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Tall Dark and Handsome: What a Woman Prefers in a Man and Why

When asked to describe what they are looking for a in a man, many women reply that they prefer a man who is tall, dark and handsome.

While this may seem discriminatory, there is actually some evolutionary evidence that guides this preference, but if you happen to be a short, balding, red faced, pale fellow of average looks, fear not, women are attracted to other traits and often how you act is more important to a woman than what you look like.

Research has shown that being tall gives a man an evolutionary advantage over someone who is short. Height is equated with good health and athletic ability.

Tan skin equates to spending more time outside, having more leisure time and being less susceptible to certain skin disorders. The pigment in the skin of dark and brown haired people also tends to promote more even skin tone with less blotchiness.

Darker skin tones have a tendency to hide flaws while whiter skin sets off broken blood vessels, bruises and flushing of the skin and tan lines (think farmer’s tan, freckling and red necks).

When someone is sick, we refer to them as looking pale, though fake tans which glow orange or red or overly dark skin which hides facial features, and sun damaged skin, may all be turn offs rather than turn ons. Each individual is different and part of the preference for darker skinned males may be due to cultural norms which change over time.

Darkness also refers to hair preference. Dark hair has more eumelanin than lighter hair and tends to be thicker and reflects light more than light hair in general, though again this is not always the case, but thick, shiny hair is also a positive sign of good health.

It may be that dark hair tends to accentuate facial features as well, which is one reason why women apply dark mascara and eyeliner and eyebrow pencil, to attract males to their facial features.

Some feel that darkness holds a quality of mystery for a woman and equates with dangerous men which may be more sexually exciting, but again it is more than just hair and skin color that attract a woman to a man.

In general all people, no matter what their gender prefer attractive mates with symmetrical features. If you have a narrow nose, big ears, close set, small eyes or a pointy chin or large brow, you may have less success with women than someone with more evenly matched features.

All humans tend to associate certain facial traits with intelligence, kindness and temperament. You can’t change your facial features, but you can change your facial expressions to become more welcoming. If you are scowling all the time or walk around day dreaming with your mouth hanging open not making eye contact, chances are your success rate with women will be lacking.

No matter what your hair and skin color or physical build there are certain attractive features and traits that you can control and others than you cannot.

1: Posture – you may not be six foot two with eyes of blue, but if you stand tall with shoulders back and gut tucked in, you can mimic the tough guy look with an air of confidence.

2. Muscular – defined muscles and keeping your figure trim are sure fire ways to attract a woman. Too much muscle is not as attractive to women as being toned and fit. The goal is to look disciplined without being obsessed with the weight room or your reflection in the mirror.

3. Get a tan – a light tan helps to hide skin flaws and shows you enjoy getting outdoors and are not afraid of a little outside work. It also indicates that you have no skin diseases that are adversely affected by sunlight.

4. Drive a nice car and know how to repair it – women are attracted to a man who drives a nice car and takes good care of it. Just don’t brag about how much you paid for it or bore them with too many mechanical details or act like you love your car more than you love her.

5. Bright eyes – while you may have darker colored eyes, you can still keep them looking healthy by getting enough sleep, exercising and eating right. Bloodshot eyes, drooping or swollen, puffy skin around the eyes may indicate you do not eat or sleep well which may be underlying causes of poor health.

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6. Sense of humor – having a good sense of humor can be more important than how you look. A good sense of humor shows that you are attentive to details and tend to be kind spirited. Do not make jokes at the expense of others or put others down or be a practical joker though, as these qualities often mark you as childish and insensitive; not caring and intuitive. You should be able to laugh at yourself and laugh with others rather than the other way around.

7. Wealth and generosity – you do not have to be a millionaire, but knowing how to invest your money wisely, not being too extravagant, but being willing to splurge on special things and share your wealth with others while knowing when to set limits is an attractive quality that marks you as a stable, supportive kind of guy.

8. Dress well – women prefer a sharp dressed man. It is okay to wear sandals and board shorts if you are out working in the yard or at the beach, but when you go on a date, you need to wear stylish, yet practical footwear with well fitting clothes. Some women report that they look at two things when they first meet a man – his eyes and his shoes! Don’t wear unusual styles, like pointed toe flats or red or purple shoes. Stick to brown or black leather and wear dark socks with any dress shoe, never white and never sockless.

9. Learn to play a musical instrument and play it well – it takes talent to read music as well as the ability to keep a beat, which is equated with intelligence (ability to follow directions and pay attention to where you are at in a piece) and athleticism (good timing and coordination). Musicians and singers also tend to attract a crowd and be popular, which is also an attractive trait.

10. Be a good listener and know when to ask appropriate questions and when to remain silent. If you are socially awkward and cannot start a conversation or keep it going, you will feel uncomfortable and may drive others away from you, but if you can engage them and entertain them, they will flock to you, even if just for the amusement value.

  1. Deep voice – the more baritone your voice, the more manly you will appear. If you laugh like a little girl and scream like a woman if a spider jumps on you, you might amuse others around you, but are unlikely to be labeled as a manly man.
  2. Natural leader – a man who takes charge and shows confidence and true leadership shows he has the ability to keep a woman and her family safe. Leaders tend to do well in business and have important positions in life as well.
  3. Courage – goes along with leadership. Women prefer men who can stand up against a bully and not back down; though being reckless and offensive (starting fights) can have an adverse effect.
  4. Honest and caring – if you try to fake a quality you do not possess, at some point it will become apparent. If you are honest about your weaknesses and truly care about a woman, she will feel comfortable and develop a feeling of trust and caring toward you as well. You can still be manly and show you have feelings.
  5. Being famous or having a lot of admiring friends. Women like leaders. The more other women are attracted to you, the more desirable you will be. It is like going to a shoe sale with ten women fighting over the last pair of size 8 pumps. There is an adrenaline rush to "capturing" the elusive male that every other female desires.
  6. Be good with children. If you are uncomfortable with children or find them irritating, women may see you as an unsuitable partner if they wish to have children in the future. Liking children and being able to interact with them marks you as a good potential father and generally a patient man.
  7. Being good to animals/owning pets – the same as being good to children. Being kind to animals and respecting them rather than abusing them, shows that you will be a good father and a good mate and if you own an animal and take good care of it, it means you are committed to caring for something long term.
  8. Quick witted – if you are the first to get a joke or to notice something and make sense of it, you show that you have intelligence and are alert and aware of your environment and can adapt to new situations without being overwhelmed by change.
  9. Athletic and able to win in sports – while no one likes a sore loser, no one really likes someone who consistently loses either. Your ability to do well in sports, even if you are not the best, shows that you can learn and grow and compete for resources and provide for your mate and family.
  10. Passionate, energetic and adventurous – all rolled into one! Women want a man who can be adventurous and exciting; who can stay focused on a task, complete a job and be flexible enough to do fun things on the spur of the moment while using wise judgment.

Other traits women look for in a man – smelling good without being overpowering. Women like men to smell and dress like men. Body odor is not necessarily attractive, but a slight smell of natural scent is. Go easy on the under arm deodorant and aftershave and cologne. A little goes a long way.

A strong handshake is a plus as is good coordination. Men who are intelligent, good at math, have carpentry and mechanical skills and are good at camping and outdoor recreation are also a turn on.

Owning your own home and taking good care of it is as important to some women as is owning your own car and taking good care of it. it shows emotional stability and financial responsibility.

A man who is neat and clean, does not owe money or have health issues, is not allergic, does not play video games or watch TV in excess, has a positive attitude and does not complain too much is a real plus to most women.

Women like men who can be a good loser and not want to get back at people for doing something unkind towards them.

While being passionate is a plus, being too passionate or hung up on an issue is a turn off. If you are still whining about the presidential election that did not go your way three years after the election, this could be a turn off.

Being able to let go of things and move on and being able to forgive are also important.

Faithfulness, dependability, kindness and moral integrity, are top traits a woman looks for in a man and while the dark and mysterious, tough guy who is a little dangerous, may be highly attractive to women, it is the rare female who is not viewing a man she dates as a potential mate and father who will be able to support and provide for the family by guiding them with wisdom and love.

While being sharp dressed, having a nice physique and good smile may attract females, more innate qualities like caring, sharing, humor and responsibility will help to keep them!

Remember that females are not fond of fakes, so don’t go dying your hair black, getting a spray on tan and putting lifts in your shoes. Just be yourself and if it is meant to be, then it will be and if not, there is always someone out there waiting for someone just like you, so don’t discount your chances.

There is also nothing wrong with being single. Having a mate does not necessarily make you a better human being and it is better to be friends with women than marry one that ends up making your life miserable expecting you to be all the things you are not and blaming you for their unhappiness.

Getting married is a big commitment and having children together is an even greater commitment, so enjoy being single while you can and if the right woman comes along, it doesn’t matter what you look like or what great qualities you possess; she is going to love you for who you are, even if you sleep in Star Wars pajama bottoms and eat cereal out of a coffee cup by pouring it in your mouth because you don’t know where any of the clean spoons are.

Women have different preferences for men, but the more genuine and comfortable you are with yourself and with others, the greater your chances of meeting someone who will find you attractive. Don't try too hard to be Mr. Right.


Nathan Bernardo from California, United States of America on July 01, 2020:

Fascinating subject. I've always been interested in what attracts women, being attracted to women myself. It's interesting to see a sort of clinical approach here.

yssubramanyam from india, nellore. andhrapradesh on January 17, 2020:

excellent. if a man can give heavenly pleasure to woman till she experiences orgasm , that woman can never forget him. she will treat him as god and worship.

broda on September 19, 2018:

I'm of African origin having stayed in the UK for years but I totally agree mostly with comment by whitewomen9. nonetheless , chill bruv, don't hate the player, hate the game

Maddi on August 29, 2018:

A lot is agreeable in this article however everyone is different and what they like in a partner may differ to someone else substantially. I feel like this could upset some men too because not everyone is up to all of these standards. My partner is dark haired, tanned and tall, I like that but it's not the real reason I am with him. He is loving and funny, that's what makes it. He also plays video games and has a lot of screen time but I don't care. I'm sure many women agree that a manly man is a turn on but they don't have to be that way in every aspect of life to be a good partner. There's a fine line between sensitive manly and douchebag doesn't care manly. The latter isn't a good match for anyone.

whitewomen9 on July 21, 2018:

read all the comments and read your article, I was impressed with some of the advice, but most of it was atypical advice given by western women (often white or highly influenced by the amoral and cultureless white women). Oh i'm sure you can say your irish (western europeans practically all are a little bit) and you did a jig once or went to ireland once (on who's dime? your own? well welcome to what ALL MEN do everytime). I can say without a doubt that alot of western women are racist toward their own race. Period. To be noticed by a 7 out of 10 or higher white woman. You have to be a 7.5 out of 10 and be well above average height, where is a black male has to be 5/6 in the face (bill cosby was meeting 10 out of 10 women? white man couldn't look like that and walk out in public without people looking in disgust) but as long as blackman meets a minimum height (lower) and acts nicely (not a complete psycho, which they just hide, Bill Cosby (not the only one, OJ etc etc), he gets an automatic pass. Period. it is truly racism and conditioning by the media, porn and others who would have you believe this black man is any more deserving of love (replaced with lust in the media). but I could cuddle with puppies, have kids of my own that I've raised successfully well and shown nothing but compassion, love for my fellow human beings, and ten minutes later after we both meet the same girl, she goes home with him without a thought. If I'm white and your a white woman then i have to unfairly be above average height with well above average looks (. I get that it is part of the human condition to be greedy, and have needs, but western women show no loyalty, care only for lust and status. If this wasn't true then why do western women promote and watch Kim Kardashian, I surely don't.) I admit it is mostly only average looking or lower white women that date outside their race. But lust isn't what got the Western Civilization to dominate all other cultures, infact, thats what made all other cultures fail so miserably for so many centuries while western europe made so much progress and the USA. No it wasn't resources, we didn't have more resources until the United States. We aren't racist, because both the UK and the USA allowed more cultures and races into the USA and UK than any eastern and any African country would ever want or allow. It wasn't women who allowed that as you didn't even have the right to vote yet as you so love to point out. Infact Lincoln was not a white woman, but a white MAN. It was the passion for life and LOVE, and the willingness to die for liberty, rational search for the truth as well as the idea that being masculine and being a man and being flawed and not beautiful like a woman was ok and accepted. That is why western culture was (white men!) successful, because we put love before lust. Let me be clear, women's lack of morals and love of lust are the reason that so many men have turned to steroid abuse (yes most of those blacks you think are so superior are on steroids, i have worked with athletes my whole life. Yet no blackman has ever been accused of or done steriods because to do so is racism. complete racist bull.) But let me continue, drinking, drugs, suicide, etc etc, all due to white women sleeping only with those of higher status (disproportionately and partially due to birth control) or men of different racial background. While your average looking white male or rich man (until you divorce him for his money), men like your fathers, that you so pretend to love or care about. Are simply ignored, looked down upon, even hated on and spitted on while he supports your phone bills, your raising, your schooling etc etc etc etc etc.. and on and on and on. Unless he hates himself too and he becomes feminine and demasculinized (Kaitlyn Jenner), then he is a hero. However, if you look at couples from other races and cultures, their women don't' look at every handsome man that walks by, they don't lust over every other race than their own. I've watched, observed, even tested this and it is true in the USA. I would go as far as to say that FEMALE swingers in the USA from races other than white and that are married to people of their own race, are probably almost completely non existent. Remember that story about those teenage girls who all got pregnant by a homeless man. Yep. white women = self hating traitors. But please, continue to tell us how if we can change our skin color to be darker so that you might like us... tell us more about how we aren't good enough as we are, but how you are perfect just the way you are (obese and caked in makeup artistry), and how you deserve that extra piece of cake but wouldn't touch a fat white man with a 30 foot pole, and how we must improve ourselves to the point that we are no longer a human being who has any flaws or makes mistakes but a resource for you to suck off of for good feelings and get higher status from. Yeah i bought into all those Rom Coms all the bullshit and finally i realized that you are racists, bigots, unloving life sucking, money grubbing, leeches who don't even take good care of yourselves let alone your children and god forbid your man in any way. But then you pretend to love your dad on father's day while he spends his entire life savings for you to go college and then, france or Ireland. please, you don't care about him or anyone but yourself. All men and women were not created equal, children made from lust are not equal to children made from love (not lust for higher status, or for more money or big muscles). But yet we aren't allowed to say that right? Freedom of speech is now hate speech right if it comes form a white man or speaks the truth perhaps? I never said you can't love someone from another race genuinely, but we all know that isn't what is going on. and no i'm not going to explain what greed and lust are to you or how I know thats not the case. Interracial marriage between blackmen and white women are more likely to divorce than all other couples. Yep. go look it up. Statistically proven over long periods of time. Take your tips and shove them!

Ritz on December 24, 2017:

Not all people who are kind to animals and are good with kids prove to be good persons.

It is a myth.

There are more to an attractive men than being Tall Dark and Handsome like Rhett Butler.

The 21st century woman is not a Scarlett O'Hara. She is an independent woman in her own right likes men who can respect her and treat her equally.

Thomas42 on October 27, 2017:

I'm tall and my hair is dark 1.5 out of 3.

"There is also nothing wrong with being single. Having a mate does not necessarily make you a better human being and it is better to be friends with women than marry one that ends up making your life miserable expecting you to be all the things you are not and blaming you for their unhappiness."

Best thing I've read in a long time. I've been single since my divorce in 2001. At this point in my life I concentrate on my health, my home, my family and my friends. It would have been nice to have a women in my life and it's kinda sad I'll never be a dad but such is life. I've never been good at dating, I literally couldn't get a date to save my life.

I try to think of the positives :

1) I can hog the covers/pillows

2) I get the last slice of pizza

3) I get to chose what color I paint the bathroom.

4) I don't have to worry about STIs

5) My catholic relatives can't say I'm breaking any commandments

6) I can repair a motorcycle in my living room ( I wouldn't but I could)

7) no one ever changes the pre sets on my radio/DVR

8) I can go to whatever movie I want to see and only have to buy one ticket.

9) My thermostat is set to make me comfortable.

10) I can take a cheap last min flight to anywhere just for the fun. (2 am flight to iceland only $150, why not I've never been there? Iceland sounds cool


Haim Avram on June 16, 2017:

With all do respect,it's time to debunk this myth already,there is absolutely no evidence of a "evolutionary preference"to "tall dark and handsome",this is nothing but an urban myth that originated in France in the 19th century and metastasized to America,but in reality,peoples preference in coloring and other features of body and face are governed by the aesthetic taste of the individual,as the saying goes "beauty is in the eyes of the beholder".

Mel on October 20, 2016:

Actually there are lots of benefits to being darker. I'll just give you one. The Sun gives life to every organism it shines on. It's why we'really all here today. Dark Leroy skin absorbs the sun rays and converts then into vitamin do among other things. Just had to fact check you real quick. Moving on.

Gunga Djinn on July 05, 2016:

This trope has been a bane of mine for the entirety of my adult life. There are definitely surreptitious racist overtones that would not play if the qualifier were different. I'm tall, 6'2'... I've been described as handsome... but with strawberry blonde hair and a freckled, rufous complexion... dark, I ain't. I've always been pretty healthy and had excelled athletically, but I notice swarthy guys get all of the attention. A diminutive mestizo seems preferable. Black guys who look fairly common are held in high regard.

I'm not sure why this trope has been so popular in the west... but obviously, among western populations... there is no health advantage to being dark... otherwise, my solefuge antecedents would've never procreated.

Guys seem to go for all types of women. I've had crushes on blondes, brunettes, and redheads of all stripes. In my view... women seem exceedingly shallow.

M.L. on April 08, 2016:

The expression "tall, dark, and handsome" originated in an Anglo Saxon context. "Dark" in an Anglo Saxon culture doesn't have the same meaning it would in a global or even European context.

I'm sure if the originator of the expression were to show us some examples of what they had in mind when they said "dark" it wouldn't be what the author or commenters here are thinking (Anglo Saxons are usually quite pale).

In any case, I don't think women generally prefer dark guys. Tall? Yes. Handsome? Well duh; that's just another word for attractive. But women's preferences vary so far as complexion goes. Some prefer darker men, others prefer the blonde blue eyed type.

Elyas on February 15, 2015:

I am dealing with this stiuaiton right now and it really hurts. My wife was attracted to this guy on her job and it kept going to another level when they saw each other. I have a great relationship with my wife but our love was not enough for her to commit infidelity. I just recently found out she slept with this person and it would have continued if I wouldn't have caught her. I am still trying to deal with the stiuaiton right now. I don't want to leave my wife. We have been together for 20+ yrs. She only slept with him 1 time, but once is enough. My answer for this is don't put yourself in a position that will get u in trouble. If I know my cousin want to go out and he only do crack, I'm not going to put myself in a position that can get ugly. God bless

Beverly English (author) from Savannah on November 01, 2014:

As with all things, it is the balancing act that KEEPs the woman. You want to have the ability to win and drive a nice car and the know-how to repair it but if you spend all your money on your car and yourself, that is obviously not going to encourage women to come flocking in your direction or if it does, it will be superficial infatuation that soon fades.

Aly on October 31, 2014:

I'm guessing this was written by a man rather than by a woman, because if I and all the other women I know are any indication, most women would not rank "Drive a nice car" as #4 on their list of attractive traits. I'm not saying I can't tell the difference between a Porsche and a Kia Soul, but men tend to think that women notice and care about cars a lot more than we do. Buy a nice car if you want to impress other men, but most women would sooner date a guy with nice clothes, a nice home, or even a nice haircut.

Also, while "athletic" is great, "able to win in sports" is not that important; again, it's more likely to impress other men than to impress women. We like you to look fit in a tight t-shirt, but we'd rather you made a few more trips to the sidelines to trade funny remarks with us and left the aggressively competitive guys to worry about keeping score.

Javed Ur Rehman from Karachi, Pakistan on August 27, 2014:

Really very interesting and helping, learnt some new things from here :)

Dan Lema from Tanzania on July 02, 2014:

Well-written-well-informative article.....great work...

Sjaak on March 11, 2014:

Balboa so just be a witty extrovert so you can laugh women into bed, great!

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on August 26, 2013:

TDH--Tall, dark and handsome--Reminds me of novels by Barbara Cartland and Mills and Boon, which I used to read during my teens. But as I grew up and got married I realised that there are some other qualities which are a must have in Men. He should be sensitive, kind, compassionate and should have a good sense of humour.

Very interesting hub and well written!

Thanks and voted up!

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