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Our culture values sexiness.  But what’ “sexy,” exactly?  A visitor from another planet who looked at our advertising might think it was something you get from purchasing products like cars, colognes or cognac. Everyone wants it, but it is hard to define.  What makes a man sexy?

The sexiness we’re talking about here is more than a matter of firm pecs and washboard abs.  Physical characteristics are part of the equation, but far from the whole answer.  We find some men sexy even though they are far from conventionally handsome, for instance.

Different people find different things sexually attractive, of course; sexy is a matter of personal taste.  And what’s sexy to you when you are out dancing and looking for Mr. Right Now may be very different from what you would find sexy in Mr. Right.  A bad boy with broad shoulders and a cute butt may get your attention at a club when you’re looking for a hookup.  If you’re serious about dating, sexy eyes may be less arousing than clues that the guy in question might make a decent husband.

So what’s sexy?  Here are some key ingredients:

Self-acceptance is fundamentally sexy in just about anyone. For gay men, that includes being comfortable with your sexual orientation.  It means being able to be yourself; after all, who is better qualified for the job?

Self-confidence that allows you to take the initiative is something most people think of as masculine and appealing. Lots of people feel shy about approaching a stranger in a bar or starting up a conversation in a public place. They are relieved when someone else does that chore for them.  And being able to look someone in the eye when you are speaking with them communicates a lot of positive things in our culture.

Similarly, a bit of sexual aggressiveness can be very appealing. That’s primarily true if you’ve picked up on signals that the other person is receptive to an advance and if you make your move with some subtlety and style.

Being able to truly listen to the other person and carry on a conversation communicates an ability to create emotional safety. If someone can share that kind of intimacy with you, it’s much easier for them to imagine being physically intimate as well.  That’s also why paying attention to the other person’s needs and desires is so sexy.  Candlelight helps!

Taking care of your physical self is an important part of sexiness, but not as much as you might imagine.  Grooming is important, but physical perfection is far less crucial than being at home in your body.  (It’s that self-acceptance thing again.)  If you seem alive, relaxed and free, your body is going to have some appeal.

So what’s not sexy?  The list could be long, but the sexy list gives us some clues:

  • Trying to be someone else, rather than yourself.  Being closeted about being gay is very unsexy.
  • Narcissism – always talking about yourself, for instance – is different from self-confidence; it’s boring and irritating.
  • Perfectionism and criticism, whether aimed at yourself or at others, is certainly not going to make someone feel comfortable and safe around you.  Definitely not sexy.
  • Being so aggressive that you don’t know when to back off or take “No” for an answer makes you a jerk, not a sexy man.