I’m sure you’ve heard the complaints before: “Where have all the good men gone?”
The Brookings Institution wants to know the answer to this question. Women are asking their pastors this question. Big-name Presbyterian pastor Kevin DeYoung says, “I have met scores of godly young women nearby and far away who wonder ‘Where have all the marriageable men gone?’”
Lucinda Belle wrote a song and A.J. Kiesling wrote a book with that title. Women are even writing into sex advice columnist Dan Savage asking about it. Google it — even in quotes — and get well over 100,000 hits.
If you are a young guy hearing all these complaints, you might be tempted to think you are way different and better than all the other guys out there. You are actually working hard to be a good man, so obviously you should be able to easily find a good woman interested in you.
Don’t be fooled. If you think you can attract women by being a “good man,” you are on a collision course with painful reality.
You’ll probably be told just the opposite, of course, especially if you are a young, Christian man. You’ll hear that women are attracted to godly “servant leaders.” Superstar Southern Baptist pastor Matt Chandler said, “I keep saying it: Godliness is sexy to godly people.”
Movies by the Kendrick brothers cover the same territory, such as in “Fireproof,” when a wife breaks off an affair and decides to stay with her husband after he stops watching porn and pays for medical equipment for her mother. Some prominent Christian leaders even suggest that being a good man will make your wife want to have sex with you.
The problem with this “good man” stuff, whether from the church or secular society, is that it just doesn’t work — at least not for long. This is because the idea of being a good man mixes up two things: what makes a man good marriage or boyfriend material, and what makes a man attractive. These are very different things.
Women Don’t Just Want a ‘Nice Guy’
Trying to set yourself apart from other men by being a good man means you are only working on one piece of the puzzle, trying to demonstrate that you would be a high-quality spouse or partner. This mindset completely misses that you also need to be attractive.
Consider that there are many women you find very attractive but you would never want to marry. On the other hand, you probably know high-quality women to whom you just aren’t attracted.
This is why men fail when they try the “good man” or “nice guy” strategy. A woman who just broke up with an attractive but jerky man is outraged at the way he treated her. In her pain, she might turn to the good man (maybe even you) for support and consolation, and possibly even the start of a relationship.
If that man is not also attractive, however, then that relationship will also crash and burn, but for the exact opposite reason, when she says she’s “just not feeling it” or “I love you, but I’m not in love with you.” As a man, you must be both high-quality relationship material and as attractive as you can be.
How to Make Yourself More Attractive
So what are women attracted to? As I’ve covered in detail elsewhere, men gain attractiveness through attributes such as power and status, confidence and charisma, “game,” looks and style, and money, which matters but is arguably the least important. This is easy to see at the highest levels. Musicians, athletes, rich men, incredibly good-looking guys, politicians, celebrities, corporate CEOs, and, yes, even a number of high-profile pastors such as Carl Lentz have no trouble finding women interested in them.
What’s true for them is also true for you. You might never be as attractive as Brad Pitt or Leonardo DiCaprio, but you can work to maximize what you’ve got. Prioritize time in the gym and lift heavy. Aspire to great heights in your career, and pursue opportunities to advance at your job by being diligent, reliable, and confident. Improve your style and your social skills. Stand up straight, and maintain strong eye contact. Work hard to earn money, but don’t try to be flashy or impress women with it.
Most importantly, be straightforward and know your own value. Instead of hiding behind the keyboard and mass spamming women on online dating sites, walk up to the woman you are interested in and start a conversation in real life. Tell her directly that you’d like to take her on a date, and have a plan for what you want to do together. If she says no, respect that. If you are man who is attractive and high-quality relationship material, then it’s her loss. Men, too, should have standards of their own to which they expect women to measure up.
Understand that most women don’t want to settle, so be careful not to put yourself down or her up on a pedestal. If you start posting on Facebook about how she’s your “better half” or “the boss,” or say “I’m not worthy of this woman,” don’t be surprised if she starts believing you.
One of the tragic mistakes men make when relationships start going south is to turn into a doormat, trying to placate their wife or girlfriend by doing whatever she says. This only causes her to, rightly, lose all respect for him as a man.
Many men have a much better idea about what it takes to be a good man — honesty, conscientiousness, kindness, stability, diligence, and fidelity — than they do about what it takes to be attractive. If you really want to set yourself apart from the other guys, figure out how to be excellent at both.
Aaron M. Renn is the publisher of “The Masculinist” (www.themasculinist.com), a newsletter on Christianity, masculinity, and the modern world.