What Women Want in a Man

3 min read

Despite relentless attacks on masculinity in recent years—and an assault on the binary—women responding to an online sex survey identify some shockingly traditional masculine traits when they describe the things in a man that turn them on.

I have been conducting the survey intermittently over the past 30 years, with more than 11,000 men and women providing often-extensive answers to 30 open-ended questions. The responses allow me to provide accurate, updated information for my regularly revised book, A Guide to Getting It On.

The biggest difference between now and 30 years ago is that women today are far more up front in saying what they don’t like, e.g. men who are controlling and who act like jerks. But qualities like “confident,” “strong,” and “protective” are very much alive and well.

Question: What masculine traits turn you on and turn you off?

Turn Ons: Confidence, playfulness, authenticity, honesty, kindness
Turn Offs: False bravado, lying, a need to control

Turn Ons: More muscular than me. A deep voice, facial hair, taking control (in a gentle way)
Turn Offs: Extreme muscles. Misogyny. Dude-bro behavior

Turn Ons: Kind, thoughtful, strong, a good listener. I find it sexy when he cooks for me, when he is decisive and passionate, and when he makes me laugh or I make him laugh
Turn Offs: Not courteous

Turn Ons: A good leader, protective, assertive, ambitious
Turn Offs: Being entitled, bad communicator, passive

Turn Ons: Secure in their masculinity enough to enjoy what they enjoy and express their personality
Turn Offs: Arrogant, tries to talk over me

Turn Ons: Strong and powerful, kind and attentive. I sometimes like to be dominated, but not in a degrading way
Turn Offs: Being made to feel like I’m a whore or otherwise degraded

Turn Ons: Assertiveness, attentiveness, kindness, open-mindedness
Turn Offs: Arrogance, hubris, and patronizing traits

Turn Ons: A hairy chest, short and clean nails, nice shoulders, gets really hard, a furrowed brow
Turn Offs: Too much of an ego, not being super into their partner’s pleasure, poor posture, drinking too much

Turn Ons: Physical confidence. Biceps and shoulders. They don’t have to be buff, it’s just a sense of their manliness. Independent
Turn Offs: Arrogance, over aggression, being controlling, too dominant, unemotional

Turn Ons: Confidence, knowing who he is, being excited to be with me
Turn Offs: Ignorance, self absorbed behavior

Turn Ons: Intelligence, empathy, funny
Turn Offs: Narcissism, self obsession, sexism, the guy who says, “I could have had so many women but I chose you” —is that supposed to make me feel good?

Turn Ons: Chivalry. Knowing how to fix things
Turn Offs: Thinking they’re always right and mansplaining. Locker-room talk

Turn Ons: I like a man to lead and be assertive
Turn Offs: Being unnecessarily rough during sex is a huge turnoff. A lot of men have scripts that prioritize f***ing hard and fast, with constant position changes. I’m not there to be used and thrown around like a rag doll

Turn Ons: Confidence, humor, strength, flirtatiousness, beards
Turn Offs: Arrogance, dominance, aggression, I-know-your-body-better-than-you bullshit

Turn Ons: Dominance in the bedroom is hot! (If respectful and kind outside of bedroom.) Physically I like muscly arms, shoulders, legs. Hairy chest and face (sometimes)
Turn Offs: Being self absorbed and rude

Turn Ons: When he is not afraid to go for it, when he is obviously physically superior to me
Turn Offs: Using my body for “masturbation.” Putting on a porn actor show. Thinking sex is over because he finished (even if I didn’t). That annoys me and it’s very common

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