We, men, are generally pretty good when it comes to reading instructions about how to operate a car or a computer.
But based on what numerous women have told me, we’re willing to rely on guesswork or intuition when it comes to understanding what kind of attention the women in our lives need to bring out the best in her.
And for some reason, many of us are strangely resistant to ask that question to the one person who is the greatest expert on the matter—her. And it isn’t helpful when she doesn’t come out and ask for what she needs either, because she thinks that, you know, he “ought” to know.
So to help things move from what can easily turn into a self-perpetuating stuckness, this is my top-10 distillation list of what women have told me they would most want their men to do for them:
1. A woman wants to trust and respect you.
Give her plenty of reasons to feel this way. Don’t worry whether you’re rich, smart, or attractive enough. The kind of woman you’d want to stay with will love you for who you are, and for how you make her feel about herself—like she’s attractive and capable, in the same way you will love, respect, and want the best for her.
2. A Woman likes to be stroked.
Often, she’ll like it gently, sometimes strongly. To find out what she likes the most, just ask her, and change what you’re doing if it seems like you made the wrong guess.
3. A woman likes to feed or look after you in many ways, sometimes.
Just be happy for her to do that, but give her plenty of appreciation in whatever way works best for the both of you. Never expect it or take it for granted, and remember to do the other clean-up work.
4. A woman needs to talk.
Listen to her. If you need to, repeat back what you think she said to make sure you’ve heard her right. Offering sympathy is okay, but any solutions need to come much later. Try to figure out what she needs you to hear and then respond to that. And if you’re not sure, just ask her.
5. A woman gets angry with you for (what seems to you) no apparent reason.
If that happens, don’t get defensive. Ask for more information. It may be just what she needs to let off steam. Never mind if you think it’s fair or right, just take it in. Then, ask to discuss it and offer your take on it. She’ll need to feel heard by you first before listening to anything you have to say.
6. A woman hears what she expects to hear from you instead of what you actually said.
Maybe you haven’t said it clearly enough, but there’s no point arguing. Instead, tell her again, or even better, show her what you really mean and make sure you say what she needs to hear from you.
7. A woman doesn’t like to be left on her own for too long, emotionally or physically.
Leave for some solo time if you need to but reassure her that you’ll miss her and have a timetable for your return. This should guarantee you a warm welcome back home. She’ll need her own space sometimes, too. Perhaps not as often as you do, so be sure to give her her space when she needs her time away.
8. A woman is able and can think of several things at a time.
The truth is, she’s probably more clever than you in some ways. But because many women grew up hearing so much negativity about themselves, they probably don’t believe that they are. We all have our strengths, so be sure to see and appreciate hers. And always be glad she’s happy to spend her time with you.
9. “I don’t know” is the right answer to the question “Does my bum look big?”
You could always say something like, “I don’t know what you’d call ‘big,’ but it looks lovely to me!” And this may be an opportunity to practically demonstrate to her just how lovely it looks to you.
10. A woman may criticise her former partner(s) to you.
It is best to either keep quiet or show concern. Under no circumstances, especially if she’s had children with him, should you agree that her ex was, indeed, a total arse. That may cause her to suddenly remember that maybe, he wasn’t so bad after all.
And always remember this: for most women, growing up in a male-dominated world will have been a pain in the neck. She may sometimes feel fed up with you if you’re inadvertently acting in a way that reminds her of the painful experiences she’s had to endure. It’s understandable, so don’t take it personally and get defensive. Instead, ask her to explain how she’s feeling and show her that you’re committed to doing what you can to create a safe and equal world for everyone.
Always follow that up with actions that will help her to trust that you are really one of the good guys.
Like all of us, women need reassurance that they are loved and wanted for who they are, not just for whether they meet your needs or fantasies (although a bit of that can be good too, and vice versa).
To be able to give you her best, your woman needs to feel safe to be all parts of herself with you. So remind her regularly that you love all of who she is and are always interested to find out more about her.