BY: ROB HOFFMAN
A common stereotype casts men as the oblivious, emotionally cold and communicatively-inferior counterpart of women. These John Wayne-type macho-men are simply unwilling to give their girlfriends, wives or daughters the attention they deserve—especially if they’re competing with Sunday night football, video-games or beer. Aside from these being wildly inaccurate characteristics of masculinity, according to a recent study, if you can identify with this behaviour, chances are you’ll be leaving the bar alone most nights.
According to the paper, women prefer men who possess a high level of “dispositional mindfulness,” even to those who are much more attractive. It’s a fact that the archetypical female has been trying to express to archetypical males on cartoon shows and soap operas for decades—they just want a man “who listens.”
The paper—by Janz, Pepping and Halford of the University of Queensland, and La Trobe University, in Brisbane and Melbourne Australia, respectively—is based on a study conducted using 45 males and female undergrads, over the course of nine, three-minute sessions of speed dating. Each participant took pre-questionnaires to determine their level of mindfulness, and also had pictures of themselves rated according to physical attractiveness. The findings of this study suggest that our level of in-the-moment focus in conversation is a more powerful mode of seduction than we once thought, as mindfulness was more important to female participants than physical attractiveness.
It’s a fact that the archetypical female has been trying to express to archetypical males on cartoon shows and soap operas for decades—they just want a man “who listens.”
“Mindfulness involves non-judgemental awareness of the present moment, without becoming consumed by difficult thoughts, emotions or experiences, but also without engaging in efforts to avoid or suppress difficult experiences,” according to the paper. Maybe it’s the empty look in the eyes of someone who only goes through the head-nodding motions of attention, but according to Psychology Today, even habits like “evaluating the person you’re talking to at the same time that you’re listening to them” can affect your female opposite’s romantic perception of you.
Boosting one’s mindfulness is most often achieved through meditation, which doesn’t need to mean sitting cross-legged in a candle-lit room with spandex pants on. Meditation can be applied to eating, walking, and of course in this case, talking. The main point of meditation for achieving mindfulness, is to have your mind completely focused on what is happening in the present moment, rather than on the looming anxieties in the back of our minds or even the thoughts and reactions that we attach to the present moment.
The main point of meditation for achieving mindfulness, is to have your mind completely focused on what is happening in the present moment, rather than on the looming anxieties in the back of our minds.
The discovery of mindfulness carrying weight over physical attractiveness was, somewhat unsurprisingly, only true for females. The male participants generally favoured physical attractiveness over mindfulness. As Psychology Today notes, though, the study did not account for differences of short and long term attraction—where men may be more shallow in the context of short term romantic interest. In a long-term relationship, it is foreseeable that either sex would put precedence on mindfulness. In fact, a vastly enlightening read from The Atlantic sheds light on the importance of showing direct interest in what your partner is saying, should you wish to keep that partner.
It seems simple enough: women are more interested in men who actually pay attention to them and the words that are coming out of their mouths. Ironically, for men who are more interested in how the words coming out of their own mouths can get them into the pants of their romantic interest, the only thing coming back to their apartment with them is a box of tissues and bottle of hand lotion from their local drug store.