DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: Long time, first time, you know the drill. I want you to settle something for me and my friends. We’ve been arguing about the whole “who’s the most attractive to women” and we’re getting nowhere.
My position is that women are more attracted to bodies than guys think. I can’t on Instagram without seeing my female friends openly drooling over some gym bro with 8% body fat. Meanwhile if you were to ask them, they’d say it’s not about their looks so much as other aspects, and then they point to Pete Davidson or that dude on The Bear (or whatever it’s called) and I don’t get it.
My buddies point out that Davidson’s got money, fame, and he’s supposed to have a massive dick, which could also explain why he’s constantly dating Kim K level chicks even looking like trash.
So which is it? Help a bro out.
Wants The Secret Sauce
DEAR WANTS THE SECRET SAUCE: Ah, WTSS, I want to thank you for this timely gift; I’ve been looking for an excuse to talk about this without having to relitigate the Debate That Never Ends about men’s physiques and what men need to look like to get hot women.
This is a topic that, obviously, comes up a lot, and in a lot of weird places. I still remember the folks who came out of Chef, complaining that Jon Favreau was clearly full of s--t for implying that his character could’ve hooked up with women who look like Scarlett Johannson and Sofia Vegara. Meanwhile, everyone I know who’s familiar with kitchen culture and chefs in particular was nodding along; professional chefs have long been known as some of the sex-gettingist people out there, even when they looked like a greased up sewer rat.
(And this is before we get to the Discourse of casting Luis Guzman as Gomez Addams in Wednesday…)
And then, of course, there’s Pete Davidson, a man who has a seemingly singular ability – as one of my friends put it – to kick outside his coverage, despite looking like a consumptive line cook at Waffle House who deals meth on the side.
So what gives?
Well, what gives is… not really paying attention to women. In fact, one of the things that trips a lot of guys up is that they fail to realize that a) women aren’t a hive mind and b) most of what they think makes a guy attractive is what’s making him more attractive… to other men. While I don’t think anyone will deny that there’s definitely something aesthetically appealing about a guy built like a Greek statue, most of what guys think of as making dudes attractive is based around what impresses them and projecting outward.
In fact, so much of men’s ideas about what women want isn’t borne out of women’s interests as much as their own anxieties and interests projected outward. A lot of guys want women with idealized physiques and so they tend to assume that women want the same thing. Guys who’re the most worried about their height – and how height ties to perceptions of masculinity – are the ones most convinced that this is all women care about. Same with hair, same with money, same with having a massive schlong. It’s less about women’s actual tastes and much more about their own beliefs being reflected back at them.
I mean, Shania Twain had a hit song about it and everything.
But if you start to look at media created by women, for women… you get a very different picture. You’re going to find, for example, a lot more women who’ll get very turned on by a man’s hands. Or his singing voice. Or being large but gentle and kind.
In fact, if you watch romantic comedies or read romance novels, you may notice, for example, that the thing that ultimately makes it possible for the female lead to fall for the male romantic lead isn’t that he hit the gym and got a promotion at work… it’s that his behavior and attitude changed.
Even in cases of guys who are stupidly handsome already, what flips women’s attraction switches in those stories is about how they act. Crazy, Stupid, Love is a prime example of this; Ryan Gosling’s arc – what makes it possible for Emma Stone to fall for him – is dropping his whole “player” facade and being genuine with her. Yes, he’s good looking and there’s chemistry there, but his gamesmanship is a turn-off and only irritates her. It’s only when he’s actually real that a relationship starts.
Which brings us to Pete Davidson. It always amuses me when folks bring up his money or his fame as being the only thing that makes him appealing… as though Ariana Grande, Emily Ratajkowski or Kim “an actual billionaire” Kardashian are going to be star-struck or bowled over by his SNL residuals.
Now, while Pete may or may not be carrying around a baby’s arm holding an apple in his pants, one of the things that is worth looking at is who many of these women were dating before him. The most obvious example is Kim Kardashian’s divorce from Kanye – especially as he shacks up with actual Nazis and goes on InfoWars and other insurrectionist podcasts to proclaim his love of Hitler.
One of the things you can say for Davidson is that he’s the definition of low-drama. There aren’t any huge scandals about how s--tty of a boyfriend he is (at least, as of this writing…) or how his relationships have blown up or crashed and burned. If anything, it seems safe to say that he has a track record of relationships that’ve ended fairly amicably. There’re obviously some impulsive moments – his rapid engagement to Grande and tattooing her name on his neck, for example – but no grand blow-ups. In fact, most of his exes – and in some cases their families – have nothing but good things to say about him, and vice versa.
Dating someone who’s affectionate, fun, with low stakes and who’s unquestionably chill after the tumultuous roller-coasters that define celebrity relationships? That alone has to be like a cool washcloth on a sunburn.
Then there’s the fact that, beyond being sweet, he’s genuinely funny. Love him or hate him, you can’t deny that he’s a gifted comedian. That makes him fun to be around. After all, when we enjoy ourselves more in somebody’s presence, we instinctively prioritize our relationship with that person. We enjoy the dopamine that comes with someone who can make us laugh or have a good time, and want more, and so we spend more and more time with them.
I mean, there’s a reason why Jessica Rabbit’s reasoning for marrying Roger is “he makes me laugh“.
And let’s be honest: Davidson’s not a bad looking guy. He’s unconventional looking, sure, in no small part because of the effects of having Crohn’s Disease and… let’s call them questionable tattoos.
(Look, I’m a tattoo snob, ok?)
He – like a lot of folks who declare to me that they look like the spawn of the Toxic Avenger – is average at WORST. And while he may not be everyone’s cup of tea, his appeal is undeniable… in no small part because our personalities make us more attractive to people. The more we get to know people, the more attractive they become to us, regardless of their physical looks. This is well-documented; over time, uniqueness ranks higher in appeal than conventional good looks. Now this isn’t to say that looking good doesn’t matter. Nobody’s saying that. But what makes someone good looking isn’t the same as being attractive, and most of what makes someone good looking is presentation – hair, skin care, style, etc.
But what about those women drooling over thirst traps on Instagram?
Well… what about them? Guys are fully capable of being turned on by women with curves like a stretch of bad road and still be attracted to women with different bodies. Being attracted to one body type is hardly exclusionary to all others. And what we find aesthetically pleasing isn’t always the same as what we’d want in a partner. I know a lot of women who like the look of professional athletes or celebrities but would never want to actually be in a relationship with them.
So if you’re curious about what makes a dude appealing to women, even if you can’t see it? Well… maybe look at what women are saying, instead of assuming that what other guys told you has to be the truth.
Please send your questions to Dr. NerdLove at his website (www.doctornerdlove.com/contact); or to his email, email@example.com