What Makes A Man Fall In Love

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woman smiling while being kissed on the cheek by a man who loves her

What makes men fall in love and stay in love is my jam. I’m obsessed. Seriously. I’ve spent the last 16 years researching the topic and asked thousands of guys what sparked it for them.

Sometimes their answers are obvious, but my favorites are the ones that leave me picking my jaw up off the floor, like when one man said, "When we had sex in a moving vehicle that neither of us was driving."

Or the time another said, "I fell in love with my wife on our third date. We were making out at a lookout point, and eventually, she had to pee. She said, ‘It’s okay, I’ll go in the bushes,’ and she did! There was no bathroom to find or problem to solve, and we didn’t even have to leave the lookout point. I kinda loved her at that moment."

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When it comes to what makes men fall in love, as you would expect, sex often makes the top of the list (duh), but that’s not just a dude thing — that happens for us, too.

Cooking usually ranks much lower than we might expect, although, for the men who value culinary skills, it’s not a want so much as it is a need. ("How do you boil water again, honey?")

How men fall in love and what makes them fall is often comprised of things we would never consider prioritizing if we ever thought of them.

Here are three (somewhat weird) things that make men fall, and stay, in love.

What Makes a Man Fall in Love

1. The warmth of your happiness.

The phrases "No one’s happy unless mama’s happy" and "happy wife, happy life" didn’t just come out of nowhere. A man doesn’t marry or partner with a woman if he doesn’t think he can make her happy. They will leave, and when they do, they usually say something like, "You deserve to be with someone who can make you happy."

Our happiness is a generous gift we can give if we’re feeling moved to express it.

I know a man who’d been unemployed for much longer than he was comfortable with. It took a toll on him, and he felt bad about himself. When his 20-year class reunion came up, he was hesitant to go because he was so embarrassed about where he was in his life.

His wife decided that when she walked into that room on his arm, she’d be the happiest woman in the room. They had an incredible night that he’ll never forget; he told me this story a decade after his reunion. She lifted him up with her happiness and positive outlook.

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2. Feeling understood.

You might think a man will fall in love with you once he knows how tough and independent you are. I mean, come on! You are the whole package: educated, funny, accomplished, worldly, and not bad looking, either, if you do say so. But your mad listening skills will take you from interesting to magnetic.

We can be pretty impressive when we’re sharing things about ourselves, and that’s important stuff, but if you really want to draw a man to you, listen. I mean, really listen, as in giving him your undivided attention.

Not the fake patience of waiting for him to stop talking so you can tell him that thing you’ve been holding in your head for the last eight minutes until it’s your turn to talk again; really be present and hear him out, and you’ll be one of the best conversationalists he’s ever had the privilege of talking with.

We all want to be seen, heard, and understood — listening fosters intimacy.

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3. Your irresistible imperfections.

Wait, what? Yes! That gap tooth you never quite got around to getting fixed? It’s adorable. The way you pronounce the word "Worcestershire" or how your right breast points straight out while the left one point to the left? Sexy. And those things on your waist — they don’t call them "hate handles" now, do they?

Our "flaws" make us memorable and often even more lovable. Men see us and take us all in, and when they love us, they accept us for exactly who and how we are.

Mark Darcy didn’t tell Bridget Jones that he liked her with slightly thinner thighs or perkier boobs, after all (who doesn’t remember Colin Firth smoldering, "I like you, very much. Just as you are" at Renée Zellweger?)

Embrace your imperfections. He will.

Despite the fact that I’d swear by the truth of these three things, I don’t want to sound like an article from Good Housekeeping circa 1951. I’m not dishing up a new standard to beat yourself up with when not at your happiest or not in a listening frame of mind, but rather point out to you the many natural gifts to which you already have access on your path to lasting love.

Use listening as the powerful tool that it is, remember to show and express your happiness when you feel it, and love the imperfections that make you uniquely you.

Above all, nurture the authentic expression of your essence, and watch as all kinds of men fall in different kinds of love with you: your lover, your children, your coworkers, and your friends.

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Wendy Newman is a media-celebrated author and dating and relationship expert who's led hundreds of workshops and changed the lives of over 70,000 women internationally.