The average male who is old enough and mature enough to want to marry has realized that sex is not always a triumph.I'm not saying he is sexually insecure: indeed, with the right woman he may be easygoing, studly and confident.But therein lies the rub: how does he know which women are "right"?

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Interesting essays could be written on how men should choose women, or how men wish they chose women. The fact is men can't help looking, even happily married men, even codgers who think Viagra is better than money. This may seem too obvious to even mention, but in fact it is the key to the whole thing. " 'Ruthlessly pragmatic' Scientists say men and women are both designed to be ruthlessly pragmatic in their criteria for a mate.

But we will focus on a topic of more practical interest: in the real world, how do men actually choose women? If you make it difficult to be seen -- for instance, if you sit in the back booth with shades on -- you stop Step One from happening. (Note that being seen is particularly crucial -- and achievable -- if you are trying to meet Mr. Women are programmed by evolution to choose men based on their father potential, which is closely associated with status in the group -- what we now call money and power.

You are being studied to see whether you are likely to defeat him as a lover.

I mean this in the most literal way: he wants to know whether in your presence he might be unable to perform.

(Okay, "think" is a bit of a stretch.) If you try to change men or just don't get them, you'll be stymied -- but if you accept how they are and forgive them and work with them, you will have enormous power and effectiveness. Well, the good news is, it means completely different things to different men -- but it almost always involves a combination of face, and body shape and size. Many men in our culture like slender, athletic female figures -- some men really do, and some say they do, because they are ashamed of admitting anything else to their male peer group. But many men in our culture do not want a slender woman: they want someone with riper curves, someone who is larger, more "Rubenesque." Some men like pear-shaped women; some men like inverted pears. And some men don't really care that much about body size or shape. Ralph may hate a lot of makeup on a woman, while Shawn considers it a turn-on. Even in the realm of extremely good-looking celebrities, you will find a whole gamut of opinions. (Fortunately, many of them don't toe the evolutionary line anyway--apparently their wiring has come loose.) Take faces, for example.

It's clear that we read far more in a face than looks. We look into the eyes of the person we are talking to, and we feel as if we can tell who they are, deep down -- what they value, what they love.

But he opted out of court work because it was too scary, and he is very conscious of a threat to his ego in this woman.

Those legs make him wish that she didn't intimidate him, but he can't fight the verdict of his genes.

He senses in her an unswerving confidence in herself and in the cosmos, and a capacity for aggression, that make him feel he may be out of his league.