Pie Chart of Attraction: Rob’s Response

by GK on May 4, 2011 · 20 comments

I wanted to make sure I got Rob Overman’s thoughts on the pie chart of attraction I posted a day earlier, and the following is his cogent analysis. He offers a twist on my take, but the gist is the same:

“I’ve been thinking about this all day because it’s an interesting question. At one point you wrote an article  saying that basically a person shouldn’t judge a girl as a 7 vs. a 10 but instead look at them as 1’s and zeros.

I think women do this naturally.  Within 30 seconds of seeing (not meeting, just looking at him) I think most women will give a man a 1 or a zero.  And we as guys do this too.  Imagine you’re standing in line at Trader Joe’s and a chubby girl behind you makes a funny joke.  Now even though I like her sense of humor and dig the fact that she also likes fresh calamari, there is no way that I would be able to get past the fact that she rocks a muffin top and has crinkles in her cankles. 

I guess we are all Shallow Hal before Tony Robbins violates him in an elevator. Even if her vibe and personality made up 50% of her “dating score” I don’t see a way where it could make up for or cancel out my perceived unattraction for her.  She would be a zero. 

So if what I’ve said is true, then that would mean that the emphasis given to looks/physical appearance trumps a cool attitude or conversational skills.  But is that true? 

No, of course not.  I think this of dozens of times where I wanted to spend time with a girl who was a 7 instead of a girl who was a 9 simply because I enjoyed spending time with her more, I liked her attitude better, I liked talking to her more, etc.  But then where does that leave us?  It seems like I’ve said that physical beauty is the winner over all and then I turned back around and said no it isn’t.  What gives?

Well, the difference is that the 7 and the 9 are already 1’s.  I have already decided that they are attractive enough for me to want to spend time and energy to get to know them. 

Boom.  Knowledge explosion.

The (harsh) truth as I see it is that we screen people based on their attractiveness first and then, if they pass the test, we bother to take into account their attitude and how well they can hold down a conversation.  I would even throw in some hard-to-put-my-finger-on terms like “emotional depth” or “how well they fit into my life.” 

But once you pass the physical attractiveness test I think attitude takes up more space on a percentage scale than conversational skills.  So overall I think it’s like this:

Step 1: Physical traits/grooming: either 100% or 0%.  If 100%, move on to the next step.  If 0%, you’re done.  Because you shouldn’t have to convince someone to date you. 

Step 2: Vibe (body language, eye contact, overall confidence): 80% – 90%. Conversational skills: 10% – 20%”

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1 scn May 4, 2011 at 10:23 pm

Yeah, this is so the way it usually works for me. Rob’s really onto something.

Having said that, I have occasionally seen crappily-dressed/horse-looking dudes with over-the-top presence and charisma overwhelming the Step 1 gate as if it wasn’t even there. I’d say the rules don’t apply if you are a rock star of vibe and conversational skills. Like in the top 0.1%.

For the rest though, welcome to no-interestville if you don’t physically look ready to play the part opposite her in the play.

Moral of the story is make the gym, the clothing store & tailor, and the hairdresser your oft-visited friends.

2 Gal @ Equally Happy May 5, 2011 at 4:19 pm

“Moral of the story is make the gym, the clothing store & tailor, and the hairdresser your oft-visited friends.”

I wouldn’t go that far. What I’ve found is that there’s a certain threshold of attractiveness that gets you a pass to the next stage but you don’t need to be a GQ man to reach that level. Rather than the things you need to be, think more of the things you can’t be:

1. You cannot have bad personal hygiene
2. You cannot have ill, fitting, dirty, smelly clothes
3. You cannot be morbidly obese

If you have these three things down, you’re probably going to be fine even if you’re not doing all your shopping at Neiman Marcus. You can easily accomplish them with a $10 haircut and shopping at Target, as long as you’re willing to put in a bit of effort.

In other words, don’t be discouraged by the fact that there is a minimum bar you need to pass appearance wise, it’s not set impossibly high.

3 GK May 5, 2011 at 4:58 pm

Thanks for the comment Gal, and I agree with what you say. A guy really only needs to look GQ if he’s going for GQ women, and some girls are a lot picker about looks than others. Simply looking and smelling presentable can be enough.

That said, I’ll be damned if I’m picking my outfits from Target. :)

4 scn May 5, 2011 at 10:44 pm

It’s a fair question. Rob says the physical traits / grooming step is binary, but he doesn’t say how tough is the threshold between the 100% and the 0%.

In order to get a 100% does a guy only need to not have stinky clothes and not be morbidly obese? If so, I think every guy on the ball enough to be reading this blog would pass those tests and get a 100% out of the gate. So then we’d be back to vibe and conversational skills as being the keys to success.

Or in order to get a 100% does a guy need to be in the ballpark of her league – by fashion, grooming, and build if not by facial features. That is to say, she can picture herself by his side happily holding his hand in public in front of her friends.

I’d say the latter.

5 GK May 5, 2011 at 11:58 pm

I think you’re close to the mark, scn. Women’s physical standards vary greatly, and they can involve traits like height and race, where the guy has no control anyway. All things being equal, she might choose the hotter guy, but often they are NOT equal, and that’s where the vibe/personality will win out.

6 Rob May 6, 2011 at 2:22 pm

Just for the record, I seem to average about $20 USD for a haircut, including tip if I’m lucky. Varsity Barber on Liberty St. in Ann Arbor, MI consistently gives me the best haircut, even better than the fancy salons in NY. So check them out if you’re passing through.

scn said:
“Rob says the physical traits / grooming step is binary, but he doesn’t say how tough is the threshold between the 100% and the 0%.”

I would LOVE to be able to nail down exactly what it takes to cross over the threshold and get a pass onto step two. But like you’ve both already said, it depends on the girl and her opinions and past experiences. Some might be looking for more than a healthy BMI.

7 Erich May 8, 2011 at 4:01 pm

I’d like to suggest a future blog post for you GK and Rob to discuss. The differences you’ve noticed between a woman that needs to be pursued for a longer period of time before she agrees to go out, versus a woman who’s just stringing a guy along and is unwilling to vocalize she’s not interested.

Recently I talked to a buddy of mine at work who’s good with women. He got married to a coworker a year ago who he says he pursued to go out for ten months before she finally agreed. He said he thinks the long wait had something to do with her not being really broken up with her ex at the time but still, if it had been me I would have given up after a month.

8 Gavin May 8, 2011 at 4:02 pm

“Moral of the story is make the gym, the clothing store & tailor, and the hairdresser your oft-visited friends.”

I’m going to disagree with this. Like I said under the original “Pie Chart of Attraction” post, the whole “looks matter” thing is less about how you look and more about whether or not she likes how you look.

Like GK said, you only have to look GQ if you’re going for GQ women. And even then that’s not always the case (though it would certainly help your odds). A friend of mine lives in an old school bus, dresses like a hipster crossed with a hobo, goes weeks without shaving, cuts his own hair, etc etc. If I had to describe his appearance in one word, it would be “scuzzy.” Yet in the 2 years I’ve known him, on multiple occasions I’ve seen him pull very attractive, stylish women.

Anyway, my point is people are attracted to what they’re attracted to and I’d rather not spend my time or energy dressing how I think I need to dress to get certain types of girls. I’d rather just dress the way I want to dress and the women who will be into me will be into me and the ones who won’t be won’t be.

If you’re the type who likes to wear tailored clothes and put a lot of effort into his hair, then go for it and more power to you. But don’t do those things just because you think it’s the only way to get high quality women.

9 GK May 8, 2011 at 5:26 pm

Gavin: Thanks for the inspired comments! I like all of what you said.

Erich: I’ll give your blog request some thought. It’s hard for me to ever justify waiting 10 months for a woman, and I never have waited that long. I think it partially comes down to your own values, and whether she has an obvious logistical reason to delay dating you, such as not being over an ex.

10 scn May 9, 2011 at 6:59 am

When GK writes that physical appearance is half the equation, and Rob writes that it is the whole equation initially, I take them to be saying that physical appearance is really important. That is, we can’t neglect it. We need to actively manage it to fill up the one half of the pie and check the box to move forward.

I wouldn’t say I can dress “the way I want to dress and the women who will be into me will be into me and the ones who won’t be won’t be.” If I truly adopted that attitude, I wouldn’t care about my physical appearance.

I would say that I have an unlimited choice of styles. And whatever style I chose, I must be excellent in that style. Appropriately-dressed, appropriately-groomed, and physically congruent. The hipsters in Brooklyn will sport purposefully untrimmed beards and white flabby arms while wearing $300 vintage T-shirts and shoes. They are excellent in their chosen style. Then there are men who wear polyester suits. They are awful in their chosen style.

I must choose a style – I must make a statement with my physical appearance – and I must be excellent in it.

11 Rob May 9, 2011 at 5:32 pm

I don’t think that anyone is saying utterly conflicting points of view.

Gavin said: “Like I said under the original “Pie Chart of Attraction” post, the whole “looks matter” thing is less about how you look and more about whether or not she likes how you look.”

Totally. That’s a healthy mindset and I 100% agree.

At the same time, I think scn is just saying that it’s important to him to give off a good first impression (because it just makes it easier). And I 100% agree with that as well.

At the end of the day, if whatever you’re doing is working for you then you must be doing the right thing.

12 scn May 10, 2011 at 6:59 am

“I think scn is just saying that it’s important to him to give off a good first impression (because it just makes it easier)”

I’m saying something stronger than that. Not just to have an easier time of it, but to have a chance at all. I think the 100%/0% cutoff threshold for hot girls is not so low a bar as most guys would like to believe. And many of us are doing all this to be dating not just any girls, but hot girls, the hotter the better.

GK writes “There’s a good chance the woman made up her mind about you before you said anything.” If that’s true, and I’m pursuing girls younger and hotter than I am (yes and yes), then spending most of my energies on developing my conversation skills is a bad use of my time vs. also investing heavily in improving my physical appearance.

13 Sebastian May 10, 2011 at 12:28 pm

So the whole Juggler paradigm both of you taught was wrong?

14 GK May 10, 2011 at 5:23 pm

Hmm, I’ve got some interesting comments to respond to!

scn: I hope you don’t take what Rob and I have said the wrong way. We think a woman has to find you physically attractive at the outset, but that’s for getting in the door, and different women are attracted to different looks. Conversation skills do matter, especially if you’re looking to build a connection. Also, physical attraction does not necessarily mean who has the fanciest outfit on. Your clothes might not matter at all to her, in fact. Maybe she just prefers a guy with blue eyes over brown. That’s why it’s best to dress however you feel is right for you, not for some mythical woman.

Also, if you’ve read my post on rating women on pure physical hotness, you probably know I don’t find that to be healthy for a guy, but to each their own.

Sebastian: I’m not sure what Juggler paradigm you’re talking about, but I will say I told my CA students many of the same things I’ve done here. How you say something matters more than what you say.

15 Gavin May 10, 2011 at 6:14 pm

scn, I think the point I was trying to get at is that there is no one way to dress that hot girls will find appealing. You could be clean shaven with tailored designer clothes and a sharp haircut and maybe the girl you approach will be into that look. But maybe she’s into guys with scruffy facial hair who wear t-shirts and jeans. Or vice versa. The point is that different people have different preferences and I would rather dress in a way that makes me happy than dress to fit the perceived preferences of girls I haven’t even met yet.

I can’t control whether a girl likes sharp dressed guys in suits or scruffy skater dudes or rugged construction worker types. No matter how you look or dress, some girls will be into it and some just won’t.

16 scn May 11, 2011 at 10:53 am

GK: Yes, I agree, physical attractiveness is only important as a first step (though critically so I think). After that, the game turns to vibe and conversation.

I would also add our old friend Logistics to Rob’s model as Step 3, i.e. how she and I are going to be able to act on our mutual attraction any time soon given her relationship situation, her plans for the evening, whether she lives in town.

Step 1: Physical appearance (physical traits, clothes, grooming): 100% or 0%
Step 2: Vibe (body language, eye contact, tonality): 80%, Conversational skills: 20%
Step 3: Logistics (how we’ll connect): 20% I can influence or work around. 80% I can’t

Assuming each step to be equally important, and looking only at what I can control, I get the following breakdown of how I should allocate my self-development time:

Physical attractiveness: 40%
Vibe: 40%
Conversational skills: 10%
Logistics: 10%

17 scn May 11, 2011 at 10:56 am

Gavin: Yes, I think we agree that any look, including a grunge look, can do the job. However I do think it has to be a purposeful, well-put together look that reflects real effort and care. Own the look.

For scruffy skater dude, I want to look like the dudes in the big glossy photos in the skater magazines. Their hair is irreverent/casual but purposefully gelled into place to be so. Their shoes are torn canvas, but strategically torn by a designer, with sparkling clean sole edges. For construction worker, I want to look like Mike Holmes who at 47 still rocks the look. His overalls and plaid shirts are fully congruent with his image while staying immaculately cleaned and perfectly pressed. Bulging muscles and a crew haircut complete his archetypal hot construction worker look that girls drool over.

To appreciate the impact of neglecting appearance, I need only look at candid, just-out-of-bed paparazzi pictures of beautiful celebrities. Without makeup, unkempt, and sloppily dressed these coveted sex objects transform into completely uncompelling, shockingly average Joes.

18 Pros June 20, 2011 at 4:51 pm

Here is a challenge on this. How many times have you seen a girl say she only goes for this type of guy etc etc.. and dates someone completley different??? I’ve seen it a lot. So this throws out a lot of this argument. But if a girl is not even willing to talk to you. Then its best not to even rationalize why with looks etc, not worth the headache.

19 GK June 20, 2011 at 7:53 pm

Pros, I’m not claiming that girls only like one type of guy. And what women say they want and really want are often different, anyway. It’s just that whatever type of guy he is, I think she’s evaluating him in about the same way: looks and vibe are more important than conversation skills.

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