Atomic Attraction: 10 Scientific Tips to Be a 20% Man

atomic attraction cover

“Atomic Attraction” (2017) is a dating book for men in which author Christopher Canwell teaches readers the high-masculinity, “alpha male” approach to dating to develop and maintain attraction.


About the Author: Christopher Canwell is a dating coach and runs a blog and a YouTube channel.

We had already talked about Atomic Attraction.

And finally, I got around to reading it -listening to it, to be precise-.
We’ll do the review a bit differently this time, listing the best takeaways in form of bullet points:

  • Women prefer partners taller than they are, not necessarily “tall”: Women don’t necessarily like “tall men”, they just prefer taller than they are (Shepperd et al., 1989)
    • Shorter female date better: that same study shows that men preferred shorter women regardless of the male height
  • Men who exercise social power with smoothness are preferred to aggressive men: assertiveness shouldn’t be confused with aggression.
    Instead, “research into aggression and attraction found that women view men as more desirable when they’re less aggressive and able to solve problems in a more sophisticated way”.
    The author also says that “True attraction is built on confidence, and a confident man only uses aggression as a last resort”

I remember an ex-girlfriend from Russia, complaining to me how overly violent some local men were.
She said she liked me a lot because “I behaved like a real man”, and I don’t remember once I ever got aggressive with her.

  • Smoking and drinking to excess is unattractive (Vinke, 2016)

True, and especially true if we’re talking about excess, and long-term.

Occasional smoking and drinking instead were not very harmful to attraction, and especially not for the short term.
Indeed, the paper states that smoking and drinking might be short-term sexual strategies for men.

Says the paper:

The experiment showed that women perceive men who smoke and drink as being more short-term oriented in their sexuality than nonusers. Moreover, both tobacco and (especially) alcohol use brought some attractiveness benefits in short-term mating contexts.

So, as long as you don’t become addicted, no problem with drinking and smoking.

  • Risky behavior that is attractive brings in rewards

Risk for risk sake, including over-aggression, is unattractive. Risky behavior that is attractive includes starting a business or taking a loan, as they fall in the “calculated risks category.

  • Keep your air short: it’s more masculine. If you like long hair, let the beard grow
  • Shaved heads are attractive: men with shaved heads were rated more attractive compared to men with thinning hair, and they were rated as more, assertive, masculine, and strong, compared to men with a full head of hair (Mannes, 2012). But please see the “con” section, I reached different conclusions from that study.
  • Keep a stubble: “a study comprised of 351 women found that heavy stubble is the most attractive facial hair a man can grow”

I quote from the study (Dixson & Rantala, 2016):

We found that intermediate levels of facial hair thickness and to a lesser degree light body hair were most attractive.

However, the beard must be “full” when it comes to coverage, in the sense of covering the whole face, rather than “patchy”:

We found that facial hair that was less uniformly distributed across the cheeks and jaw, which does not connect to the mustache, was less attractive than beards with greater linear coverage and connection between the cheeks, jaw, and mustache

And analyzing past studies:

Where stimuli depicting graded or intermediate levels of facial hair (i.e., facial stubble) and body hair have been used, preferences for light and heavy stubble over full beards have been reported (B.J.Dixson& Brooks,2013; Neave&Shields,2008) and there is some evidence that light body hair is preferred over pronounced hirsutism (B. J. Dixson, Dixson, Morgan, et al., 2007)

  • Chest hair is better if light

Quoting from the study above:

Light body hair was judged as the most attractive distribution of body hair and was more attractive than very light, medium, and heavy body hair

The definition of light and medium are:

Medium body hair also included well-developed pectoral hair surrounding the areolae and the infraclavicular region. However, chest hair was not connected to abdominal hair, which was also less developed or absent in some cases. Light body hair was more sparsely distributed in the mid-pectoral region, connecting to the sternum but not extending to infraclavicular or abdominal regions

  • Slightly larger than average penis are best, but not too big: the author says women prefer men who have proportionally sized penises to body size

Another myth is that women love big penises.
In truth, this is another trait that where attractiveness starts decreasing when it’s too much, so the most attractive are slightly bigger than average, but not huge.

  • The more feminine the woman is, the more she prefers an older man (based on the author’s point of view, not a study)
  • Dress high status: the preference for high status extends to both one-night stands, and long-term

There were six categories of attractiveness: (1) coffee and conversation; (2) a date; (3) sex only; (4) serious involvement, marriage potential; (5) sexual and serious, marriage potential; and (6) marriage.

Quoting from the author:

The results of the study found that women were more attracted to the (same)
man when his clothes were “high-status.” (…) women were much more likely to consider the man in all six categories if his clothes were “high-status” as opposed to “low” or “normal” status

  • Wear red or black

The study (Roberts et al., 2011) had very few people, and the “dresses” being judged were simple T-shirts.
Red and black had similar ratings:

research results for attractiveness of red color
  • Dominance is important in seduction: both physical and social dominance are attractive, and more attractive than financial dominance. Financial dominance is also important, but it’s more about the qualities that allow people to become financially dominant.
    Dominance increases attraction, but not likability (Sadalla et al., 1987)
  • But when it comes to acquiring status and power prestige is superior to dominance (Snyder et al., 2008)

Importantly, this study used characteristics such as the use of force or the threat
of force to describe dominance.
He leverages fear.

Prestige is defined as: “‘the noncoerced, interindividual, within group, human status asymmetries’’ (p. 166), includes a recognition of certain abilities by peers that leads to freely conferred status. Individuals who are knowledgeable or skilled
are conferred prestige-type status by deferent sycophants”.
He makes people want to follow.

I quote the study with 71, 102, and 60 female participants who participated for the respective 3 studies:

Study 1 showed that women preferred targets on whom peers conferred prestige based status because of specific knowledge or skills to targets who achieved dominance based status through strategies of force or the threat of force, given equivalent status outcomes.

Study 2 further demonstrated that, when dominance and prestige are manipulated
independently, women consistently prefer high prestige to low prestige.

Women did not prefer targets who used dominance-based strategies to achieve
status in a different context outside of a socially sanctioned athletic contest; indeed, they generally preferred low dominance to high dominance in the non-athletic contexts in Studies 2 and 3.

Let’s not forget though that all these women were university students.
Still, since university students tend to make for higher quality women, I don’t consider that a con.

Rating poses that represented happiness (a smile), pride (arms up towards the sky), shame (head down) and neutral, female preferred men who had a “proud” pose.

However, I believe the research is confusing: the picture for “pride” doesn’t really show pride, but it’s a sign of victory.
Just see it for yourself:

most attractive poses from Tracy & Beall study
Dashed line is women evaluating men
  • Risky behavior is only attractive as long as it served an evolutionary purpose -“hunter-gatherer type of risks”- (Petraitis et al., 2014)

The theory (…) is that playful men are seen as more grounded, stable, and resilient when facing life’s challenges. Playful men are also perceived to be less aggressive and less likely to hurt a woman and her future offspring. Furthermore, these qualities are seen as a marker of social intelligence and indicate that a man can form faster social bonds with others thus increasing his ability to acquire more resources and protection from society


You should never confuse the qualities of dominance and assertiveness with aggression and anti-social behavior— two traits common to insecure men.

  • Women are designed to seek mates who are superior to them (see “Female hypergamy” article)
  • Don’t expect women to love you like your mother loved you

See here a man committing this obvious mistake:

  • Fear and anxiety increase sexual drive

Says the author:

This desire for sexual intercourse arises, not from a state of safety and security, but from a state of fear and anxiety. Because the purpose of humanity is to reproduce, an imminent threat to life triggers extreme levels of sexual desire to ensure the survival of the species. It is, however, still easy to activate this fear/sex response in women by injecting uncertainty and anxiety into a dying relationship.


The “ideal man” comes across like a try-too hard caricature of an alpha male

Sometimes it feels like what was presented as the ideal behavior was a caricature of an “alpha male“.

For example, the author says that if the girl wants to break up with you, the alpha male walks away (immediately) with his head held high.
Fair enough, I don’t disagree with it: there are many situations in which that’s a great response.

But is that the only confident course of action?
How about digging deeper into what’s going on, before committing to a definite course of action?

Immediate action is often overreaction. Especially when over-the-top. It’s a form of (weak) ego-protection to walk away at the first sign things aren’t going your way.
And the “head held high” seems to me like the man who’s deeply hurt, but puts up a front. Strong on the outside, but not really much inner strength there.

In another example, the “strong alpha” responds to a woman’s disrespect by knocking a wine glass on the table, spilling it on her, and blurting “that’s for being a bitch” right before leaving.
I totally agree one should never allow disrespectful behavior to be unchecked. But that’s, again, an overreaction. It’s not a great frame control, and not a socially dexterous way of being assertive and drawing one’s boundaries effectively.

In brief, it feels this book goes to unattractive extremes and fails the law of balance, for which I warmly invite you to read this article on the law of balance in dating:

Why Balance Is Most Seductive

Generalizations that make for sub-optimal advice

The author provides hard and fast rules on what works.
For example, he says never to text a woman back the moment she doesn’t reply.

Albeit that’s not terrible advice, it also won’t hurt to hit her back with a text sometimes later.
I can tell you I’ve been with plenty of women who didn’t answer a text.

The “alpha male is most attractive lie”

The author repeats that strength and high masculinity only are attractive to women.

And he says that women don’t like men with feminine features.

But that’s blatantly not true.
The hordes of young women who were crazy about Di Caprio in Titanic, young Justin Bieber, or the new K-pop stars provide a clear clue to anyone who’s willing to properly analyze the world for what works.

Or, as an Amazon reviewer says:

First of all the author harps on masculinity and being like an alpha guy at all time
If this worked the hottest guys to girls would be construction workers and Harley Davidson hells angels dudes. Incorrect. They will lose to a tik tok clean shaven feminine guy ALWAYS.

That reviewer swings in the opposite direction.
In reality, different types can all be attractive, as long as they’re high-quality in their own way.

What’s attractive also depends a lot on what type of female cohort we’re talking about.

Again, I invite you to read the law of balance for attractiveness.

Also see:

10 Types of Male Seducers: Pick Your Niche!

And of course, see:

Some nuances are lacking

The author says that the “direct approach” is the best you can make, and while I love direct approaches, it’s not always the best.

The author also says that bars and clubs are the worst places to meet women. But this is not a question of points of view: there are plenty of men who successfully meet and sleep with women from bars and clubs. So that’s patently not true. Especially not true if someone is looking for one-night stands.

Case studies were a bit too black and white

The case studies were sometimes interesting, sometimes entertaining, and sometimes a bit too exaggerated to be realistic.

The studies sometimes were misinterpreted

The author says that men with shaved heads were more attractive.

But when I looked into the study, I saw that men with shaved heads were seen as (significantly) more dominant, and stronger, but not more attractive.
Men with shaved heads were more attractive compared to thinning hair, but not to a head full of hair.

That made me lose a lot of trust and confidence in the rest of the quoted studies, so I started to check all the ones I found interesting, and found several other inconsistencies, as well as conclusions that the author drew from the studies that, in my opinion, fell outside the scope of the studies.

Some studies didn’t fit what the author stated

For example, the author says that “Research published in the Journal of Social Psychology found that out of 172 participants, it took men anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of weeks to fall in love; whereas women took no less than a couple of months to fall in love.

But when I looked into the reference, the study was about availability and attraction, and not about “how long it takes to fall in love”, for which I found not reference.

This might be a mistake of using the wrong reference, but it doesn’t inspire much trust.

Some studies concluded the opposite of what the author stated

The author says that:

“As research published in the European Journal of Personality points out, if a woman has to fight for a man’s love and attention, she’ll think more highly of him, value him more, and think about him more frequently”.

And then goes on to advise on how to be less available.

Yet, that study says that:

For dating and committed romantic relationships, the prospective mate who was medium in availability was preferred. In contrast, the highly available prospective mate was preferred for a casual sex relationship

Sometimes studies were not fully understood

The author says that one study proves that women prefer humorous men based on the fact that men who told a joke in an experiment were 3 times more likely to get a woman’s phone number compared to men who were just listening.

But that experiment is poor at isolating variables.
The men telling the joke was also showing leadership, and social power.

Some lame, low-quality “relationship control”

To change a woman’s mind and to save an ending relationship, the author seems to suggest that “dread game”, fear and anxiety are the answer.

The author seems to suggest that to maintain long-term attraction, that’s what you must do.

What a low-quality response to a dying relationship; make it worse, just to keep it alive.


5 Ways to Maintain Power & Control in Relationships


On the importance of opportunities for sexual access:

Men who teach English in Europe, Asia, or South America have more opportunities to meet, date, and have sex with women than men who work in a bank in a big metropolitan city.
Meeting and dating women is not a question of resources, money, or prestige—it’s simply a matter of access.

The seducer projecting power:

He takes up space and maintains an expression that challenges people to impress him. He rarely if ever smiles, and when he does, it’s a rare and precious gift. The skilled seducer strolls through the world at his own pace and never hurries or worries about a thing. His movements are akin to those of a cat—loose, relaxed, and languid. The world is there to serve him, not the other way around. It is this projection of attitude that makes the alpha male so irresistible and attractive to women.

The balance of chasing that is courtship:

strike a delicate balance between pursuing too much and showing just the right amount of desire. You must be proactive and bold without appearing desperate. By this stage, if everything goes well the woman will start to warm up to you. Once you sense a change in her behavior and notice that the woman is becoming more responsive, you must back off and allow her to chase to you.


The case studies refreshen the book and make for an easier, more entertaining read.


“Atomic Attraction” can provide some good points for beginners and it can be useful for “too nice guy”.

The general approach of “alpha male game” it espouses can be a much-needed medicine for those men who still need to work on their power, confidence, self-esteem, leadership, and dominance.

It’s less suited for more advanced students, seducers, and social strategists alike, who will miss some of the nuances and who will not appreciate some of the generalizations.

I personally learned of a few good studies that I wasn’t aware of, so I appreciated that a lot.

Also see:

Get the book on Amazon.

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