I dated a woman once who asked me to rate her attractiveness, numerically. I gave her a 1. 1? Yes, 1. Not wanting to insult her, I explained that my personal attractiveness scale only has two values: 0 and 1, and that it’s a yes/no binary scale. Since I’m evaluating women for long-term relationship potential only– I never have casual sex– there’s no difference, from my perspective, between a “7″ “girl next door” and a “9″ model. All else (including my subjective physical attraction to each) being equal, I’d rather date the former.
On the other hand, from an aggregate perspective, some people are more attractive than others, and there are more than two degrees of physical attractiveness in this regard. A “9″ has vastly different social experiences from a “7″, even if the difference in their attractiveness is relatively meaningless with regard to long-term relationships.
We can define female attractiveness, numerically, in the most straightforward way: the percentage of men who are physically attracted to her, before any interaction occurs. We thus define a “7″ as a woman who inspires sufficient sexual attraction (“1″, on the 0/1 scale) in 70% of men. This maps quite faithfully to most mens’ concept of what a “7″ or a “9″ is. What of the homely “3″? Thirty percent, really? Yes. In this definition, a 3 is a woman whom 30% of men seeking one-night-stands would be willing to fuck (if no more attractive options were available), and a woman whom 30% of men would consider attractive enough for a relationship, if she were otherwise qualified. Some men have low standards of physical beauty, or don’t care terribly much about it.
By this definition, what’s the distribution of female physical attractiveness within the general population? I believe a reasonably good model to be the following: P(z) = 1/(1 + 2^(0.3 – 1.5*z)), where z is a (0,1)-normally-distributed variable representing the woman’s relative physical attractiveness, within the pool of upper-middle-class U.S. young professionals, and P(z) is the probability that a man will find her sexually attractive. By this definition, we get the following correspondence between the familiar 0-10 scale and percentiles:
9.8 : 99.99th percentile (+3.96 sigma).
9.5 : 99.88th percentile.
9.0 : 99.0th percentile.
8.5 : 96.9th percentile.
8.0 : 93.7th percentile.
7.0 : 84.4th percentile.
6.0 : 72.2nd percentile.
5.0 : 57.9th percentile.
4.0 : 42.5th percentile.
3.0 : 26.9th percentile.
2.0 : 12.9th percentile.
1.0 : 2.8th percentile.
0.5 : 0.43rd percentile.
This seems to be fairly accurate for the population being modeled: urban, middle-class professionals, or “yuppies”. The general population, especially considering American obesity, is more strongly represented at the low end, and might have an average of 3.5-4.0.
Can we analyze men in a similar manner? Yes, but this measurement is more complicated. First, while sexual attraction is largely physical in men, and can thus be determined right away, womens’ sexual attractions are evaluated lazily, not eagerly, and involve a number of non-physical factors– most notably, sociosexual confidence and dominance, or “game”. Although men and women are similarly selective in terms of long-term relationships, and both require in-depth knowledge about the other person before being able to make a commitment, men know immediately if they are physically attracted to a woman. Women don’t. “The spark” or “chemistry” is generally not triggered by a man’s physical appearance alone. A certain set of social skills, also known as “game”, is required. Moreover, this attraction is felt by a woman for a man relatively rarely.
Here lies the dismal aspect of the male predicament. Although men and women are relatively even in overall “market value” when it comes to relationships, this is not true on the matter of physical attraction. An average young woman inspires physical attraction in nearly 45% of men, while a man capable of inspiring “the spark” in 45%– or even 25%– of women would be considered a star. We, therefore, can’t define a man’s physical attractiveness by the same scale, or we’d mostly be rated 0-3. Instead, we define a male “7″ as a man whose percentile standing corresponds to that of a female “7″, or a man in the 84th percentile of physical attractiveness. He’d be considered “equally matched” to a female “7″, but he definitely does not inspire sexual attraction in 70% of women– far from it.
What percentage of women can be expect to be physically attracted to him? If he’s of average social skill and confidence, about 5-6%. We’ll approximate a formula to represent this, and while I make no claim of the equation to follow representing any sort of platonic truth, it’s a damn good model.
We start our analysis by noting that it is virtually impossible for a man to be able to inspire sexual attraction in 70, 80, or 90 percent of women. I have a male friend who is extremely attractive, in excellent physical shape (5% body fat), and would easily be considered a “9″. A “natural” at game, he could even show Mystery a thing or two. How often is he rejected? A lot. His acceptance rate is about 55%. This holds true in nightclubs and “day game”, with gorgeous women and average ones (he’s rejected more often, it turns out, by women of mediocre looks). Forty-five percent of women feel no sexual attraction to him whatsoever. Other mens’ observations corroborate this: no matter how attractive and suave, it is impossible to break the 60% barrier. Exceptions may exist for celebrities, very high-ranking politicians and extremely wealthy men. Such outliers are irrelevant, for our purposes.
An individual man’s maximum potential, in this regard, seems to scale roughly linearly with physical appearance, as it does (by definition) with women. Working formula: MP(r) = 0.6*r, where MP is the man’s max-potential probability of inspiring sexual attraction, and r is his attractiveness rating on the 0-to-10 scale, defined as above, divided by 10. A man with a 50th-percentile, “4.5″, physical appearance is theoretically capable of inspiring sexual attraction in 27% of women. By male standards, this is a rock star’s batting average. Clearly, the average man’s not a rock star. In practice, most men achieve only a tiny fraction of their maximum potential.
We introduce another factor into the model, which is a man’s social skills, confidence, and presence. Cynically, this element is described as “game” or, by Roissy, “psychosocial dominance”. It determines that fraction of a man’s maximum potential he actually achieves. We’ll rate it numerically on the same percentile scale as physical attractiveness– a man with 57th percentile of sociosexual confidence is a “5″; one at the 84th percentile is a “7″. A sociosexual “10″, if such a man existed, would be able to achieve the maximum potential given by the formula above. Most of us fall short and, sadly, the drop-off is steeper than linear. Somewhat arbitrarily, but based on experience, I’m going to assert that it’s cubic. That is, a man with “3″ sociosexual confidence (“game”) will inspire sexual attraction in 1/8 as many women as equally good-looking man with “6″ game, and 1/27 as many women as his counterpart at “9″. Thus, we have a set of working formulas for the probability of sexual attraction. In both formulae, r represents the person’s physical attractiveness on a 0.0-1.0 scale, as defined by percentile above; s represents sociosexual confidence on the same scale. P represents that probability that an opposite-sex heterosexual will feel sexual attraction for that person.
For women: P(r) = r.
For men: P(r, s) = 0.6*r*s^3.
Therefore, an average man (r = 0.45, s = 0.45) inspires sexual attraction in only 2.4% of women. Thirty-nine out of forty women will not feel “the spark” for him and will reject him. Ouch. For a somewhat above-average man like me (r = 0.65, s = 0.55) the percentage rises to 6.5%; high-beta, enough to get lucky once in a while. What of a 50-year-old man with average looks for his age (4.0) but absolutely stellar “game” (r = 0.4, s = 0.95)? 20.6%. That’s an “alpha” male.
Men exhibit sexual attraction to almost half of all women, while women feel “the spark” with only 3 to 10% of us. How does this reflect on the balance of power between men and women? That’s complicated. On first glance, it should seem that women utterly dominate. My “6.5″ female counterpart is sexually attractive to ten times as many men as I am to women. On a raw sexual market, you’d expect that women are substantially more powerful, and you’d be quite right. On the other hand, this gives the men who are able to create “chemistry” a major advantage– that of rarity. Though women feel sexual chemistry for a very small percentage of men, when they do, they feel it intensely.
When I met my last serious girlfriend, I was a 22-year-old virgin who had never had a long-term relationship, and had been treated badly by previous women I’d tried to date. My sociosexual confidence was at an all-time low: probably 3. Less muscular and twenty pounds lighter, I’d rate my physical appearance at the time as a 6. My expected batting average? 0.97%. I could expect 102 rejections before finding a woman who’d feel “the spark”. That sounds about right. When I found a woman, she was a gorgeous “8″. Eighty percent of men willing to have casual sex would fuck her (if they could) and 80% of men seeking long-term relationships would consider her sexually attractive. That number, for me, started at an abysmal 1% and rose (as my confidence grew) to a mere 5-7%. Obviously there’s a discrepancy, no? It didn’t matter at all. Everyone’s personal scale for sexual attraction is a 0/1 discrete scale, and, this time, I’d beaten the odds and come up as a “1″ for her. While she was in the relationship, none of these other men were of any interest to her.
Balance of power in a relationship isn’t determined solely by the number of alternative options. Especially, the relevant number isn’t the number of people who want to sleep with a person. It’s the number of people who want to sleep with that person, whom that person desires. In a relationship, it means nothing if nine-tenths of the male gender salivates over one’s girlfriend, if she feels absolutely no desire for those men, and if she does desire her boyfriend.
Moreover, sexual attraction is far from the most important element of a relationship. It’s usually a necessary, but certainly not a sufficient, condition. A “4″ woman is sexually attractive to 40% of men, but forty percent of men are not inclined to hop into a relationship with her. In long-term relationships, men and women are not especially different in their preferences, even with regard to the weight they place on physical appearance, confidence, and social skill. So the balance of power within a relationship is not nearly as skewed as it is on a raw sexual market.
It’s time to draw some conclusions: what does all this mean?
1. Regarding women’s physical attractions, men have to worry about a factor (“the spark”) that women don’t. In the pursuit of long-term relationships, both men and women have to worry about many of the same things– intellectual, spiritual, sexual and romantic compatibility. On the other hand, women can take it for granted that, if they look good, a reasonable fraction of men will find them attractive. Men can’t. There’s an uncontrollable and random “spark” factor, induced by sociosexual confidence, that will put the woman’s sexual attraction to the man at zero if it’s not present.
2. Men can improve their situation dramatically by increasing their sociosexual confidence. It’s difficult to do this, because PUA gimmicks only offer a marginal benefit, but it can certainly be done by improving one’s social skills, learning to tolerate rejection, and developing confidence through experience in all areas of life. A man’s sociosexual confidence also tends to improve over the course of his life. For this reason, although a man’s physical appearance peaks in his late 20s, as it does for women, his overall attractiveness to women is likely to peak in his mid-40s, with his gains in sociosexual confidence sufficient to offset his (mild) physical decline. A man who improves his “game” from a lagging 4 to an average-plus 6, with no changes to his physical appearance, increases his “batting average” by 237 percent. His dry and single spells, if he maintains the same standards, will be three times shorter.
3. Women will date and marry men they do not consider attractive. It’s quite possible that men do this as well, but we’re sure, statistically speaking, that women do so. Let’s consider a bottom-feeding man with very poor physical attractiveness and sociosexual confidence– both of these at 1.5. He can be expected to inspire sexual attraction in a dismal 0.03% of women. We’d anticipate that such an egregious omega-male would almost certainly never marry, but they do. Some women recognize that they’re unlikely to attract a man who can inspire “the spark”, and settle for one who does not.
Moreover, although a “high beta” can only expect to attract about 8% of women, he’s not rejected for dates 92% of the time. He’ll get a lot of first dates, a few second dates, and possibly even a relationship or two, from women who don’t feel “the spark” but are willing to settle. These relationships, of course, are not to be desired, since they’ll end as soon as the woman does feels sexual urges toward another man.
4. Physical attractiveness of the “beholder”, as a factor in attraction, is overrated. I haven’t argued for, much less proven this, but it’s worth discussion. I never considered, as a variable, how attractive the “observer” is. A “5″ woman will be considered sexually desirable by 50% of men. Is there any definitive characteristic of those 50% of men? Are they likely to be the least desirable half? To the first question, the answer is yes. Some people are more selective regarding physical appearance than others, and the less selective men are likely to fall into the 50% “yes” set. To the second, the answer is, to a large degree, no. Is it harder to get an attractive person into a relationship? Yes, because she’s less often single and for shorter spells, and because she won’t waste her time in a relationship with a man to whom she’s not attracted. On the other hand, I don’t think the “beholder’s” attractiveness is a major player in the equation. I’m a high beta with a batting average around 7%, but within that 7 percent have been some very attractive women. Likewise, the “PUA masters” I know who bat 50% get rejected by unattractive women as often as by beautiful ones.
5. Moderately attractive (6-8) women can improve their position by being more assertive. A female “3″ is sexually attractive to 30% of men; a “7″, to 70%, and a “9″ to 90%. I wouldn’t want to be the “3″, but I don’t see a substantial benefit in being the “9″ over the “7″. Although the “3″ is sexually viable to a reasonable share of men, these tend to be men with low standards. On the other hand, only 20% more men find the “9″ attractive than the “7″. As for these men, what does it say about a man if he can only “get it up” to a Victoria’s Secret model? Not good things. So I’d argue that the healthiest and most desirable men are likely to be in the 60th-80th percentile for sexual selectivity, and therefore available to most of the “7″ women.
However, the “9″ will be approached much more often than the “7″– possibly 5 or 10 times more often. This is because men tend to massively overrate general attractiveness (as opposed to their personal assessment) on the dating market. The “7″, more infrequently approached, might believe she’s significantly less attractive. This is not the case, and if she pursues men she finds attractive, she’ll find that her odds are good– by male standards, extremely good.
6. Men: If you want to know if you’re alpha… Estimate your percentile standing within the young (22-35) middle-class urban professional male population for physical attractiveness and sociosexual confidence. (Ignore your IQ and how much money you make.) Use the percentile chart above to infer a 0-10 score. Divide each by ten, and use the above formula to predict the percentage of women who will be sexually attracted to you. That formula, posted here for convenience, is:
P = 0.6 * r * s^3, where r is your attractiveness and s is your sociosexual confidence, both on a 0.0-1.0 scale.
Multiply that number by 100 to obtain a percentage. Interpret the result as follows:
0.0 – 0.09% : Omega. Find a fetish and play to it. Maybe chop off an arm.
0.1 – 0.99% : Gamma. Go here to learn about your likely fate.
1.0 – 2.99% : Low beta. You’re me at 21. You kinda suck. Work out a bit and mid-beta status may not be too far out of reach.
3.0 – 5.99%: Mid beta. You’re me at 23. There’s nothing wrong with you, but you’re very average. You should be able to find love at some point in your life, but your dry and single spells are going to be long and grinding.
6.0 – 11.9%: High beta. This is where I am, at 26. It’s probably the best range in which to land if you don’t want to turn into a douchebag.
12 – 19.9%: Low alpha. Don’t get too full of yourself, but life doesn’t exactly hate you. Also, I could learn a few things from you. Wingman applications are open.
20 – 39.9%: Alpha. You aren’t going to read anything I have to say to you, so the sentence I am typing is irrelevant, and not worth compl
40 – 60%: Super alpha. Venus fly traps and plants like this get wet when you walk past them.
60.1 – 100%: Utter fucking moron. It’s impossible to break the 60% barrier. The formula doesn’t allow it! Learn math.