It's an age old question – one that most men spend their lives trying, unsuccessfully, to figure out. What do women want? Books and films have been made about it; men have spent fortunes in pursuit of it; reputations have been staked upon and lost in the timeless search for the answer. Even the venerable (now largely-discredited) Sigmund Freud, who claimed to have spent thirty years peering into the “feminine soul”, ultimately found himself asking, close to his death, “What does a woman want?”
That's the point of this article. I'm here today to discuss with you what women want.
If you ask a woman what she wants – or what women want in general – she'll respond with a variety of possible answers.
“What women want is a good guy to take care of them,” she may tell you.
“What women want is a confident man who makes them feel good,” she might say.
“What women want is to feel loved and free,” she could offer.
And all of those are accurate, to a certain degree; but they all only begin to scratch the surface of what women want. Women want a lot more than what those statements might imply; in fact, give a woman a man who meets every requirement she says she wants, and I guarantee you that in two to four years, she'll have grown increasingly bored and unsatisfied with him. That doesn't mean she'll stray from him; that doesn't mean she'll leave him. That doesn't even mean she'll want to. But it does mean that she'll end up not having what she wants after all – because if she did have what she wanted, she wouldn't be bored or unsatisfied... would she?
But if those things women say they want won't keep them happy forever, then what on Earth will?
To understand the answer to that question, first let's try to get an idea of how women function in and view relationships.
HOW WOMEN VIEW RELATIONSHIPS
It's probably not politically correct to say so, and telling you this isn't going to win me any points with feminists, but women in relationships are followers. They naturally fall into the follower role. What that means is that they provide the support role, and they also look to the individual in the leadership role (the man) to provide answers, guidance, decision-making, and fairness. They also rely on him to make them happy and content, since as followers relying on someone else to make the main decisions that affect their lives, their ability to have their needs met, and happiness fostered and upheld, is to a large extent dependent upon his actions.
When a woman is happy in a relationship, she tells her man he's doing a great job. When she's unhappy in a relationship, she tells him he's not making her happy. And when she strays from a man she's been seeing, she tells him it's his fault.
And, to be honest, ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, I agree with that view; she's right. When relationships fail, it's nearly always the man's fault. Relationships are a partnership – but they're an unequal partnership.
Men are responsible for their women's happiness. Men are responsible for keeping their women satisfied and content. And when men lose women, whether to boredom, anger, apathy, or other men, they usually have no one to blame but themselves. Somewhere along the line, a woman's man has failed to meet her needs, and because of that, she left.
Most Western women will not outright agree that men are leaders in relationships and women are followers. Most of them will tell you that a relationship is a partnership between equals, because Western society has tended for the past fifty years or so to view relationships this way. If you look at Western society before about 1960 or so – and if you look at any other society on this planet right now, today – the belief is completely different, however. In every other society today and throughout history, except for ours right now, men are and were viewed as the leaders in relationships, and women the followers. Women are typically protected, and have full rights under the law to own property, to separate from husbands they no longer wish to be with, and all other rights accorded to men, but from a cultural standpoint it's simply understood that it's the man who leads the relationship. Now, it might be that all other societies in the world – and our own society, pre-1960 – in fact, all of humanity since the dawn of civilization, with the exclusion of the Western world post-1960 – has absolutely no idea what it's talking about and simply doesn't understand male-female dynamics... or, it might just be that our own society has gotten a little carried away with the gender-equality issue, and forgotten that being equal does not equal being the same.
Men and women are different. And men and women play different roles in relationships, just like they play different roles pretty much everywhere else. The societies that understand these differences, accept them, and embrace them tend to have far lower divorce rates and more effective and satisfying long-term partnerships between couples.
The chief point of our discussion here on gender roles in relationships, though, is that it's a man's responsibility to give his woman what she needs. Any man who does not believe that, or decides to shirk his responsibility to his woman because he doesn't think he should have to do anything other than whatever it is he wants to do, is probably not going to hold onto his girl for all that long. Because the woman plays the role of follower, she is dependent on her man to live up to this responsibility – or else she becomes bored, resentful, discontent, or unhappy. But in order to do that, to give his woman what she wants, a man's got to have some idea of what women want in the first place.
And most men don't have a clue.
FRIENDS, LOVERS, AND PROVIDERS
After we ended our 2½ year relationship together, an ex-girlfriend of mine went on a tear, dating a bunch of men, hooking up with some very quickly for casual short term flings or one-night stands, and taking it far more slowly with others, gradually building up her relationships with them.
When discussing the differences in her behavior and trying to get her to see the disparity in how she views some men, compared to others, I asked her why she hooked up fast with several men she liked but not with other men she was just as excited about upon first meeting.
“I don't care about him,” she said regarding a man she had a brief sexual encounter with. “He didn't mean anything to me.”
“OK,” I said, “but what about that guy,” I asked her, referring to a guy she claimed to like a lot but didn't go very far with, despite his efforts. “Why didn't you sleep with him?”
“He is a very good person,” she said. “He wanted a more serious relationship than I could give him; I didn't want to hurt his feelings. Very nice; very well-behaved. He's the kind of person I would consider a relationship with.”
She gave the first guy sex because she didn't care about him and just wanted to use him for gratification. But the man she liked more – the one she'd consider a relationship with – that man she denied sex to, because she had feelings for him and wanted to keep him around for something more meaningful than a quick, insignificant fling.
This is just one conversation with one woman, but it neatly sums up the way that the vast, vast majority of women view men. Few of them will admit to it to anyone but their closest and most trusted friends; because of society's bias against sexually liberated women (even in today's politically correct environment, where we are all supposedly “equal”), a woman who admits enjoying flings, hook-ups, and casual sex is often branded a “slut” and looked down upon. Other women will attack her, claiming that they, of course, would never engage in such activities; men will be dismissive toward her, valuing her only for physical enjoyment and not as relationship material. It's in most women's interests to be very guarded about their sexuality, even in our “liberated” day and age, and it's easy to see why.
The basics of male-female mate selection still haven't changed; when it comes to relationships, men want women who are hard to get and very selective about whom they get intimate with, and women are careful to make sure men they want relationships with see them that way.
But the fact is that all but the most sexually repressed women enjoy casual sex with men who fall into the lover category, and most women have three primary categories that they fit men they want to keep in their lives into. Those categories consist of:
Friends are the men women feel contribute to their lives, but they have no romantic or sexual interest in. Women have a great knack for holding onto men who make their lives better; maybe those men help them at work, or give them rides in their cars, or buy them food or gifts, or give them good conversation. It's rare for women to intentionally lead these men on; oftentimes, men in the “friends” category are thinking that if they are nice enough to women, they'll get a relationship or physical intimacy eventually. But the women these men are spending time with usually are really, honestly viewing them as “just friends” and are oblivious to any ulterior motives of the men they slot into the “friends” category.
Lovers are the men women feel sexual and romantic attraction to, but see no long-term potential with, whether that's because they live too far apart (if one of them is on holiday when they meet, for instance), because the man in question is attached (he has a girlfriend or wife), or because he has some other strike against him (he's unemployed, not intelligent or educated enough, etc.). Because they see no long term potential in him, but feel attraction for him, women give themselves permission to engage in quick sex, seeing no need to prolong gratification since there's no reason to try and rope him into a relationship.
Providers are the men women feel attraction to, and see long-term potential with, as well. Even if a woman finds a man incredibly sexually attractive, she'll often control herself and put the brakes on if she also thinks he's a strong candidate for becoming a future boyfriend or husband. Most women know, whether through instinct or experience, that men value women more highly whom it takes them a greater amount of time and effort to become intimate with – so they make these men wait, in the hopes of achieving some level of commitment and increasing their desirability to these men as relationship material.
Women want all of these men in their lives. For almost any woman, if she could find one man who met all the requirements of a friend, a lover, and a provider, he'd be her dream guy. He'd be Mr. Right. Most women are willing to settle for less, though, and get other needs met elsewhere, or forego the satisfaction of a few needs if most of the rest are being met.
By understanding what women look for in friends, lovers, and providers, though, we can begin to close in on what women want, exactly; the qualities, traits, and attributes women select for, and how important they are. So, broken down by category, here are the traits women look for in each kind of man they include in their lives:
- Thoughtful, supportive, and considerate
- Good listeners
- Accepting and non-judgmental
- Uplifting and encouraging
- Exciting and stimulating
- Physically and romantically aggressive and affectionate
- Dominant and sexy
- Charming and witty
- Fun, different, refreshing; a break from the ordinary
Providers are a combination of the qualities of Friends and Lovers – although most of those qualities are demonstrated to a lesser degree in Providers than they are in Friends and Lovers. Providers also are:
- Stable, secure, and reliable
- High status / financially successful / resourceful
Men in pursuit of women typically adopt a strategy that accentuates the qualities of one of these categories. The men who try to get girls by becoming their friends first act like nice guys, lend them their ear, and are kind and understanding. The men who seek to get girls by becoming their lovers are charming and aggressive, and stimulate women's emotions and make an effort to sleep with them quickly. And the men who try to win women over by proving what excellent relationship material they will be prefer to wine and dine them, buy them expensive gifts, and show what dependable choices they will make.
The big secret that none of these men ever seems to realize is this: being just one of those types of guys isn't enough.
That's right – it's not enough to just be a woman's friend. Or lover. Or provider.
Women eventually get bored with the friends and providers and long for the excitement of a lover. But once they've had a lover for a while, they begin to long for the comfort of a friend, or the security and stability of a provider. There is this constant shifting of desires toward the thing they do not have – and the shifting never stops.
A wise man I respect very much once told me: “I don't believe it's possible for a woman to ever be 100% happy.” I'd agree with that – although I'd probably also include men in that statement as well. As living beings – dynamic, changing, evolving creatures – we constantly yearn to better and improve our situation, and we constantly look for the things we're missing, and the things others think we're missing. Eventually, we acclimate; we become accustomed to the good things we have and take those things for granted; and we begin to focus on and desire the things we lack.
A woman who has a man who takes her to fancy dinners and buys her nice clothes and provides her a great lifestyle, but is never around and always at work, will begin to long for a man who can give her attention, affection, and time. And a woman who has a man who gives her time and affection but is unable to promise her stability or security will eventually begin to long for a man who can.
No matter how amazing a man is, his woman will never be 100% happy. But that doesn't mean a woman can't be 99% happy. Because if we know that women aren't happy with a guy who falls into just one of those categories above, we also know something else by deduction. We know they want a guy who's more than just fitting the mold.
In other words, what women want – what they really want – is everything in all three of those lists above. Women want the traits possessed by friends, lovers, and providers. And one other thing. Once women get an amazing guy, they need to be reminded of it – they need to be shaken out of acclimation and prevented from taking their amazing man for granted.
BECOMING WHAT WOMEN WANT
Becoming what women want is no easy task. Most men target one category and establish themselves in it – they become good at making friends with women, for instance, or get good at being the sexy guy that women want to have a fling with, or become the guy who competes for women on traditional dates and romantic excursions. But for a man to really give a woman what she wants, he's got to do more than be just one of the men from those categories.
He's got to do his best to be all of them. And he's got to make sure his woman doesn't forget that he is all of them – which means her friends and family need to be reinforcing how great he is, and she needs to be at least a little aware of the risk that she may lose him if she starts taking him for granted. Which means she should ideally see women flirting with him occasionally, and they will have to fight and make up occasionally.
That probably sounds like a tall order, and it is. It's a tough pill to swallow. Most men who read this are going to say to themselves, “Not a chance. There's no way I'm going to waste my time trying to be the perfect man just to get a woman. I can get women just fine!”
But we're not talking about getting women. We're talking about keeping women. Long-term. Indefinitely. We're talking about becoming the kind of man who can keep a woman around as long as he wants her. And to become that kind of man, you need to become the kind of man that women want.
So what do women want? Women want, plainly and simply, a friend, lover, and provider all in one. One man, with all of those characteristics. Every woman's dream man. And this man must challenge her, win her friends and family over to his side, and create a “bubble” of “us vs. the world” – create a feeling that the two of them are close and inseparable and working together through thick and thin, all the while always knowing – and keeping her aware, in the back of her head – that he is able to separate, if absolutely necessary, and be perfectly fine.
To the men who say you can simply follow one path, whether that of the friend, or the lover, or the provider – you're wrong. The men who try to just be women's friends forget that women are sexual creatures who need strong, dominant men to satisfy them. The men who try just to be lovers to women forget that women eventually long for security and stability, and no matter how much excitement and passion a man offers her, eventually a woman will leave if she becomes convinced she won't get the security she needs from him. And the men who try only to be providers forget about the consideration and encouragement the men who are friends offer to women, and the adventure and primal gratification the men who are lovers do.
If a man only wants to follow one path, and is content having women who are “happy enough” for a while before moving on to new women, I suggest the path of the lover. It will provide the quickest and most satisfying short term results of any of the three paths.
If a man wants a healthy relationship over the long-term with a woman, however, he must seek to combine the three paths and offer everything offered with each. And he must always remember to include growth, change, and challenge in the relationship to keep things fresh and keep his woman engaged in it. People resist routine with all their might; and the more passionate the woman, the more passionately she will resist sameness and familiarity and seek out novelty.
So... What do women want? They want a man who has become what they want. And need.
And believe me, once you have, they will be fighting over you. Because when it comes to men who've figured out what it is that women want... well, suffice it to say there aren't a whole lot. They are the rarest of breeds, and the most desired men out there.
Women want men who know what women want. And if you've read this article... now, you're one of them.
So here's to your success – because there are lots and lots of women out there hoping and praying for that rarest of men; the man who knows what women want better than they know it themselves, and who isn't afraid to give it to them. I'm confident you can be that man; because quite honestly, when you boil it down to the absolute basics, the core fundamentals; that one certain thing that symbolizes what women want from a man more than anything else there is... what women really, truly want, is a man who tries.