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”

  • Well i tick all the boxes for 3, and I’m always told i’m attractive by guys.
    so where did i go wrong? Was it because I am 15yrs older than him? He slept with me, I was box 2 for 9 months, then he said he wanted to find a nice girl…
    I am a nice girl!! wtf.
    perhaps because i accepted friends with benefits was my downfall… not having high enough standards there.
    Interested to know what you and others think!

    1. Hi Rachel, I tried friends with benefits and it’s messy. Stick to what you want, maybe you want to wait but least after a few dates don’t be afraid to express it or at least start talking about what’s important to you to find in a partner. You can do the picking. Have them aspire to want to be that for you. Expect more and I promise you’ll get more. As long as you stay good humoured, patient and courteous keep your inner resolve and let your light shine out. I have a young spirit and seem to attract younger men who think I’m the same age as them. It’s flattering, however, most will want kids with someone their age and I’m not a “good for now” type of girl so I don’t get involved.

  • Nice work, as always. I’m curious what absense of drama means. Hoping to tick that box :)

    I found your stereotypical woman very interesting. Now I’m psychoanalyzing, but I wonder if it’s based on the family and friends you are associated with. Your perception is right for you obviously, it’s just interesting because I never would have thought that personally. I view women as so obsessed with marriage and babies that they settle for men that are not up to their caliber. This is why I love your article #11.

    I would be interested to here more about what men think about women, from a man’s perspective. Glad I can be your muse for box No. 3 ;) Thanks, Stephen! Xo

  • I love people. I love observing them . I am always interested in reading articles about human relationships in all kinds of levels.
    I found your ( Matthew’s and Steve’s ) articles always to the point. This particular one was even more interesting in many aspects cause it triggered many questions inside my little brain. ‘Cause I didn’t just read the article itself, I read the comments too and that’s where it all started.
    There is a very big amount of people that claim that they belong to the 3rd category. Now I don’t want to sound bitter. I’m sure many of them actually are. I have met so many wonderful single people. Yet I couldn’t help but wondering about the rest of them, in which category many of us fall under. What if many of us have overestimated ourselves and have unrealistic expectations? Why is it that both single females and males complain that there are no worth-giving-a-chance people out there? Could the lack of an honest self reflection be the problem? Or maybe what if for the majority of the people who are single now there is probably a reason why? (That being commitment issues or emotional unavailability or anything else)
    These are silly thoughts that keep me up at night. So I guess that’s all I had to say. I wish it made sense to someone cause it barely does to me : ) I would like to end my comment on a funny note with something relevant I saw somewhere :
    “All I want is someone way out of my league who thinks I’m way out of his league so that we can get a dog and live happily ever after” :)


  • I really, really struggle to get along with straight men. And it’s usually because straight men put women into the following categories: 1) f*kable, 2) dateable, 3) goddess, 4) basically a short guy with boobs, 5) of no value whatsoever. I’m no spring chicken so I’ve had many years to watch guys put me into each one of the these categories repeatedly then attempt to treat me in a manner consistent with whichever category they’ve put me in.

    The problem is I’m none of those things or all of them, plus much, much more. If I had a penny for every time a guy actually asked me a question about myself then expressed intense shock at the answer he got (because it was completely inconsistent with the category in which he’d put me) then I’d have many, many more shoes.

    It makes no sense to put actual, real, living people into categories. Everyone’s their own unique blend of quirks and thoughts and feelings and dreams. My ex and I were together for almost a decade. He didn’t know me at all after living and working together for all those years. He discovered a few things about me in the beginning, made a bunch of assumptions often based on pure imagination since I’d told him at some point in all those years how I actually thought or felt or what I desired, and then he proceeded to spend all those years without actually trying to truly get to know me.

    I don’t fit into a box. I can’t be categorized. Also, I’m still alive so I occasionally change my mind about something. I really don’t know how to respond to this article because none of your categories define me or have ever defined me. Also, honestly, I’m tired of having the onus on me to correct someone’s assumptions about me. People (and not just men) should actually try to get to know one another. Doing anything else makes no sense at all.

    But it does explain the divorce rate.

  • Stephen .. I’ve written an article, “Why do good looking girls end up with a**ho**s? You emphasize that good looking women are just that, good looking, nothing else, worth only Box #1. As my article presents, a good looking girl or woman is considered a show piece, despised by women and men, alike. This is 7nfair .. what gives that you condemn g.l.women so coolly out of hand?

  • Love this article Stephen….so informative about how the male brain works… ;) Blogs are always awesome… Can’t get enough of them….

  • This man’s two cents: I’m always looking for #3, and you should always act like you’re a #3; that confidence is so hot! Plus, that will attract the men and chase off the boys. I’ve never had, and will never have a one-night stand. And casual dating seems like a waste of everyone’s time. Maybe I’m different than most men, but I don’t look at women as commodities. And I’ve discovered that many women don’t know how to deal with me. Look, I love sex like everyone else, but I would never lead-on a woman or give her false hope if I don’t feel she’s a #3 or close to it. As Stephen wrote, it goes beyond looks, it’s all of her. She could be the one who spills her drink at the party. But if she handles it like a champ, I’m intrigued. And ladies, don’t be in a hurry to sleep with him, or you’re guaranteed to end up in Box 1 or 2. Don’t be an f-buddy, you’re more than that.

    1. Love what you have to say!! Wish there were more great guys out there like you. Nobody’s perfect, but if we strive to be our best, good things will happen.

  • I love it when you guys throw back to old blog posts. Such a good refresher. And I was just talking about these differences a couple of days ago! Always fabulous, Steve. :)



  • I would say: playfulness, strong sense of purpose, looking after her health and treating her body with respect, a feeling of self-worth and internal validation, displaying sexual confidence and ability to turn him on emotionally and sexually.

  • Great post Steven, but I really don’t think that its only about how I am/act or how amazing a potential partner might be.

    I really don’t want to sound arrogant or anything but just to make the situation clear: I got everything. I have the looks and turn heads everywhere I go. I attract lots of guys constantly, everyone is impressed (and so on), the offer never stops. I’m independent, successful as a blogger and entrepreneur, creative, educated, well behaved, warm hearted, funny and spontaneous. I like everyone, I’m friends with everyone, I talk to everyone, I don’t judge people and I think I can say of myself that I understood the basic secrets of life and relationships between people. I’m strong but also learned to be a woman in male company so they can feel masculine. I love life and everything is fine.

    The most asked question in my life is probably:

    Why the hell are you single?!

    A part of that question is easily answered: I’m very picky.

    I have standards – of course. It barely happens that I feel honestly attracted by a man because the combination I am looking for is very rare. I know this and I get along on my own very well, I really enjoy doing things on my own

    I know hundreds of man, many high value ones, and I get in contact with new people all the time. But it only happens about once or twice a year that someone is able to awaken my interest. That I really want to get to know somebody and eventually date. And for different reasons the last few things just didn’t work out even though it wasn’t my fault. I’m not sad about it, I learned from those experiences and I’m grateful for it. but especially the last case made me think about the advice matt gives and I’m convinved that its not really about random skills that can be adopted by everyone in order to improve their love life but more about fate. if its not the right person, not the one who is really meant to be with you, it might eventually work out for some time – maybe even for a lifetime when both constantly work on it – but it will never be as intense and as unique as it would be with the right one.

    I believe that there is a reason for everything and a reason why things don’t work out even though both know how it works. so the advice given here is good, every woman should consider herself as high value and act like that, but being like that is not a guarantee for a successful love life. It always requires two people and even in cases where both might be high value and are attracted to each other it doesnt mean that is the right thing and will work out. Matt must know – as he is the unmarried dating expert.

    Nevertheless , keep up the good work!

    Lots of love from Germany,

    Dajana – http://www.DajanaSain.com

    1. I’m very similar to you (different job I admit) and I totally agree with what you say here. We can’t control everything and if it’s not meant to be, it won’t no matter what we try to say or do or act. These skills help ease the pain and hold on to the wrong person, but when it’s right, it works.

    1. Men are wired to chase women but fear being trapped, so never make him feel that way. Be sweet, sexy, funny, admire and appreciate him, be happy when you are with him, be supportive, overlook his imperfections. You stay busy and the more space you give him, the more he will want you. Dating is easy for women – DO NOTHING!

  • What does it mean if a guy checks out women while he is with you. If he does it in the beginning it’s a bad sign I assume. But what if he is at his best behavior when we first start dating, then he lets go and starts to check out women while in conversation with me. Do men just do this and I have to be ok with it? I can’t find the solution of how a confident woman would handle this. I hate giving ultimatums, I hate seeming insecure. I just want to know is this something I need to accept, whether it’s in the beginning of the relationship, or 3 years in,the man will always look at beautiful women even while with you, and wishes he can have a piece of that beauty that just walked by, is this the reality? If it is, how can I accept it.

  • Not embarrassing/nasty/bitchy in public
    A strong sense of purpose and direction in life
    A commitment to growth and ability to improve
    A feeling of self-worth and internal validation
    Sexual confidence
    Absence of neediness
    Absence of drama

    I suppose a lot of the areas I personally need to work on mostly stem from the same area of my life. I have to work with the guy I like who I consider as one of my best friends. He’s older and higher up than me, so it makes a relationship other than a secret friendship more difficult for me to pursue. Even hanging out outside of work is somewhat a conflict of interest. It seems when an outside force upsets me like I recently had a problem with my college that put me in a very unfortunate mood for a few days, my upset radiates and I guess it bothers other coworkers. Sometimes I get a little snappy even with him because he’s my superior. But when these problems occur I get depressed and lack in most of these areas. Unfortunately, most of the time we do spend together is at work. So I have to work extra hard now to control my emotional behaviours at work to improve in those areas even if it means fake it until I make it.
    Sexual confidence is on it’s own though haha. If sex is relevent to the topic, I can tell him about things that would interest me to try but as far as trying anything physical with him- even just touching his arm or wrapping my leg around him when we’re cuddling is difficult for me in private scenarios. I’m a virgin and I get really inside my head about it, which ruins things for me and then I get uncomfortable because I get afraid I don’t know what I’m doing and he can sense something and then it makes him uncomfortable. Which sucks because I know it’s just me and my insecurities.

  • Can a woman regain high status/ be re-evaluated as high value by a man?

    Short story:
    – Was with man for almost a year
    – Gave it my _all_ andI accepted _any_ treatment from him
    – He slacked off commitment-wise and didn’t connect
    – Dumped me stating I “deserve better” and he couldn’t see himself “with one woman for the rest of my life”
    – He’s a commitment-phobe due to past hurt
    – I’m currently working with a psych on rebuilding self-esteem/ self-love (who gives all and accept anything? a chick who doesn’t love herself)

    If he comes back, and with my self-love and self-esteem rebuilt, can I reset his perceptions of me to a high value ‘category 3’?

    I.E., exhibit category-3 behaviours because I really believe that I am worthy, and subsequently reset his opinion of my value?

    Guys out there? Thoughts?

    1. I think you don’t deserve a man like that. You deserve better than that. If you gave your all, and accepted any treatment from him, it wasn’t any good.Something like that happened to me, but when I began to see that he didn’t give me what I expected, I broke up the relationship. I’m working on myself to attract a better man. Don’t settle for less than you deserve. I know it isn’t easy but be brave.

    2. Hey Leonie, following up on what Matthew has said in the past, if you are only still talking about this one guy, it’s because you still don’t see your own worth. You are overvaluing him and undervaluing yourself. There are many more men out there who will appreciate the work you’ve put into yourself. You are only partly to blame for what transpired in your previous relationship with him, he is responsible for the other half but if he is not working on himself just the same to conquer you again bcuz he feels he made a mistake letting you go, trying to get back with him will probably regress you on your progress, bcuz hell treat you just the same and u will find yourself again trying to make it all work only to realize you are the only one trying. It’s really hard to make someone treat you differently when they think they know you. I vote in favour of you exploring what else life has to offer to you.

    3. Hi Leonie,

      I can relate to your story. Sounds like you’re doing the right thing in learning to love yourself, but don’t do it for a guy who let you go once before. Fix yourself for you! And once you’re in the place you want to be you aren’t going be interested in a guy like that! He’s got to work on himself and nobody’s got time to hang around for that! There are hundreds of other worthy men out there. Your heart might be set on that other dude right now, but you’ll soon see he’s just a dud. Good luck and hope you find the love you deserve x

  • I used to always get put in either Box 1 or if I was lucky, Box 2. It put me off dating so I’ve stayed away from men for a few years now. I’ve worked on myself quite a lot during that time and now have more confidence and a sense of purpose and direction which means I’m in a much better place but I still struggle with feelings of self-worth and internal validation. If you could write a follow up article on this, that would be great! I’ve got a lot out of this article as it’s helped me to assess where I’m at now so thank you!

  • I think I am generally that person but don’t seem to attract men?? Not sure what I am doing wrong?

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

    I like to think that a high value guy won’t just see an attractive woman and stick her in Box No. 1., and say “yeah, I’d f* her.” Ok, maybe she’s not dating material, but really, a guy that would do that is disgusting. Objecting a women and using her for sex. Throughout high school, if I heard guys talking like this among each other, I ran the other way. I hated guys like this. I waited to find the right guy that didn’t talk to his friends about wanting to sleep with a certain girl or brag about who he slept with over the weekend. Have some respect. Get away from me. I hate this so much.

  • How do you let him know you have high standards without coming across as stuck up and rude but still being playfull.

    How do you keep him interested without being too needy.

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