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How to Be More Attractive

Mark Tyrrell
Article by Mark Tyrrell
Therapist trainer of 25 years
Co-founder of Hypnosis Downloads

9 tips to be more magnetic to people you fancy

"You stop even seeing good looks after a while! You start taking them for granted because you need more from a person. If you can demonstrate 'more' when you meet people, then you are often seen as attractive regardless of looks."

"Too many men and women trade on their looks but don't work on their personality or character. A book might have a wonderful cover, but if that's all it has then who will want to read it? Girls, as you say, seem to like me because of who I am, what I say and do. I'm no looker, perhaps, but I'm not talking about beauty here; I'm talking about attractiveness."

I had merely exclaimed to a pal (perhaps a tinge enviously) how women seemed to fall at his feet. How did it happen? I was still under the illusion that looks were all when it came to dating, but Matt didn't have looks, he wasn't tall or rugged, but he was funny, razor sharp, confident, knew how to talk, and he had his own unique style. In short, he had 'something about him' in bucket loads.

The vital difference between attractiveness and beauty

Physical attractiveness boils down to whether someone looks as if they would be a good 'vehicle' in which to pass on your genes to the next generation. Markers of fertility in women include youth, waist to hip ratio, healthy skin, fuller lips and white teeth, clear large eyes, small chin, and glossy hair; and in men, height, clarity of eyes and skin, muscle mass and tone, good teeth, and other 'health markers'. This all adds to a sense of health, vitality, and a good genetic bet.

In both sexes, physical symmetry is deemed most attractive. However, someone can look great, tick all the gene boxes, but leave you colder than a March morning on the north face of Everest. Attractive people can even be 'ugly' on paper, but they hold some kind of fascination.

What I want to talk about here are the behaviours that will make you more attractive regardless of how you look. After all, as Matt said of himself, he was "no looker".

1) How to be more attractive: Like other people

That's right; being an unsmiling, 'cool' and mysterious, reticent façade hinting at a tortured unhappy soul may attract some people, but not most people. People like people who seem to like people. And how do people demonstrate they like you? They smile. Smiling faces are deemed more attractive (1), and smiling whilst looking directly into the eyes of another person makes you seem even more attractive. Smiling sends messages like: "I am likable. I like you. I am confident, optimistic, and energetic." So drop the intriguing 'misery chic' and laugh, smile, relax, and find the best in others. And leading on from this...

2) Make people around you smile (especially people of the opposite sex)

Matt would walk into a room and within minutes, women would be laughing and smiling. He had an impact and everyone could see many other people liked him. Why was that important?

According to a study by British psychologists (2), we're more likely to find someone attractive if we catch members of the opposite sex smiling at them. In the tests, women rated men more attractive after they had been shown images of other women smiling at them.

The researchers found that men respond to women in the same way - if she seems popular (judged by how much other men smile at her), she'll seem more attractive to a man. Both sexes subconsciously take account of their sexual competitors' views when judging the appeal of a potential partner and may place value on a potential partner based in part on how they feel others value them.

So next time you're out and about and you want to appear more attractive, it's worth smiling and being friendly to everyone around you; because when they smile back at you, it's going to make you more attractive. But...

3) Reserve special attention for the person you want to attract

Special focused attention is flattering. So whilst it's great to have other men or women smiling at you, to be more attractive to that special person you need to be especially interested in them. Ask about them, talk about them (but not just about them, else you'll seem stalkerish). How much attention we give someone (not too little or too much) can even make us seem more attractive when someone has never met us.

Research was done (3) on what made the most attractive personal ads for both men and women. For both sexes, 'it's all about you' ads which gave little or no personal information were deemed a little creepy, whereas the 'it's all about me' ads were equally unattractive, making the writer seem a self-absorbed bore. The most effective personal ads were about 70% me and 30% you. So if this tells us anything, then lavish attention on the person you are interested in up to a point. But also show that you have your own life.

4) Be more attractive by being yourself more

Keep it real. Well, realish. Most people make special efforts with those they're attracted to and that's fine, but don't fake it completely. I knew a woman who would pretend to have done all kinds of things she hadn't if the guy she was with expressed his interest in it: "Oh really? I love football/scuba diving/19th century Patagonian stamps too! What a coincidence; we were obviously made for each other!"

People will know if you are faking it to that extent. Being comfortable within your own skin is attractive and that means having your own point of view, likes and dislikes, and ideas and interests.

5) Be a little different

Go out in my home town on a Saturday night and get mugged - I'm (half) kidding. Seriously, you'll see hundreds of young men and women all dressed the same, same clothes, speaking in the same tones, using the same words, texting furiously at the expense of just enjoying being with the people that are physically present. Of course, conforming to type is important for most young'uns - especially if they feel they haven't yet formed their own identity. But to be especially attractive (above and beyond physical looks), you need to be a little different or at least memorable.

Consider adopting a certain subtle style of dress. Decide what your opinions are. Don't just go with the herd. Listen to and learn from those who communicate well and learn to communicate in your way. One thing I noticed about Matt was his unique way of talking and using language.

6) Health is sexy

'Heroin chic' aside, markers of health are attractive. So you may not naturally be the most symmetrical, stunningly beautiful woman or handsome man, but anyone can try to get enough sleep and exercise (both of which are natural beautifiers), eat healthily, and avoid too much alcohol.

7) Don't dis your exes

If you want to be more attractive, don't communicate too much negativity. Cynicism is depressing. But it's especially not a great idea to rubbish your ex-partners (at least not too soon!).

Hours spent offloading your regrets, anguish, and resentments over past loves can make any possible new ones feel as redundant as sunscreen oil on a winter's midnight. And they may feel they're getting an unwelcome glimpse of their own possible relationship fate.

8) Be bold - but caring

Both men and women like daring men and women. Women like men who are brave and take calculated risks (4) and men like women who are direct and bold in their chat up lines (5). We men don't like subtlety when looking for signals as to whether a woman is interested.

And it seems that women are more likely to feel a brave man will look after their interests better than a less confident guy - the need to feel protected apparently runs deep. But it also seems that women don't just like macho, but a blend of brave and caring, tough and sensitive. Demonstrating these traits is what makes you attractive - so if you're a guy, cuddling a poodle whilst talking about your next white water rafting expedition should do it.

9) Be funny (if you're a man)

A man can be perceived as daring if he uses humour, especially in front of groups (where the risk is he fails to raise a laugh). Yet, be warned: men prefer women who laugh at their jokes, but don't crack funnies of their own too much. The fact is, in general, men don't like women who are funnier than they are! (6) I cringe to even write this. But women do tend to find funny men attractive; so if you're a guy, make 'em laugh, and if you're a woman (and want to seem attractive to a man), find one who genuinely makes you split your sides.

Remember, all of the above should be by products of you relaxing with yourself and being friendly and interested (which make you interesting). Trying too hard to 'be more attractive' can produce diminishing returns as the 'trying' starts to get in the way of the 'just being'.

Matt's attractiveness was apparently effortless, but was also founded on natural psychological insights.

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  1. Claire Conway and colleagues at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland found that both men and women deemed faces looking straight at them to be more attractive and more likeable, even if the faces looked disgusted. Though unsurprisingly, there was a greater preference for smiles.
  2. According to research carried out at Aberdeen University in 2007 by Ben Jones, author of the paper in the Royal Society's biological research journal.
  3. As reported by Dr Richard Wiseman in his marvellous book Quirkology: The curious science of everyday lives (pgs 168-172).
  4. In a recent study entitled 'Who dares wins', two researchers conducted experiments on attraction and found that women prefer risk-prone brave males to risk-avoidant non-brave males. Kelly, S., Dunbar, R. I. M. Human Nature, Vol. 12, No. 2. (2001), pp. 89-105.
  5. According to the research reported in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, scientists at Bucknell University in Pennsylvania, USA, found that men prefer a direct, no-nonsense approach when being chatted up by women, since they had trouble 'reading' hints, even if they were accompanied by coy smiles and body language.
  6. "Men see being funny as a male thing," explained Dr Rod Martin, who led the project. The findings are published in the scientific journal Evolution and Human Behavior, January 2006.
Published by Mark Tyrrell - in Interpersonal Skills