Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >
Feb 13, 2013 08:29 PM

Single Men Who Cook

How attractive do you think a man's ability (and desire) to cook a meal for himself and others is for a single woman? I dont necessarily mean he cooks a meal just for a special occasion (like to impress for valentine's day). I mean he likes to cook. It's not something forced and pretentious.

And I dont mean just BBQ or pouring soup from a can into a saucepan.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
      1. re: Ruth Lafler

        Oh, yes. It was a very pleasant surprise to discover that my new boyfriend not only cooked for himself, but his work buddies, too. It became a shared activity while we were dating. Twenty plus years later we still share the cooking and each of us has our areas of specialization.

        I'm still amazed when other are amazed that I have a husband who can cook, will cook, and cooks pretty damn well.

    1. I'm twenty-nine and single. Unless we're talking about someone as rich as Lapo Elkann, who has a private chef and a camoflage Ferrari, the inability to cook is highly correlated with poor money management skills and bad health. Not particularly attractive qualities. So yeah, the ability and desire to cook are sort of basic expectations, like wearing matching shoes and not hurting puppies.

      37 Replies
      1. re: Jetgirly

        Guess what.....I know a lot of women who cannot cook, and I still find them attractive.....and do not have any expectations from them other than to be nice.

        : 0)

        1. re: fourunder

          As a someone single and thirty - I just want to expand on how I feel about what Jetgirly said. I have dated men who's fridges were truly only full of bottled water and alcohol - and upon realizing they literally never made anything for themselves at home, that was a major turn off.

          Now guys who are 100% effective at pouring soup in a bowl, making themselves a burger, and other less than exciting ways of feeding themselves at home - not a turn off. But I'd also say that at this point, it's an expected skill set. It doesn't have to be at an amazing level, but if you're eating more than 50% in restaurants/cafes/etc. - there had better be a good reason.

          However, a guy who knows what he's doing in the kitchen and enjoys cooking - that is a very attractive quality.

          1. re: cresyd

            When I was dating, I would be a bit "really?" when I met women who literally could *not* cook. It's so...helpless. But I met plenty of women who just didn't really care to cook, or couldn't be bothered by it.

            There's a difference.

            1. re: EarlyBird

              It's definitely the helpless thing that's the turn off. If you're happy living off of frozen dinners, canned soup, and other items - fair enough. Not everyone likes cooking. But it's that point of being unable to fend for yourself where things become unattractive.

                1. re: cresyd

                  whether not knowing how to cook would make one "helpless" depends upon where you live.

                  i CAN cook, but for the last 40 years i've lived in places that had such an abundant supply of good, inexpensive, prepared foods that if, magically, my cooking abilities evaporated, i still could EASILY manage to eat well on a reasonable amount of money.

                  1. re: westsidegal

                    Honestly - without being in certain very particular situations (both geographic and financial) I'm not sure I can imagine what kinds of environments you're talking about. Perhaps if someone was living in the developing world while making a developed world salary that would play out...but that seems pretty niche.

                    But the 'helpless' descriptor would still apply in how I'd perceive the person. That an individual (in this case an eligible bachelor) would be relying on someone else for every meal. I dated a guy who had the money to eat well without ever cooking and - expense aside - it did make him appear helpless. That if he was sick, he had to reach out to family/take away/delivery services to make sure he had any food. Now I'm not saying if someone is very ill they should be soldiering on in the kitchen - but if someone has a nasty cold, the fact that they can't heat up some soup or microwave a leftover or frozen meal, that does strike me as helpless.

                    I get that in certain professions there may be long periods where cooking may not be a regular feature - but without some kind of explanation, it is a turn off. I'm currently seeing someone who based on his job currently eats most of his meals at work and the nature of his profession has never really become a proficient cook. But in his kitchen he does have odds and ends to prepare the occasional snack/meal and isn't totally reliant on going out to eat anything.

                    1. re: cresyd

                      <<I dated a guy who had the money to eat well without ever cooking and - expense aside - it did make him appear helpless>>

                      that is your perception, and you are certainly entitled to have it.

                      my perception is entirely different from yours.
                      i've lived with and dated men who can cook, and lived with and dated men who can't.
                      to me, it's simply a completely unimportant non-issue, either way.

                      different strokes.

                      1. re: westsidegal

                        My point wasn't so much about being able to cook or not - but rather not cooking at all/ever. I've dated numerous guys who just didn't care, and it's never been an issue. But guys where they have no food in their place and claim to not to even know how to make a sandwich, that doesn't do it for me.

                        And yes. Different strokes.

                        1. re: cresyd

                          I do find the inability to make a sandwich *baffling*. It's not even cooking. It's like failing basic pattern recognition, like not being able to alphabetize. If you've ever eaten a sandwich, you should know how to assemble a sandwich.

                          My husband grew up in a household where good quality food was not important, vegetables were a foreign concept, almost all meals were takeout, and everyone in the family was picky. And yet, as soon as he was out on his own, he started grocery shopping and experimenting in the kitchen. Many of his early meals were borderline inedible (he used to try to make some very thin steak in a frying pan soaked with Worstershire sauce and it would turn black and yet it was better than anything he had growing up and he was so proud). But now he makes authentic Szechuan chicken and other delicacies. He's come a long way. And yes, his efforts to learn to care for himself, even though he lacked all basic experience and training, was definitely attractive to me.

                          1. re: khh1138

                            I think there's also a difference between putting together a list of "dream man qualities" and "deal breakers".

                            As you said, making a sandwich or reheating prepared food (frozen meals, canned soup, etc.) isn't cooking so much as it is taking basic steps to prepare food for sustenance. Why this to me is more in the realm of 'deal breaker' vs 'not a dream man quality but it's ok' is that there's a willful reliance on others.

                            I think we've all had times - no matter how much we cook - of coming home after a period to "no food" in the house. But to me there's a difference of thinking "hmm, do I go to the corner store to pick up a few things and make something or get delivery" vs "I have to get delivery because I always have to get delivery".

          2. re: Jetgirly

            Same here. 30 and single. I do not want to be someone's mother until I am actually a mother. I like cooking, and wouldn't mind being the primary cook in the family, but it's a huge turn off if a guy can't at least take care of the basics when it comes to feeding himself.

            1. re: mpjmph

              This one guy I dated, by the time I realized he only had fridge for water and alcohol, I also discovered that he'd never changed a light bulb before either. Just a whole list of things that he had "other people" do for him (be it girlfriend, housekeeper, etc.). The whole idea that he was so incapable of caring for himself was really off putting.

              That being said, I could see a woman who likes the idea of a man taking care of her financially while she runs the home would have liked such a partner.

              1. re: cresyd

                As my mother always say, there is someone for everyone. May all the men in the world who are incapable of caring for themselves find women who want to care for them.

            2. re: Jetgirly

              +1 on everything that Jetgirly said, with the additional point that never cooking is also highly correlated with (a) not really caring about what you put in your mouth, or (b) reliance on pre-cooked/processed food for most of your meals. Both of those would be huge turn-offs for me.

              I don't mind cooking 90% of the time, but I do want the person to appreciate home cooking, and not get all his sustenance from Hot Pockets.

              1. re: Jetgirly

                I can't wrap my head around a camo Ferrari. I thought most guys who buy Ferraris WANT to be seen! Whatta ya gonna do in it, go duck hunting??

                1. re: ricepad

                  Trust me, if your Ferrari was camouflage colored you would definitely be "seen".

                  Ain't too much jungle in the streets of Beverly Hills or South Beach.

                2. re: Jetgirly

                  Err? It'd be interesting to see if you have studies to back up your claim. Most of the men in my family, including my husband and father, are not cooks by any stretch of the imagination although they can put together a sandwich. All are successful professionals, healthy and in good fiscal shape.

                  1. re: Roland Parker

                    I do think that after many years of cohabitation, unless both partners are very enthusiastic about cooking, the cooking will generally fall to one of the partners. I met my husband when he was 19, and I like to cook. He can poach or scramble an egg, heat up soup or generally follow a recipe, but he doesn't without much prodding. However, I think that if he had been single, he would have picked up more extensive cooking skills along the way.

                    1. re: Savour

                      not necessarily:
                      my best (platonic) friend got completely through UCLA without ever having utensils, plates, cutlery, etc enter his house.

                      he's been married for years now, and now prides himself on being able to prepare an entire Thanksgiving meal from scratch.

                      in the 70's i would have bet every cent i had that this transformation would NEVER have occurred.

                      1. re: westsidegal

                        Oh, not necessarily for everyone. Having known this particular one for 15 years, though, I think he probably would have picked up SOMETHING. If only because he periodically goes on "healthy eating" kicks and he likes teaching himself things.

                        1. re: Savour

                          the "healthy eating" stuff almost forces you to learn how to cook some things.
                          even living in a "foodie heaven" city, imho, there is a dearth of affordable "healthy eating" restaurants.

                          i have a very severe restaurant addiction going these days, BUT it gets tempered by the "healthful food" commitment.

                      2. re: Savour

                        It really depends. Been married 34 years. For the first 10, my husband did almost 100% of the cooking. This was a result of his being more experienced in the kitchen since he was on his own in an apartment while I was still in dormitories and living on meal plans before we'd married. Over the next 10-15, the ratio started shifting, but he still cooked about 50-70% of the time. In the last decade, however, I've taken over the majority of the cooking, although he still does about 30%. The changes have occurred in part from shifts in our careers that have given me more time for kitchen-pursuits. Also, it's added variety to the rotation of standard dishes in our menus, since he has "his" recipes and I have mine. After many years of a farily set rotation of menus featuring "his" dishes, it's been fun for both of us to introduce a lot of new items to the rotation in recent years.

                        1. re: masha

                          like so many things in life and love, flexibility is a good quality to possess.

                    2. re: Jetgirly

                      gee JetGirly,

                      i've found the exact opposite correlation.

                      in my experience the guys who have good money-earning and money-management skills often have what others would consider to be grueling jobs and travel schedules.

                      i've not found this kind of guy being the kind who wants to spend his spare time wandering around the local farmer's market nor deal with the kitchen clean up and mess of making a good meal.

                      (the exception being guys who are somehow related to the food/entertainment business.)

                      also, when i've dated guys that cook, the expectation often seemed to be that i would be the clean-up person. (similar situation as the guys with boats).

                      not an interesting proposition for me.

                      also, none of the men in my family ever cared about the kitchen. every single man in my family was successful financially both in terms of earning money and managing money.
                      (the LAST thing my father would have wanted to spend his time doing would be learning how to source a fresh piece of fish, find a really good chef's knife, learning how to make a roux, etc. his idea of fun was going to a game, playing four-wall handball, etc.)

                      i suspect that a lot of people's attitudes/opinions about cooking come from their upbringing.
                      also, i suspect that things are changing as technology changes. for most of my life the only real way to cut a business deal on a national basis was one involving a good amount of time-consuming travel. now the demands of work are different because of new technologies.

                      1. re: westsidegal

                        WSG - I've read many of your posts downstream. Based on your comments, I feel like I must be some kind of Black Swan in the vein of Nassim Taleb.

                        I have the exact type of career that you've described. As I noted in an earlier post, after grad school, I began working in a job where 60 hour weeks were the norm and 80+ were common. I used to joke with my friends that I didn't know why I rented an apartment as i rarely stayed in it. I guess I needed a place to keep my clothes between trips. I had to sometimes ask my assistant what day it was because when you regularly work weekends, the days melt into each other and you really don't know what day it is.

                        Success in business has allowed me a lifestyle that is comfortable. I've had the pleasure of dining in some of the best restaurants in the world with my family. My son is spoiled when it comes to his food experiences and I fear that I've created something of a monster when it comes to his tastes.

                        My line of work requires me to stay up to the moment with the world's events as something that may happen on the other side of the world while I'm sleeping may come crashing in on my life from the moment I wake up. So I like to think of myself as generally well informed.

                        I try to get to the gym a few nights week and get some outside workouts on the weekends to burn off all those extra calories that come from too much food and wine.

                        The thing that gives me respite from all this is cooking. I enjoy coming home after another 11 or 12 hour day and wandering into my kitchen to see what I can come up with. It's my therapy, how I unwind at the end of a hectic day. It can be a creative exercise. All those cooking shows that have chefs come up with a meal based on disparate ingredients? Welcome to my life. I love doing it though. My wife is amazed by my ability to create a meal. Sometimes it can result in a wonderful dish, other times like last night it's a total flop. But there is a great deal of satisfaction that comes from preparing a meal that looks great and tastes fabulous that you can serve to your family. Its a wonderful thing to share and being able to sit down together at the end of the day at dinner gives everyone a chance to talk and unwind. Also an opportunity for me to drink that wine which I will then need to work off again tomorrow.

                        On your observation about technology impacting how business may get done, I think technology has made travel harder for me. Lots of things get done before hand, but it often seems a meeting is necessary to complete the deal and those meeting are brief and the travel is rushed. I live in NY. I have regularly made day trips to the west coast and London for business. I'm the dope who shows up with only a briefcase when everyone else has got their damn roller bags. Land, get in a cab, go to a meeting, have lunch, run back to the airport and get on a plane back to JFK. But at least I get back to see the family and sleep in my own bed.

                        Which brings me to my last thought. The principle thing I lack in my life is time for sleep. Can't have everything.

                        1. re: Bkeats

                          What a read! Illustrates the trade offs, the choices and just how hard it is to have it all. Thanks for the honesty.

                          1. re: Bkeats

                            boy oh boy,
                            the description of your life brings me back.
                            95% of what you described occurred to me too.
                            (the disorientation:
                            what city am i in? what day of the week is it? whom am i calling on today? what time do i have to be at the airport to fly from this city to the next? what IS the next city?
                            once, when when a snowstorm closed the chicago airport i ran into 7 of my competitors at o'hare. we were all stranded together)
                            it was how i lived during all the years i was on the "sell side."
                            can't say i had much interest in cooking then.
                            (tried it, but got disgusted after buying ingredients, not using them up, and finding them rotted or beyond their prime when i returned from the road).

                            later in my career, i was on the "buy side."
                            grueling, but less travel.
                            the salespeople traveled to see ME.
                            that was when i went crazy in the kitchen.
                            that was when my office was located practically on top of the best farmer's market in the area.
                            all the circumstances of my life at that point, drew me into the kitchen.

                            didn't get reacquainted with that until after my kid went to college.

                            1. re: Bkeats

                              Bkeats: my point is that i would not think that a man in your work situation who chose to unwind by cooking is either superior nor inferior to one who chose to unwind doing any of a host of other activities.

                            2. re: westsidegal

                              First, I don't find your experience to be reflective of mine: I know lots of "good money-earning" guys who don't have jobs that are "grueling" and don't travel, and I know lots of guys with good "money-management skills" who are not especially high-income (and don't travel for work).

                              I'm mystified why you think someone with a grueling job and travel schedule is your ideal of a partner. Surely that's a bug, not a feature.

                              My father doesn't cook -- at all. He's not interested and he's of a generation where it wasn't expected. However my sister married a man who enjoys cooking -- even though he has a high-paying job and is good at money management.

                              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                the reason i would think someone with a grueling job and travel schedule would be the best partner for me is that for many, many, years i was a road warrior.
                                i'm familiar with the lifestyle and LIKE it.

                                there will be plenty of time to "hang around" when i'm old (and i'm NOT looking forward to it!).
                                when i was heavy-duty into cooking i did it PROFESSIONALLY-- a very different thing.

                                i LIKE the mentality of people who are pedal-to-the-metal about their jobs/careers.

                                1. re: westsidegal

                                  When I read that I think, oh she doesn't really want to invest any of herself into a relationship so doesn't need a partner who will do that. *shrug* Whatever works for you, but I wouldn't generalize that to people who actually do want to spend time with their partners.

                                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                    wanting to cook doesn't necessarily equate to wanting <<to invest any of herself into a relationship>>
                                    <<doesn't need a partner who will do that>>

                                    false equivalencies
                                    perfect examples

                                  2. re: westsidegal

                                    My father was a business executive - very successful. When he got to his 50s he was traveling quite frequently. He stilled loved to cook. His barbeque chicken was the best I've ever had - as were other things he cooked. Your "analogy" is skewed.

                              2. re: Jetgirly

                                My SO has a pretty good income for someone his age (with plenty of potential for more in his chosen career field) and good money management skills (he bought his own home when he was 25) and is in good health. He just doesn't enjoy cooking, and that's perfectly fine with me. He has plenty of other hobbies that he enjoys doing. Suggesting that just because someone doesn't like or know how to cook means they're poor or unhealthy...that's just a ridiculous statement.

                                1. re: Jetgirly

                                  Jetgirly - what if the matching shoes are Hush Puppies?

                                2. Cooking ain't exactly rocket science if you keep it simple. Guys are very good at cooking with the best examples being the self taught chefs who own their own restaurants. Guys who never went to culinary school. Watching Diners Drive-Ins Dives you see these guys all the time. Maybe he watched his mother in the kitchen a bit. Maybe she gave him some tattered written down recipes. But he took off from there.

                                  Watching DDD last night I saw the owner of Prince Lebanese Restaurant cooking up a storm. He never went to culinary school

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: lastZZ

                                    I learned a lot from my Grandmother, the best being fried fish. When I was 15 I started working in a drive-inn theatre snack bar, and while the most ambitious thing we did was pizza with a frozen crust, I learned time management skills as I might have four burgers going, plus a couple of pizzas, corndogs frying, popcorn to pop, etc. all while waiting on customers. I also have a saying, if you can read, you cook, as in a cookbook.

                                  2. self-reliance is always a good quality. nobody wants to be seen as helpless or pathetic right? garage, kitchen, workshop, art studio, whatever ("pfff, just burns water and calls it soup")

                                    but I bet it is comfy as the primary cook and under the weather or working late, knowing it might be more than sandwiches with crackers and broth. (guy or gal - to take gender out of the equation)

                                    5 Replies
                                    1. re: hill food

                                      in my world, when i look at dating a man, adequate self reliance regarding food would be knowing how to pick up chinese food or a sandwich from a local restaurant.

                                      truly, if i've just put in an 18 hour day, and i want to eat dinner at home, i'd rather eat it on the couch, from a disposable plate/carton, with my feet up. maybe add a beer from the bottle to that scenario. followed by a hot shower or a bubble bath.

                                      the LAST thing i want after a long work day or after getting off a plane from a business trip, is to come home to someone who has been fussing over dinner preparation and to wine being served from good stemware.

                                      to me, the enjoyment of a terrific meal and good wine requires more attention than i'm able to give when i'm depleted or distracted by work.

                                      1. re: westsidegal

                                        wsg - and that is indeed valid. when it's been me, a nice note on the counter from the sleeping SO that there's a covered plate in the fridge is plenty. (I lived for quite a while in an area where decent t/o or delivery were not an option after a certain hour).

                                        this has veered into a different subject, but yes. after several days of 12-18 hours with jerks, I just want to watch trashy TV until I sleep and not. say. a. word. or think.

                                        1. re: hill food

                                          that's where a bottle of mediocre beer comes in. . . .

                                    2. When I was in my mid teens and my mom started working full time I had to learn to fend for myself.
                                      Ya, at first it was open a can and dump into a saucepan. Then it was add some of this and that to spruce it up. It went on to become the same dish but made from scratch. It was pretty basic stuff and not a lot of variety but slowly but surly I learned to really hone my skills. I couldn't imagine how anyone could not have at least some basic cooking skills. But those people are out there.

                                      While I've dated my share of women who can't (an even one who wouldn't) cook, I think as long as they like food, we'd be fine.

                                      One other thing. Before people are dumped on for finding a lack of cooking ability in a guy a turn off and get taken to task on it, I'd just like to say I firmly believe that things turn people on and turn them off. There's no right or wrong and sometimes no rhyme or reason. So long as you don't condemn a person for it I think it's okay. For example, I do not like tallness in a woman. Do I think less of tall women?? No, absolutely not. It's just a turn off.


                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: Davwud

                                        thanks for the response. my question was asked with generalization in mind. you state that you dont like tall women in terms of a spouse. no problem with that. but, your preference can be generalized across the population because on average it is rare to see a woman with a shorter man. height is a positively correlated quality - if it's negative, it's tall man and short woman and rarely the other way around. now, this could just be a function of the basic fact that men on average are taller than women. but, surveys show that men in general prefer shorter women and women in general prefer men equal to their height or taller. i guess my point is that you're definitely right about the heterogeneity in partner preferences - when were making our own individual choices, we shouldnt be concerned about what others do and be more concerned about what we individually desire. but, there are trends and social norms both influence and are influenced by these trends, so there is a snowball effect. i was curious as to whether, in general, women find a man's ability to cook to be an attractive quality - and, if so, how important of a quality it is relative to others.

                                        1. re: majordanby

                                          Well the point I was really trying to make is that what is a turn off, no matter how picky, shallow, whatever, is okay provided it doesn't come with some sort of superiority complex. Just because you don't find them attractive as a mate doesn't mean you should think less of them as a person.


                                        2. re: Davwud

                                          Just so TALL women don't get turnned off - Tall is definitely a preference of mine in women.... Save for that I agree with Davwud comments.... (but not his taste in women:-)