Turning Women On...

Women loathe vanity in men, but they appreciate men who take pride in their appearance. Women admire ambitious men, but resent men who lose sleep over their careers. Women love men who feel as comfortable on a baseball field as they do in a tuxedo. That's right, guys, your worst fears have been confirmed: There is no pleasing us! At least that's what I realized when I interviewed women about their top five turn-ons.

The only consensus? You can't build a relationship on one turn-on. The ladies want a package deal, however quirky the contents. As Anne, an actress in New York City , puts it: "The sharpest wit and a deep love of pop culture will get me into bed quicker than a handsome face or strong hands any day. Coupled with an old-school knowledge of alt-culture, I'm his in a heartbeat. A really funny boy who loved Minor Threat and watches movies all weekend long is worth losing some dignity over."

But not all women have such inimitable requests. In fact, many ladies share the following five turn-ons.

Sense of Humor. Wanna get in a woman's pants? Make her laugh. With few exceptions, the first words in almost every response were, "A sense of humor." It makes perfect sense. Is there any other possible explanation for the amount of lovers Woody Allen has had in his life?

"I will take a guy who can make you laugh over a good-looking guy any day," explains Renee, a nonprofit executive from San Diego.

"If he's not going to make me laugh all night," says Jane, who lives in New York , "What's the point of hanging out with him? I'd rather just go out with my friends."

One woman I met struggled to respond because her boyfriend was sitting next to her playing Ms. Pac-Man.

"Uh, sense of humor," she responded immediately. She looked at her boyfriend. "And eyes."

"Balding men," yelled her boyfriend. He had short dark hair, but I noticed he had a receding hairline. He was grinning as he listened to us. She shot a look at him. "He has to be smart. And, his smile. How many is that?"

"Big balls," he yelled, and she giggled. "She likes a man with big balls." "And a sense of ethics," she finished.

He won the game. He got up and hooted and hollered and taunted his competitor. We all laughed.

Intelligence. If you had your head buried in your books in high school, you should be getting laid by now. Women look for intelligence in a man, although they distinguish between being smart and well-educated; most women interviewed would prefer a man with brains over a man with a college degree.

Juliet, an editor in New York , wrote, "Boys make the mistake of thinking we always mean book smart when we say that ? but all kinds of smart are welcome. I like the kind of smart that moves in complex theories about 17th century poetry, and I like the kind of smart that understands the inside of a computer or the engine of a car, and I like the kind of smart that can understand whatever you happen to be talking about without a lot of preamble, just pick up the thread and go.

I like the kind of smart that learns from its mistakes, and I like the kind of smart that's all about being curious, and I like the kind of smart that sneaks up with a smart solution.

(And I even like a bit of a smart-ass.) I always like it when someone knows a lot about something I don't understand at all, and is interested in (and good at) explaining it to me. I like to learn."

Apparently a college degree doesn't count for much these days. "I like a man who is able to do the Sunday Times crossword puzzle," notes Hana, a New York City-based information architect.

Women surveyed also seemed to associate intelligence with the ability to have a good conversation.

Love of animals/pets/children and all-around general compassion. How you treat others, especially someone who is smaller and/or dependent, speaks volumes about your character.

Victoria , from New York , whose dog rested underneath her bar stool, remarks, "If they can't handle a dog... it says a lot about them, how they interact with other creatures." Bear in mind, though, women can see right through men with props. Diana, a web worker from Hudson , N.H. , maintains, "[I like] a man playing with a dog/baby ... but not using them as a 'pick up.'"

Eyes. Windows to the soul equals windows to our hearts. Good eye contact is just another way to communicate. According to the respondents, we want 'em "dark," "sparkly," "piercing," and "bedroom." Deirdre, from Dublin , Ireland , writes, "I've never gone out with a man who wears glasses probably because I wouldn't be able to see his eyes. I love eyes that you can sink into, if the boy has a beer belly and a fat arse it doesn't matter as long as he has nice eyes."

Smile. Is it the way that he smiles or that fact that he's smiling? For most women, it's easier to be around someone with a pleasant smile, and it connotes a happy disposition. No one wants to be with a grouchy man.

"Yeah, I'm looking for someone with a good outlook on life," said one woman. "Someone who's sunny, has optimism."

Her friend calmly joined in: "Not a self-loathing, victimized asshole."

"Or guys with substance-abuse problems," the first woman chimed in.

"We were just talking about this," the second woman explained to me.

"Two women sitting in a bar, smoking and drinking, on a Monday night? What else would you be talking about?" I replied.

Other qualities receiving multiple responses included: style, chivalry, and quiet self-confidence. (And for you dark-haired boys, you almost made the top five as well! Who says blonds have more fun?) Surprisingly enough, sex, while mentioned more than "being outdoorsy," was not high on the list. I asked some of my interviewees why they didn't mention it, and one woman responded, "If all the elements are there, the sex is good. Women really lead the way in sex; they control how good it is. Men think they do, but they don't."

But other women weren't willing to compromise when it comes to bedroom behavior. A Web producer who gave her screen name as SolarIcyItem, comments, "Oral sex should just be understood. I want a guy who knows where the clitoris is. Some have no clue, and I just don't want to have to give directions."

Christina, a government worker from Atlanta, adds, "Give me a guy who acts on his impulses, can read my eyes, is comfortable in his own skin, has a good strong tongue and can use his hands in all the right ways, over the romantic, upstanding citizen with the sense of humor, nice smile and beautiful eyes, any day of the week."

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