Opinion: Why Women May Prefer "Feminine" Men

Elle Silver

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I recently discovered several studies that indicate women prefer “feminine” men as mates.

A 2010 experiment conducted by Faceresearch.org, the online psychology laboratory of the Face Research Laboratory at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, found that women in Europe and the U.S. rated men with feminine faces to be more attractive.

That is , men with slender, softer features.

According to Daniel Kruger at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health, this could be because men with facial masculinity possess more testosterone. According to Kruger, there is mounting evidence that testosterone is related to domestic violence and cheating.

Maybe that’s why women intrinsically shy away from men with more perceptibly masculine features. Call it self-preservation. We don’t want to be beaten or cheated on, so we’ve developed an innate preference for more “feminine” men.

It shouldn't be surprising that studies have also found that women prefer men with "feminine" personalities.

Women also prefer men with "feminine" behavior traits.

If studies have found that women prefer “feminine-looking” men as mates, women who select "feminine-behaving" men as husbands have also been shown to enjoy a higher level of marital satisfaction.

What do I mean by men who are "feminine-behaving"? This means men who help out with the housework and childrearing and who tend to be more compassionate and communicative with their wives.

Look at the study carried out by J.K. Antill, “Sex Role Complementarity Versus Similarity in Married Couples,” published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. The researcher found that in heterosexual relationships where the man helps out with the cooking, cleaning, and child-rearing, women are happier.

Another study conducted by Beth L. Green and Douglas T. Kendrick, entitled “The Attractiveness of Gender-Typed Traits at Different Relationship Level: Androgynous Characteristics May Be Desirable After All,” published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, found that:

… the optimal partner would demonstrate an ‘androgynous’ combination of both instrumental and expressive characteristics… contributing to mental health and psychological adjustment.

In other words, men who can communicate well and who know how to work out problems with compassion make better husbands because they contribute to their wives' overall contentment.

In short, there are definitely advantages for women selecting more “feminine” men as mates.

We need to change how we view masculinity.

And still, I would ask what such studies say about our views surrounding masculinity. Do we actually call a man “feminine” just because he doesn’t cheat on his wife?

Do we typecast him as “feminine” simply because he agrees to change a diaper or lift a finger to help wash the dishes?

Isn’t helping out one's wife around the household just a sign a man is a good person?

Hopefully, in the future, we’ll stop characterizing male behavior as “feminine” or “masculine” based on whether it’s good or bad. We won’t define men as “feminine” just because they don’t beat their wives or let their wives do all the housework.

Instead, a man who contributes to household chores will be understood to be an evolved human being . He'll simply be viewed as a male who’s worthy of being called a man.

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I'm a relationships expert with a focus on post-divorce dating and family. Everything I've learned about love, I've learned the hard way. You can learn from my mistakes.

Los Angeles, CA
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