In our November Police Life column, Althea took on the topic What a Woman Wants from Her Man with the hope it would educate some of the male readers who may wonder, as well as open channels of communication between men and the women who love them (and wish they wondered a little more).
We know a lot of men opened the article and read it on their own, and we received some nice comments and email from them. Thanks. And a lot of women let us know they opened the article and passed it along to their guys in various manner; emailing it to them, having them sit down in front of the computer and read it, printing it out and leaving it somewhere they would find and read it, printing it out and stapling it to their chests as they dozed... (Just kidding about that last one! In the majority of North American jurisdictions it is unlawful to affix reading material to your significant other in any manner causing the unwanted piercing of the recipient's flesh. It also fosters a retaliatory spirit, rather than one of understanding). We got some nice comments and emails from those guys and gals, too. And again we say, Thanks!
However, men's understanding what a woman wants from her man is only half the equation so, in the interest of promoting ever greater relational happiness for our brothers and sisters in blue (or khaki, or green, or...), this month we approach from the other side and take a look at what a man wants from his woman.
A word of caution in advance: What we offer are guidelines for adaptation by individuals and couples. No two people are exactly the same, nor are any two relationships, and the finer points must fit the specific needs of the couple. A lot of literature along the lines we are presenting can be found that tends to be way too specific (Always set the table with a home-cooked meal, just like his mom used to make - golly, what woman wouldn't want that bit of advice?), slightly demeaning (It is okay if you don't have the physique of a model. You can always get a gym membership and work on those physical flaws! - that always pumps up self-esteem in the ladies!), or filled with frou-frou vagaries (Giving him spiritually transcendent lovemaking will supersede his yearning for physical touch - Ummm, okay. Right. Give that one a shot and see how it flies).
Instead, our guidelines give general rules with the understanding that more specific preferences and practices should be uncovered through by way of open and honest communication, observation, and self-discovery. So here we go...
A man wants the woman in his life to be his best friend
Seems obvious, right? Unfortunately, a lot of couples are lacking in this most crucial facet of their relationship and, without friendship as the foundation upon which everything else is built, the whole of the relationship may sit on shifting sands when adversity hits.
Love is powerful, and vitally important, but not nearly enough. If you are like me, there may be people you truly love from your past - maybe prior lovers, or friends, or mentors - but the flame of friendship has long since fizzled. You wish them well, hope they are enjoying long, healthy, happy, fulfilling lives, but really could not care less about spending more than a moment of face time with them, if that. We move on. And lust is important, too. Lust is underrated, and even a little maligned sometimes, but when you look at your partner, love and friendship aside, I hope you feel a twinge of lust for them. I once heard a speaker - a clinical psychologist and sex researcher - make an excellent point: If the average couple has sex three times per week (and that may be a bit generous), and the average sexual encounter lasts 24 minutes from inception to end (yes, there are people who actually study such things!), then the average couples' weekly lovemaking takes up just slightly more time than is needed to watch an hour-long TV drama and the first segment of the nightly news combined (including commercials).
The point is, you need to more than just love your partner. You need to more than lust after them, too. For the rest of those waking, non-working hours not spent in the sack, you had better really like each other! Liking each other is the glue the foundation on which all the subsequent points will be built.
You know what you want in a best friend. You want someone with whom you share common interest, who is fun to be around, easy to talk to, and eager to lend a hand. You want someone who is the first person you rush to in order to share laughter and pain and rage. You want someone with whom you feel a partnership in your common endeavors.
He wants the same thing.
A man wants to feel accepted by the woman in his life
This means he wants to be accepted for the man he is, trusted in the choices he makes, supported in the actions he takes, and respected for the opinions he holds. There is plenty of denigration coming at all of us from the world; from those we work with, the public we serve if we are cops, our clients and stakeholders if we are not, the kids and family, friends and neighbors, and that one guy screaming at us with extended middle finger on the highway. It is tiresome getting so much unvarnished criticism from so many sources, so acceptance at home is a welcome relief.
Please understand, this is not a demand for blind acceptance of just anything we do, or a request you never intervene when we go astray. A wise man knows he is human - and subject to human frailties and failure - and welcomes critique given with his best interest at heart.
The key is to show continuing acceptance of the man, while questioning (or even rejecting) the substance of an individual action, word, or opinion, and regardless of whether he heeds your advice or not.
Here is an important caveat: Helping us become our best selves is NOT the same as molding us into the incarnation of someone you wish we were. In other words, never challenge us in order to change us into someone we neither recognize nor like; to do so is self-serving and patronizing and will cause more harm and hurt than can imagine.
A man wants open communication from the woman in his life
Sometimes it may seem we men prefer to communicate in monosyllables, grunts, blank looks, and the occasional burst of apparently random profanity (it is never really random). And you have probably read how women have the capacity to speak and comprehend 20,000 words each day, while men can only manage 10,000 leading to serious communication issues between the sexes. Just the same, guys do want communication with their women.
Him: What's wrong??!!? What did I do?
Her: Oh, you know what you did! Think about it.
Him: But. Wha...? I really have no idea. Please... just tell me!
Is this a simplistic plot device, drawn from tired gender stereotypes, and used in countless sitcoms and comic routines? Sure, but stereotypes resonate because, deep down, they tweak group recognition of shared experience. Every one of us has wondered just how two people can live the same event and share a common language, but walk away with vastly different interpretations of what went on and what it means.
Despite shared language, men simply do not communicate relationally with the same depth of nuance and meaning as do women. The result is often confusion or hurt feelings. We (men) want to understand, and we want to say and do the right things, but may require patience and ongoing coaching in understanding female communication. This can be burdensome for the woman in the relationship but the alternative is burdensome on the relationship. Look, there is no Rosetta Stone system for this yet, so it has to fall on you!
Approach each other with patience and humor and make communicating fun.
A man wants the woman in his life to have self-confidence
Self-confidence is sexy.
Many women get stuck comparing themselves to supposed ideals of femininity, motherhood, wifehood, beauty, body, stylishness, intelligence, and achievement and are endlessly wondering how they measure up, only to knock themselves down in disappointment. Others constantly seek assurance from others that they are good enough, pretty enough, smart enough, or accomplished enough, but they never seem able to hold onto affirmations and get stuck in a tedious cycle.
Several years ago, while watching Erin Brockovich in a theatre, we overheard the following conversation behind us:
Wife: My God, Julia Roberts is just sooooo gorgeous!
Wife's friend: Uhh huh! She is. So thin, and I wish I had her teeth and mouth.
Wife: Oh, we're just saying. Julia Roberts is so beautiful!
Husband: No. Not really.
Wife’s friend: What??!? Get out! You are kidding, right?
Husband: No. She does nothing for me. A lot of guys think she is kinda... funny looking.
Wife: Shut... Up!! She is beautiful! Tall, and thin, and just look at that smile!
Husband: Oh, she IS a great actress. One of the best, even. But good looking? Nah...
Wife: Come on! She is the fantasy of every man alive!
Husband: Nope. Not mine. And good thing you don't look a thing like her or I never woulda married you! (sound of slapping) Hey, stop it; I just gave you a compliment!
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and, if he beheld you and asked you out, and then asked you out again and again, and now you are in a committed long-term relationship, then I guess you just might be his fantasy.
Appearance is just one of the comparison points some women use, but no matter what yours might be, use it for personal goal-setting purposes only, and only if realistic. Your man may be quite pleased with the woman you already are.
So carry yourself with confidence. Confidence is sexy.
A man wants the woman in his life to respect him
Men crave approval from their women; we want to know you admire us and are proud of who we are and what we do.
Althea often tells me she is proud of me, of my job, of how I do it, and to be married to me. That means more to me than any supervisory commendation or letter of appreciation from a citizen. Those come and go, but having the approval of my wife has lasting impact.
A man wants great sex from the woman in his life
I bet you had no idea I would be revealing such groundbreaking secrets! Stick with me, however, and notice I said great sex.
There is no secret move or position or trick or toy I can tell you about that transforms run-of-the-mill sex into earth-shattering sex. There may be, but there are plenty of books out there you can explore yourselves - and we encourage you to - as well as the whole information superhighway where, rumor has it, there are plenty information side streets running through vast digital information Red Light Districts. Just saying...
What I want to offer are the following points:
First, it is important to recognize that, for women, feeling loved and safe in her relationship leads to desire and sexual expression of love. For men, however, the order is reversed. Receiving sex from his woman leads to feeling loved.
Second, research has shown the sex lives of most couples, over time, tend to fall into predictable patterns of timing and behavior. Couples develop a limited repertoire and then stick with what they know, although both partners often express a wish for greater variety and experimentation.
Third, take the initiative (and risk?) to try something new, do something differently, or to break out of old patterns will probably surprise and delight your man. Be creative, be assertive, and be confident. Remember, confidence is sexy!
These are guidelines to follow; how you put them into practice is up to you, and limited only by your imagination. Have fun with your relationship, commit to taking care of each other, and always stay face-to-face and talking.