What Turns Us On

A user’s guide to love, lust, and attraction in the Hub.

So, What Does It For You?

We asked, Boston answered…

METHODOLOGY To find out how Bostonians define attractiveness, we created a 30-point survey with the help of Babson College statistics professor I. Elaine Allen. Along with posting it on our website, we dispatched pollsters across the Hub to interview people at T stops, coffee shops, and the occasional happy hour. Finally, we partnered with Cambridge-based dating website OkCupid, which hosted our poll on its home page. All told, we collected more than 1,100 responses—and plenty of eye-opening insight.

Photograph by Sadie Dayton


1. Forty percent of the Bostonians we polled say a blue-eyed boy will get that second glance, followed by 26% for green eyes, 21% for brown, and 13% for hazel—numbers nearly identical to the breakdown for women’s eye color.

2. A small, straight nose is the winner by a 2-to-1 margin over all other sniffer shapes. Least favored was the snub nose, at 5% (it fared far better on women, at 38%).

3. The gold standard for men’s hair color isn’t blond (preferred by fewer than one in 10 respondents), but rather brown (71%), which was followed, though not that closely, by black (16%). Shaggy dudes: Four out of every five potential mates who pass you on the street think you’d look better with short hair.

4. The clean-shaven look was voted most appealing, at 47%, but guys who can’t get to a razor every day shouldn’t fret—about 43% of voters say stubble also gets the job done. Goatees, though, are a bad idea. They’re dug by just 6% of respondents. Beards polled even worse (5%).

5. The choicest height for local guys is 6’–6’3″, which matches up nicely with our ideal gal, right, in heels.

6. Good news for the ironing-averse: jeans and a t-shirt is the best look for Boston men, say more than half of those polled. Workout attire scored lowest (2%) among choices for hunky menswear. (Which may explain why less than 2% of those surveyed reported meeting a boyfriend at the gym.)

7. As men’s body parts go, you find shoulders (35%) and arms (29%) the most irresistible. You also think legs, which earned just 5% approval, should stay under wraps.

– Banking is considered the hottest job for Hub men (16%), but one of the least hottest for women (about 5%).

– You want your men to be music lovers (18%), sports fans (16%), and outdoorsy types (15%). Of lesser appeal: tech geeks (3%) and nightlife aficionados (3%).

Photograph by Sadie Dayton


1. Is it getting steamy in here, or is it just your glasses? By a surprising 3-to-1 ratio, Bostonians deem specs on women a turn-on (and think they’re pretty sexy on guys, too).

2. An oval face is the shape preferred by a whopping 68% of the people we surveyed.

3. Ditch the perm and book a blowout: straight hair is the favored women’s coif, besting curly locks by a 4-to-1 margin. And while you’re at it, make it shoulder-length (51%). When it comes to hair, less-is-more advocates are in scarce supply. Only about one in 50 Bostonians craves very short hair on women; about the same number think bald is beautiful on men.

4. An overly plump, Jolie-style pout gets the kiss-off from Hub voters (3%). Most like their gals with medium-full lips (51%).

5. The most alluring outfit for a woman is denim and a tee, say 46% of you. A scant 7% of respondents drool over a preppier sweater-and-khakis ensemble.

6. The derrière and the legs tied for paramount female body part, with each prioritized by about 30% of voters. Hands, not so much (4%).

7. Survey says: The ideal Boston woman is about average height (5’4″–5’8″). But fewer than one in six Bostonians found women of 5’8″ to 6’—a.k.a. the supermodel median—compellingly attractive.

Arty equals hottie, according to our respondents, a third of whom have a thing for artists or writers. The next most desirable vocation for women is physician (12%).

– Though sports is the third-hottest interest a woman can have, moderation is key—63% of you say Red Sox mania is a turnoff in the fairer sex.


– In potential mates, you prefer dog lovers to cat people by a 5-to-1 ratio.

– About 20% of you believe men hit peak attractiveness in their forties or beyond; only 9% say the same about women.

– About 65% of you prefer your sweet nothings whispered sans Boston accent.

– Job combinations that inspire the least amount of panting: women as cops or firefighters (0.8%), men as waiters or bartenders (1.4%), and anyone as a politician (1.2%–1.6%).

– The most desirable trait in any Bostonian? That would be a good personality (62% overall). In a woman, the next-hottest quality is looks (24%); in a man, it’s intelligence (15%).

Red hair on a woman revs up about 12% of local suitors. Red hair on a man, however, appeals to barely 2%.

Harvard tops the list of sizzling alma maters for men (19%) and women (12%), followed by BU (8%/10%). But about half of you say it doesn’t matter where a potential S.O. went to college as long as they graduated.

– Of all the people we polled on what they find attractive in a partner, about half did not, in fact, have a partner at the moment.