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Why firemen get more phone numbers

By Hugh Wilson
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Here's why women love a fireman, and how you can use that knowledge to your dating advantage.

Women love firemen, apparently. The fireman fantasy is alive and well among modern women, but any man can become the hero of their dreams. According to popular culture and modern legend, women love artists, athletes and astronauts. They love men who mix sensitivity and physicality. And at the top of the tree they love firemen most of all.

Why firemen? Simple, women think firemen are hunky and save you from burning buildings. To the female mind, what's not to like?

But all that's nonsense, surely, a cliche invented by cinema and television scriptwriters? Women couldn't be so simplistic in their tastes, could they? Apparently, they could. Here's why women love firemen, and how you can use that knowledge to your dating advantage.

Do women really love firemen?
You can't imagine many women fantasising about an accountant or a burger-flipper at a fast food chain, but many really do fantasise about firemen. One survey from 2007 found that 'firefighter' — despite low average salaries and daily danger — was the most prestigious occupation in the US.

Nor can you imagine women's magazines running articles entitled 10 ways to pick up an IT consultant, but Marie Claire ran one last year about firemen. There are internet sites devoted to helping women meet single firemen, and Facebook groups devoted to those fond of firefighters.

Most persuasive is a study by French psychologist Nicolas Gueguen, who asked good looking men to approach random women and ask for their phone numbers. Sometimes they were dressed as firemen, sometimes not.

When approached by a fireman, 21.7% of the women gave out their phone numbers. When approached by a 'civilian', only 8.3% did. That's a statistically significant result.

According to Gueguen, it's not just about the uniform. "Firefighters are perceived in a highly positive way and it has been found that, with girls, a firefighter is associated with sexual-fantasy and high levels of sex-appeal."

Why do women love a fireman?
So why are firemen such a hit with the ladies? It's not much of a mystery.

In a nutshell, firefighters tend to be physically fit and put themselves in great physical danger to rescue strangers. They have the win-win combination of muscles and compassion. In evolutionary terms, why wouldn't women fall for men who not only could look after them and their offspring but would do so willingly and selflessly?

So firemen have to be strong, but they also have to be gentle (when carrying that frightened baby down the ladder, for instance). "Positive traits such as altruism, self-denial or courage are connected with firefighters and such personal characteristics are highly attractive for women," states Gueguen.

So the rest of us have no chance, right?
All that expectation could leave an ordinary man feeling a little deflated. After all, we can't all be firemen, and our day jobs aren't likely to have the same effect. Even other uniformed jobs — like policeman or traffic warden — attract (let's say) more mixed reactions.

The key is to remember that though women have a fireman fantasy, they don't necessarily want a fireman. What they're attracted to are the traits that — rightly or wrongly — most people think firefighters represent.

In other words, though the fantasy fireman is certainly an enticing package, it's one any of us can replicate.

For starters, firefighters are strong, but that doesn't mean you should spend the next six months pumping iron. Being physically fit is good, but firemen are also mentally tough. In a nutshell, they're decisive. They know that dawdling is dangerous. Being decisive in any situation shows her that, in a crisis — financial, physical, emotional — you'll know what to do.

You don't want to mimic firefighters by putting yourself in physical danger, but you can make yourself look courageous in other ways. Confront the boss at work about an issue that's damaging staff morale, or hell, ask for a pay rise. You can't deny that some of the appeal of the fireman is just down 'n' dirty physical, so do a bungee jump for charity or start mountain biking again.

Firemen also take control. If the washing machine floods the kitchen floor, get on and deal with it, without moaning or sitting around wondering which towels to use. At work, take on more responsibility and use it decisively.

Outwardly, never look like you're all at sea. Have the courage of your convictions. Whether the car has broken down on the side of the motorway or you've lost your job, deal with it coolly and calmly. After all, if you were entering a burning warehouse you'd need to think rationally and logically.

Be confident too. Don't be overawed by other men and their achievements, because you've got plenty of your own. Don't be insecure around women and don't feel the need to boast. After all, boasting is a sign of desperation. Confident men don't need to.

Firefighters help others, without a great deal of personal reward. You can seem calmly selfless by helping her out when she's panicking about an assignment or report, or giving her a lift when she's late. Do things for other people too. Show that you're generally selfless, and not just to attractive women.

Doing any of this won't give you that magical uniform and the kudos that goes with it, of course. But it will present a package that research and evolutionary biology suggest women can't get enough of. Because they're not really after the shiny hat and (sorry) big hose — they're after the characteristics they seem to represent. And those traits are easily adopted by any of us.

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