscularity to be useful for any dating objective.
Physique is not superficial. We are told that we should ignore the physical because it is superficial. Wrong. We evolved to judge fitness because it is a good sign of health, longevity, and mutations. It is a deeply biological act.
Why Do Women Care and Why Should You Care?
Fitness matters because it signals good genes (for future children), fertility (sperm), health, how long you can live, energy levels (for career), and if you can protect her. They consciously and unconsciously look for these. Studies show a good physique helps men especially for short term sexual encounters.
The need for manual labor and the threat of danger has decreased in the modern world but women still care about them biologically. Women evolved a hair-trigger sensitivity to potential stalkers, dangers, and natural disasters.
If you think you can just make up for your lack of health with money or status, think again. A study by McClintock discovered that the “Beauty and the Beast” myth of exchanging status for beauty doesn’t exist after you control for the man’s handsomeness and woman’s status. Male beauty matters too.
Exposing Myths About Male Physique (What Research Reveals Is Actually Attractive)
Women are looking for a body that signals health and longevity. Marketing, mainstream media, and social media have caused men to overestimate how muscular we have to be.
Studies show women prefer men who are more slender than so bulked they can’t move athletically. You don’t need a six pack and cutting to that level is unhealthy, dehydrates you, and is not optimally attractive. Women show that they prefer men with enough fat that they can survive famine and disease, which often requires a certain level of belly fat to cover most of your abs.
Driven by unrealistic goals, modern fitness-junkies get bigorexia, overworking at building mass and cutting all fat — similar to anorexic women who cut fat too unhealthy levels without building muscle because they believe being skinny as possible is what’s most attractive.
A 2005 study by Frederick & Fessler examined the ideal male body type displayed in 28 issues of Cosmopolitan (which has a female readership). The average body shape of a man in Cosmo was the fourth body from the left in the diagram below (with a standard deviation of 1.01, which means it can range from the 3rd to 5th figure). When they examined a similar amount of male-readership magazines, the ideal figure range from the 5th to 7th bodies from the left.
A 2003 Study by Dixson of British and Sri Lanken women found the ideal man’s waist-to-shoulder ratio to be 0.6 and the ideal waist-to-hip ratio to be 0.8-0.9. What’s interesting is that the ideal shoulder-to-waist ratio (1.66) is off from the Adonis or Golden ratio found across nature (1.618).
You Don’t Need To Be Shredded Beyond Belief
No ancestral man looked like the bodybuilders you see. They would not be able to effectively run, climb, hunt, or dance with so much mass. Women get turned off by guys who are too muscular and chiseled because it signals narcissism and preoccupation.
There are plenty of YouTube interviews that show that being too muscular scares girls as well:
See this bell curve to get an idea of what I am talking about:
This also means that going from bad shape to good shape is easier and more impactful than from good to great shape (though this still helps).
You don’t need six-pack abs. Even though some women find this attractive, many don’t prioritize it or find it as attractive as much as most men emphasize. The reason is biological. Our ancestors needed a certain amount of fat as energy to survive. The low body fat percentage needed to achieve abs for most people puts you in an unhealthy, low body fat level.
So exactly how much muscle do we need to gain before we can slow down? Another study found that women seem to prefer a waist to chest ratio of 0.77.
How to Improve Your Physical Fitness
1) Sleep More
Most people are sleep deprived, which makes you dumber, fatter, more stressed, and less attractive. Get at least 8 hours a night.
Remove all light from your room. We are evolved to sleep in darkness because there was no artificial light for our ancestors. Any light from a screen (like your phone) affects the release of melatonin, which you need to get to sleep.
Stop using electronics at least two hours before bed. Blue light from these screens can affect you for that long.
Go to sleep at the same times every night. Going to sleep at different times everyday is so bad for you that the World Health Organization categorized shift work (which forces you to do this) as a class 2A carcinogen (probable cancer-cause).
Keep the temperature at 67 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit, which is ideal for sleep.
Have enough circulation in your room so carbon dioxide doesn’t build up.
Avoid caffeine after noon. Studies show caffeine stays in your body for 8 to 12 hours.
Avoid stimulant drugs (Adderall and Ritalin), alcohol, and energy drinks after 4pm.
Address anxieties that keep you up at night with meditation.
Click here for tips on how to get to sleep faster.
2) Eat and Drink Right
This is important because food is the energy that fuels your body. There are plenty of nutrition blogs that give you more detailed advice. A good start to improving nutrition is to eat less sugar and white grains.
Improve your shoulder width until it hits a 0.60 wait-to-shoulder ratio with exercises, like lateral raises.
There are plenty of blogs and Youtube channels online that can give you more detailed fitness advice and teach you the specifics.
How to Display Your Physical Attractiveness
1) Play Athletic Sports
Sports demonstrate physical fitness and show social proof. Examples of sports include:
- Martial Arts
Dancing demonstrates precise physical control of your body.
Women rate males as better dancers if they show larger, more variable, and faster arm movements. These movements are correlated with grip strength, upper-body strength, and fitness. If you don’t like dancing you don’t have to. But if you do want to learn, take a class.
Social proof is any form of social behavior with others that a woman can use to assess the fame, popularity, status, dominance, respect, admiration, or influence of a man.
A popular example is when girls find guys surrounded by other girls as more attractive than guys without girls.
Social Proof Is Not Superficial. It’s Logical, Scientific, and Win-Win.
Some men have bitter attitudes when about it because they could never popularity or wealth, so they call it “superficial” as an excuse.
A woman is scanning for physical and sexual threats. When you first meet her, you are a stranger to her. To her, you could be a mentally ill serial killer.
By analyzing your friends and network, she gets great information on your mental health, character, genes, father traits, partner traits, and more.
Your Social Network Builds Trust
You can have great individual traits (humor, willpower, physique, etc.), but she won’t trust you as much if you don’t have good friends and a good social reputation. She wants to know you can be effective in your social life because humans are biologically one of the most social creatures.
On Fame and Becoming A Millionaire
99.999% of us will not be famous — even if you deserve to be. It can take over a decade of 100% focus to achieve massive fame or wealth, and it’s still not guaranteed.
As far as becoming a millionaire is concerned, some people falsely assume that becoming that rich will solve everything and you won’t have to develop all the other attractive traits mentioned. But that’s not true. Most women would rather have a funny, interesting, happy, athletic man making a middle-class income versus a poorly dressed, inconsiderate, socially weird, workaholic millionaire.
They overemphasize the money and under-emphasize other factors. As mentioned, the top three traits women care about are kindness, intelligence, and humor. Status, power, money, and dick size aren’t it.
There are more efficient ways of achieving a similar effect ethically. Become the local expert and high status individual for a niche community. Among your small tribe, you can get social proof. This form of social proof happens to be more primal, and therefore effective, since only recently in human history did social media and Hollywood create influencers with millions of followers.
Why Social Proof Matters
It’s a clear indicator of your status.
It’s an predictor of your effectiveness of bringing in resources to support your future family. From prehistoric to modern times, a man’s ability to get along with others has been crucial to survival.
It indicates how mentally healthy you are, which matters because it predicts how healthy her children will be since most social traits are heritable. Specifically, mental disorders have strong heritability. There’s moderate heritability for trust, cooperation, loneliness, quality of friendships, and extroversion.
It indicates your ability to protect others. His friends are an extension of his protective ability. Human males naturally rank friends based on how useful they would be in a potential fight. Women instinctively prefer men who are part of an effective team, like soldiers.
It embodies many of the same traits she wants in a life partner. Having deep, long-lasting friendships requires kindness, caring, patience, empathy, generosity, loyalty, reliability, responsiveness, and suppression of selfishness. It shows you can consistently invest in others’ well-being.
Your social confidence also reflects your past social success. Therefore, confidence is a form f social proof that will help you appear more socially attractive to everyone.
If a man has prestige, respect, and a good social reputation, it’s a good sign he has traits that matter.
How To Improve Social Proof
Improving social proof is about adding value to other people’s lives. Anyone who increases a group’s efficiency and strength, for example, would be valuable to the whole group and gain social proof. You have to develop social proof over time; it doesn’t happen overnight.
In the next few weeks, you improve by organizing, facilitating, and improving your social interactions. Specifically, you can:
- have more eye contact, warmth, active listening, and conversation with everyone until it becomes a habit.
- join a class or club where your strengths are valued because you will be more socially confident due to your competence. For example, join a soccer club if you’re good at soccer or a dance class if you’re good at dance.
- be more outgoing (like a dinner host) in social settings.
- have meals with others. It’s a compelling way to bond with others. It unconsciously creates trust and familiarity. A simple meal with your recreational team after practice is a great example.
- meet new friends through existing friends.
In the long run, it’s about making good friends. Building your social circle is about improving all aspects of your life, not just with women. In the next few months, try:
- joining a sports league or fitness group.
- joining a group or class that teaches social skills, like stand-up, acting, improv, Toastmasters, or Art of Charm bootcamps. You might make friends there too.
- take social jobs.
- find a better roommate.
- getting a pet
- spending less time alone
Jack-Of-All Trades Beats Specialization
To make money, it pays to focus and specialize. For dating, it’s the opposite.
To use a video game analogy, it’s better to allocate your stat points all across the board to dexterity, mana, health, strength, and so on rather than to put all those points into one skill.
It’s better to be slightly above average at everything than great at one area and horrible in another. And there’s one big reason for this:
Being severely below average in one area will repel a woman regardless of how good you are in other areas.
For example, a woman would rather be with a kind, happy man who is more physically fit than the average guy but no Olympic athlete, funnier than the average guy but no professional comedian, dresses slightly better than the average guy but is no fashion designer, and slightly richer than the average guy but is far from a millionaire than be with a workaholic billionaire who is absent all the time, dresses like a slob, has no empathy, can’t tell a joke, and never smiles or shows warmth.
You may think it’s incredibly hard to raise the areas in your life that you are severely below average at. I used to think like this too when I imagined how much work it would take to turn my skinny skeleton of a body into a muscular one. But I discovered it’s easier than you think because you don’t have to raise all your weaknesses to an above average level.
It’s a lot easier and quicker to turn your weaknesses into non-issues than to turn your weaknesses into strengths. Non-issues are often good enough.
If you don’t do that first, your strengths won’t be recognized. When are more repelled by what turns them off than attracted by what turns them on. This is because a threat to them is more dangerous.
For example, if you have low mental health and come off creepy without realizing it, it won’t matter how muscular you are. Fix the creepiness first. Similarly, if you’re a millionaire but have no muscles and dress homeless, it’s better to get an average fashion and physique than to try and make another million. Your fashion and build won’t attract women just yet, but it’s not repelling women anymore.
Most nerds (like myself) make the mistake of over-specializing. They double down on a random, specific skill they’re good at, like chess, and ignore everything else. This doesn’t work because it doesn’t trigger her primal evolutionary wiring about what she’s attracted to.
Don’t Get Overwhelmed
If you are anything like me, you can get overwhelmed by all this advice. The authors said to just focus on solving the first obstacle in your path to your long-term goal. Find the solutions to that from the advice given and only then, look at other advice.
I found an almost identical technique called “Just in Time Learning” that I use for information overwhelm. Other big entrepreneurs like Pat Flynn use this.
Learn More By Reading the Book
Of course, there are even more details and advice available in the book Mate. These also includes other proofs of attraction you can layer on top, like fashion, grooming, and wealth. He does what he did with physique and dispels myths about how much you actually need to be attractive.
I encourage you to get the book Mate: Become the Man Women Want. If you go through this Amazon link, I get a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Their counterpart podcast The Mating Grounds is also a great resource. It has hundreds of episodes, including Q&A, case studies, and expert interviews.