October 3, 2013

What Women Want from Men. (It’s Simpler than We Think.)

Relephant: What Women Really Want.

My guy friends and I get in arguments about “what women want,” all the time.

Several of them have stated that women’s expectations are too high. According to them, women want this prince charming type of man who doesn’t actually exist—someone with the charismatic sensitivities and good looks of a Ryan Gosling type mixed with a protecting sort of super-asshole like a Robert Downey Jr. dude.

And okay, if one peruses online dating sites, it could be pretty easy to get that impression, since thousands of women’s profiles state what they’re “not” looking for, to the point where they could have written a book on the subject.

Perhaps they have such a long list of dislikes because it’s hard for them to find a partner who even begins to remotely fulfill them.

The truth of the matter is that expectations are not too high, they are just misunderstood. Besides the obvious request that a partner be good-looking, well-endowed and rich, those qualities aren’t nearly as important as these three.

1. Thoughtfulness.

One of my close friends went out with a guy who drove off without her, leaving her stranded at 2:00 in the morning in the middle of the city because he “couldn’t find anywhere to park.” This older man on a bicycle started circling around her, cat calling, and she had to hide in the corridor of an apartment building until a cab came to pick her up. Needless to say, he didn’t win a prize for date of the year.

Yeah, so don’t be that guy. Be the opposite of that guy.

Everyone wants to feel that they are special, and this is particularly important when it comes to romantic relationships. Pay attention to detail. For example, if you went out the night before, send a text that reveals something specific about the evening. “I really liked our discussion on the poetics of Tom Robbins’ sentence structure.” Or “You looked really cute in that green shirt.” There is no need to text all day, in fact that’s kind of repulsive and reveals a sort of desperation.

But show you care; prove that there is excitement about the possibilities of continuing adventures together.

Other ways to be thoughtful is to show generosity and respect to everyone encountered. For example, tipping a server well is not so much an indication of wealth but proof of compassion; it shows that one cares about the livelihood of others. In a woman’s mind that correlates with lack of selfishness; selfishness is one of the biggest culprits in the ending (or lack of beginning) of many relationships.

2. Stimulation of the mind, body and spirit.

The thought of going home to Jake Gyllenhaal wearing just an apron, pulling a fresh baked pie out of the oven is probably my biggest fantasy, but say after he put the pie on the kitchen table he just looked up at me quizzically and grunted.

Sure, I might still jump his bones, but I wouldn’t stick around for coffee or anything. And that’s the thing: women understand that looks aren’t everything, though we’d never deny that mega-attractiveness hinders prospects, we want our relationships to have substance.

I’d seriously consider giving up one month of sex to have one mind-blowing conversation. Perhaps that’s extreme because I’m sapiosexual, but no one wants to be bored to death.

Creating substance is simple—all it takes is communication. Talk, yes it’s that easy. Discuss the news, friends, family, whether or not Donna Haraway made a good point regarding our cyborgness, whether or not Jake Gyllenhaal actually knows how to bake a pie, you know, whatever people chat about these days, or whatever it is that the two of you have fun chatting about.

When you’re in bed don’t just touch us, ask us where we want to be touched and do it. Discover the finer details of our individual bodies. Get us off. Many women act like it doesn’t matter when the other person orgasms, rolls over and ends intimacy. It does. It matters.

If you want me to get technical, I’ll tell you why.

When a woman has an orgasm, she releases oxytocin, which creates an attachment hormone. It causes us to relax and actually want to be around the person more. (This could be why we’re pickier about who we sleep with too, because we don’t want to attach to some random good-looking-but-dumb fling just because our body releases a hormone after orgasm.)

Nurture our spirit. Help us to reach our full potential, even if it’s just words of encouragement. Knowing someone else truly believes in us can help give the energy necessary for success. What’s the point of being with someone if you’re not being there for them?

3. Make Decisions

If I’m with a guy and the conversation starts to feel like a sequel to that bird scene in the Jungle Book then I basically want to end our interaction immediately.

There is something to decision making; it showcases one’s sense of confidence. It’s refreshing to see someone know what they want and not apologize for it.

Also when someone is assertive it highlights a protective-esque quality, a quality that we want from anyone close to us in our lives. It’s the idea that if someone tries to harm us, whether it’s verbal abuse or a literal physical altercation, the person we are with will have our backs.

So, decision-making is linked to assertiveness and confidence, which is linked to loyalty and that is one of the basic building blocks for a healthy relationship. This does not necessarily mean that you always have to decide where to eat dinner or what to do over the weekend, but being able to do such things is an easy way to a lover’s heart.

Yeah, so, pretty simple right? It basically comes down to being a decent human being. And really, that’s not too much to expect in a partner.


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Ed: Catherine Monkman

{photos: Barbara Doduk, Bert Werk}

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