What Men Need From Women (No, Not Sex)

November 9, 2011

I’m officially calling a truce, or at least a time out, in the Battle of the Sexes.

Today in the Comments, Valentin made a recommendation that is a variation on something a lot of men have shared here. 

Listen women: if there’s one thing you’d like it’s a man that’s romantic and passionate. In other words a confident guy that really goes for you and shows it. Here’s a shocker: we like the exact same from women.

Of course, it shouldn’t be a shocker, but it kinda is. Why wouldn’t guys like to be desired, appreciated, and courted? We ask so much of men – pursue me, risk my rejection, prove your long-term interest. In our minds, we think we can offer sex in return – the timeless exchange of sex for resources – and our job is done. 

The Last Psychiatrist in his rebuke to Lori Gottlieb’s book about settling, said:

You want something uplifting, so here you go: you can never have a good relationship with anyone when your focus is the relationship.  There’s a human being there who existed well before you got to them, and they weren’t built for you or your needs or your parents or your future dreams as an actor.  If you want to be happy with someone then your body and mind have to instinctively adapt to their happiness.  If you’re not ready for this kind of sacrifice, then you’re simply not ready.

Wait a minute, you mean this doesn’t have to be trench warfare? Why do we like someone? Is it so that we can get something, or give something? Most of the women I know who really want a relationship talk about sharing intimacy, giving it and having it be well received. They want to find a man who will let them love him. They feel certain that if a guy would give them a chance, they could prove that they’d be a wonderful girlfriend.

How come guys are not getting that message? Is it because women are not successfully communicating it?

1. In today’s SMP a woman who “really goes for you and shows it” is 9 times out of 10 a woman who will be going home with you at the end of the night. Women understand, rightly or wrongly, that aggressive communication of desire is the most important female behavior in the hookup toolkit, and therefore reserved for the promiscuous girl.

A woman’s direct confession that she thinks a man is hot is likely to get her pushed up against the back wall for some serious making out, at the very least. I believe this has led women who wish to avoid this kind of misunderstanding to become rather reticent about expressing attraction, for fear of initiating an escalation they don’t want.

2. Because women erroneously perceive that all guys would prefer a hookup to a relationship, they carefully avoid any behavior that might telegraph a tendency for them to become a Stage 5 Clinger. They play it cool to save face, and maximize their appeal.

3. Because many of the girls who get a lot of male attention are not the BFF collaborative type – in other words, they’re bitches – women believe that men want women who play hard to get. We know however, that men want women who are hard to get for everyone else, but not for them.

4. Women have not transitioned to gender equity in dating. They are loathe to relinquish a system in which the male takes all, or at least most of, the risk.

What are some of the most effective ways that you can express a romantic and passionate interest in a man?

1. Let him know that you find him sexually desirable.

Jesus Mahoney addressed this brilliantly in a recent conversation with a woman about how to communicate what she wants in a man:

Strong and intelligent are good qualities, but I think above all, men want the women they’re with to be sexually attracted to them. So, if you feel like intelligence makes a man sexually desirable, then great. Show him. If you feel like intelligence makes a man’s company simply “interesting” or something, then you can bet he is not going to feel secure in the relationship. Friendship is a great part of a relationship, but if you’re not tingling for him, then the man is going to know it and be unhappy.

…Generally women are sexually attracted to men of achievement and action…[Men] don’t want to be chosen because you feel like they’re good, decent people. Even the good, decent men don’t want that. They want you to want them because they’re sexually exciting.

Byron also shared a key insight into male psychology and sexuality:

 I was once asked what was the most important thing I looked for in a relationship & I said ‘bottomless desire’…

Many men’s deepest need is to feel desired to the extent that they feel desire for the woman they fall in love with. Because men, as a rule, feel sexual desire much more acutely than women, their experience of that need being met is very rare.

Men don’t fantasize about a handsome prince & a big wedding & a high-status steadfast provider for their children. But they do dream about a woman they will burn with in mutual desire for all eternity.

2. Provide real, nurturing affection and physical contact.

Athol Kay during his Girl Game series, wrote Touch is Love:

Most men are never routinely touched by anyone other than during handshakes, doctor visits or getting punched – playfully or otherwise. Even hugs from your mom tend to vanish at some point midway through childhood.

The other way men get physically touched is through sex. Half the reason men automatically think that getting touched by a woman is a direct line to the bedroom, is that all too often that’s the only time they get physically touched. A decent part of the reason men want sex is simply to get physically touched. 

When a girl flirting with you does that playful slapping thing on your arm or shoulder, it’s powerful, almost electric sensation for most men. Instant attention getter; for a lonely guy it’s pure Kryptonite.

So touch him. Do the arm slap thing. Rub his back a little. Cuddle. Kiss. Do whatever incidental touch you can.

3. Understand that men prize loyalty and faithfulness.

David Buss wrote about fidelity in The Evolution of Desire:

For American men, faithfulness and sexual loyalty are the most important of 67 desirability traits.

“Men worldwide want physically attractive, young, and sexually loyal wives who will remain faithful to them until death.”  

These preferences are universal across all cultures and absent in none.  

Reader Acksiom, channeling our recent lively discussions here, suggested that men seek sexual intimacy sooner rather than later as proof of devotion. This dovetails with men saying that they often feel the need to press for early sex to test a woman’s real level of attraction and interest. His comment is interesting food for thought.

What do men really want? Devotion. Therefore, if women want a man to continue to consider them as a potential mate without displaying their devotion to him through sexual intimacy, they will have to keep his interest by displaying their devotion to him through other behaviors.

In short, if you can’t keep men interested in being around you without being sexually intimate with them, the problem is not with the men.

Finally, Mike recently offered some advice to a female reader about handling a boyfriend’s potential discomfort with her sexual history. 

My advice is, if he’s not making a big deal of it, you should avoid the topic entirely.  Raising it repeatedly or reminding him may cause it to turn into a big deal, or create insecurity in him.

The best way to avoid that is to show him he is your sex god, and if he isn’t yet, guide him subtly but enthusiastically until he is.

4. Communicate that you appreciate, admire and respect him.

The Rawness wrote this in his post about how to be the perfect woman:

Even the men who appear the strongest secretly have a fragile ego. One of the biggest secrets men have is how delicate our egos are. If you publicly build up your man’s ego, whether in front of his friends, family or even total strangers, he will think you’re the most wonderful woman in the world. Yet feminism and the media has given woman some strange mental block about this, as if doing so is some admission of weakness on their part. 

Don’t expect guys to do all the work. Put yourself out there. Think about giving instead of taking. 

Girls, you’ve got four strategic moves here you can implement immediately. Calibrate the timing and intensity to suit your level of acquaintance. 

I’m not floating some hypothetical strategy here for you to strike out with. This is straight from the guys. If a guy likes you, he will respond to these efforts.