15 July 2012

Researching For Romance Writing: Sexy Is Not About Looks

Sexy Versus Attractive - A Romance Writer's Investigation ...

I read a great post at Book and Trailer Showcase, What Makes A Man Sexy?  A great post for any interested.  Here's the thing...a man can be attractive without necessarily being sexy just as a man can be sexy without being what one might call handsome.  This got my wheels turning.  Why is this?  And what constitutes sexy?

What I consider sexy may or may not appeal to another - but universally, attractiveness knows no class boundaries, no cultural borders.  Evolvify posted scientific information in a post titled, Male Physical Attractiveness To Women: You Shallow, Shallow Women!.  This post is quite informative but lengthy.  The studies cited are fascinating, and I found some useful knowledge.  For instance, women are able to judge physical strength just by seeing images of the face - and, women universally find certain physical attributes pleasing.  Also, and more surprising, the correlation between physical attractiveness and 'mating-success' (science's term, not mine, people) is clear.  The question remains, do attractive males 'mate' better than their less attractive counterparts, or is the female perception of physical beauty a powerful enough incentive to believe that is the case?  I suppose I'll never know. 

The site Jezebel featured a Scottish study revealing another interesting facet of this ongoing conundrum.  It seems that the preference for more attractive faces is based on the perception of physical prowess.  Protection and security seem to be major factors in women's 'natural selection' process.  This did not surprise me, but rather validated what I've known all along.  Sensitive smenchitive!  Women want a big strong man to protect them.  I know I'll hear an argument - and for certain all women do not want the same things - but the data is in, ladies.  We've been outed!  Ha!

All this information is to lay the groundwork for our study on sexy, which is another thing altogether - yet it is inextricably connected to attractiveness.  Sigh. 

sexy [ˈsɛksɪ]
adj sexier, sexiest Informal
1. provoking or intended to provoke sexual interest a sexy dress a sexy book
2. feeling sexual interest; aroused
3. interesting, exciting, or trendy a sexy project a sexy new car
sexily adv
sexiness n

Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003

Adj. 1. sexy - marked by or tending to arouse sexual desire or interest; "feeling sexy"; "sexy clothes"; "sexy poses"; "a sexy book"; "sexy jokes"
exciting - creating or arousing excitement; "an exciting account of her trip"
seductive - tending to entice into a desired action or state
unsexy - not sexually aroused or arousing
2. sexy - exciting sexual desire
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.
Now, there are a great many words above to catalogue this one word.  Why?  Because 'sexy' is a state of mind, and each of us finds unique things 'sexy'.  Personally, the way a man speaks contributes to whether I find him sexy or not.  That sweet spot of commanding but not tyrant-y, arrogant short of arse-hole, calm yet firm and sure of the words he chooses - Ah!  Sweet Mercy!  I'm a puddle.  I also find a man who speaks little to be sexy.  There's something about not knowing everything rattling around his head that's appealing.  Keeps me guessing.  Suggests he's taking it all in and cataloguing it - perhaps for future use.  But go to far...and I get a sense of backward and insecure - which is not sexy at all!  Context is another factor in sexy-speak.  There's a fine line between sexy and crude.  Those who cross it are forever lumped into the 'thanks, but I'll pass' category. 

I've posted this image before.  This guy radiates sexiness.  Body language - check.  Oh!  That hand!  Blow Me Down!!
Inviting.  Luring.  Confident.
Now that I've read the studies, I see that his face suggests strength, as do those lean muscles.  Gah!


Swagger (as Book And Trailer put it) is another piece of the puzzle!  An athletic prowess elicits a strong reaction from this girl!  Phew!  I enjoy the male form most when watching it perform physical feats successfully.  MMA is my favorite sport for just this reason.  Exacting control over one's body, skilled movements, precise timing, strength and flexibility all suggest both physical and mental strength....and mental strength is extremely sexy!

  Eyes convey great emotion, and I'm a sucker for a pair of dark, deep pools.  Brown is my favorite!  Naveen Andrews played a character named Sayid on Lost, and this character was sexy, indeed!  Sayid was a thinker - and those eyes spoke, maybe bellowed, volumes about the things he didn't say.  And let's get down to the nitty gritty of sexy...he portrayed a controlled brutality that curled my hair.  Oh!  Wait!  My hair is already curly.  Lol. 

 Hmm.  Brutality can be sexy.  Very sexy.  Mirko Cro-Cop is a fine example of that trait - in his prime, of course.  Possessing that killer-instinct and knowing when, where, and how to use it...Well! 

Another trait I find extremely sexy is a laid back nature.  Comfortable in any circumstance.  Matthew Goode portrayed just such a fellow in the movie Leap Year.  And that kiss at the dinner table?  Ohh-La-La!  I'll have what she's having, thank-you.  Ha!

Declan (the character Goode plays) is cheeky - and oh-so-darned-cute.  Take a look-see...

So, ladies...(and any man brave enough to have read this far...lol)  What constitutes sexy in your eyes? 
 ~ Nadja


  1. But how does that explain women who like mild-mannered men or the slimmer, boyish-looking men?

    Me, I like broad shoulders and strong backs. I've got a lot of work to do around my homestead so wimpy guys won't cut it. LOL.

    But what attracted me first to my husband was his confidence. If a man can back up that confidence with ability or expertise, he'd have me at hello.

  2. I must admit it, I am a sucker for bigger, taller man. My ex-hubby was six'four, broad shouldered and laid back. I'm a heavy-set woman, but more importantly, I'm a woman who's well equipped to make it on her own, so I really need a man with confidence and the back up to show I can simply be his soft schnookems. So confidence is key. And there is something about the eyes, those hawkish eyes that seem to look into your soul. Oh dear...let me end right there lol!!

    1. Ah..the old saying, 'I may want you here, but I don't NEED you. Never confuse the two emotions.' My sentiments exactly, Angela. And as for those eyes that look right into your soul - Hmm. Sort of makes me uncomfortable...in a good way. Ha!

  3. Confidence is sexy! (See above...lol) As for women who like boyish looking men, the studies noted that fact (That there are exceptions to the 'rule') as well, although, these women were in the minority! :}

  4. think I am an exception to the rule - even in my youth none of those would really have appealed to me:( - now I am really not that fussed - but I have met those guys and really - no - I used to fancy the strong silent type until I had to be marroned on a sheep station for 2 months with one - no - nothing to say its because they have nothing to say! - those who are good looking know they are! - brawn rarely have i found it matches up with brain. I have always liked a bit of brain power, a thinker, considerate, gentle and as far away from macho as the world will allow:) but as I say - the male ego is really too high maintenance for me:)

    1. Everyone finds different things sexy! In addition to all those things I listed, I do love me a thinker. It goes along with the mental strength I mentioned. Stupid is not sexy....nor is thoughtless. Nice addition to the conversation, Alberta. Thanks. :}

    2. I can't seem to get to your blog...Alberta! If you see this, please stop by and give me a new link. ?? I have no idea what's going on...lol.

  5. Confidence, an easy smile, and a great sense of humor. I also have a fondness for geeks for some reason. I love those brains!

    Have you ever understood why women go for the bad guys? Damon instead of Stefan. Spike instead of Angel. Eric instead of Bill. I wrote a book called Starfane and there were two men the female MC was involved with. (She's not a slut...the reason became clear later.) I fully intended to like the "good" guy better than the "bad" guy. It was my book, after all, and I knew the characters. Before the book was finished, I was head over heels with the "bad" one. Why are women like that as a general rule?

    1. I certainly can't explain it, but I do understand it. I've joked before that my parents were probably deeply troubled that I made sport of the movie, The Ten Commandments - declaring that Moses should be cast aside in favor of Ramses. Ha! It's been the way of it since.

    2. Yul Brynner was an amazingly sexy man (and IMHO, Charlton Heston was not), I certainly could see where you were coming from.

      That said... in general, I like slender men, not "big" towering ones... The lean, lithesome dancer type (note, most dancers are amazingly strong and flexibl, so I still favor strength). But yep... Confidence is a MUST!

      And eyes... oh, yes!

      Boy! You have me thinking now, Nadja.

  6. Ooooooh love this post! It is so interesting what makes men attractive. I have so many friends who go for really good looking guys who are also arrogant and cocky. These traits put me off someone instantly! I am with you about Sayid. And accents. An Irish accent? swoon! I always describe guys I like as 'having something about them'. That something is not 'visible' to everyone. Oh dear....am going off on a handsome man daydream...

    1. Ha! I'm a sucker for accents...well, certain accents anyway. Some uniforms are nice, too. A soldier/sailor - 'Yes, Sir!'...(Or 'Aye, Aye, Sir!' as the case may be...) Ha.

      That's exactly it, Em...sexy is a state of mind. 'There's just something about him...'

  7. I love this post! I agree a laid-back, confident nature and expressive eyes are key to a sexy man. The walk, the smile, small motions like holding open a door... oh, yeah. :)

    1. Agreed! And I love small hidden touches. Like a well placed hand to the back - but brief. I'm not a fan of public displays of affection. At all! I'd much rather a well timed gaze which communicates much without saying anything at all. I'm no hand holder, nothing like that. - 'No pawing at my person, thank you very much.' Ha!

  8. Your research sounds so interesting. I always try to stay away from research, but maybe your links are places I should visit - I've got 2 guys in my novel I need to make sexy, for completely different traits. Interesting. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Hope you find something that helps by clicking around. It's so interesting to write different types of 'sexy'...especially when they contrast within one storyline!

  9. Since we're writers not filmmakers, I think "sexiness" comes from what the man says and does. It's wrong to concentrate on physical looks -- although physical reactions from the heroine are very important. :-)