Skip to main content

Verified by Psychology Today


Sexy at Any Age: What Makes Someone Appealing?

What is sexy is more than beauty and confidence.

If you've walked through a department store lately, you've been hit smack in the face with what advertisers tell you is sexy: Photographs of impossibly perfect models line the walls, their faces perfect, with cheekbones carved like Canadian glaciers and eyes that sparkle like the lights of Times Square. These objects, Madison Avenue teaches us, are what defines sexy. This is who you want to be, right?

Maybe not. What I have found in my work as a clinical psychologist is that what men and women sexually respond to the most aren't modelesque attributes. In fact, I have found one common denominator that turns both men and women on in others: frankly, my dear, they don't give a damn. This may sound nonsensical or even contrarian, but I'm afraid it's true.

If you take an informal poll of friends, everyone will probably come up with one word, the building block largely believed to come in a close second to physical attractiveness in the race to sexy: confidence. Yet when we take a closer look at the confidence the so-called sexy wear like a tight-fitting angora sweater, what people find sexy is more than confidence.

It's actually a naturalness that rides along with the confidence, a lack of artifice or efforts to try to be sexy. Those individuals others find sexy don't seem to care if you or anyone think they're sexy - it's like an afterthought or an inadvertent consequence. No, confidence isn't the secret ingredient, because many men and women are confident but others don't necessarily want to slip in the sack with them.

The ultimate secret behind ‘sexy' is being happy enough with yourself that don't seek the approval - or sexual attraction - of anyone. In other words, others can tell that you don't need it and, as a has-been celebrity used to say, "that's hot."

It's the oldest cliché in the book, but one that remains due to its truthfulness: Some of the world's most beautiful people are some of the world's most insecure. Though these individuals may, at first, bear all the signs of sexiness, getting to know them can quickly diminish the sexual intensity you had for them. And that's the point: what's sexy is actually the personality wrapped in an attractive-enough face and body!

The next time you cross paths with someone who awakens those sexual feelings in you, consider for a moment what it is. I think, if you boil it all down, you'll find that what's sexy is more than physical attraction and confidence.

Feel free to explore my book on dysfunctional relationships, Overcome Relationship Repetition Syndrome and Find the Love You Deserve, or follow me on Twitter!

More from Seth Meyers Psy.D.
More from Psychology Today