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The One Thing Men Value More Than Looks

The answer may surprise you.

Love & Relationships

The proliferation of social feeds flooded with Instagram models boasting Instagram bodies has duped us into believing that our outward appearances are the single most determining factor in getting and keeping a man. I agree, to some extent, that physical appearances are important to the start of a new relationship. But there's another significant factor that often goes unnoticed when it comes to what attracts a man: a mental connection.

I'll begin by stating the obvious ways women may think will get a man's attention, you know what the music videos would have us believe. Advice from the unwise suggests superficial strategies like dressing provocatively, trying to make him jealous with another guy, posting sexy pics on social, or that maybe even getting a butt job to look like an IG model are all things men crave. However, there are actually other things like confidence, intellect, and an emotional connection that really turns men on and keeps them wanting more.

What Men Really Want

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A 2018 Bustle article asked men how they knew they felt an emotional connection and some of their responses were quite profound. Even though sex is an important part of any romantic relationship, don't think for a second that great sex, alone, will keep a man around. Men are visual creatures, this we know, but after they've fulfilled their physical desire, they're looking for something deeper that can sustain a long-term relationship. The best way you can offer something meaningful to your partner is to be your authentic self. That's something that can't be replicated.

"Having said all those things, the quality I love most about her is, she's honest and genuine. I think that comes across to people. They get a sense that they can trust her. You know, the word 'authenticity' is overused these days." - President Barack Obama, on his wife, Michelle

Believe it or not, men are emotional beings, although pop culture and rap lyrics will lead you to believe otherwise. Society standards and gender stereotypes contribute to the notion that all men want sex, which may be true, and that that's all they want, which is probably untrue. But let's face it, it's kind of hard to ignore the importance of sex in a relationship, especially when that's the message that is perpetuated throughout the media. Aside from that, it's not like society welcomes men to be vulnerable. If anything, they're in jeopardy of being shamed for showing their emotions, which is something we need to work toward turning the page on. I think it's important to understand that some men actually enjoy intimacy, a form of closeness that can be attained both physically and emotionally.

Physical Connection

Yes, we know men are turned on by the way a woman looks, dresses, or styles her hair. Otherwise, women might not make such an effort to look good for their men, as often as they do. However, something we often fail to talk about is men's desires for emotional connectedness. An emotional connection can enhance a physical connection in a relationship. How else can you explain a man having an amazing night of passion with a woman only to ghost her the next day? If a man isn't emotionally invested in her, then it can be quite easy. However, when a man connects with a woman on a deeper level, his attraction to her grows.

"You will spend more time with this person than anyone else for the rest of your life, and there is nothing more important than always wanting to hear what she has to say about things." — Barack Obama

I remember being in a relationship where I knew the guy had strong feelings for me when he stayed on the phone for half an hour, talking me through the process of removing a splinter from my hand. And while I valued his consideration of being there for something so small, it was the deeper conversations that strengthened our relationship and grew our bond.

Connecting on a Deeper Level

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I've done extensive research on this subject while working to obtain my Master's degree in Communication Studies. One important concept I learned was the act of self-disclosure. In his book, The Art of Positive Communication, Dr. Julien Mirivel notes a model of positive communication where he suggests two key components for strengthening relationships: 1) asking questions and 2) disclosing information. According to Mirivel, the way we communicate with people is indicative of how we feel about them. And some studies go so far as to say that there are specific questions you can ask someone to increase intimacy that lead to love and/or greater intimacy.

Disclosure deepens relationships

Communication scholars often refer to the analogy of peeling the layers of an onion to illustrate how social penetration, the process by which relationships progress from relatively shallow to more intimate, occurs. I prefer the analogy of an orange, whereas there is somewhat of a tough exterior on the outside, once removed, reveals a sweet, pleasant, and tender piece of fruit.

The sense of connection that we feel with people is not something we have, it's something we create. One way to create a deeper sense of connection is by asking questions.

Asking questions discovers the unknown

Think about it. The word question is rooted in the Latin term meaning "to seek" or "to look for," and that's what Mirivel's example points in his model. When we ask questions, we are in search of answers.

I read an article in Scientific American that said people's favorite subject to talk about is themselves, although when it's done excessively while just getting to know someone may be a red flag. Asking questions gives people permission to talk about themselves without coming off as a narcissist. It also gives you insight into a potential dating partner and can give you clues on whether or not to pursue a relationship. Every one of us has a story to tell and when we ask questions, what we are really saying to our partner is that we want to know more about them. What's more attractive than that?

As it turns out, all men aren't as one-dimensional as most of them appear to be. When a man feels comfortable enough to let his guard down and share his emotions with a woman, it can increase attraction, helping to build a stronger connection and foundation for a relationship and who knows, maybe even falling in love.

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