Is serving in the IDF sexy? A majority of Israelis think so

55% of all Israeli OkCupid users found service in IDF combat units to be attractive.

Female Israeli soldiers on duty at the IDF observation post next to the Dead Sea, overlooking the Israeli border to Jordan. September 06, 2012. (photo credit: MOSHE SHAI/FLASH90)
Female Israeli soldiers on duty at the IDF observation post next to the Dead Sea, overlooking the Israeli border to Jordan. September 06, 2012.
(photo credit: MOSHE SHAI/FLASH90)

A majority of Israelis find service in an Israel Defense Forces combat unit to be sexually attractive, according to data on Israeli users released by online dating app OkCupid. 

The data showed 55% of all Israelis say that serving in IDF combat units was sexually attractive. Women were more likely to be attracted to IDF combat soldiers than men, with 61% finding it “desirable.” However, 52% of men also saw combat service to be a positive trait in a romantic prospect.

“Women serve in the army as well,” said Lee Tom-Dotan, an OkCupid dating expert. “The interesting part is to look at men and see how they view women in military uniform – Israeli men also prefer women in uniform. Israel is a country with mandatory military service. Because everyone has been in the army, some might think that military service wouldn’t be sexy. But that isn’t the case.”

Israel is a country under a constant security threat, Tom-Dotan explained, and the feeling of being secure and having someone watching over you is very attractive. The uniform is a symbol of safety and security, and therefore still has a great degree of appeal even if military service is common in Israeli society.

Asked about the attractiveness of a person in uniform, 41% of Israeli users responded that they liked the way they look, 31% said they didn’t find uniforms attractive, and 28% said they liked uniforms because they demonstrate authority and commitment. According to the data, 43% of Israel women and 40% of men find uniforms sexually appealing.

IDF combat soldiers identify camouflaged IEDs in al-Mugghayyir, northeast of Ramallah, 22.11.2020 (credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)IDF combat soldiers identify camouflaged IEDs in al-Mugghayyir, northeast of Ramallah, 22.11.2020 (credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)

The attraction isn’t just in how the uniform looks, but the prestige associated with different units – the more elite the unit, the greater the sex appeal.

“You’ve achieved something that most don’t, and people appreciate hard work,” Tom-Dotan said.

However, being a combat soldier is still statistically seen as more attractive than an elite noncombat position. When compared with the Unit 8200 Signal Intelligence Corps, a prestigious noncombat unit, combat was still found to be more sexually attractive to 53% of Israeli OkCupid users. Indeed, 62% of women preferred a partner who had served as a combat soldier rather than Unit 8200, as did 51% of men.

The OkCupid data did not delve into age, and attraction to military service may vary with age and demographic, said Tom-Dotan, with Israelis of military age not necessarily being attracted to other soldiers, due to the lack of novelty. Older Israelis may be less attracted to what is associated with extreme youth while demographic groups that serve less might not find service attractive.

However, Tom-Dotan noted, older Israelis likely still find military service attractive.

“People who go to reserve duty are still seen as sexy,” he said. “It’s an admirable thing to stop your life and contribute... For guys, it is a chance to relive their youth.”

For those in military service, the appeal of fellow soldiers may come from a different need.

“Like attracts like,” said Tom-Dotan.

Having a partner who is also in uniform can be a shared experience – the more people have in common, the more there is to bond over.

When it comes to different cleavages in society, the gaps in preference may not be so wide.

Tom-Dotan said that for Israelis, the army is a melting pot. People from every demographic serve in the military, and that also creates shared sex appeal for military service across the different groups in Israelis society.

The sex appeal of military service may have some broader benefits to society.

“I think one of the perks the government wants for the army is that it is sexy,” said Tom-Dotan. “It gives an additional element of prestige and reward for those who serve.”