Energized by the success of our most recent article “5 Habits of Highly Desirable Women," relationship expert Aimee Hartstein, LCSW and I felt compelled to write a companion piece for men.
Our professional and personal experience informed this piece. We have each witnessed men who have successfully developed happy and healthy relationships. In addition, we each dated (and fell in love) while living in New York City — a metropolis notorious for its complicated dating terrain.
Make no mistake about it, certain traits elevate certain men above the rest. These “cool” men have no shortage of high-quality people (men or women!) to date. And if these "cool men" are in a serious relationship, their significant other is typically happy and effusive about his or her partner.
Can these “cool” traits be defined? The answer is yes. Of course, these qualities are transferable between men and women — so keep that in mind! After all, women can channel masculine energies, and men can channel feminine energies.
That said, here are five characteristics of highly desirable men:
1. They have fire in their belly.
Men who are "cool" have grand ambitions — both professionally and personally. They also have the tenacity, drive, discipline and perseverance necessary to fuel whatever their dreams are.
“There is a big difference between ‘dreamers’ and ‘doers.’ While many talk about the business they want to build or the relationship they want, doers create tangible, actionable steps towards their goals. This initiative is very attractive,” said Aimee the relationship therapist.
Let's clarify that ambition does not require a certain salary, as much as a specific mental attitude. Take, for example, a friend who unexpectedly lost his job. He used his (newly acquired) free time to write a business plan and obtain financing to build his dream business. His wife beamed with pride over his ability to create opportunity from adversity.
No matter the job — rock musician, UPS driver, vegan chef, plumber, pastor — cool men take pride in the quality of their work. They work hard to develop their talents and to be of service to others.
2. They are fully present in their relationships.
Cool men understand that a successful professional life is balanced — and often fueled by — a loving relationship. They create meaningful moments to connect with their partner every day.
“The happiest marriages are those in which each person makes efforts to understand what is happening in their partner’s world. Simply asking, ‘How are you?’ and really listening to the answer goes a long way in creating intimacy,” said Aimee.
Whereas many men mistakenly believe that only big efforts count, cool men know that small, consistent action speaks volumes. They turn off distractions (i.e., phones, television, and social media) during dinner with the goal of really listening during conversations. They ask about their partner’s doctor’s visit, especially if s/he expressed anxiety. They set aside ten minutes to talk in bed before turning out the lights.
Cool men understand that when their partner is valued and heard, s/he will give him the world.
3. They engage in foreplay — all day, everyday.
Cool men understand that a satisfying sex life begins outside the bedroom.
“Happy relationships are borne from a spirit of ‘giving’ and ‘generosity,’” said Aimee. “Cool men intuitively understand that when they make their partner’s life easier, s/he will have more energy and playfulness in every other arena in their relationship.”
Cool men treat their partner as an equal. Let's even take everyday, domestic examples: Cool men fold laundry. They make breakfast for the children. They wash the dishes after dinner. When one person’s work load is halved, pleasure for both is doubled.
4. They are impeccable with their word.
Cool men have integrity and values. They weigh their words carefully and only promise what they can deliver.
Take, for example, a client who dated a woman for three months and hesitated to call her his “girlfriend.” When she pressed, he replied, “I do not use the term ‘girlfriend’ lightly. Rest assured, when I say it, you can be confident in my intentions and fidelity.”
Sure enough, he introduced her as his “girlfriend” at a party a few weeks later. Throughout their courtship, he treated her with respect and made her feelings a priority.
Cool men are not glib. They do not toy with emotions nor manipulate situations for their benefit at another person’s expense. They behave with integrity and honor, even when no one is watching.
5. They cultivate a healthy emotional life for themselves.
Cool men understand that a balanced emotional life makes them a more effective partner, parent and leader. They own their difficult emotions. They take deliberate steps to diffuse negativity, so it does not fester and undermine the life they have been working diligently to build.
“Men, unfortunately, are conditioned to suppress bad emotions. The healthy ones, however, realize that there is no shame in feeling sad, frustrated, fearful, or hurt. Further, these men develop coping mechanisms to reframe negative situations,” said Aimee.
Cool men resist the stereotype that they must always be stoic and strong all of the time. They are able to identify when they're having tough emotions, and deal with them accordingly. Perhaps they exercise to relieve stress. They talk to friends or a therapist during difficult times. They meditate to calm themselves.
Cool men take responsibility for themselves. In relationships, they problem-solve and create solutions with their partner during trying times, as opposed to blaming the other person for what is going wrong.
Once again, these qualities apply to either gender. Many readers suggested that the qualities listed in our previous article aimed at women apply to men, too. And for both pieces, we could not agree more.