What Men Really Want. ~ Richard Sanchez

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@ Say Anything (1989) screenshot

In other words, we want to get into your pants with as few obstacles as possible (kidding … sort of).

I recently happened upon Elephanteer Andrea Balt’s article, “What women really want,” and I couldn’t help but hit the über-belated reply button on her excellent pocket guide (which I’ve tattooed, backwards, on my forehead) to understanding the Rubik’s cube of Womankind.

Quid pro quo, A.B.

So, where to begin?  Let’s start with a couple faux-letters to the male species (those are always fun).

Dear would-be misogynists,

Is there a global feminist conspiracy to breed out men?  No. Women are just smarter than you, and you feel threatened by that. Think about your garden variety lover’s spat: She’s right even when she’s wrong.  And what does “wrong” even mean to you, anyway?  You’ll only realize that she was “wrong” hours (maybe even days) later – when it’s too late to retort, and you look like an old, senile, old computer, coughing up dust through your obsolete floppy drive. It happens all the time, dude. Get used to it. 

Moreover, if it weren’t for the infinitesimal pairs of balls running amok out there, Earth would be a much more peaceful and serene place.  Let’s face it.  It’s true.  Don’t take it from me; take it from someone a lot smarter than me, a.k.a., Voltaire:

“The composition of a tragedy requires testicles.”


Dear non-would-be-misogynists (a.k.a., hopeless romantics),

When haven’t you ever just jogged a little faster; or did a few more push-ups at the gym; risked “herniating” something by the free weights; or played your guitar a little louder; or danced a little more conspicuously in a nightclub; or changed into your lucky pair of jeans; or adjusted your spectacles; or strategically cleared your throat; or put on your sunglasses; or spoke in a lower, manlier voice in the presence of a lady?

When haven’t you fixed your hair in the bathroom; or fastidiously ironed your opinions; or ironed your shirt (an occurrence as rare as a supernova); or pretended to read an amusing text message on your smartphone; or tucked in your wrinkled shirt; or furtively smell-checked your breath for olfactory biohazards in the vicinity (or in anticipation) of that one special woman? 

In short: When haven’t you fanned those peacock feathers to impress the almighty her?

Look, as much as us hetero-males might like to assume sex is the end-all-be-all of all motivators, it’s so much more than that.  It’s about the game, too, right?  The game of winning and losing.  If it were solely up to the Freudian Id to concoct a list of 10 things men really want, it would look a little something like this:

  1. Let’s get naked and do it. 
  2. Let’s get naked and do it.
  3. Let’s get naked and do it.
  4. Let’s get naked and do it.
  5. Let’s get naked and do it.
  6. Let’s get naked and do it.
  7. Let’s get naked and do it.
  8. Let’s get naked and do it.
  9. Let’s get naked and do it.
  10. Let’s get naked and do it.   

Yes, the Id is the inner fratboy in all men, but let’s invite the Ego and Superego for some afternoon Earl Grey, and see what insights they might have.

@ Adventureland (2009) screenshot

Being who I am (a Highly Sensitive Person), I can only speak for the oft-unnoticed beta male on the bench: the one taking notes, daydreaming, hiding behind a stack of Herman Hesse books.

The one charily strumming those canorous nylon strings — fantasizing about that knockout make-believe hipster pixie that’s made it her mission to decode his sensitive world and thus sweep him off his Chucks.

Somebody fetch me a bucket of ice water. It’s time for a wake-up call.

I can’t speak for all men, because (like fingerprints) we’re all (up close and magnified) quite different. But, I can give this general-purpose list of do’s and don’ts a shot, right?

So, without further ado:

1. When we’ve got our minds set on a project, we don’t like to multitask. We have trouble concentrating on more than one thing at a time. It’s a limitation of the species. Don’t take it personally. I’d venture to say we’re apt at doing a very few things extremely well, and rather unskilled at everything else.

Man is a unidirectional creature. Unidirectional of mind, heart, and phallus. Now, I’m no neologist, but it’s a Y-chromosome-induced trait I like to call tunnel attention disorder.

2. Massage our egos. Despite how humble, meek and self-deprecating your beta beau may seem to you, it’s an illusion. He is not immune to the magic elixir of the ego-massage (as much he feigns otherwise). Tough love, on the other hand, is best reserved for beta-males who’ve hit rock bottom, and are wading in the bubbly sewage of their own self-loathing. At that juncture, yes, please punch that fool in the face.

3. Don’t fake orgasms. Not knowing the truth will haunt us for the rest of our lives.  If we suck in bed, we want to know.  Communicate. Salt N Peppa said it best:

“Let’s talk about sex, baby. Let’s talk about you and me. Let’s talk about all the good things and the bad things that may be.” 

Don’t get us wrong. We know that (for many women) the very act of lovemaking itself is more than fulfilling enough (particularly with someone they love). But we also know that sex is about giving as much as it is about receiving.

Now, for some guys, the SCF (she comes first) rule yields additional benefits, such as bragging rights. For these prehistoric grunts, it’s about stacking their proverbial shelves with orgasm trophies. But it’s best to first assume our intentions are pure before drawing that conclusion and asking us the oft-uttered rhetorical question from Dating Hell, “Why is it that important to you?”

4. Sex (or lack thereof) is not a weapon or motivational tool. For instance, if we get sex in exchange for taking out the trash, walking the dog, feeding the cats, scooping the gag-inducing kitty litter, cleaning the bathroom, renewing our car registration or attending a dinner party we’d otherwise never attend; then what’s to stop us from expecting it in exchange for the countless other times we’re doing something we conveniently interpret as “responsible”?

When it comes to sex, we’re as susceptible to conditioning as Pavlov’s dog. Women, you have the power. Use it wisely! (Lest it backfires in the form of a whiny, horny beau).

5. Give us the time, space and legroom to geek out, roll in the mud, or socialize with our friends (that includes our female friends, too – well, minus the roll-around-in-mud part). While doing so, please subtract the passive-aggressive recoil later.

Be honest about our social habits, too. What exactly bothers you about one or two of our friends? Do you feel this one particular female friend is a potential threat?

Don’t wait until you blow up into to a cloud of glass confetti and angry thunderbolts before expressing these concerns. Compromises should be made to keep snowballs from turning into Abominable Snowmen.

6. Don’t say what you don’t mean and secretly mean something else. That’s another snowball – in Abominable Snowman Bootcamp – training to wreak havoc on an otherwise perfect day.

7. Don’t make fun of us in front of our friends. It makes us look like pushovers. When in reality, we may only be too accommodating of the greater good (that is, the social dynamic at hand). Being a good sport is one thing, being a human punching bag is another.

8. Lingerie, battery-powered toys, and role playing high jinks are welcome additions to any budding romance or weathered relationship. I believe alpha males, beta males, geeks and everyone in between can all agree here.

Fancy terms like “sex-crazed” and “phallus-obsessed” wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for men being such a visual species. It’s as much about sight as it is about touch.

There ain’t nothing wrong with a little consensual, tête-à-tête naughtiness. Beware the Puritans!

9. Remember, the couple that showers together conserves water together (a precious resource).  Do it for the children!  The children!

10. In public, if our eyes happen to wander in the direction of another fashionista, consider it an ocular reflex action innate to the species.  It means nothing. Being in a relationship doesn’t mean we’re dead. Beta males, like women, seek validation in controversial and/or harmless ways.

We want to know we still got the “it” that first drew the impersonal “you” to us.  Or was that a one-time freak anomaly of the beta male universe?

Sometimes we feel “fat” too.  Sometimes we feel “invisible,” too.  Sometimes we feel like the Phantom of the Opera.

Whether or not the act of flirting is an acceptable means of seeking that validation (however innocent or tawdry it may be) is largely up to the couple that tangos.  As stated in item three, communicate, and set those boundaries!

@ Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010) screenshot

If all else fails, ladies, follow your intuition.

Your “empathetic accuracy” may not be as superior as one would stereotypically assume, but when you’re faced with the challenge of reading and understanding your beta beau, you live up to the task, swimmingly.

The complexity and beauty of Womankind will forever remain a mystery for men of all types, and with that, comes great power. It isn’t the kind of power we typically attribute to men in war, in construction zones, in physical feats of strength; but in mind, intuition, heart, emotional strength and resourcefulness.

Is it still a man’s world?  Was it ever?

As the late, great James Brown once put it:

“This is a man’s world […] But it wouldn’t be nothing, nothing without a woman or a girl.  He’s lost in the wilderness. He’s lost in bitterness. He’s lost, lost somewhere.” 


Edited by Andréa Balt.


Richard Sanchez is the founder, editor and dastardly mastermind behind In Harsh Light, a Washington, D.C. based, multimedia arts hub for the ruminant escapist. He holds a B.A. in English, and two minors in Psychology and Philosophy. He works in the PR software industry by day; and moonlights as musician/songwriter Panda Sanchez by night. Follow this nocturnal beast on Twitter @InHarshLight, or connect with him on Facebook.





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32 Responses to “What Men Really Want. ~ Richard Sanchez”

  1. catnipkiss says:

    Dearest representitive of "Men -who are from Mars" 🙂

    Of course you want in our pants, and of course we WANT you there! But it would be nice if you stayed a while. Wake up next to us and tell us what you dreamed. As for the rest: Ego-massage, no problem, as long as you don't start hogging the mirror, and return the compliments sometimes ok? And as for the orgasms, if we tell you how to pleasure us best, then TAKE that hint. it might involve oral 🙂 You know, the thing you LOVE when we do it to you? Best way for most women to climax. If you get good at that, buddy, you can write your own ticket! Toys and fantasies included! And I will never make fun of you in front of your friends, if you don't complain about PDA in front of them (trust me they are probably jealous!)

  2. catnipkiss says:

    …Number 6 is difficult for us (speaking directly) because we are afraid of your perception of us…. and also you really SHOULD be able to read our mind. REALLY 🙂 Also, number 10 is hard – we get jealous. 95% of us have dated or married cheaters (ok, not scientifically accurate, but it sure seems that way…) It makes it hard to trust. If we walk up when you are talking to some pretty girl, pull us in close and possessively, kiss us, and introduce us, then make an excuse to leave her soon after (unless we hit it off in "girl land", that's another story.) Does this all make us sound very complicated? I guess we are. But as you said, communication is key. Let us into that part of you that you rarely expose and you will have a woman who will treasure you and show it (yes, with sex!) oh, and take out the trash? Ok, thanks! – Alexa Maxwell (PS my next post is tentatively titled "Men are Animals" but it's all in good ways, so don't take offense!)

    • skavinger1984 says:

      Not too complicated and all … 🙂 I look forward to reading "Men are Animals" (I tend to agree with that title, however cheeky it may be hehe). Yes, I'd say number 6 is more of an issue for both genders (to be truthful) … and number 10 is definitely a challenge when the tables are reversed for men. But all in all, I'm all about making sure all parties involved know where I (or her) stand in the sea of single vs. taken fish, :).

  3. stew says:

    er.. no mention of respect? and if it needs be earned, it especially needs acknowledgement. to summarize: validation and affection
    (ps. pardon the terse, ty)

  4. Andrew says:

    #6 should be #1. Great post!

  5. Andréa Balt says:

    I loved this and you know it. But can I just break your heart here for a second and inform you that I sort of try to stay away from 100% betas lately? Maybe because all the beta beaus I've met so far have succeeded in turning me into their mother / shrink / muse or the like – none of which I can / want to be?

    Is it the overdose of repressed emotion in the beta male or perhaps the lack of peaceful-warrior social icons while growing up that makes them so emotionally complicated; part of their complication being relieved -sometimes and mostly subconsciously- by seeking validation from the self-proclaimed feminist, "mysterious" woman (who they also happen to want to get naked with)?

    Like, if instead of playing video games and watching movies (after which they write super eloquent critiques and put up on their blogs hoping that she's reading) they actually turned into the real-life version of the Warrior type they secretly hope to be?

    You know, take life by the horns, however raw, unscripted & imperfect this beautifully f*cked up life may be, just add a few balls to the cocktail, you're gonna lose them anyway, it might as well happen during a battle worth fighting.

    Not that they don't want to, it seems to me they're just afraid they can't; it'll never look like it does on screen. This being said, I'm not sure about any of it, just thinking out loud and trying to give you a hard time.

    PS. I do plead guilty of overly complicated & emotional myself and I don't know if being a girl is a good excuse (probably not). Perhaps this is why sometimes the Simple Brute feels like a break from the often exhausting & life-sucking Beta Man. Now if I could just get the perfect combination between Simple Brute & Beta Beau, I think I'll manage. Ha. Not hard at all… I think I might have met one.

    • TeeHee says:

      …you two are SO gonna do it… 😉

    • Militito says:

      Andrea, very good points in the first two paragraphs. Although would we love the beta male so much if they did in fact turn into the real-life version of the Warrior? We (men and women alike) have a (not-so-secret) desire to be someone else – someone different, someone better, someone else. But ultimiately, it is the "real" person that we fall for. Ditto on the comment above – patience is the key to getting to know the real person, and his secret super hero alter ego.

  6. Kendra says:

    Excellent article and stunning head shot! The only thing, which would have made it better is a single “that’s what she said” reference. Very. Good. Stuff.

    • skavinger1984 says:

      Damn, I wish you were there to consult me on that while I was writing it. I did, however (and coincidentally), quote Michael Scott on the tagline of my blog.

  7. […] selfless, ghost transparency. Yo lover, what do you want (or what do you not)? Please figure it out by yourself, don’t look at me, I don’t know your […]

  8. Omiya says:

    What a great article, what an amazing writer. Love it!!

  9. Omiya says:

    Oh yeah. I am a woman. I am in a 3 yr relationship with a beta man. But he also has a healthy dose of the Warrior in him. A self-realized man? Maybe. I am pretty lucky 🙂

    I have discovered, through experience and some heartache, most of the 11 points above in my man's mind, heart and soul. But I have also been cheated on in a past relationship, it was one of the most painful experiences in my life.

    So if my man looks at another woman or remarks that a woman is beautiful, most of the time I am OK with it because I trust him unconditionally and he continually seeks to make sure I am feeling safe and protected and loved. An empathetic man. Also a fairly social and friendly man with all whom he knows. But if he flirts with another woman (which I have not seen him do in our 3 years together), my heart will be sad and I have night terrors. Hopefully I will talk to him about it soon wtihout approaching it sideways, I will find out that he did not realize the effect of his actions on my heart and he will feel bad and will apologize. I will tell him that I know that was not his intention but that it was just very scary. And I will feel bad for questioning his behavior and making him sad.

    This is part of the process.

    I am very lucky.

    • skavinger1984 says:

      You are quite the lucky lady indeed, more so than Lady Luck herself! Yes, I think in that sense, communication is key. I too have been cheated on in the past, and it is a devastating, albeit eye-opening, experience. So I'm especially empathetic of the scary vibes attached to extra-relationship flirting. Certainly depends on the couple. I figure, why play with fire when you've got a good thing burning? And in Relationship Years, 3 years is nothing to sniff at. I wish the continued best for you and your beta man :).

  10. […] Discuss your expectations. Especially your expectations regarding the future of the relationship. Expectations have the potential to ruin any relationship if they are not considered thoughtfully and kept in check at times. […]

  11. […] Is it the voice then? The beard? The testosterone levels? The organ*? Or are all men, real men just because they’re men? (Thinking out loud here, don’t judge me.) *Musical instrument […]

  12. […] they’re from a different planet. Heck, maybe you are, and you don’t know it. Maybe men really are from Mars and women from Venus. Maybe it’s simply a case of the blues. Or, perhaps, […]

  13. […] heart might go all aflutter because he’s on his best behavior, trying to get into her pants, cooking dinners and making mixed tapes. They fuck, they wed and before you know it little Mikey […]

  14. Chandra says:

    BRAVO! Superb article! May I just say one thing…..Any woman who says sex is just as good without an orgasm has never had one. Just FYI. Beautifully done, thanks for writing!

  15. Iona Eubanks says:

    #8 is just plain depressing. So tired of being shamed into artifice with the Puritan thing. I don't have to play into anyone's bs. Seriously turned on people don't need that carnival shit. Intimacy is what's hot.

  16. Lore_gris says:

    Hm. This article rubbed me the wrong way. Mostly, because, yes, I don't think you speak for all men – you actually sound like a candidate for an avoidant attachment style person who has dated many anxious attachment style people – where communication tends to get mixed up. Many people who suffer from these insecure attachment styles have issues relating and communicating. The anxious person is too nervous of the reaction of the avoidant person to bring up issues, and thus, they snowball. There can be jealousy, blow-ups (called protest behavior academically speaking) Look up this phenomena and it will likely help you in your relationships.
    Also, I've dated men that I have given, and given and given some more, to. Stroked their egos, gave them their space, listened to their problems/talked out their next steps (a role I like to call "Girlfriend Guidance Counselor"), kept mum on friendships that made me uncomfortable, played out sexual fantasies for – but what did I get in return? Some gave me orgasms and some did not. But none really knew what to give me in return to make me feel secure with them or like we were building a true and just partnership together. I feel like they never really even questioned "What would make her feel good?" Too caught up in their own mind and needs. I think this article is just another example of how easy and comfortable men are in asking for their needs to be met, and how uncomfortable women are with communicating their needs and actually getting them met and not being considered "unreasonable".
    And I agree with the young lady – calling out women who don't want to try certain sex toys as "puritans" isn't fair. Some people like some things, and some people don't and that's okay. No name-calling or guilt-tripping needed.
    And this great power of females? What the sexual power? Power over men? That's only power afforded by fitting into classical beauty standards, maybe similar to the hipster-pixie you fantasize about. And what about for the rest of us normal women? Are we just left out of the power plays?
    Kinda feels like you may have never taken a Women's Lib class….not what I expected from Elephant Journal – sigh.

  17. christeljoy8 says:

    I really, really enjoyed this. Thank you for sharing your insights and your-self. <3

  18. Wolf Gibbon says:

    I am pretty sure he isn't trying to speak for all men. That would be impossible and ridiculous to even attempt.

    You write –
    "Some gave me orgasms and some did not. But none really knew what to give me in return to make me feel secure with them or like we were building a true and just partnership together"

    And you also state that it's the men in your life who have had issues "relating and communicating".

    Sounds to me as though you're not so hot at communicating either.

  19. youngloveorlack says:

    Ohhh alright, if it is for the children.

  20. Bett says:

    I found this kind of offensive, actually. Do this, don't do that . . . all rather demanding, and these are the qualities you need to find already installed in someone, not convince someone to embody. Some of your "does 'n' don'ts" are really more basic courtesy that all people of either gender should strive to model, and the rest range from borderline to over-the-top ridiculous. Asking women to stroke your "male" ego? If you want a woman who does this, go find one, but I've seen more nastiness justified in the name of the "fragile male ego" than I care to enumerate. As for being ok with one's partner ogling another, that's an individual personality thing. You're the kind of gal whose ok with that, or you're not. And if you're not, I suggest that you find a man who doesn't have the need to openly undress women with his eyes every time one passes him on the street. Many men know how to avoid doing this. I could go on but these two examples will have to suffice, as I have to run.

  21. lee harper says:

    There are so many articles out there like this – I wonder – do you every ask yourself what women want? Because a lot of the things you are telling women not to do, women do them because men don't do things we would like them to. I am just curious if you have every considered the root cause for some of your "things for women to do".

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