1. There are few things more attractive than a man who knows how to crack a well executed, properly timed joke — whether he does this to diffuse tension, further invigorate an already exciting conversation, or add flair to an otherwise boring one. A man who can make someone smile, giggle, or laugh so hard that their abs tremble and their eyes water will go a long way.
2. People often babble about inconsequential nonsense to keep conversations from lulling into awkward silence (we’re all guilty of it). However, it takes a particularly patient and attentive man to parse through the meaningless and register the meaningful. For example, I once told someone I worked for a music magazine. When we talked again two weeks later, he asked me if I knew about Spotify and if I listened to music. I felt my attraction towards him begin to pass through my body as rapidly as the burrito I’d eaten for lunch.
3. Speaking of music, men who listen to and love music score well on the Hot or Not Scale — regardless of the genre, musician, or band. It’s sexy when a man has strong opinions regarding the Grand Biggie/Tupac Debate or knows all the lyrics to that one annoyingly catchy Lana Del Rey song. To be fair, I’m willing to admit that this may just be a personal preference.
4. Having the knowledge and finger dexterity necessary to give calming, well-maneuvered massages is one of the most potent tools in a man’s romantic arsenal. Many men who’ve attempted to give me a massage have done so as though they were trying to tenderize a cut of flank steak with a mallet. Those who can expertly knead out the knots in your shoulders and muscle spasms in your back will distinguish themselves from the rest.
5. We will almost always find those we like attractive — even if we show up to their apartment to find them in dirty sweatpants (that really emphasize “sweat” in that fashion statement) with the stubbly onset of a porn-stache and Ranch dressing crusted on the corners of their mouth. At the same time, there is nothing like a man knows how to clean up well and dress — especially if he can rock a nicely polished blazer-and-tie combo better than Don Draper from Mad Men.
6. When a man gets to know your friends, it shows that he cares about the people who care about you. He doesn’t have to become chummy, per se, with your best friend, who always tries to engage him in discussions about Kim Kardashian’s wedding or treatments for Japanese hair straightening. At the very minimum, however, he should be friendly. If he is rude or disparaging to any of your friends, drop him quicker than Kanye West does the “F bomb” on Twitter.
7. Men who don’t take themselves too seriously are hidden pearls in a sea of those who will likely shorten their own lifespans by roughly fifteen years out of stress, anxiety, and general malaise. These are men who allow themselves to act silly and find humor in situations that are probably ridiculous for their given age, self-identified sense of maturity, and fondness for global equity markets. Seek out men who are wholeheartedly willing to whip out the Funky Chicken on a dance floor or giggle unabashedly at episodes of South Park. You’ll probably have more fun.
8. Those men who’ve mastered the delicate balance between humility and confidence are often able to make us swoon like someone spiked the tonic water we drank at dinner. These are men who celebrate their positive traits with #swag but also recognize that they are just fallible as anyone else.
9. Hold out for a man who wears his passions on the sleeves of his shirt or the lapels of his pea-coat (hubba hubba). In all seriousness, it doesn’t matter where his passions lie as long as he has them — in music, books (who can resist an adorable Faulkner Bro?), travel, philosophy, or marathon-watching reruns of Top Gear. If he is capable of feeling strongly about his interests, he is more capable of feeling strongly about you than someone who is interested in nothing at all.
10. Men who are good with kids should earn an A+ in anyone’s grade-book. Once, a small child approached my date and me during an outing to a summer festival. The little boy — who seemed about four or five — took a liking to my date, much to my amusement as well as his mother’s. As he reached out to give my date a hug, he accidentally dropped his ice cream cone — smearing my date’s pants with Rocky Road and Chocolate Fudge Delight. My date good-naturedly mussed the little boy’s hair and offered to buy him a second ice cream cone. Meanwhile, I felt myself suddenly weaken at the knees.
11. Small gestures matter, and men who can maintain eye contact are about as excellent as they come. They don’t have to (and certainly shouldn’t) stare at you with the unblinking, sociopathic gaze of a Hannibal Lecter in hiding. But, they also shouldn’t stare at your ears (or your chest) while they talk to you — as if the idea of looking at you in the face is too daunting to contemplate.
12. Though this is, sadly, a rarer phenomenon than it should be, make sure to find men who treat you with the same kindness and respect that they would their mothers or sisters. It’s a bad sign if he behaves one way towards you (or women, in general) but would roll up his sleeves and brandish his fightin’ forearms if someone treated his little sister similarly.
13. Who can’t help but feel their heart rattle like a maraca in their chest when they encounter a man who is unafraid to step outside of his comfort zone? Look for someone who is always ready to seek adventure with you — whether it means trying Ethiopian food for the first time or going skydiving on a whim.
14. College, work, and life make it difficult to go on dates. After all, who has the time, energy, or money? Consequently, it is far more attractive when a man puts in the effort to take you out rather than text you “r u awake” (no punctuation) at two in the morning. Go for those who want to have coffee or dinner with you before all else. Go for them with double the enthusiasm if they, say, bring you to the Guggenheim’s new Christopher Wool exhibit.
15. Watch out for men who are chameleon-like — tweaking the way they act or behave depending on the company that’s around. Instead, let your hair down and your heart out for those who have strong convictions and stick to them, regardless of who’s listening. All men are two-headed, but those who are two-faced tend to think with the lesser head, after all.
16. Men are just as complicated emotionally, mentally, and intellectually as anyone is (except for those of us who are just parodies of humanity — like Tila Tequila or Spencer Pratt). Underneath the masculine traits that our culture pressures them into adopting, many share the same fears, worries, and insecurities as we do. This makes the entire “men are from Mars…women are from Venus” less #realtalk than it is a clever marketing strategy for dating and relationship self-help. It is sexy when men realize this, and it is sexy when men have become self-aware — understanding how their actions affect people around them and that they are no different from anyone else. Everyone wants nookie, but everyone needs love.
17. Bonus points for Jewish men. Kidding. Kind of.