Look but don’t stare, be relaxed but energetic, and other seemingly conflicting advice has bachelors wondering if it’s all just about looks in the end.

Take Japanese society’s emphasis on politeness and avoiding conflict, add in the often vague and indirect sentence structure of the Japanese language, and the result is that communication in Japan can at times feel pretty obfuscating. A notable exception, thought, is when people in Japan are discussing their ideal romantic partner, in which case they don’t mince words.

But sometimes complete honesty can be as confusing as polished politeness. Twitter user @kb_ogp recently saw the results of a survey which asked women to list the traits that give them a good or bad first impression of a man, and was baffled by how surprisingly similar they were.

The “good first impression” characteristics are:
1. A cheerful smile
2. Speaks in an intimately friendly way
3. Fashionable and clean
4. Looks at your eyes when he talks to you, just like he should
5. Has a relaxed, calm personality

Meanwhile, the “bad first impression” traits are:
1. Has a strange grin on his face
2. Speaks to you like you’re already close acquaintances
3. Puts too much effort into his grooming
4. Stares at your eyes when he talks to you
5. Isn’t energetic

“Wow…” @kb_ogp tweeted in exasperation, and he wasn’t alone in finding it difficult to see the difference between some of those “good” and “bad” qualities. Other commenters, though, think they may have figured out what the key difference is.

“In other words, ‘Be handsome.’”
“And rich too.”
“So basically ‘Do these things, as long as you’re handsome,’ right?”
“The ‘good’ list is what it feels like when a handsome guy does those things, and the ‘bad’ list is what it feels like when an ugly guy does them.”
“I’m having a lot of trouble separating ‘looks at your eyes’ and ‘stares at your eyes.’”

Frustrating as it must be for those looking for a direct path to being popular with the ladies, you really can’t deny that the “good” list does sound pretty attractive, and the “bad” one definitely doesn’t. As is often the case with interpersonal relationships, balance is key, but the tricky part is that each individual places the tightrope they want a romantic partner to walk in a different place on the scale between the good and bad traits listed above.

So in the end, when looking for love there aren’t any easy answers (though there are plenty of suggestions), and the bachelors befuddled by the list in @kb_ogp7s tweet are just going to have to keep searching until they find someone whose preference sliders match up with their characteristics. At least in the meantime they can take solace in knowing there are a lot of other guys out there who share their pain/confusion.

Source: Hachima Kiko
Top image: Pakutaso
Insert images: Pakutaso

Casey has been described as having no sense of moderation, but you can follow him on Twitter anyway.