What Women Want by Geoffrey Miller and Tucker Max Summary
A 5 step system for better relationships.
The 5 steps for good relationships:
- Figure out: What do women want in men and why do they want it? How do women view the world?
- Develop attractive traits: physical health, mental health, intelligence, willpower, tenderness, and protectiveness.
- Display proofs that show off #2.
- Go where the women are — gym, library, coffee shop, college campus, volunteering, clubs (like a book club, not a night club), dance class, yoga, cycling, art class, improv class.
- Meet, date, and have sex with women. Learn from these interactions and improve. Have women in your life invite more women into your life.
Key Takeaway from the book:
Join clubs, groups, classes, or volunteer to make both male and female friends. Then, date people in your friend group.
Step 1: Get Your Head Straight
Confidence is the realistic expectation you have of being successful at something, given (a) your competence at it and (b) the risk involved with doing it.
General confidence: having the power and competence to know that you can learn anything if you work at it.
“You can appreciate how confidence reflects competence in particular domains when you think about mental abilities and personality traits that differ between people. More intelligent people tend to be more intellectually confident because they have more competence (developed skill and displayed performance) in learning abstract new ideas and skills. More extroverted people tend to be more socially confident because they have more competence at interacting with new people and groups. More promiscuous people tend to be more sexually confident because they have more experience hooking up with new people”
The authors talk about Carol Dweck and the growth mindset: If you believe that you can improve and develop new skills, you will be successful in life.
- She is insecure because she is compared to the best looking models.
- She wants you to notice her personality too and treat her like a person.
- Guys are way bigger than women and women don’t know their intentions (scary).
- Women have the contradiction of being sexually attracted to big, cocky men that may or may not harm them.
- Women are like cops — they’re always on edge because even if a guy isn’t a criminal trying to kill them, they still need to act like every guy is.
- Psychopaths are only 4% of the male population but because they seek out more partners and are confident, they make up 40% of all approaches women receive.
Men are interested in the average woman. Women are not interested in the average man. Women want men in the top 10–20%. Men who are in the top 10–20% in looks are already models — so if you’re not a top model, it’s not you.
Guys care about athletics, fighting, making money — but women don’t care about those things. Women care about their reputation — largely, not being labeled a slut. This is because a woman’s biggest rival to a long term committed relationship is a slut fucking her man (or they’re trying to reduce competition ). Women don’t want people (at school, work, etc) to find out they’re having sex. Sex is women’s commodity in the sexual market — women who undercut other women by giving sex on the first date make other women pressured to do more sexual favors earlier. This is why women slut shame — it allows them to hold out sex on men for longer (so they can gather resources, gifts, attention without reciprocating).
Women are worried about pregnancy, abandonment, and STDs. Getting pregnant can run her reputation (and sexual marketplace value if she has the child) because it confirms she is a slut (or having sex).
STDs can lead to infertility in women. And some STDs are more easily transmissible from man to woman than woman to man.
Promiscuity, group sex, anal sex are usually not sought after by women — because of STD risk with low pleasure return.
If you f*ck her once and never call her again, that will hurt her for a week, maybe a bit longer. If you f*ck her for 3 months, she will fall in love with you, if you disappear for no reason, that will hurt her for a year or longer.
Most women bury their sexual fantasies because people shame them for being sexual.
If a girl just wanted to c*m, she would have stayed home with a copy of Fifty Shades and a vibrator. If she’s with you in a one night stand, it’s because she wants a fun passionate exciting experience with you — even if she doesn’t c*m. The experience can be great even if she doesn’t c*m. She wants you to have a good time so you’ll call her again.
Relationships must be win-win. Ex) does their status increase with you? Do you help them in unique ways? Do you round out their personality? Do you have things in common? Is the sex good? Do they think they can do better?
- You cannot trick someone of higher value to be with you for the long run. You must both be constantly evolving and being even better, closer, more compatible over time.
You want to become intertwined with her friends, coworkers, and family. This makes the relationship better because your relationship does not exist in a vacuum.
The authors make a warning about false r*pe allegations.
Step 2: Develop Attractive Traits
How primates historically got to have sex:
- Honest mating effort (this book covers this one)
Women actually want you to succeed — pass through her filters and be the high value guy of her dreams.
Women love effective men — competent and can handle problems.
Women look for 3 things:
- Good genes
- Will he be a good partner?
- Would he make a good dad?
Get in Shape (Physical Health)
Nothing will increase you chances more than getting in shape.
Guys conflate the guy they fear most (biggest muscles) as the guy women want. In reality, you don’t need to be a bodybuilder, you just need to be fit and active.
Sleep, nutrition, and exercise are all important for health. Sleep is the most important — get 8–9 hours.
How to signal health:
Take her on activity dates: Dancing, hiking, sports, beach, etc.
Activity dates signal that you are physically fit. The beach (shirt off) is the best way to signal fitness (if you have a good physique).
Dancing is a signal that you are good at sex.
Sports are a signal that you are coordinated. Men are expected to be decent at football, basketball, baseball, and soccer.
You also want to be good at stereotypically masculine things: fixing things around the house, car maintenance, etc.
How to signal general health: Clothes that fit, confident posture, assertive body language, dynamic voice, manly skills, team sports, combat sports, leisure activities, dancing, intimate contact, and vigorous sex.
Get Happy (Mental Health)
Happiness is just an overall sense that life is going well.
That’s why women care so much about your happiness and mental health; these traits — happiness, sense of humor, openness, emotional resilience, playfulness — are honest signals of sanity. They are the opposite of crazy cues.
The most important things for mental health: sleep, nutrition, and exercise.
People high in openness display mental health because they intake a lot of ideas but they are not swayed by political extremism, conspiracies, cultish religions, or pseudoscience.
- Can you go outside of your comfort zone?
- Listen to random music genres and artists on Spotify.
- If you’re not open, you won’t grow as a person.
Easy changes: Gratitude, mindfulness, meditation.
Harder changes: make better friends, move, learning more, going to therapy.
Don’t complain, find a way to effectively solve problems as they arise.
- Complaining is for people who cannot problem solve effectively.
Smarten Up (Intelligence)
Jocks get girls because they have athletic talent, friends, social status, and a good sense of humor — they are smarter than you think.
There are 2 kinds of intelligence: (1) Books and (2) General (Women actually care about general intelligence more).
- Book intelligence is reading a lot of nerdy things — physics, finance, etc.
- General intelligence has 3 categories:
- Social intelligence is being able to charm, talk, seduce, persuade people. The ability to understand the desires of others and operate effectively with other people.
2. Emotional intelligence: be able to use your emotions to guide your behavior and read other people’s emotions (faces, bodies, speech) and be able to react accordingly. This is what girls mean when they say they want a man who “just gets it.” They want you to talk indirectly like a woman.
3. Effective intelligence is being able to solve problems in the real world under stress (fire fighter, police, etc)
Sleep, health, and nutrition also make your brain smarter (or at least deteriorate slower). This is why health is so important.
It is importnat to write (journals, blogs, papers) regularly to make sure you know what you are talking about.
Before you get a job, ask yourself:
- What will I specifically learn there?
- Who will the mentors and role models be?
- Who else will I work with?
- Is it a good mating market with cool women around?
- Is it unusual and adventurous? — so it will give me cool stories
If you’re shy, get a social job — waiter, bartender.
Work in sales — teaches you a lot.
Get a job abroad — this will teach you so much.
College advice: take a gap year or 3. Get experience and be older — this makes you more attractive to the other girls. Either go to a very prestigious university (for the credential, you don’t learn much in college) or go to a cheap local school with a good mating market (lots of hot girls).
You have to (indirectly) show women your attractive traits — don’t tell them.
Get Your Life Together (Willpower)
You need grit and willpower.
Lack of sleep kills your willpower.
The authors cover making habits.
Health is a strong signal for willpower — a trait women look for.
- Women want thin and muscular.
- Grooming, take showers, wash your hands
- Have a clean house and car — if you would be embarrassed to share pictures of your house on instagram (because it is too messy/dirty), then you need to do something about it.
- No addictions — p*rn, junk food, alcohol, drugs all show a lack of will power and poor mental health.
- Being a slacker is just as annoying as being a workaholic — workaholics are addicted to working.
The Tender Defender (Kind and Protective)
Women want a guy who is strong and harsh to the world but kind to her.
Women want a guy who can be kind when the situation calls for it (injured people, old people, dying people, children) but also be strong and violent when protecting her or the kids.
How to signal tender defender traits: learn to take care of animals (get a CUTE dog — aggressive guys get pit bulls, weird guys get snakes/lizards) post pictures of the dog on social media.
- Tip well in front of others
- Virtue signal about societal issues or climate change.
Watch emotional movies and emotional books that show other people’s perspectives.
She will want to test your empathy levels when your d*ck is hard. Meaning: she may pause or withdraw before you have s*x for the first time.
You also need to be assertive — protectiveness, decisiveness, and formidability.
- It is best to always be assertive unless you are interacting with a “vulnerable” class: children, pets (maybe all animals), women (her), mother, sisters, elderly.
Often, male dominance is more important than male physical attractiveness.
Not all women like protective men — it can be overbearing in todays world where there are fewer threats.
Muay Thai and BJJ are the most common fighting styles in MMA and they work well. Learn them.
95% of the time will be “tender” moments where you are kind — there are no threats. 5% of the time you will be in “defender” mode — this 5% will determine her attractiveness to you more than all of the tender moments.
- This means leaning how to fight is imperative.
- The defender mode isn’t just when there is a physical threat — it also means standing up for her in public. For example, if a waiter gets her order wrong and then accidentally spills it on her dress. Don’t be an a**hole and make a crazy scene and try to fight him and demand for the manager, but also don’t be silent and just let it happen. The “tender defender” would acknowledge the situation, make the waiter apologize, and then try to find solutions: does she want to wait for the correct order, despite how long it would take? Will the restaurant cover her dry cleaning cost for the dress? Will the restaurant give free drinks and desert for her trouble? Be polite and assertive.
- You should be excited when these moments arise because you get to show off how good you are.
Step 3: Display Attractive Proofs
If you don’t signal, you’re invisible.
The Lamborghini is the peacock’s tail. This is why the rich buy expensive things — to signal that they have expendable income.
Other signals are body and face symmetry. Muscles. Dancing. Intelligence — solve real life problems, be funny, tell engaging stories.
Get a social job — sales, bartending, etc — this builds your social capabilities. This is also a great place to meet women.
Her immediate reaction is to immediately and instinctively assess you, based on these main categories:
- Size: How big are you, physically? Are you tall, average height, short? This immediate unconscious judgment is first a threat assessment. All humans assess size first because size is the best proxy for a threat in the natural world.
- Shape and movement: After she takes in size and makes her threat assessment, then her brain shifts to social evaluation. Humans are the most social apes, and quite a bit of our cognitive ability is about assessing and evaluating relative social status within our group. We do this by reading the signals others send out. Are you muscular and healthy (physical health)? How are you walking (physical health)? And what is your posture saying about your mental state (mental health)? Are you smiling and happy or angry and violent (and what does this mean about your mental state)? Her brain makes these assessments instantaneously and unconsciously and creates the appropriate emotional reactions to your signals. Be muscular, stand up straight.
- Body details (sex, race, age): How old are you? What sex? What race? All the specific details of your humanness come next, after your absolute size, shape, and movements.
Clothing: Do your clothes fit? Do they look good on you? Or does it look like you robbed a schizophrenic street person’s cardboard house and got dressed in the dark? Women will make very specific conclusions about you based on what you wear. Wear stylish, fitting clothes.
- Jewelry and ornamentation: Everything you put on your body, like tattoos, jewelry, watches, wearable technologies — what an anthropologist would call “body ornamentation” — sends a visual signal that tells the world about who you are at an aesthetic level, and women immediately look at these things and evaluate you by them. Avoid most jewelry and tattoos.
- Grooming and smell: Grooming is very important to women, and they immediately register things like your basic level of cleanliness. How clean and well groomed are you? What is your hair like (and that means from tip to tail)? What about your teeth? Nails? Skin? What condition are they in? Are you zestfully clean or a filthy pig? Do you smell like a man or a metrosexual or her uncle? Many guys don’t think about this, but smell is incredibly important to women, and it forms a large part of unconscious attraction. If you smell bad to a woman, there’s nothing you can do about it — she will be instantly repulsed.
The Power of Popularity and Prestige (Social Proof)
Women care a lot about your social abilities and your social circles.
Every hour you spend alone is an hour you’re failing to build your social skills, social network, and social proof.
Join a club about the things you like (or make the club).
Find better housemates: you should have a social home environment.
If you do not introduce her to your friends, she will think you’re trying to pump and dump her.
How Rich do You Need to Be?
Girls like the traits that men must have to become successful entrepreneurs. Physical health, intelligence, willpower, mental health, etc. are all requirements to succeed in business.
Girls don’t necessarily like the money — they like the kind of guy who has the traits to get money.
Key: invest the money you make into yourself to improve yourself in the areas, traits, and signals that women find attractive.
- In other words, money isn’t the attractor but it can buy you attractive traits and signals (or maybe it just makes you more confident).
- Buy healthy food, exercise classes, a personal trainer, a nice bed.
You can transform money into friendship: throw parties, travel, take people on trips, attend charity galas.
- Most people with large social circles spend a lot on events.
Avoid jobs that make you put on a fake nice facade for customers — this won’t allow you to develop your unique social style.
Make dinner instead of reservations; hike in the hills instead of flying to the mountains; write your own Valentine’s Day poem instead of buying some trite Hallmark card.
The best way to be happy and attractive is to spend your money on new experiences, not new things.
They want your body, clothes, car, home to be well maintained.
- Thin, muscular body
- Stylish clothes
- Nice, clean car
- Nice, clean apartment or house (modern is better)
A girl will reject you for “one little thing” like wearing crocs on a date. It makes her question everything. What sane person wears crocs on a date? What does that say about his social knowledge? Does he just not care about the date?
People like aesthetic things — this is why Apple is the biggest company in the world. They even made the circuit board of the original Mac look good. They used color on their boxes and had a great unwrapping experience just to make the process an experience.
Be interested in the arts — museums, music, plays, etc.
- Guys who can draw, sing, paint, etc. can teach these things to their kids (makes them more attractive).
The best things to do:
- Learn to dance
- Learn to make music
- Learn to make stuff — like leather goods, machining metal, making furniture.
- Learn to draw
- Learn to be a better storyteller
Beware: Cheap, nasty, unsubtle scents are added to most men’s toiletries — soap, conditioner, hair gel, antiperspirant, body spray, and shaving foam. Avoid that sh*t. Buy unscented. Get unscented everything — detergent, soap, etc.
Go to the dentist regularly.
Get a face moisturizing soap face wash.
Cut your nails once a day.
Wearing baggy clothes shows you are insecure about your body.
Throw away clothes that don’t fit. They will never fit. They just take up space in your closet and they make you look bad if you ever do wear them.
Women evaluate the seriousness of your interest in them by the formality of the shoes you wear on dates. Shoes for almost all dates, except very casual or athletic activities, should be leather (or suede). The authors think that Nikes and Vans are for high schoolers. I think it depends on your age.
- The first step in improving your aesthetic proof is eliminating common errors that make men sexually repulsive to women — fixing your grooming, clothing, car, and home to eliminate things like nose hairs, zits, bad breath, dirty fingernails, nasty scents, baggy clothes, plastic shoes, car trash, and home clutter. All these problems signal poor mental health, questionable intelligence, low conscientiousness, immaturity, social isolation, and poverty to women.
- Women have been judging men based on their style, taste, aesthetic appearance, and artistic skills for more than a hundred thousand years. Modern women will judge you partly by the aesthetic proof you offer through your grooming, clothing, car, home, and artistic and musical skills. So don’t worry that caring about beauty in your life will make you seem feminine or gay. Instead, take charge of your attractiveness.
- Once you’ve got yourself and your spaces looking tight, cultivate active performance and creative skills that are aesthetically attractive to women — things like learning to dance better, sing, play instruments, make things, draw, and tell stories. These skills all signal openness, playfulness, happiness, intelligence, willpower, and social popularity.
Show Her How You Feel
You need to show your love gradually over time. It should take the same arc as romance movies. Don’t send a one night stand heart emojis. But also don’t take too long to be intimate and connect with her — this tells her you’re jaded, indecisive, or cynical.
- The key is to make sure you show romantic indicators when you are sure she is equally interested in you.
- If you really like her in the beginning, hide it until she is also really into you.
When you talk about women to women, make sure you are kind. She is judging you based on how you talk about women.
Make sure you compliment or express gratitude for the unique value she brings you — If she also likes running and you run together, let her know that is something you really value and it makes you like her.
Women place a lot of value on how much you kiss them — if you kiss them a lot it shows them that you are committed to them.
Women like it when you focus on your own pleasure during sex. When you are passionate it makes her think that you enjoy the experience and that you are liking her more — so you’ll come back to her and commit to her.
Give Gifts That Require Thought, Research, and Creativity. Kindness in giving creates love. — Lao Tzu
If it’s a gift you would get yourself, it’s not a romantic gift; it’s being selfish. If it’s something you would have gotten any ex-girlfriend, it’s not romantic; it’s being a d*ckhead. If you found it in five minutes on Amazon, it’s not romantic; it’s lazy.
Girls want you to remember her birthday and other important dates like an anniversary, valentines day, etc.
The more integrated your social circles and families are, the better the prognosis you have for long term contentment and longevity.
- It makes it harder for you to break up and it makes it harder for either party to cheat — because all of your friends and families would hate the cheater.
- You also want to be “official” on social media
Step 4: Go Where the Women Are
Opposites almost never attract: gym people like gym people, aesthetic people like aesthetic people, hipsters like hipsters, book worms like book worms, etc.
- The most important likeness factor is mate value: high value likes high value, low value likes low value, medium value likes medium value.
If you’re 25, the best place to be is near a college town — you’ll look way better than the undergrad boy competition.
Jobs: everyone hooks up with coworkers.
Friend groups: this is the best place to get women.
Join clubs: Acting, yoga, and dancing classes have a good female to make ratio.
“The ideal mating markets for you have these features:
1. A large number of women of whatever age and ethnicity you prefer
2. A low operational sex ratio (fewer men than women seeking mates)
3. A subculture open to your mating goals (whether short term or long term)
4. A market in which your mate-value is competitive, compared to the other guys there
5. A market in which your age is especially attractive, given the ages of women and male rivals there
6. A market in which your distinctive traits and proofs are especially attractive, given the women’s preferences there
7. An environment in which it’s easy to meet people, given the practicalities of public life”
Beggars Must be Choosers
You can quickly go from having no women to many women.
Short term sex (ONS) comes with risks — crazy women. This is why medium term relationships with vetted women is a better idea.
Good Slutty vs. Crazy Slutty
As a matter of basic self-protection you need to know how to distinguish between good and crazy promiscuous.
- is quietly proud to be sex-positive and adventurous
- has lots of like-minded female friends
- will openly and frankly discuss exes, STD tests, and safe sex
- is comfortable with her body
- cuddles after sex but knows how to leave
- is ashamed of her desires.
- has few if any female friends
- doesn’t like to talk about her past in any way
- is not comfortable with her body or what gives her pleasure
- often freaks the fuck out after sex
Avoid the crazy promiscuous ones. Their kind of craziness can ruin your life in ways you can’t imagine yet. Respect these red flags
Every guy is worried that a crazy girl will falsely accuse him of r*pe, just like every girl is worried that a psychopathic guy will beat her.
Meeting the Women You Want
Bars and clubs suck — it’s very hard to actually get a lay or funnel girls.
Volunteering is a great place to meet women.
Think about the places you think girls go to meet guys.
It is best to join clubs and classes that have a precedent for going out after (to a bar, for example).
The authors say improv classes are the best — there is a culture for going out to parties and bars after, and you develop social skills and humor.
Intramural co-ed sports
Dance classes: do salsa or tango, you switch partners a lot.
Go to college seminars: Psychology, education, journalism, english literature.
Get a teaching certification. You can get one for teaching ESL (English). This starts your relationship with you as the leader.
Online dating advice: look at accounts that get lots of matches and copy their photo style, content, and their bios/captions.
The authors say that speed dating is a good option, but it’s mostly for older professional people.
The key: make your mating life an extension of your social life. Have a bunch of clubs and activities you do — you will meet both men and women and some of these women will become sexual partners. Do social classes and clubs that put you into a natural conversation/touching context with women — this is much better and more natural than cold approaches at the coffee shop, Target, etc.
Step 5: Take Action
Talking to Women
Conversation skills are the key to making girls want you.
The authors talk about guy talk (logic and direct) vs women talk (emotion and indirect).
Smiling warmly is a learnable skill — practice your smile in the mirror.
Think of talking with women as a game: you are trying to find out as much about her as possible and remember it. Also, play a game where you try to find out the most interesting thing about her .
- Find a topic you both know about and then talk about it, this shows your knowledge. And it’s good to find common ground.
Remember, the beginning may be awkward, but just stick around.
One of the best insights of the book: have fun when you’re going out to running club, book clubs, classes, cycling, approaching girls, the gym, talking to girls, just being friends with girls, etc. THAT’S THE WHOLE POINT.
Traditional conversation is about information, persuasion and argumentation. In a mating context however, conversation is about indirectly signaling your underlying traits.
• There are eight basic rules for good conversation:
1. Be a good host.
2. SOFTEN your body language.
3. Establish commonality.
4. Gauge and respond to feedback.
5. Don’t act too excited or too aloof.
6. Ask questions and actively listen to answers.
7. Respond with validation, insight, or debate.
8. Connect with vulnerability (only after you’ve talked for hours).
• To get better at conversation, you must address any negative emotions affecting your confidence and understand that everyone has suffered from some degree of social anxiety at some point in their lives
“A date is just the most efficient context for the interplay of eye contact, conversation, humor, fun, and sexual chemistry that may or may not escalate into mating”
Filter women by the same metrics you use: physical health, mental health, intelligence, willpower, tender defender, social proof, material proof, aesthetic proof, romantic proof.
Good first dates: Mini golf, aquarium, hiking, medium-sized quality restaurant.
- Make the first date cheap and then slowly get more expensive as you go on.
- As a rule of thumb, given your income, if you couldn’t easily afford to go out on any given first date at least twice a week, you’re spending too much — i.e., you’re giving up too many other potential dates for this one woman.
- Later dates: day trip to the beach, vacations abroad.
You should be thinking: does this date give her a (good) story to tell her friends/family? It doesn’t have to be amazing — just not boring.
- An ideal date is something fun that you both enjoyed
- Don’t do something out of your norm — don’t go to a super fancy restaurant where you have to ask the waiter what the fancy dishes are. You want to seem confident and that you know what you’re doing.
- If you like an activity, teacher her that activity can be a great date. Ex) you like golfing so you take her to a driving range and teach her.
Outdoors dates: Rollerblading, playground (swings, slides, etc.), climbing wall, mini-golf, Frisbee golf, kite-flying, walking in the park, bowling, go-karts, hot-air balloon ride, helicopter sightseeing, skydiving, boating, ice skating.
Conversation & brainy dates: bookstore, coffee shop, local art galleries, art museums, science museums, history museums
Social and group dates: Farmers’ market, cooking class, touring a food/drink factory (e.g., chocolate factory, winery, brewery), partnered dance lessons, karaoke with your friends, bar with bar games (e.g., billiards, darts, skee ball, shuffleboard), comedy club, improv group
You should have the date idea already planned before you ask her out.Girls hate it when a guy doesn’t have a plan or worse — he asks her what she wants to do.
You should set up a default first date plan: a date you do for every first date that is inexpensive, memorable, shows off your proofs, etc.
- The authors say it should be a weekday date.
- Escalation option (it should be close to your house) and an easy out (you can easily ditch her if she’s unattractive).
- Cheap but not boring.
Reading your date’s signals can be difficult and frustrating — the keys are in what she wears, how she talks, where she sits, how she looks at you, and if she touches you. Those signals can guide you through the progression of physical contact and intimacy.
Girls use sex to try to get guys to pair bond with them or (if she’s good enough in bed) to make him think that he can’t get better sex anywhere else.
Attractive guy + romance = every girl’s dream.
Your Mating Plan
1. Clarify Your Mating Goal
2. Highlight Your Attractive Traits and Work on Your Weak Ones
3. Mating Market: Find the Places and Groups That Fit You
4. Start Small, Get Wins, and Build on Them
5. Focus on Social Life and Fun
6. Try, Learn, Repeat