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Research shows that men are more attracted to women who smile.

That's no surprise to men. Ask any married man and he'll tell you that the corny old saying "Happy wife, happy life" rings true. The happier a woman is, the more beautiful she appears to men. It makes sense that men would want to make the women in their life more beautiful, for entirely selfish reasons, and so you would expect men to go out of their way to induce happiness in their female mates. That's a gross generalization, obviously, but it roughly matches my observations; most husbands seem to want their wives to be happy. The men might not be succeeding, for any variety of reasons, but they certainly want it.

The more interesting aspect of the same research is that women did NOT prefer men who smiled. In fact, younger women were more attracted to men who had a look of shame. The look that women liked the least in men was happiness.

Anyone see a problem with that?

If the science is right, we'd expect to see marriages in which men are trying to please their wives, thus making the wives more smiley and attractive, whereas women would be trying to squeeze the happiness out of the men in their lives and replace it with shame, thus making the men more attractive.

I won't go so far as to say that matches my observation, but the science points in that direction. So I put the question to you. According to your lifetime of observations, and very generally speaking, do you see a pattern in which men want to please women but women want to keep men in a frame of mind that is closer to shame than happiness?

To put this in more concrete terms, do you see a pattern in which husbands try to please wives and wives respond to their attempts with criticism? That would look like this:

Man: "I repainted the living room while you were gone, just like you wanted."

Woman: "Looks like the wrong color."

I hope the science is wrong. I'd hate to live in that world.

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+5 Rank Up Rank Down
Sep 12, 2013
Material gifts don't make a woman happy. Great sex does.
Any woman who is being denied that, but is getting lavishly spoiled with material gifts and favors will forever view them as lame compensation for what what they're not getting.

I find it hilarious that women don't like happy men. My first instinct is that it tells women that the man is getting laid. Thats obviously a problem if it isn't her doing.

Flip it on its head. A man who gives a woman great sex can get away with a lot of crap.
Sep 12, 2013
I have found that what men and women think they want is generally not what they need in the long term. This leads to many bad decisions.

Having made this mistake, I believe durable relationships are founded on intellectual compatibility and a shared and wicked sense of humor. There are other things besides - the ability to find joy in small things and a willingness to experiment and try new things - but these things are external and don't matter much if you can't enjoy the simple pleasure of being together. It doesn't matter if you're in New York or L.A. eating seafood or ribeye - if it's not a pleasure to be together then no amount of experimentation or novelty can fix that.

I believe I detect a certain mistrust of smiling here as this is the 2nd blog in as many weeks on the subject of smiling. I find that curious - but I think we will soon have robots to do this task for us soon.

An interesting related news item is it is apparently very fashionable in Korea (or perhaps Japan) to have facial reconstructive surgery to create a permanent smile in women.
+6 Rank Up Rank Down
Sep 12, 2013
I love these posts.

It would be even more fun if you left out the "rational audience" warning and stir up the pot a little, just like in the old days.

Yes, it looks about right for like half the couples I know. It was my observation that women in relationships want to "raise" their partner as if they were little kids.

I am happy to say that I am currently in a relationship with someone who lets me do my stuff without hasseling me, and also has her own pastime. We're almost like grown-ups.
+5 Rank Up Rank Down
Sep 11, 2013
I don't criticize when my husband does something above and beyond basic shared responsibilities. I'm generally appreciative.

There is that color thing, though... Fortunately, he has never painted a room in the house on his own initiative. He has painted various out buildings -and his go-to color is this hideous orange-rust color that sets my teeth on edge. He had painted a shed at a prior house that color - and I did mention at that time that I really disliked that color. The shed was his territory, however and didn't really dominate the view so I didn't worry about it too much. Then he built a tree house for the kids at our current home - and painted it that color. It is still there, in all it's ugly burnt orange glory, despoiling the trunk of my favorite tree - years after the kids have moved on.

When he buys flowers on his own and plants them in the front garden, he someone how manages to walk past all the pleasing colors - and find the one burnt-orange-rust colored flower in the nursery. There is one out there now. Fortunately it will be gone soon -because I water around it but avoid contributing to its survival in any way. On the rare occasion that he brings me flowers, the bouquet invariable contains a surprising number of large, burnt orange/rust colored blossoms. (He must special order them, because I certainly don't see them on a regular basis.)

Were he to meet me at the door some day and tell me he'd painted - pretty much anything for me, chances are he would have managed to find or have his special color custom mixed. I don't think my reaction would be positive. Clearly I haven't been too hard on him though - because he never seems to recall prior conflicts over his favorite shade.
Sep 11, 2013
its worse than what you say, Pride is the #1 emotion women find attractive in men, followed by shame, so they can go for a double whammy.

so basically.....

a man will feel pride if he feels like he's done something to make a woman happy. A woman will be happy, but its not enough, she needs to make the man feel shame also, so she can be doubly happy.

So if a man does something, like paint a room, and looks proud with his good work, a woman will find that attractive, and then kicks in with "wrong color", now the man has shame. So now he thinks ok, I can make her happy, I'll repaint the room the color she wants! Awesome! Now he can beam with pride to the woman and go, there ya go! I've painted the room the right color! Of course, she will look at it and go "too glossy"..... and by continuously moving the goal posts she will live a happy life and a man will a life of constantly not ever feeling good enough.
+15 Rank Up Rank Down
Sep 11, 2013
Anecdotally, I could agree. But let's also remember that we're looking at one study here, and on something so subjective, the details matter.

After viewing the photos I agree with assessors: the females appear to sparkling with happiness, perhaps on the verge of laughter, or playful. The "happy" males largely have cheesy (or even creepy) grins. But I think it's the photos, not the supposed emotion.

I also noticed that the "happy" female photos look like close-ups of models, whereas the "happy" male photos appear much more average looking and often aren't head-shots like the females.
I'd call them totally incomparable, which negates the whole study. I could make the results be anything I wanted by manipulating the attractiveness of the photos for any given "emotion."
+13 Rank Up Rank Down
Sep 11, 2013
If you look at the pictures (link helpfully provided by the disturbingly name 'puppymeat') <a href="http://www.ubc-emotionlab.ca/emotionattraction/">pictures</a> I think the male pictures of "shame" could just as easily be interpreted as portraying an introspective and thoughtful male.

I don't think it's a secret that a lot of women will sensibly seek out a mate whom they perceive as responsible, thoughtful and likely to provide a steady income and stable home. In that context the "happy" guys may be perceived as goof off's who might be fun to meet at a bar, but not lifetime commitment material.

To paraphrase the words of Inigo Montoya; "I don't think those pictures mean what they think they mean."
+3 Rank Up Rank Down
Sep 11, 2013
Society in general doesn't tolerate happiness. When you are happy and are having fun, women don't enjoy that, and it makes employers suspicious as well.

As for my own girl, yes she has these same tendencies. Luckily though, we're in a relationship where I can be a man doing manly things and she can be a woman doing girly things.

Observing other couples, it baffles me how often the men are spineless cowards. Constantly asking for permission or approval? Are you a grown man or what? You should bow to nobody and do as you please. I never ask her for any permission and neither does she ask me for any permission. Grow up.
Sep 11, 2013

I had E N T I T I E S hashed out. So much for AI.
Sep 11, 2013
So many readings on this.

Male smiles may register as calculated, fake or incorrectly motivated to highly-attuned women: "He's smiling, but does he mean it? Is he trying to be polite? Am I coming across as stupid? Is he imagining me naked? Is he going to make a cheap pass? Does he want me to bear his children and grow old at his side? Is there something in my teeth? Stay calm. Initiate analysis of eye movement and begin parsing comment about weather. . ." Perhaps a man who looks proud or disdainful immediately confirms negative assumptions, which a woman may find more reassuring than nervous optimism.

In contrast, less attuned and more naturally optimistic men can interpret anything short of projectile upchucking as female favor and encouragement. A favorite strip had Dilbert trying to chat up a cashier who smiled at him. She explains her job requires her to smile at everybody. Dilbert promptly returns with Wally, who's equally thrilled by this discovery. The cashier's smile is now a tooth-baring grimace and her eyes are murderous, but Dilbert and Wally only see a female smile.

You can also find ready anecdotal exceptions to the study's findings. I've known a few women who became agitated if smiles and/or laughs didn't appear on cue. And I think I speak for many men when I admit a properly-executed pout, glower of carnality or deep breathing can be more compelling than a perky Progressive Insurance Girl smile.

Vaudeville joke reflective of imperfectly designed experiments:
"You know what gals hate? Huggin' and kissin'. They just hate huggin' and kissin'"
"How do you know?"
"Every gal I meet, I ask 'Wanna go outside for some huggin' and kissin?' . . . "
Sep 11, 2013
A critical woman is not a happy woman. I speak as a woman.
+18 Rank Up Rank Down
Sep 11, 2013
Welcome to the world of marriage. Where you can be wrong in ways you never imagined.
Sep 11, 2013
I gave up my Lamborghini Countach two weekends ago. My wife was thrilled, as it's the single possession she has hated most since we got married. So much for women finding pride attractive. Now the paramotor seems to be the number one target of her ire.
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Sep 11, 2013
Having thought about this unprofessionally for many years, and retaining a sort of internal database of expression to actual personality situations, I prefer smiling people of both genders. To me, it is the degree of the smile that determines its sincerity, and the actions behind it. Other people apparently differ. Most of the people I deal with are like me, common folk not finaglers or looking to score.

I would think Advertising had this matter settled way back. I would bet there are psychology studies from long ago that discuss this very subject, and advertisers now have it down to a near science. I think we see this on a daily basis, perhaps unaware because it is so common and subliminal. Any study would necessarily take this into account.

If you look at newspaper print ads for clothing, there are a variety of facial expressions on the male and female models. The question is, who are the ads meant to attract? I have read that models in underwear and swimsuit ads, for instance, are meant to attract the gender opposite that of the model. In theory, a woman would buy a man the clothes she prefers to see him wear, and the man would ask the woman to wear what he prefers. I can see how that would be especially valid for intimate apparel.

According to the stated findings in that report would men prefer smiling female models and women prefer shame-faced men models? I contend that in general both genders of models are compelled by advertising photographers to grin at the camera with bared teeth or at least smile enigmatically. Those expressions are neither smiles or frowns, but compromises between them. Unless the advertiser closely targets a small customer base for a specialty item that requires a certain expression, say aggression for martial arts clothing, a grin or slight smile would serve to attract the widest customer base.

Of course, stylish magazines such as GQ and Vogue have their stylistic preferences, what I call pained smirky boredom for both genders, or phony exuberant ecstasy according to the mood is meant to come across. To me, those expressions on young models with little life experience are cartoon expressions so obviously false as to be ludicrous. Whenever I see actual young people use them it cracks me up.

Maybe I am fooling myself about these things. Advertising is such a big part of our lives, we are affected in ways we can never be aware of without close analysis and training. Can that spell ever be broken? The study should have taken advertising effects into account. It would be interesting to find how natural humans reacted in such a study, in the huge majority of time before consumer advertising saturated society. Are any people like that left in the world? I think the findings would be more accurate and applicable to present and future culture. But most likely this is just another pop science study without much substance.
Sep 11, 2013
Another reaction to this blog as well as most of the comments to it:

Thank you. This helps validate a decision I made some time ago to avoid romantic entanglements. I have many reasons for this but they boil down to three:

1) Thanks to television, the internet and many other things my standards for a woman are higher than the kind of woman I could get.

2) Arent there enough people in the world without me adding more?

3) The whole dating/marriage game is a bad one to get into; looking at the costs, possible outcomes and probability of each outcome led me to that conclusion.

Im filing this blog and the comments to it under reason number 3.
0 Rank Up Rank Down
Sep 11, 2013
H o r n y is hashed out? Wow.
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Sep 11, 2013
An interesting thing to note is that (stereotypically) women like to nurture and help. Possibly it's not about how they want their husband to be emotion wise, but who they feel "pulled toward". I'd be interested to know if a tearful / !$%*! woman photo might produce a similar effect in men.
Sep 11, 2013
So - not to put too fine a point on it... but women are the fun killers. They search out the man's happiness and fun, take it out back, and shoot it dead.

Think of EVERY one of a man's favorite activities - sports, booze, smoking, video games, shoot-em-up movies, just about anything. Got 'em all in mind? Great!

How many of those are wife-approved activities? NONE.

I think the thought pattern in women must run along the following lines: "I see a smile on his face. Is he having fun?!?! What is he doing? Well - there'll be no more of THAT around here! HARRUMPH!!!"

Women are the fun-killers. No doubt about it.
Sep 11, 2013
To see the full paper: http://mail.ts-si.org/files/doi101037a0022902.pdf

To see the photos used in the study: http://www.ubc-emotionlab.ca/emotionattraction/
Sep 11, 2013
sadly I would have to say my experience has been consistent with this research...
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