MAYBE SHE’S THE BARTENDER WITH THE 10,000-WATT SMILE telling dirty jokes to the regulars. Or the platinum-haired singer picking out “Paint It Black” on her guitar.
She’s the girl you figure every guy wants—so you wonder if you even have a shot. Thankfully, new research gives us all encouragement. To start with, no matter what you think your “type” of woman is—athletic, outgoing, brainy—it probably won’t matter when you meet someone. What is the key? Novelty, says anthropologist Helen Fisher, Ph.D. “It drives up dopamine production in the brain, causing pleasure, excitement, and optimism.” One study confirms that boredom predicts lower satisfaction in a marriage.
Even at the start, predictability won’t work. So to help you stand out, we consulted top experts and tracked down 11 of the most sought-after kinds of bachelorettes—including two Hollywood stars—to find fresh, original approaches you can use to win over any woman.
Why Her: For starters: spandex, side-by-side workouts, and shared showers. Oh yeah, and better sex. A recent Turkish study found that elite female athletes have better clitoral bloodflow and sexual function than sedentary women do. And you might lose your own gut in the process: Research in the journal Obesity found that befriending people who are fit may help stave off weight gain.
Beware: If you’re lapped, you might be dumped. “She’s going to work out every day, so she wants to be with somebody who shares her values,” says Amy Baltzell, Ed.D., a sports psychologist at Boston University and the author of Living in the Sweet Spot. That means she’ll push you but won’t coddle you. Look elsewhere for an ego stroke, says Steph Davis, a renowned rock climber and the author of High Infatuation: “Countless relationships have fallen apart because the man couldn’t deal with a female athlete’s unwillingness to be his cheerleader.”
Your Move: Appeal to her vanity. “She’ll love hearing how attractive you find her muscles,” Baltzell says. “It shows that you understand and value what she’s doing.”
Also Works With: the Trainer, the Coach, the Soldier
Why Her: She’ll show you a new side—to everything. “Most actresses are natural explorers,” says Fisher, the author of Why Him? Why Her? How to Find and Keep Lasting Love. “They’re curious, spontaneous, and they’re energetic risk takers.” And she’s probably not opposed to dating a mere mortal. “It’s entirely possible that she’s looking for a stable, down-home man to counteract the unpredictability in her career,” says Fisher.
Beware: Her job takes her places. “Understanding the importance of rescheduling is crucial. Every time I plan a vacation, I wind up booking a job,” says Rachel Nichols, star of Conan the Barbarian and author of the Men’s Health blog the Movie Star Next Door. “Our lives are nomadic at best, and unpredictable at all times.”
Your Move: Hide the fan-club membership. “Don’t gush about how much you love her work or how you waited all night to meet her,” says Nichols. “If she seems receptive, offer to buy her a drink. If she doesn’t, say it was nice meeting her and walk away.”
Also Works With: the Model, the Dancer, the Party Planner
Why Her: No nervous introductions needed. Stephanie Losee, coauthor of Office Mate, a book about on-the-job romance, says, “People who date at the office take the risk because they think something’s really there.” And there’s a good chance they’re right: A 2011 Career Builder survey found that 40 percent of people have dated a coworker, and 30 percent of them eventually married one.
Beware: Don’t be fooled by The Office’s Jim and Pam. When things turn rocky, the drama needs to be deep-sixed the moment you swipe your entry card. “Between peers, all the risk happens after a breakup,” Losee says. “In the office, it’s up to you to conduct yourself with dignity and keep your pain to yourself.” A Match.com survey found that 56 percent of office couples who split up returned to work amicably.
Your Move: Casually suggest grabbing dinner, but do it when you’re outside the office—at happy hour, for instance. “If she doesn’t bite, back way off and leave it at that,” says Losee. “You have to treat the situation delicately and show that you’re open to being turned down.” Staying cool can only enhance your reputation.
Also Works With: your Buddy’s Ex, the Classmate, your Sister’s Best Friend
Why Her: She’s smart and fearless—a fun combination. There’s no walking on eggshells around her, says Paul Dobransky, M.D., a clinical psychiatrist and coauthor of The Secret Psychology of How We Fall in Love. “Female comedians are right-brained, confident, and not afraid to play the fool.” And all that joking around can be good for your health: Laughter increases bloodflow and may lower your risk of heart disease, a University of Maryland study showed.
Beware: She could be a head case. A classic British study of 69 comedians found that while they displayed superior intelligence, they were also more prone to anger, suspicion, and depression. One possible reason, Dr. Dobransky says: She may have sadness or neglect in her past. “If it involves her father,” he says, “study her dad’s nature to know what she needs—and what she may be trying to overcome.” As for her career, you might be surprised by how much serious work and stress go into her act. Says the Daily Show’s Samantha Bee, “All comedians have a ball of chewed off fingernails in their stomachs the size of a slightly smaller stomach.”
Your Move: Don’t enter into a battle of wits with her. You’re dealing with a professional. “Ask yourself, Do I occasionally enjoy being bested by a woman? Surprisingly often, the answer is no,” says Bee. “Look into your heart and decide if you would prefer to date someone who laughs at everything you say and who needs you to order for her at restaurants—like a mail-order bride.”
Also Works With: the Sales Rep, the Radio Host, the Bartender
Why Her: She’s as strong and ambitious as you are. That’s hot. As a corporate leader she values decisiveness and is a natural problem solver. “If you want a woman to kowtow to your needs, pick someone young and put a ring on her finger. She’ll live to serve you,” says Katie, 29, a marketing executive. “But if you want someone who can be an equal and will still help run your future family efficiently and happily, find a woman who has already demonstrated that she can run her own life successfully.”
Beware: Let her reach for the bill—sometimes. It shows her that you’re secure about her success, even if she earns more than you do. “The financial stuff is the most complicated,” says Gail Evans, a former executive vice president at CNN and the author of She Wins, You Win. “I know couples who have made rules where they pay relative to their income—but for a lot of guys, that’s a big assault to their egos.”
Your Move: Don’t flip out if she makes a habit of rebooking. “Very successful women enjoy dating less-complicated men,” Evans says. “Life is busy and wild at the office, so a guy who doesn’t add his stress becomes instantly more attractive.”
Also Works With: the Entrepreneur, the Heiress, the Stockbroker
Why Her: No free moment goes wasted, even in bed. Julie Holland, M.D., a clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at New York University and the author of Weekends at Bellevue, says that long hours of work can mean “she’s going to want sex on command.” (Followed, we should add, by a really long nap.) She’ll also win approval among your friends—doctors finished third only to firefighters and scientists in a Harris Interactive poll that asked both men and women which professions they admired the most.
Beware: Date night could flatline, as many residents remain on call around the clock. Three out of five even work when they’re sick, according to a survey in the Journal of the American Medical Association. That’s one reason relationships outside the ER pose a challenge, and why her male coworkers wearing the white coats hold an unfair advantage. Turns out Grey’s Anatomy has a germ of truth: “There’s a special level of work-flirt I’ve seen only at hospitals,” Dr. Holland says, “especially on overnight shifts.”
Your Move: Don’t discount the power of a night in with a bottle of wine and a Groundhog Day DVD. Anything you can do to lower the stress in her life—like, say, bringing over pasta—goes a long way. “If you can make her laugh, relax, and forget about her stressful job,” says Dr. Holland, “you could be a keeper.”
Also Works With: the Veterinarian, the Dentist, the Nurse
Why Her: As long as your voting records align, your relationship has great odds of success. A Journal of Politics study found that out of nearly 5,000 married couples, more have political attitudes than personality traits in common. Better yet, she’s mature, ambitious, and a natural leader. As Jeffrey Gardere, Ph.D., the author of Love Prescription, puts it: “You’re getting a brilliant, professional woman who will take you to the highest highs, emotionally and financially.”
Beware: Come clean about your past. The more clout she has, the more your baggage will matter in this world of Drudge Report and TMZ. Political foes are always on the lookout for potential dirt, even by association. “Unlike male politicians who might get away with dating for fun, the female politician is held to a higher standard,” says Gardere. “She will probably want a committed and serious relationship.”
Your Move: Be honest with her—she has a well-calibrated b.s. detector. “We have a lot of people blowing smoke up our skirts,” says Angela Hunt, a member of the Dallas city council, “so we value directness and honesty.”
Also Works With: the Lawyer, the Professor, the Producer
The Adrenaline Junkie
Why Her: She’ll push your comfort zone—and the more excitement in your relationship, the better your long-term odds, according to a 2009 study in Psychological Science. She’ll also find you unforgettable: Events that occur during extreme states of emotion are more memorable, researchers at Johns Hopkins and New York University found.
Beware: She may not be able to slow herself down. A 2009 study at the University of Kentucky showed that thrill seekers showed more activity in regions of the brain associated with addictive behaviors like smoking, but less activity in the areas linked to emotional regulation. The more committed she is to those heart-pounding adventures, the less available she’s likely to be. “When I’m clinging to a sea cliff somewhere with waves crashing below me,” says Bonita Norris, one of the youngest women ever to climb Mount Everest, “I’m unlikely to have a signal on my phone.”
Your Move: Keep it simple. “Most women who live in the adventure world are never asked on actual dates,” says Davis. “They’re asked to climb El Cap or to sleep in a snow cave—which needs to happen too. But after all that, ask her to go on a date that calls for dressing up.”
Also Works With: the Firefighter, the Police Officer, the Eco-Tour Guide
Why Her: A good bartender is a world-class listener and conversationalist—funny, charming, attentive. (Plus, she can mix a drink!) Daniel Menaker, the author of A Good Talk, notes that bartenders generally have lots of stories, ranging “from the hilarious to the pathetic, and they are able to read people instinctively.” He compares them to nurses: “They’re probably harder to shock, more sociable, more sympathetic, and more resilient than the general female population.”
Beware: She’s nocturnal. “If you’re in the bar business, you need to be a night person,” says Indhira Torres, a bartender at Philadelphia’s Silk City Diner. “I’m probably more awake at 10 p.m. than any other time—and I often don’t climb into bed until 3 or 4 a.m.” The rest of her schedule can be killer, too. “You have to be flexible and creative,” Torres says. “Sometimes it’ll feel as if you have an absentee girlfriend because she’s nowhere to be found on weekends.”
Your Move: Get rowdy somewhere else. “A guy who worked across the street asked me out once,” says Heather, 24, a bartender at a high-end New York City restaurant. “I said yes only because he was respectful, was not married, and never got wasted in the bar, so I wasn’t embarrassed to show up with him.”
Also Works With: the Psychiatrist, the Journalist, the Waitress
Why Her: She’s low maintenance. Sherri DuPree, lead singer of the rock band Eisley, says being a musician “forces you to take on a very adaptive, easygoing personality. Elements of the industry are constantly shifting, and everyone likes a woman who can laugh off stressful situations.” And you can give credit to her more evolved gray matter: A recent study discovered that musicians have highly developed brains that leave them predisposed to being calm, playful, and capable of seeing the bigger picture.
Beware: Road trips could get old. “The biggest challenge is dealing with touring,” says singer-songwriter Kina Grannis, 26. “It’s something that needs to be understood and supported. It’s not easy for either person, so don’t make her feel guilty about it.”
Your Move: Ask her about her songs—but give her time to write too. DuPree warns of the “creative mode, which usually means I’m going to shut myself in the closet with my guitar. You’d better not even think of knocking on that door until I’m done—or I might write a song about you that you won’t like.”
Also Works With: the Novelist, the Director, the Designer
Why Her: She’s a master of self-sufficiency. “We cook, pay our own bills, and can snag you a reservation at any restaurant you want,” says Marcela Valladolid, the author of Mexican Made Easy and host of the Food Network show with the same name. “As for what we want in a man? Well, it helps if you’re incredibly kind—and good in bed.”
Beware: She does better when you back off. “Men should know that we are very controlling when we cook, and that we like things the way we like them,” says Casey Thompson, a Top Chef finalist and executive chef at Brownstone in Fort Worth, Texas. “We will probably rearrange your entire kitchen to our own benefit. While we’re doing that, just make us a cocktail, pick out the wine, and let us handle the cooking.” (Deal!)
“There will be plenty of dirty dishes to help with after dinner.” (Oh.)
Your Move: Relieve her of duty. “We feed people all day,” Thompson says. “Sometimes we like to be fed too.” Pick a meal she’s less enthusiastic about preparing and give her the night (or, more likely, the morning) off. “I don’t enjoy cooking breakfast,” Thompson says. “Really good bacon, creamy scrambled eggs, and perfectly toasted bread cooked by you with love says, ‘I want you to have a great day, and I care about you.’ “
Also Works With: the Massage Therapist, the Organic Farmer, the Shop Owner
Keep Work Out of It
ODETTE ANNABLE says all actresses have a crazy side. But talk to the 26-year-old star of Cloverfield, Brothers & Sisters, and the current season of House, and it’s clear she’s tamed the Lohan within. For one, when she married her Brothers & Sisters co-star Dave Annable in October 2010, she made the un-Hollywood move of taking his last name. He proposed at a ranch in Santa Barbara where he’d taken her on a surprise trip earlier in their relationship. “We took hikes alone and fell in love,” she says. She initially worried about “dating another crazy actor. But we had our priorities straight. We put family first. Acting is just my job, and it doesn’t take over my life.” Her advice to a man wanting to date an actress: “Don’t talk about the business. Just make her feel normal.” Odette’s new normal: “We had a dream date the other night,” she says. “I came home to beautiful flowers, some wine, and Greek food on the table. Then we watched Jersey Shore and went to bed early with the dogs.”
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