What *Really* Matters To Men

This is the eleventh piece to be published on the Get The Guy blog from my brother Stephen. Steve helped co-write the Get The Guy book and is a wealth of knowledge on dating and relationships.

Today’s piece dispels the myth that looks are all that matters, and provides a comprehensive breakdown of what a High Value Woman is. This is the key to getting guys to put you in the ‘Girlfriend Category’ and to have them chasing you for commitment. Enjoy!

Enter Stephen

It’s no secret that men place women into categories. Or maybe it is (in which case, sorry guys!).

When we identify these categories we see what separates the woman who only gets attention for one night from the woman who is constantly batting away marriage proposals.

To begin with, let’s look at two common stereotypes about men and women.

Male stereotype: Men are dogs. They will overlook any personality flaw in a woman if she has a pretty face and the body of a Victoria’s Secret model.

Female stereotype: Women are superficial. They are seduced by money and power and will compromise on any other desired qualities if they can pin down a man who has both.

Both of these stereotypes exist for a reason. The male stereotype exists because it’s plain to see that attractive women can receive a ton of attention for their looks.

And here’s the false conclusion most people draw from this: Men just want a pretty face.

The problem with this conclusion though is that it confuses attention with attraction. Pretty women will always get attention from a certain percentage of guys. Just like rich and powerful guys will always get attention from a certain percentage of women.

But we have to see this for what it is: Initial attention.

Why Initial Attention Is Only The Beginning

Initial attention is like having a great résumé for a job.

It catches someone’s eye and distinguishes you from other people. But only for a short window. If you screw up the interview or turn out to be useless on the job (not a euphemism, promise!), then the résumé won’t help.

It’s the same with visual attraction. All it does (on its own) is turn heads.

There are many things we can all do to improve our visual attraction. The beauty industry likes to make this seem like a labyrinth of complexity, but really it comes down to: working out regularly, eating well, taking care of our skin, grooming well, dressing to compliment our best assets, being fashionable and coordinated, having good posture and a warm smile. These things are all under our control. But though we can improve them it’s a big mistake to make looks our sole obsession.

Even if you put all this work into your looks and become the most radiant, sexy woman in the room and he’s totally into your type – all that does on it’s own is trigger a basic male response in his head: I would have sex with her.

She has physical attraction, which means this: as long as she doesn’t do something horrific in his presence, like murder a fellow human being in cold blood, or tell him to “call me maybe” when they exchange numbers, he’s going to want to sleep with her.

But even with visual attraction, there’s no guarantee a guy will even approach in the first place.

Most guys never approach women. They only approach if the risk seems low i.e. if she seems open, warm, fun, approachable and friendly. Guys rarely approach the most attractive girl in the place; they approach the girl who is attractive AND approachable.

One woman could look like Scarlett Johansson, but if he’s scared of getting a cocktail thrown in his face he could be in the room with her for ten hours and never strike up a conversation.

The Three Boxes, Or: What Keeps Him For Longer Than One Night

All this is to make an obvious point: Looks aren’t everything. They are something, but we tend to over-assume their importance. Like the impressive résumé, the most they do is open a door.

Yet it’s so bizarre how we assume people with good looks must have breezy love lives and just fall into relationships. Good looks just help with one part of the process, and even then they don’t guarantee much more than a few sleazy come-ons at a bar.

When a woman is just physically attractive and nothing else, a guy places that woman into the Sex Category, or what we can call Box No. 1.

There are three boxes guys place women in, the order of which is as follows:

Box No. 1: Girl I would sleep with (Sex Category)

Box No. 2: Girl I would casually date/have sex with and introduce to my friends (Casual Dating Category).

Box No. 3: Girl I would have long-term relationship with and introduce to my family (Girlfriend/Marriage Category).

Box No. 1 is usually visual and based on lust. It doesn’t mean a girl has to be the hottest woman he’s ever seen by any stretch of the imagination – it just means he has to feel some base tug of sexual chemistry.

Box No. 2 is the woman for whom he feels attraction, but she will also possess a few other key qualities that make her fun for more than one night, such as being:

  • Good company
  • Fun to hang out with
  • Easy or intelligent conversation
  • Able to charm his friends
  • Not embarrassing/nasty/bitchy in public
  • Good natured and has a sense of humour

Box No. 3 has far greater criteria, and requires a man to see evidence of specific high value traits, such as:

  • A strong sense of purpose and direction in life
  • Independence and interests/pursuits that give her fulfillment
  • A commitment to growth and ability to improve
  • Looking after her health and treating her body with respect
  • Strong standards for how she should be treated that she sticks to
  • A feeling of self-worth and internal validation
  • Sexual confidence and ability to be adventurous in bed
  • Ability to turn him on emotionally and sexually
  • Absence of neediness
  • Willingness to love him for who he is and encourage him
  • A lifestyle that she loves living and good relationships with people around her
  • Absence of drama

These are just some of the major traits that men are unconsciously seeking out when they begin dating someone. The more high value traits a woman shows, the quicker he puts her straight into the Girlfriend Category. This is why some guys claim they ‘just know’ that a girl is a keeper – because early on they see evidence that the girl they are dating is high value and thus irreplaceable (providing he’s in the right time in his life for a commitment of course).

All of this might seem obvious. It’s obvious that people are more choosy about who they have relationships with compared to potential sex partners.

But people forget this obvious truth.

Moreover, the broader purpose of this piece is to highlight that everyone struggles with different parts of the process when it comes to dating.

Just because someone is physically appealing, it doesn’t mean that they have the high value traits that make a guy want to call them for a second and third date, or get into a relationship with them (and the same goes for men).

Equally, just because someone is high value and would make an incredible partner does not mean that they are good at getting that initial attention in the first ten minutes. To go back to our job analogy earlier – it’s as though they are perfect for the role but don’t know how to write an eye-catching résumé that shows their qualities early on, leaving them overlooked for the wrong reasons.

Everyone has their own weaknesses. Take a look through the qualities mentioned in this piece and identify one or two areas that you think are your weakest areas. There is huge power in identifying what we need to work on, or else we stumble blind for months or years working on the wrong things.

And remember – most of the time our dating life isn’t a total disaster. Most of us are getting it mostly right in most areas. Sometimes just fixing one missing link in the chain can bring the whole thing together.

What links do you need to tighten up? Let me know in the comments below. If I notice a pattern in the responses I’ll direct a future article to that specific topic.


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Photo credit: André Benedix

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221 Replies to “What *Really* Matters To Men”

  • Hey Stephen!
    *choosing not to break into taylor swift lyrics right now*

    I recently went through a situation I feel I might have handled incorrectly. My friend and I almost dated. We had a solid foundation of casual friendship. I liked many of his values, though disagreed fiercely with his opinions. (It was fine, I liked arguing with him)

    But the night our friendship started transitioning into a relationship-esque thing, I realized that:

    When he flirted with me, he demeaned me.

    It’s the standard tease, push, or put-down. I like doing this every now and then, but he ended up doing it THE ENTIRE NIGHT.

    He stopped being himself, & started being the opposite of me.

    This wasn’t attractive, and when he followed me home that night to grab the first kiss, I raced off and texted him the following:

    “Hey, I did like you before, but now I’m just leading you on. I’m sorry.”

    But I really only gave him that one night to prove himself. He really liked me, so in the future should I give guys a longer time-period to become “normal” again?


  • My problem is the guys that I am interested in are not completely interested in me and I’m not sure what I am doing wrong. I have had quite a few experiences where these guys have initiated contact or approached me and then they back off just as quickly! They might filirt with me, but don’t call or initiate dates. What would make them show interest and then back off so quickly? I really want to be able to Get The Guy I want! How can I do that?

  • Hi, Steve!
    I really enjoyed your article.
    Interesting how people who are so good looking say that looks aren’t that important. It’s like, well, I may be hot, but I’m so much more…
    I had the pleasure of meeting your Mom last October in the women’s retreat and wow – she is a knock-out! So beautiful, sweet and kind. Your Dad got the whole package!
    Much love to you and your lovely family. : )

  • Hi Steve!
    I love your point of view; sometimes I feel like I was listening to some of my male-frinds. One of them even has his personal categories of “boxes” :D
    I’ve been following your blog for a while, but I still haven’t found a solution for my problem. I would be grateful if you could help me now!
    Is it possible to get the guy who doesn’t want to commit, because he feels “empty” after his previous relationship, which has completly rouined him emotionaly?
    I know him for over a year. He used to irritate me, but as he was doing everything (calling/writing/invitating everywhere everyday)to change it, he became one of the closest people to me. I know all his friends, he knows mine.

  • …and the rest of the story, as my computer’s mean…
    He admits I know him better than anyone. But there always has been “sexual chemistry” between us two. We’ve started to visit each other, as we’re studying in different cities, and we’ve become a bit “more than friends”. Some of our mates thinks that we’re a couple, but… He said if he wanted to commit, I would be his first and only choise, but he still feels empty and out of all emotions after a painfull broke up (it was 2 years ago). Is there anything to do to gest from Box 2 to Box 3, or I will have to find white flag?

    1. I’m not sure “being more than friends” is a good idea as things are. I take it that’s a euphemism for “sex without commitment.” SOunds to me like you’ll end up pretty hurt by this arrangement, and he’ll be fine. Better to stay his friend until he decides he’s recovered.

  • This is off topic, but I am in a situation right now and need advice! I’m seeing someone I really like… I’m following all of your rules and think I’m in a box 2 right now; I’ve put him in a box 3. However, I found out that he cheated on his last girlfriend.. huge turn off, and would normally be a deal breaker. In your opinion, is once a cheater always a cheater? If he has cheated more than once, I should for sure call it quits, right?

  • Really enjoying the articles. Quick followup question re: encouragement and support.

    Would love to get your take on this scenario:

    A guy tells me about a deal that he is working on that is really important to him and could be a huge opportunity. I’ve wished him good luck, remembered key details/dates/times.

    If the deal comes through, I’m in the clear – let the celebration begin. But what do I say if the deal doesn’t come through? How do you a support a man when he falls down?

  • I’m glad i’ve read this article. It outlines boundaries which women can take to be able to choose which category to be in by being able to acknowledge flawed qualities.
    I’ve been seeing a guy for nearly two months (not long I know) but everything fell into place almost easily. We met on a work’s do night out and I didn’t know him well, or even at all. He ended up sitting next to me for the rest of the night and that was it. Before I had my taxi home, he was messaging me on facebook. He apologized for any discrepancies he claimed he had done, so I put his mind to rest that he had done nothing wrong. A week passed and he asked for a date – and it was a good one, even if it was dinner and a movie! He gave me frequent messages through the next week and spoke to me in work (which never happened before)and after a group outing, he asked for another date before the night was out. Our second date was even better, we end up going to his place and not even undoing a button. I expected a third date, instead he specifically asked me to be exclusive on facebook because he wanted everyone to know that we were casually seeing each other. He wanted to be my boyfriend after only three weeks.
    A month on, everything is much more intimate, as he requested and i don’t mean just sexually either. I was wondering how everything felt so effortless until I had read this since after my last relationship 2 years ago horribly fell apart. I hadn’t noticed that I was, in fact, a box three girl. I had no idea that I possessed at least four of the qualities of box three and all of box two. I’m naturally flirty, I have no issue with being confident in that area and I am NOT a victoria secret model. I’m actually over weight, and this guy is a personal trainer… I must’ve unconsciously adapted the box three requirements!
    If this relationship falls through then I know exactly what to do again because of this!!

  • I appreciate your valuable insight my biggest challenge is a low selfesteem.i hav this amazing man in my life.i dated him 9years ago and recently he contacted me again i have become a dedicated follower of yours i want to beccome a membeer but i cant afford it right now tthank you for your tips

  • And they say women have long lists, huh?:D I do not agree that box 3 is something that all men look for, as I see plenty of drama prone / dependant women / women without direction in life, etc. who still are in comitted relationships or marriages, whereas women who, in my view, tick most of the points in box 3 (I say most, as I have no clue about such aspects as sexuality) stay single for ages and ages, and even get scolded for being “too much of something”,as they don’t settle for a man who doesn’t tick all of the points in the box himself.
    Living in an eastern european country I see too much of women who are awesome, yet struggle with findind a boyfriend, as the guys around are just too lazy to keep up with them in many aspects (starting with the looks, ending with the worldview), or just settle with the man they can get, as quality men are too few.

  • i think unconditional love,pure heart,and the woman who carries her self in any situation really matters to men.

    1. So the woman should love him unconditionally while he is still deciding whether she is worthy of his love? Doesn’t make sense — but it does make sense *of* why a lot of women pour themselves out to get love and end up getting rejected. They think they can get love by giving it. But men don’t really just want unconditional love; they only want it from someone they can commit to love in return.

  • Hey Stephen

    I have been reading you and Mathew’s book and following the blog, trying my best to implement what you have both taught. I admit I am new to dating again after leaving a four year relationship and am so far a little disappointed with my first dating experience as I thought I followed all the rules.

    1. Took pride in my appearance
    2. I was flirty and showed that I can be sexy
    3. Had interesting conversations outside general banter (I’ve always talked easily with people)
    4. High value – didn’t chase after the guy but still let him know I was interested & stuck to my rules around intimate relations.

    Believe it or not I think no. 4 is what lost me the race, the truth is this guy was particularly pushing in the area of intimate relations, but I have always valued this act and having only had one partner, didn’t wish to give it up so lightly, ie. Date no.2. I made it clear that whilst I defiantly wasn’t opposed to it and that I found them incredibly attractive (and hard to resist), I needed to get to know someone well first and trust them, hence it wouldn’t happen right away. Unfortunately I never heard back from the guy again. I know obviously he is not worth my time, but it still feels really crap to be rejected for something like this. I feel like instead of this fact making me appear high value it had the opposite effect. As it’s a value I will always hold, how can I in future turn this into something a guy will value rather than run away from?

    1. Well spoken, for those of us taking a road far less traveled in not becoming intimate with every man we meet! Please understand,No offense to others who choose otherwise.!

      I am going through the same thing which It makes me wonder; If we see ourselves of high value and we are wanting relationships to be equally valuable. Then what value is the relationship based on? All 4 of the above or something else?

      Pray Tell! Matthew~

      Love is a battlefield!

    2. Thanks D and Aleece, it feels better knowing I am not alone in my predicament. I hope Matthew & Stephen can shed a little more light on this for us.

      1. I think we women have to realise that the same guy who stops calling after we don’t give it up on demand is the SAME GUY who will walk away even after he gets it on demand. Why? Because maybe no matter how fantastic you are, HE isn’t in the mindset for a relationship; we have to realise that rejection isn’t always so personal.

        You’re regretting making the right choice just because this guy was only after physical gratification and didn’t want to put in too much effort to get it. Don’t compromise yourself for THAT guy. Be glad he filtered himself out before you slept with him.

    3. How a man reacts when a woman says no to sex is very telling of his character. If he doesn’t call you back or reacts badly in any orther way, he’s a douche. In which case, you just have to say, thank goodness that douche is out of my life. And another good point is, he served as validation that you are an interesting woman. While there are lots of douchebags out there, there are also plenty of good guys to meet. Holding your standards help you filter out the dicks more quickly so you don’t waste time.

    4. I agree with you. Every time I tell a guy I’m seeing that I want to wait for mutual trust and affection (love) with a future sexual partner, they turn into thin air. It’s so sad that people have become so lazy about making a lasting connection.

  • While I find the above categories that men put women into to be generally true — the reasons given for why men put women into a certain category ignore one of the most basic truths of humanity: people see what they want to see and hear what they want to hear.

    For pretty much as long as I can remember, I’ve had the distinctly unpleasant experience of being assumed by most people to be less intelligent than they are (often considerably so). People tend to make this assumption upon first meeting me then treat me in a manner consistent with their assumption but completely inconsistent with who I actually am. Their assumption has absolutely nothing to do with how intelligent I truly am, how much I respect myself, how I comport myself, what I’m wearing, how much makeup I do or don’t have on, or how much I value myself. They see what they believe to be true, no matter how inconsistent with the evidence in front of them.

    And my experience is that this is true of men even more so than women. My experience has also been that men hold on to their initial assumption of me well past the time it should’ve become completely clear that their assumption is wrong and long past the point where I’ve lost my patience and any ability to respect their intelligence or good sense. This usually results in quite a lot of frustration and anger on their part — generally met with complete indifference by me, which usually only serves to infuriate them further. It’s as if I’ve committed a mortal sin by not being who they think I should be or acting in ways they expect and want me to act — and especially by ultimately not caring at all what they think of me. My only concern is for how people treat me — they can think of me however they wish.

    I’m usually treated by men in one of four ways: in a professional setting, my initial presence is generally met with condescension or barely concealed contempt (I’m in the tech industry). In a social environment, men not of my race usually assume I’m both stupid and slutty and attempt to treat me as such, or they consider me to be of low value and not worth anything other than indifference or derision (that never goes well for them). Men who are the same race as me generally treat me as a trophy who will be impressed by obvious signs of wealth or status (however much of those the guy in question can muster).

    It’s all tedious in the extreme. It’s tedious and tiresome; and though each time I hope that it will be different and I’ll at least be treated with common courtesy and respect, that rarely happens. I find that I have bouts of attempting to be social and telling myself that I can ignore the guys who treat me in ways I don’t appreciate and still have fun, followed by bouts of needing to stay as far away from other people as humanly possible while I attempt to recover my humor and good-will towards my fellow man.

    It’s a nice theory that people will treat you with the same respect with which you treat yourself and those around you, but I’ve never, ever found this to be true. At all. And as hard as I’ve tried, I’ve never found any solution to my dilemma. And none of the dating advice I’ve ever encountered acknowledges that this issue exists at all.

    If I were to ask for one thing when it comes to dating and men, it would be to receive useful advice on what to do in the case where who you are and who people see when they look at you have almost nothing in common — other than the usual simplistic nonsense about liking myself (which I already do) or changing my wardrobe or hair or makeup, as these have no ameliorating effects upon this issue whatsoever.

    1. Hi Shannon

      If I may ask, what is your racial/ethnic background that you reference? I may have some insight for you in addition to this– it may also be where you live that people are so judgmental based on you race. I find these experiences can often be a part of the environment and as you said, it’s not only about respecting yourself. It’s really not as simple sometimes and things like deep seated racist perceptions of some ignorant folks can’t be changed no matter how well put together you are.

  • Everybody talks about it, no does the thing about it… NEEDINESS.
    Expose, expound upon and explain it. What do wo/men see as another’s being “needy.” There are all sorts of being “needy,” … needy for this or that, but why in a relationship is being needy [for love] constantly highlighted as such a negative. Everyone wants love; we select those whom we choose to love for various reasons. Selectivity is not [ALWAYS] random; it can be for the proper reasons. Knowing the difference for oneself seems the appropriate thing. Seeing it in others as a big fat negative can be an incorrect evaluation. It is not always that the person is needy or desperate; it is that the “need” for relationship with a particular person is highly valued, just sometimes pressingly overdone and irritating enough that the other person turns off and away. How does one harness “the need thing.” Some of us “need” [desperately-Ha!] to know! Help-p-p!

    1. Neediness is indeed bad and destroys everything…because it is scary and suffocating. The moment when you realize that you want to run away, even I as a girl can say that. When the person is needy, he/she clings to you all the time, has expectations on how you would fulfill the need and then maybe disappointments because you did not. It is really much better that you have your own fulfillment and build something new with the girl/guy.

  • Hi Matt ~ I am enjoying all your blogs, videos, et al immensely. Can you address the right way on returning to an old flame (after 26 years). I recently reconnected with an old flame we were both right out of college and figuring out our futures. We dated exclusively for a year, then he moved away and we lost contact. Fast forward 26 years later, we see each other and its as if not one day had passed since we last saw each other. Intense attraction, nervousness on both parts, he trying hard to impress me, me not acting impress as I knew him before he became successful. Clearly we both have had total life changing experiences, me-divorce, he-a widower. We are both single adults, established and know what we want. We live 7 hours apart in California. Do the same rules apply returning to an old flame? Can you address in one of your future videos or talk show please. Thank you thank you…. Best and continued success!

  • I follow Hussey brothers and I deeply appreciate it, since it helps to work on myself, my approach, etc. A lot to be done here… But, one quick comment to this piece. Mathiew tells that women should start choosing men instead of being chosen, so I`d be glad to read about what criteria should men meet to be worth my long-distance interest, and not what I should do to be chosen.

  • Hi Steve, I’ve been reading your responses about why men pull away, is it always that clear cut? I was dating a guy for a few months then got cold feet and ended it, realising my mistake we got back on track and although he was very interested at the beginning again, he has now totally pulled back, our last time together was fab, any suggestions?

    1. Hey Ann,
      Well i can see what you mean that he is doing a hot and cold with you, hear me out, if a relationship is on and off within the first year, thats an immediate sign you’re wasting your time. He is not hot and cold because he is indecisive, He is hot and cold because he is manipulating you. Lets define, hot: he is manipulating you, cold: he is showing his true colors. So, my advice is when you’re no longer obsessed, men sense it. You often get what you want. This gives the power back to you. If you want to control your emotions, you have to control your thoughts. So the next time you meet a guy who is playing hot and cold again, act like you don’t even care when he gets cold.
      If he still isn’t giving you what you want, the question to ask yourself is whether you really want him.

  • Apparently guys look at me but very rarely approach… I am high value and they never get to find out… On the odd occasion I have been asked out (twice in 4 years)I have agreed then never heard from the guy again (not even had the date).

  • There seems to be a problem where more and more men want box 1 women, regardless of what the women actually are, box 3 or not. I recently went on a date with a guy who tried to ambush grope me repeatedly and became belligerent when I told him to stop and immobilized him. I wasn’t wearing anything revealing or rubbing up on him. I just let him kiss me and he took that to mean that I gave him the green light to cop a feel. This is the fourth guy this year in a row. They were pleasant before the date and during the date so I have no idea what happened…. If I keep being shoved into box 1 because I’m naturally full figured, THAT’S BULL!

    1. Ok I’m sorry. I’m just frustrated that this happened yet again even though I talked to the guy for awhile before accepting the date and he still acted a fool.

      1. I understand ur frustration & agree with what you are saying! Men are dogs! I see the way they look at women, and at me, and it’s disgusting. We are being told what to fix to put ourselves in Box #3 yet these men repeatedley put us in Box #1 regardless. I feel there is not much left we can do, and it’s time the men start acting more respectable. I haven’t met many men who deserve to be in Box #3 either.

        1. 100% agree! I think all these tips are great, but there are many things out of control. It seems to suppose all men are valuable and in my opinion one of the most important elements that is out of our control is the personality of each guy. Currently, lots of men are losing value or they just don’t care how they act or what they say. So I guess you have to have some luck finding a fine man who respects you after letting you know that you are interested in him .

  • Hello Stephen,
    If woman has all these high value traits, how can she demonstrate them? Do you have any practical tips?
    Thanks, Sara. X

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