Ask a woman what she finds sexy in a man and she might say his smile, the timbre of his voice, his sense of humor, his biceps… the list can go on and on. But a recent ESSENCE.com poll revealed that, contrary to chicken-head stereotypes, most sisters want some substance.
In response to the question “What do you find sexy in a man?” more than half said “his personality” turns them on most, and one quarter considered “his intellect” arousing. But only 13 percent said “his body” gets them going and a paltry 1.83 percent considered “his bank account” hot.
Content of His Character
“Personality, that’s where it’s at!” says Erin Morris, 26, from Philadelphia. “That’s what exposes you to a person’s true character and helps you to identify what, if anything, you have in common beneath the surface.” For Morris, personality includes a man’s sense of spirituality because she believes it tells you something about his values. Other factors might include a sense of humor, friendliness, self-assurance and strong convictions or principles.
What else constitutes a great personality? More than one good man has been written off as a snore because he wasn’t dripping with charisma, or all about roses and champagne 24-7. “Many women bypass the nice guys and label them weaklings or wimps,” says Dr. Grace Cornish, author of Ten Good Choices that Empower Black Women’s Lives.
But if you’re looking for romance, not just sex, don’t be fooled by the fantasies peddled in romance novels, Dr. Grace warns. “Novels are good but when we read too many of them we escape reality,” she explains. “Then we are like, ‘He’s supposed to sweep me up off my feet, he’s supposed to make me feel butterflies all the time.’ But in true love, sure you feel butterflies, but it doesn’t happen every day.”
A man who can hold his own in a round of witty repartee is as sexy as any dimepiece, which is why intelligence ranked high on the survey. His IQ is not necessarily about the number of degrees he holds but an openness to new ideas, a willingness to debate and a knowledge of Black issues and perspectives. As Morris points out, intelligent conversation “doesn’t necessarily mean talking about the Dow Jones, vintage wines or any of the things people sometimes confuse with being intelligent. It’s about being able to have a mature conversation: to be challenged, to learn, to explore.”
Jennifer Dahlberg, 30, who lives in Sweden agrees that he doesn’t have to be a Harvard grad to score high on the sexy quotient. “I don’t like pseudo-intellectuals who drop the names of philosophers at the drop of a hat,” she says. But “he might tell me about Buddhism while I explain Abstract Expressionism. Or we can both learn something new together. Intellectual curiosity — that’s what I love.”
Substance beats style, hands down
So, although we may sigh at the sight of Morris Chestnut or envy the wife of Mr. Moneybanks, wise women know real sex appeal is about the whole package. In her experience, Dr. Grace has found that women who are more settled in their careers and seasoned in relationships are less impressed by a hot body or a six-figure bank account. Though Tonya Purviance, 34, of New Jersey once believed that bank without the body, or vice versa, was a losing proposition, she now thinks either can get tired fast without something deeper. “It’s more important that a man makes me laugh,” she says. “And a capacity for caring about someone other than himself will win over a pretty face or great body any day.”
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