Gosling, Beckham, Clooney: rich, powerful, admired.
But their appeal goes beyond fame or earning power. Call it charisma, call it confidence. Social scientist Dr Catherine Hakim calls it "erotic capital". It's a combo of liveliness, sex appeal, fitness, charm, style, and yes, sexual competence.
Is that all? Don't feel daunted – erotic capital can be learned.
Whether you're grabbing the mic at karaoke or just cracking jokes all night, your good vibes are contagious, says sex therapist Brandy Engler. "We feel a sense of self-expansion around people who are enthusiastic about life."
FLAUNT YOUR WIT
Funny guys get laid: In a study in the journal Intelligence, men with a solid sense of humour reported having more casual sex. Comedian Steve Lemme suggests the "callback" – a humorous reference to things you've already talked about. ("I'm headed to Bali this summer – I know, not as nice as [insert her hometown here]"). It shows you're witty – and you've been listening.
SPICE UP YOUR DATES
Invite her along for an activity you feel passionate about – even if it's trout fishing. "Do something that makes you feel full of life," says Engler, author of The Men on My Couch. Help her cast the line, say, and engage all her senses – the feel of the line, the ripples of the water, the stink of the bait. That's passion.
2. Physical Beauty
Sure, genes matter: facial symmetry, masculinity and skin tone all provide erotic capital. In a 2014 study in Psychological Science, women favoured men with wide faces for short-term relationships, perhaps because they saw them as more dominant. Bad genes? Don't worry. Try this plan.
ENHANCE YOUR JAW
Facial hair is male make-up: it covers flaws and enhances assets. A five o'clock shadow highlights a good chin, says barber Danny Baptista, while a short beard can create the illusion of symmetry and add bulk to a weak chin. Trim whiskers using the 2 or 3 guard on your clippers, he advises. Let the hair on your chin and jaw grow slightly longer.
3. Sexual Attractiveness
There's no Instagram filter to help you achieve this. Sexual attractiveness involves not only the shape of your body but also the way you move and talk, says Hakim.
FAKE THE V
Step one: hit the gym. In the meantime, fake a V-shaped torso with this trick: wear a light-coloured T-shirt with a thick stripe across the shoulders and chest. Also, a tee that's tighter across the top and grazes your belly will add to the V-shaped illusion.
In a UK study, women rated men as more attractive when the men's posture conveyed dominance – sitting with their arms and legs open while gesticulating and touching a nearby person, versus sitting with arms crossed and legs together.
4. Conversational Skills
The ability to skillfully work a room can win you a woman's vote of confidence.
Tall guys are naturally seen as charismatic, a recent Dutch study found. But you can fake it if you need to: Stand with your shoulders back, open your arms and look people in the eye when telling a story. Meet her gaze and smile; you'll create intimacy before you even approach. Once you start talking, ask her name, and then use it later.
TARGET YOUR FLIRTING
Motivation still matters: guys who flirted just for fun were viewed as less attractive than guys whose motives were genuine toward the women they chatted up, according to a recent study in Sex Roles.
5. Social Presentation
Think of this as Don Draper domain: dressing and styling your hair in a way that conveys social status and style.
ROCK THE SIDE PART
In a 2013 Great Clips survey, 60 per cent of people said the classic side part is among the greatest men's hairstyles of all time. Opt for a fade, which keeps the look clean, but maintain your natural hairline, says Baptista. Thinning on top? "Go short," he says. "And get a supertight fade on the sides to balance the missing hair."
UPGRADE YOUR SUITS
Men who wear custom suits give better first impressions than those in off-the-rack attire, according to a British study. But department store suits can fit as if they were tailored just for you. Just make sure the shoulder pads don't extend past your shoulders, the jacket hits about halfway down your butt, and you can comfortably sit down.
6. Sexual Competence
Sex drive alone won't translate to being a stud in the sack. More critical than libido is "erotic imagination," a creativity and playfulness with a woman in bed-and beforehand.
SHOW YOUR STRENGTH
You know the scene in Crazy, Stupid Love where Gosling picks up Emma Stone, Dirty-Dancing style? It really works. "Your physical prowess can be a turn-on," says Engler. "It's an exaggerated expression of masculinity, allowing her to feel soft and fragile." Flaunt your strength as a form of out-of-the-bedroom foreplay: Wrestle playfully, or pin her against a wall for a kiss.
ADAPT YOUR ENCOUNTERS
There's a script for great sex: initiation, kissing, foreplay, intercourse, afterplay. But you should also read her moods. If she's had a bad day, try the soft-and-sensual approach. After a night of dancing, playful domination might do the trick.