Attraction versus Desire

While addressing the subject of modesty over at Peaceful Single Girl, I entered into a discussion about the difference between attraction and desirability. Several of the commenters were talking about what Christian men found attractive in women. What they were failing to grasp is that what Christian men find attractive in women are the same things that what secular men find attractive in women. The same applies to Christian women and secular women when it comes to male attractiveness. Attraction is a matter of biology, we don’t have much, if any, control over what we find attractive. It really boils down to sex appeal in the end. Desirability is another matter, however. What we desire is based on conscious as well as unconscious preferences for behaviors and characteristics in a mate. There isn’t a whole lot that women, in particular, can do to become more attractive besides eat right, lose weight and work out. But they have a whole slew of options to make themselves more desirable to men.

To provide some examples, here are a few of the features in women that I find attractive:

1) A feminine, symmetrical face

2) Healthy, unblemished skin

3) Long, lean legs

4) A waist-to-hip ratio somewhere above .6 and under .8. [The thinner the woman, the more she can get away with a higher ratio.]

In case you didn’t notice, those are all physical features. This is because men are pretty much purely visual creatures, we know what we like when we see it. Over 95% of attraction for men is visual, with the other senses coming into play when it comes to smell, the sound of a woman’s voice and the feel of her skin.

So what are some of the traits that I find desirable in a woman then? Here are a few:

1) Dresses in a modest and feminine manner

2) Chaste

3) Sweet and gentle

4) Respectful

5) Devout

I want to make it clear that these traits, by themselves, are not enough to get me to desire a woman. There must be some initial attraction to begin with. Otherwise stated, you need a spark to start a fire. A woman who has all of these traits, but is unattractive, will unfortunately not be desirable to me. That may seem cruel, but it is the truth.

However, when I do find a woman who is attractive and possess traits I find desirable the effect is… profound. The best way I can explain it is like this:

When I come across a woman that is attractive, I am filled with a sudden impulse to use her. In my mind, she becomes a mere object for immediate gratification, and has no lasting significance to me. She is something to be used and then thrown away when I am done.

When I come across a woman that is attractive and desirable, I am filled with a sudden impulse to possess her. In my mind, she becomes something that I want to hold onto for as long as I can, and has a lasting significance to me. She is something to be treasured and protected, even nurtured.

I cannot speak for other men on this, but I will attest that desirability provokes a far more potent response in me than the simple arousal of seeing an attractive women. My suspicion is that this sentiment is my unconscious brain coming to the realization that the desirable woman might be worth investing in, otherwise known as commitment. Part of this might be due to the fact that men tend to find a large percentage of women attractive, but only a small percentage of women worth commitment. Therefore, it would make sense for there to be a strong reaction when such a rare specimen makes herself known. A graph I’ve used several times in the past serves to explain this well:

Male relationship table

What women should want is to be in the smallest circle, among those women a man would consider worthy of commitment. Desirability traits are how you get into that small circle, but only if you are in the large one to begin with. Attraction comes before desirability.

The Other Side of the Coin

For women attractiveness is not so simple, of course. They appraise male attractiveness through the LAMPS factors, which involves more than purely physical attributes. This greater complexity of female-to-male attraction is likely responsible for the confusion among women about what they want, and what they desire.  In the past, I referred to these as “Retention Vectors“, or “Comfort traits,” but Desirable Traits works better. Some potential traits women might find desirable in a man includes:

1) Devout/A man of Faith

2) Resourceful (which can get mixed up with the Money attribute)

3) Polite

4) Compassionate

Because those are all aspects of personality, and Personality includes the sub-category of (Masculine) Power, it it easy to understand why women get confused. Separating how conscious desires from unconscious attraction triggers isn’t easy when they are so close together. But it is important for both men and women to understand the difference, because attraction must come before desirability. And this applies to men and women both.


Filed under Blue Pill, Christianity, Femininity, Masculinity, Men, Red Pill, Sex, Women

72 responses to “Attraction versus Desire

  1. Elspeth

    And by traditional, I don’t necessarily mean husband as sole breadwinner. The primary breadwinner, yes, but not necessarily the sole one.

    That, and many babies (if the Lord wills).

  2. Nestorius, there has always been some kind of MMP. Some kind of bargaining was always done before marriage in the past, it never occurred in a vacuum. It might have had different players (families being the primary agents, for example), and been under different regulations, but marriage has always acted like a marketplace.

    It is certainly possible to focus and think too much about attractiveness, the present age attests to that. But attraction is a fundamental part of Christian marriage. Paul made it clear in 1 Cor 7 that passion plays a role in marriage. And passion is based off of attraction. There needs to be more than just attraction, but it has to be there.

    As for destroying our modern way of living, I would encourage you to start your own blog so you can expand on those ideas.

  3. Elspeth, I think much of the problem nowadays is the fact that we have separated the idea of family from household. They should be one and the same, but they are not. When you think of the family and household as the same idea, then you can approach the matter from the perspective of what each spouse does for the household. This frame of thought makes it clear that both spouses need to be contributing.

  4. Elspeth

    Yes Donal, I agree with your response. That is why I took pains to note that I was not referring to a system where the wife doesn’t contribute, though it’s up to the husband what that looks like.

    We view family and household as one and the same in our family because our home is more than a place where we drop in to eat, change, and shower. For large portions of Westerners, the household doesn’t really exist and family is whatever individuals define it as.

    Interdependence has given way to two independent free agents who view marriage as an appendage, something to check off life’s to do list. It’s why marriages are so easily discarded. No one feels as if they truly need their mate for anything.

  5. It really is sad that so many Christians have adopted this attitude, because Jesus was very clear that marriage was something which was meant to be transformational:

    4 He answered, “Have you not read that the one who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

    A husband and wife are One Flesh in the eyes of the Lord, but that doesn’t seem to be acknowledged by most Christians these days.


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  15. P.Alessio

    I would modify the devout-religious trait in “cultural-religious similarities”. There may not be many problems between different branch of Christianity, but being jewish, muslim, bddhist and so on, no matter how pious they are, may be a problem.

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  21. “But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.” Matthew 5:28

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