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Women Prefer Strong Men

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Looks like Mister Potato Head really doesn't measure up in this Cock Fight.

"I learned several major things about power that day. [...] That girls are attracted to it."

Exactly What It Says on the Tin. This trope is behind the stereotrope that any given girl would prefer to date the captain of the football team instead of the captain of the chess team. The former is bigger, broader, and more physically fit. Back in the day, this is the kind of guy that would spear boars or kill bandits, i.e. a more practical husband. This is no longer the case in many societies but the distinction remains.

Note that this does not mean specifically stronger than the woman in question (which is another related trope) but strong, period. In turn, even a weak woman isn't going to be impressed by a guy merely stronger than her; he has to be fairly strong as far as guys go, too. Thus the strongest man in the room is the most attractive.

Even works applying this assumption may still portray women as befriending weak guys and consider them "cute" in a very literal sense of the word but it will still present an in-universe obstacle to weak guys looking for a date.

Compare All Amazons Want Hercules, where the (Amazonian) woman would only settle for a man who is stronger than her and All Girls Want Bad Boys, where a "bad" personality could be equated with strength by way of aggression, which attracts her. Contrast Weakness Turns Her On and the genderflip, Amazon Chaser, where a guy is attracted to girls who are good at fighting (strong girls are properly Amazonian Beauty). This can be but isn't always Truth in Television, since Real Life attraction is of course usually more complex than just one factor.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Averted in Cat's Eye: Takeuchi, who is a karate master, thinks it's true, but he's unable to get a date. Mitsuko ultimately spells out for him that strength by itself is not attractive and women often prefer passion... Also pointing out the enormous (and completely unwanted) success that Toshio has.
  • Possible with Bulma in Dragon Ball; it would explain her falling for Vegeta, a warrior villain, in Dragon Ball Z. He is in a different league than her previous boyfriend, Yamcha, a much lower threat.
  • Dr. Slump: Arale despite being Oblivious to Love, shows great taste and admiration for people (almost always boys) that are very strong, and always tries to get them to play with her, in addition to declaring that the type she most likes is Obotchaman, who is a robot as strong as she, although it also appears to be a combination of Single Woman Seeks Good Man.
  • Teasing Master Takagi-san: Several of Takagi's schemes involve the overall physical fitness of Nishikata, such as strength and agility. Because the fitness system for boys uses higher standards than girls, he has to strive for a higher percentile rank to beat her scorecard. This ultimately makes him one of the fittest boys in her class: he averages at least 7 to 8 points on a national 10 point scale for his age range (and claims he can score the maximum 10 on grip strength). In the Time Skip spin-off manga where the two are married, Nishikata has apparently taken up a job as a PE teacher and has a muscular physique.
  • Maken-ki!: Any display of power, be it from a man or woman, will sexually arouse Espada; provided it's strong enough to rival her own. First seen in chapter 70, when Ceilia's sudden outburst of Element caused Espada to tremble with excitement and start dripping from it. While in chapter 79, taking a full-powered kick from Azuki's newly evolved Maken drew blood from Espada, which caused her to blush as she visibly soaked her panties.
  • So, I Can't Play H!: Heavily implied in regard to Lisara. Usually, whenever Ryosuke tries anything perverted with her, she stomps him for it. But in episode 4, when he forcibly transfers a massive surge of his ero-energy to her by thrusting his pelvis directly against her face, she becomes visibly aroused by it and submits.
    Lisara: (whispers dreamily) "S-so erotic!"
  • In the finale of the Manhwa, Sweetie, Do Yuri broke up with her boyfriend after seeing how weak/helpless he was when fighting some thugs. Apparently, being a Yakuza Princess means that she's really turned off by lack of physical prowess.
  • The Testament of Sister New Devil: According to the light novels, Chisato's hidden desire is to become her nephew Basara's plaything, because she's horny for him and a sexual submissive. She gets her wish in the final volume, in which, Basara spends an entire year in subspace by repeatedly having sex with her until she finally submitted to him.
  • Jeanne Fránçaix from Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross seemed to have fallen for Seifriet Weiße after he proves to be a better pilot than her, Mary Angel, and the rest of the earth forces.
  • Kaguya-sama: Love Is War:
  • In Monster Rancher when Lilim betrays Durahan for Moo she says she has a thing for strong men.
  • My Bride is a Mermaid has the male protagonist, Nagasumi, in one episode, affected by a charm that makes him look like each girl's ideal man. For example, the titular mermaid bride, Sun, seems to have a thing for bad boys or manly men, since he looks like a Jotaro Kujo expy to her.
  • Spy X Family: Yor is amazed with fighting skills of her fake husband, Loid. She bragged about the "concussive therapy" methods he used on his patients (who really are enemies from his last mission) to Anya and believes he can give any opponent a beatdown at the tennis competition he entered.
  • Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out!: Ami Asai has a fetish for muscular men, and when asked what type of men she likes, she shamelessly admits she loves them with six-packs.

    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 
  • In Pokémon Reset Bloodlines, Iris is attracted to Ash partly because of how strong he is. Justified, because she was raised by Dragon-type Pokémon, and strength is something very desirable in the wild.
  • In Twins (Lobb), Sakura Matou is turned on by the knowledge that Shirou Emiya would kill to protect her if he had to.
    Sakura was disgusted with herself at the primal, unrelenting thrill she’d had at that thought. The dark thoughts had mostly gone, but she was still a woman drenched deep in neediness.
  • In Full Circle, it's explained that Oscar spent fourteen years working out so he can impress Olive. Eight of those fourteen years, however, were spent playing Wii Sports instead of doing things like going to the gym and lifting weights, hence why he's not a Pintsized Powerhouse like his ex-girlfriend.

    Films — Animation 
  • Brave: This is heavily implied when Merida is introduced to her suitors. When she meets the Young MacGuffin, the biggest, she doesn't look all that annoyed. Then, notice her "awe" reaction to Young Dingwall, who turned out not to be him.
  • Averted in Megamind; while talking to Roxanne in his Bernard disguise, Megamind assumed (like everyone else in-universe) that she and Metro Man were an item, only to be surprised when he learns that the latter is not her type. She ultimately falls for "Bernard" instead.
  • The pictured example from Toy Story 3 is more of a parodical example.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Averted in the Australian Gag Dub parody Hercules Returns. Even after he saves her life, Labia refuses to marry Hercules because "...with all those muscles he looks like a condom full of walnuts!" Plus thanks to his Heroic Build he's got bigger tits than she does.
  • Willow: An element of Sorsha's attraction to Madmartigan is how impressed she's shown to be with his fighting prowess.

  • Ward of Hurog comments that despite his Obfuscating Stupidity, some women at court tried to get into his pants. He speculates that, maybe, some wanted him because of his seeming lack of intellect, but the less disturbing explanation is that he's a giant of a man and the women were turned on by his strength.
  • Asche, a minor character in Gaunt's Ghosts spin-off novel Double Eagle, is notorious for picking up fellow pilots currently having their five minutes of fame and instantly dropping them on the very moment they lose their star status. Unfortunately, only one of them is wise enough to see her real intentions and reject her advances.
  • In Cold Days, Harry...attracts... several Winter fae of the female persuasion after he kills someone.
    • This trope also influences Winter's hierarchy. The court's strongest note  warrior is declared the Queens' consort, and obligated to 'serve' them. This is because the Winter Court is essentially a self-sustaining army: each successive generation must be protected from the Outsiders...and strong enough to eventually protect their own children.
  • Zulaya in Dragonseye is like this. An early hint is when we find out that her current mate, K'vin, being taller than she is appeals to her. Later, when he's irate over another rider's misbehavior, she makes it very clear how much she appreciates him taking charge, even taking command over her, despite being significantly younger.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Angel: Hanging around Angel and Doyle has ruined Cordelia's preference for preening, rich day trader types. (No comment on Wesley.)
  • In The Big Bang Theory, all of Penny's ex-boyfriends are dumb, muscular guys. Then inverted, when she falls for Leonard, they become an item, and she finds it very hard to go back to dating such idiots. It should be noted, however, that she didn't really lose the attraction towards physical strength and beauty but rather that those traits seem to be mutually exclusive with intelligence in this universe.
  • In the Louie episode "Bully," the middle-aged Louie is on a date with a middle-aged woman. It goes well until a teenager whom Louie asked to quiet down comes over and threatens to beat Louie up. Louie backs down and his date explains in a brutally honest fashion that while she understands intellectually that Louie made the sensible, adult choice, at some gut level for her he's simply not a sexual or romantic prospect anymore because he wasn't "strong." Louie makes the all-too-common mistake of attempting to shame her into being sexually attracted to him, which backfires, and the date ends awkwardly.
  • This is a major point in an episode of Noah's Arc. When Wade and Noah briefly live together for the first time, Noah sees all the beauty products Wade uses. Noah later comments with his friends about how the whole "metrosexuality" thing is a bit of turn off and prefers a strong, rugged man.
  • Friends:
    • Inverted with Monica when her boyfriend Pete trains to become the Ultimate Fighting Champion (he doesn't do a good job, but is still a lot stronger than before). Monica hates seeing him hurt, and prefers him when was sweet and geeky. They eventually break up because of it.
    • A similar case happened with her husband Chandler. When he and Ross are armwrestling, Monica says she loves his sensitivity and kindness not strength. From his end, he happily admits that she is freakishly strong and could kick his ass. This trope is also mentioned by Ross in the same episode, as he feared Mona wouldn't find him attractive if he was unable to beat Chandler in an armwrestling competition.

  • One version of "Could You Use Me" (as sung by Judy Garland in 1943 in the film version) from the musical Girl Crazy and its remake Crazy For You:
    There's a chap I know in Mexico
    Who's as strong as he can be
    Eating nails and drinking Texaco
    He is the type for me
  • The George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin song "The Man I Love" (1927):
    Some day he'll come along
    The Man I love
    And he'll be big and strong
    The man I love
  • Édith Piaf's "Mon Légionnaire", about a woman falling in love with a soldier.
  • "The Beers" by The Front Bottoms is about a guy trying to seem tougher than he is in order to appeal to a girl he likes.
    And I will remember that summer
    As the summer I was taking steroids
    Because you like a man with muscles
    And I like you

    Professional Wrestling 

  • Othello managed to attract Desdemona at least partially due to this. They met when Othello was visiting Desdemona's dad, and recounted tales of his adventures and exploits all over the world. Desdemona wasn't part of the conversation, but Othello kept catching her hanging around and eavesdropping, so he finally offered to sit down and tell her the story directly. Desdemona was completely fascinated, and fell in love with him.

    Video Games 
  • In The King of Fighters: KYO, the Chivalrous Pervert Benimaru Nikaido is seen trying to impress a girl who swears by this trope. To gain favor with him, Kyo Kusanagi must allow himself to lose a match with Benimaru in front of her.
  • In one version of Karate Champ, the matches are preceeded by the player character and his rival as love rivals over a cute girl. If the PC wins, she calls him "my hero!".
  • In Tales of Vesperia Nan of the Hunting Blades guild outright states that she prefers strong men and cannot marry someone weak, and for that reason is going to face off against Karol in the final match of his version of the 100-Man Melee. Karol, who is still prepubescent, Oblivious to Love, and not the sharpest knife in the drawer on top of all that, is confused then as to why Nan would challenge him. Trigger Tsundere reaction from Nan.
  • Twice in Octopath Traveler:
    • A side quest involves a woman named Mathilda being pursued by a Dogged Nice Guy named Tony, and she refuses to want anything to do with him until he can prove his worth to her. If you have Olberic Challenge Tony to a duel (which will surprisingly end in Tony's favor unless you've done a lot of Level Grinding beforehand, or can regularly break his guard before he can use Exploit Weakness on you), then Mathilda will be so moved by Tony's courage that she accepts his proposal.
    • In party banter, Primrose asks H'aanit what she looks for in a man. After a bit of sputtering, H'aanit says she'd want a strong man — one stronger than her. Primrose mutters that will be difficult to find.
  • Galaxy Angel: Forte Stollen is a non-physical variant of the trope, since she makes it clear that her ideal man is someone of strong convictions whom she can trust to watch her back in battle. On her route, she works hard to shape Tact up into that image, and by the third game, she's pretty delighted when he forcefully carries her to the infirmary when she's not heeding his advice to take things easy and rest.


    Western Animation 
  • In the Daffy Duck short "Muscle Tussle," Daffy's girlfriend is swept off her feet by a muscular beach hunk. Daffy is then tricked by a con man into believing he can lift 500 pounds after buying his serum. After a challenging the rival to a contest of strength, Daffy wins by pure fluke and his girlfriend instantly likes him again.
  • In Harley Quinn (2019), Mr. Freeze's wife Nora hooks up with the built Maxie Zeus almost immediately after his death.
  • A central trope throughout all Popeye cartoons, with Popeye and Bluto trying to perform greater feats of strength to impress Olive Oyl.
  • In Spider-Man: The Animated Series, a 1990s adaption of the Marvel comic series, this is partly the reason why Mary Jane ends her engagement to Harry Osborn, her "rebound guy" after breaking up with Peter Parker. In the "Ultimate Slayer" episode, when she and Harry are kidnapped and imprisoned in a cell with guards outside, Harry acts all meek and afraid, rather than being confident and brave for himself and his fiance. Mary Jane eventually gets fed up.
    MJ: We've got to get out of here!
    Harry Osborn: Did you see those guards? They're serious!
    MJ: Of course they're serious! This is the real world, Harry, not some game where your dad makes all the rules.
    Harry: Well, what do you want me to do?
    MJ: I don't know, something!
    • Later, after Spider-Man comes in and rescues them, Mary Jane breaks up with Harry and gives him back the engagement ring, later telling Spider-Man that "back there I suddenly realized that even though I was really scared and concerned for Harry, it was as if I was worried about a little brother. Don't get me wrong, I love him, but it's not the kind of love I should have for a future husband." She also says that she has realized she is in love with someone else (Peter).
  • In the Tom and Jerry episode Muscle Beach Tom (another Beach Episode example), Tom and Butch try to out-do each other with feats of strength in order to impress a female cat. After Butch defeats Tom, Tom, still determined, fills his bathing suit up with balloons to look muscular, tying an anchor around his waist to keep from floating away. Tom knocks out Butch and wins his girlfriend back, but things go horribly wrong for Tom when he crosses Jerry again, and Tom is sent floating away into the sky.