What’s the most attractive thing about you? Do you have a bangin’ bod? That’s not it. A beautiful face? Nope. You’re a kindergarten teacher? Uh uh. When it comes to attracting men your secret weapon is healthy self-esteem. Not narcissistic self-love or brazen self-promotion, but the real thing. Inner Girl Game. Feeling secure in your ability to do anything you set your mind to, including charming the guy behind you in line.
Feeling secure in your feminine identity is something that men will appreciate and want. There are no shortcuts to rock solid self-confidence – it’s a strategic process of building on your strengths, minimizing your weaknesses, mastering social skills, and meeting realistic objectives.
Anyone can do it. Once you’ve reached that place, amazing things will happen. People, including men, will want to be around you. Trust me, I routinely punched above my weight when I was single owing to this one quality. I more than held my own against prettier women because I knew I had a lot to offer and acted that way.
This process requires not just taking risks, but embracing them. If you don’t wander outside of your comfort zone, you will not make progress. You will fail, and if you’re not failing, you’ll know you’re not far enough afield of your normal modus operandi.
In my recent TV post discussing the best way to let a guy know you like him, Rakhi Roy commented:
Flirting is key! Example:
Say you’re at work and you have an office crush. Find an opportunity where your paths can cross, get out of your seat, walk around the office so he notices you more. Do some coy side glances. When he goes into the break room, take your coffee cup in with you for a refill. Smile at him when you walk in, pretend like you don’t know how to work the coffee machine and ask for his help. Compliment him for being your knight and shining armor (you’ve boosted his ego, +1), the flood gates of flirting are open, take it from there.
How often do you think Rakhi succeeds in catching the attention of her crush? Pretty often, I’d bet! In creating her own tactical “coincidences” and displaying herself with assurance, Rakhi signals her interest in the guy, but more importantly she signals her assumption that he will be interested. That dramatically increases the odds of his complying!
Rakhi’s strategy here reflects what women have always instinctively known – men are visual and receptive to female display and attention. For example, in the novel Pride and Prejudice, Miss Bingley invites Elizabeth Bennet to “take a turn about the room.” Elizabeth, not very practiced at flirting, cannot imagine why she wishes to do such a thing, but Mr. Darcy immediately gets it:
“You either choose this method of passing the evening because you are in each other’s confidence, and have secret affairs to discuss, or because you are conscious that your figures appear to the greatest advantage in walking.”
Research shows that both men and women with healthy self-esteem are more attractive as romantic partners. Lack of confidence is even more detrimental to men, but it plays a role in male attraction as well. A review of six studies on the role of self-esteem in mating suggests:
There…is an implicit theory concerning self-esteem that functions in a manner similar to that of the halo effect for physical beauty. That is, these studies examine the possibility that learning someone has high (or low) self-esteem may influence how that person is viewed on other dimensions.
Initial research supports the existence of such an implicit theory and suggests that individuals who are believed to possess high levels of self-esteem may be thought to possess other desirable traits.
It’s extraordinary that the effect of self-esteem on a romantic target may be similar to the power of physical beauty! Why is this the case? Because self-esteem serves as an indicator of how well a person is regarded and valued by others. It implies social proof.
There is an important caveat for women, though. Agentic or self-serving behavior from women generally makes them less attractive to both sexes. Women who are perceived as having self-esteem that is too high appear to lack vulnerability, which is a key feature of femininity. An excellent example of this is Hillary Clinton, whose brusque self-assurance has turned off many voters. She has been most popular after suffering a setback.
1. The self-esteem levels of imagined targets were found to influence how these targets were rated on various attributes relevant to mate value. More specifically, targets were rated more positively on each of the composite measures of mate value for each successive increase in their self-esteem level.
2. Participants were more willing to engage in all levels of relational activity with targets possessing higher levels of self-esteem.
3. Female targets with moderate and high levels of self-esteem were perceived more positively than those with low self-esteem. This suggests that the desirability of women may be more closely tied to the avoidance of low self-esteem than the possession of high self-esteem.
4. The results of the present study show that targets with extremely high levels of self-esteem were viewed less positively on some dimensions than targets with more moderate levels of high self-esteem. That is, targets who were described as “thinking extremely highly” of themselves were given lower ratings on Warmth-Trustworthiness and Overall Mate Value than targets who were described as “feeling pretty good” about themselves. It is important to note that this pattern emerged for both male and female targets. (Note: Clinton Effect)
An unrelated but very interesting study of the “Beer Goggles Effect” set out to discover if alcohol really does make other people seem more attractive to us.
Brad Bushman, of Ohio State University experimentally confirmed a sort of reverse beer goggles effect: that we feel we are more attractive after a few drinks (Begue et al., 2012).
…One of the findings is that, even people who were tricked into thinking they’d had a drink when they hadn’t, also judged themselves as more attractive.
Drinking helps us to become less inhibited and take more risks, which is why college students frequently pre-game before attending a larger social event. Acting less inhibited with the opposite sex has the effect of conveying self-esteem, making the drunk party more attractive to the target. Of course, intoxication also impairs our ability to judge facial symmetry – you’re more likely to hook up with a cocky, ugly guy impulsively than a handsome, modest one.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could slip into a self-esteem cloak at the start of each day? Unfortunately, you can’t fake self-esteem over time. That’s why pickup artists are so focused on Hit It and Quit It – the cocky funny act is not sustainable. No, there are no shortcuts. One must do the real work.
In my next post, I’ll lay out some ways that you can improve your self-esteem, and your attractiveness along with it.