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LEO, BECKHAM, CLOONEY: RICH, POWERFUL, admired. But their appeal goes beyond fame or earning power. Call it charisma, call it confidence. Social scientist Catherine Hakim calls it “erotic capital” and wrote a book with the same title.
It’s that certain something, she says – a combo of liveliness, sex appeal, physical beauty, fitness, charm, style and, yes, sexual competence. Oh, is that all? Don’t feel daunted – erotic capital can be learnt. “It’s how these men behave and carry themselves,” says Susan RoAne, the author of How to Work a Room.
Out of the way, Clooney.
Whether you’re grabbing the mike at karaoke or just cracking jokes all night, your good vibes are contagious, says sex therapist Brandy Engler. “We feel a sense of self-expansion around people who are enthusiastic about life.”
FLAUNT YOUR WIT
Funny guys get laid: In a study in the journal Intelligence, men with a solid sense of humour reported having more casual sex. Comedian Steve Lemme suggests the “callback” – a humorous reference to things you’ve already talked about. (“I’m headed to Bermuda – I know, not as nice as [insert her hometown here]”).
It shows you’re witty – and that you’ve been listening.
SPICE UP YOUR DATES
Invite her along for an activity you feel passionate about – even if it’s flyfishing. “Do something that makes you feel full of life,” says Engler, author of The Men on My Couch. Help her cast the line, for example, or reel it in. And engage all her senses – the feel of the line, the ripples of the water, the stink of the bait.
Sure, genes matter: Facial symmetry, masculinity, and skin tone all provide erotic capital, says Hakim. In a 2014 study in Psychological Science, women favoured men with wide faces for short-term relationships, perhaps because they saw them as more dominant. Bad genes?
Don’t worry. Try this plan.
ENHANCE YOUR JAW
Facial hair is male make-up: It covers flaws and enhances assets. A five o’clock shadow highlights a good chin, says Danny Baptista, owner of The Stepping Razor Barbershop in Brooklyn, while a short beard can create the illusion of symmetry and add bulk to a weak chin.
Trim cheek whiskers using the 2 or 3 guard (½ to 1 cm) on your clippers, he advises. Let the hair on your chin and jaw grow slightly longer.
SMOOTH YOUR FACE
A craggy mug will cramp your style. In winter, use a cleanser meant for dry skin, then add a facial cream before heading out, says John Romano, a cosmetic dermatologist.
There’s no Instagram filter to help you here, buddy. It involves not only the shape of your body but also the way you move and talk, says Hakim.
FAKE THE V
Step one: Start doing the workouts in this magazine. In the meantime, fake a V-shaped torso – widely considered the male ideal – with this trick from Sarah Lee, executive creative director for Bombfell, a clothing subscription service: wear a light-coloured T-shirt with a thick stripe across the shoulders and chest. “This brings your eye upward,” she says.
A tee that’s tighter across the top and just grazes your belly will help too.
4. Conversational Skills
Politics aside, Barack Obama is a brilliant orator, a skill that undoubtedly won him votes. Likewise, the ability to skillfully work a room can win you a woman’s vote of confidence, says Hakim.
Tall guys are naturally seen as charismatic, a recent Dutch study found. But you can fake it if you need to:
Stand with your shoulders back, open your arms, and look people in the eye when telling a story, says RoAne. Spotted a gorgeous woman? Meet her gaze and smile; you’ll create intimacy before you even approach. Once you start talking, ask her name and then use it later.
TARGET YOUR FLIRTING
Motivation matters: guys who flirted just for fun were viewed as less attractive than guys whose motives were genuine towards the women they chatted to, according to a study in Sex Roles. “It’s about making her feel special,” says Rachel DeAlto, author of Flirt Fearlessly. So save your best material for when you’re vying for a date.
5. Social Presentation
Think of this as Don Draper domain: dressing and styling your hair in a way that conveys social status and style, says Hakim.
ROCK THE SIDE PART
In a 2013 Great Clips survey, 60% of people said the classic side parting is which keeps the look clean, but maintain your natural hairline, says Baptista.
Thinning on top? “Go short,” he says. “And get a supertight fade on the sides to balance the missing hair.”
UPGRADE YOUR SUITS
Men who wear custom suits give better first impressions than those in off-the-rack attire, according to a British study. But department store suits can fit as if they were tailored just for you. Just make sure the shoulder pads don’t extend past your shoulders, the jacket hits about halfway down your butt, and you can comfortably sit down.
A tailor can easily adjust hem lengths or even take in the sides or centre back of the jacket, says Lee.
Sex drive alone won’t translate to being a stud in the sack, says Hakim. More critical than libido is “erotic imagination,” a creativity and playfulness with a woman in bed – and beforehand.
ADAPT YOUR ENCOUNTERS
There’s a script for great sex: initiation, kissing, foreplay, intercourse, afterplay. But you should read her moods, says couples therapist Lisa Thomas, founder of onlinecouch.com. If she’s had a bad day, try the soft-and-sensual approach. After a night of dancing, the playful approach might do the trick.