Photo: “Lovers” by photostock (Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net)
On Physical Traits
Romantic love often begins with physicality. People are embodied beings and communicate with the world through their bodies. In cultures where marriages are arranged, physicality is not a major problem in the selection of partners. But in urban and advanced societies with strong emphasis on romantic love and falling in love before marriage, physical looks play an important role in the selection of partners. Research has shown that it only takes between 90 seconds and 4 minutes for a person to fall in love at first sight or fancy someone. And what usually attracts the person during this moment is not what the other says, but what his or her presence projects through body language (55%) and the tone and speed of the voice (38%). The content of what the person says is only 7%.
There has to be some sort of physical basis before two strangers fall in love. People have some minimum standards of beauty which he or she learned through social learning. This is usually attuned to his or her cultural upbringing and taste. Thus, “loving one’s own” is a common pattern in falling in love. People with similar culture, race, ethnicity, social class, religion, geographical location, and social categories usually more disposed to fall in love with each than those with more dissimilarities and cultural incompatibilities. Cultural similarities reduce a lot of social barriers that make the love relationship easier to maintain. A study published in the journal Psychological Science found that men who live in cultures where food and money are scarce tend to find heavier women more attractive than thinner ones. These men may see the extra pounds as a status symbol; a buxom figure signals having the means to purchase plenty of food.
People with similar cultural background share similar standards of beauty and are, therefore, more likely to fall in love than complete cultural strangers. Of course, with the advent of digital technology and the Internet, people’s standards of physical beauty may become hybrid or mixed, especially to those who are heavy users of the multi-cultural world wide web. Cultural diffusion through the Internet can change people’s standards of beauty and love and can make them accepting of foreign standards of falling in love.
It’s probable that a person “falls in love for the first time” because of the physical presence of the other as resembling somebody, whether real or imagined, whom he or she idolizes or had a crush, whether a celebrity, a friend, former classmate or officemate or anybody he or she had been attracted to. The person’s wish list of an ideal romantic partner immediately become active during the first encounter and “falls in love” with somebody he or she has not been known acquainted with. Although popularly considered as “love at first sight”, experts and moralists do not generally consider this as love but infatuation and only a first step towards true love. Using biological theory, Helen Fisher of Rutgers University also considers “love at first sight” as only the first of the 3 stages of love: lust, attraction and attachment. For her, the first stage of love is only lust. This is the amazing moment when two people are driven by the sex hormones of testosterone and estrogen. In the second stage, the couple is truly love-struck and can think of little else. And in the third and attachment stage, the couple is bonded together long enough to have and raise children.
Based on many research studies, the following physical traits are generally attractive to women:
1. Taller than their Women
Height matters in falling in love. Women are generally attracted to men who are taller than them. Taller men have a bigger body frame, and thus, have stronger physical strength and more capable of protecting their romantic partners.
Fig. 1 “Young Hugging Couple” by Marcolm (Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net)
“A 2014 research conducted by professors at Rice University and the University of Northern Texas found out that out of around 1000 Yahoo! Personal Dating ads, nearly 50% of women claimed that they’d prefer to date a man who’s taller than they were.” Thus, height still matters. Tall men are usually attractive to women because of the popular belief that they can provide more protection to their female partners that shorter ones. But take note that this doesn’t mean that men should be very tall to be attractive to women. This study only suggests that the male partner must be at least a little taller than the female partner and not shorter. The average height of men and women of a particular culture of countries applies here. Southeast Asian men such as Indonesians, Thais and Filipinos are generally shorter than Caucasian European or American men. So what is the average height for men in a given culture is still socially acceptable as long as male lovers are taller than their female partners. What is generally unacceptable is that the male partner is shorter than the female partner. In this case, it seems the woman is physically stronger and providing protection to her male partner which is considered as a reversal of roles; thus, culturally unacceptable.
But people must not make this height requirement absolute as there are couples who are happy with shorter male partners. For older people, what matters more in a relationship are intimacy, companionship, social status of the partner, and financial security rather than the height and other physical attributes of their partners. By age, the youth and young adults seem to value this requirement of height than older people.
- Athletic Body
Fig. 2 “Portrait Muscular Male” by domdeen (Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net)
Researchers have found out of all the body shapes, women in general seem to prefer a “V-shaped” athletic body of their men. Respondents say a strong and well-defined musculature on the upper body and a narrow and slim waist. “Because body type is a reliable indicator of health and fertility, men are more attracted to women with a lower waist-to-hip (WHR) ratio and an average body mass index (BMI), neither thin nor plump, because these are associated with youth and sexual maturity.”
3. Slower Movements
Fig. 3 “Young Romantic Couple” by imagerymajestic (Image courtesy of DigitalFreePhotos.net)
Researchers have found that men who have slower movements and speech are often perceived as more at ease and confident, and thus, more attractive. This particularly true in first date or where the partners are still cautious with one another. The male can give a good impression if he is slower in his verbal and nonverbal communication that allows the female partner to be at ease in the social interaction. “Stay calm and lean back in the beginning to persuade your partner that you are safe, trustworthy, and likable. Lean in and get more energetic once you’ve earned their trust, to motivate them to become excited about the prospect of seeing you again.” Slower movements can also indicate good manners, confidence, gentleness, and good breeding.
4. Smaller Belly
Fig. 4 “Portrait Muscular Male Torso” by Domdeen (Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net)
A large amount of abdominal fat can indicate lower levels of testosterone and lower sex drive and fertility. It’s absolutely no surprise that women love that washboard stomach. The ripples are the epitome of what a man is defined by. Some women didn’t necessarily require rock hard ab, but a flat stomach is important just the same.
- Deeper Voices
Fig. 5 “Young Businessman Talking to Client” by stockimages (Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net)
Men with deeper voices are more likely to appear attractive or make an impression than those with higher voices. Deeper voices are generally associated with masculinity and power while higher voices are associated with femininity and weaker strength. According to a group of researchers from University College London, women perceive men with a deeper voice as a sign of a larger and stronger physicality.
6. Symmetrical Face
Fig. 2.7 “Portrait of Handsome Model” by imagerymajestic (Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net)
An Austrian study found out that women prefer male faces that are symmetrical with evenly spaced eyes (which are often considered a sign of good health).
7. Alpha Male Features
Fig. 2.8 “Smiling Man With Towel” by imagerymajestic (Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net)
Heterosexual females tend to be physically or sexually attracted to men with traditionally masculine features such as a muscular frame, a square jaw, big nose and small yes. These physical traits often signify higher levels of testosterone, and are more common in “alpha males”, males with a set of personality traits that include directness, decisiveness, and intensity.
- Attractive Eyes
Fig. 2.9 “Smiling Young Couples” by imagerymajestic (Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net)
Many women attracted to men’s eyes. The Eyes is the window to the person’s soul. The sincerity and character of the person can sometimes be glimpsed through the expression of his eyes. An eye movement can give a lot of clues to women with regard to the kind of men they are dating with.
Moreover, researchers speculated that human beings are naturally drawn to what’s most familiar, and eye and hair color indicates familiarity and thus induces attraction. Women are usually attracted to men whose eye color is similar with those of their father’s.
9. Nice Butt
Fig.2.9.1 “Back Pose of Smart Young Guy” by stockimages (Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net)
In one survey in the United Kingdom with 1000 respondents, women find the male body parts, according to rank, as the sexiest which can turn them on. Women are generally attracted to athletic men with nice butts. Some respondents wrote that they love those “half-moon” butts, while others preferred the “slightly curvaceous” ones. Men with honed hips are also attractive to women.
Despite all these attractive physical traits, true love is beyond physicality. It also includes mutual self-giving, strength of character, good personal values, and the capacity to commit one’s self to marriage.