What do women want? Now there’s a question! Should we assume it pertains to what women want from a man, what women want in bed, and what women want in a relationship?
Ladies… Are you wondering why it’s so difficult to comprehend?
Frankly, I can only imagine that the gentlemen I’ve known in my life are still posing themselves this question – or rather this set of questions – in one form or another.
And I get it.
There is no Idiot’s Guide downloadable on your Kindle, no credible formulaic answer despite your mother’s advice, and we ourselves are often a riddle – more so, when we don’t learn to articulate what’s going on in our heads.
Still, I find myself amused (and dismayed?) when I turn to The Google as a non-scientific reflection of pop cultural preoccupations. In fact, all one needs is to begin a phrase with “what women want” or “what women want in” – and observe what follows!
Is it any surprise that the majority of questions pertain to issues of relationships? Don’t both genders scratch their heads in attempting to decipher what a girlfriend, boyfriend, lover or spouse might want?
Sexiest Man Alive… The Cliff Notes
Lest we think there is no trail to lead us (or them) to water, consider this: a recent reflection on three decades of designated “sexiest men alive” as a measure of what women want – or at least, what magazine editors think we do.
Slate is happy to recap our changing views on the sexiest man alive, from Denzel Washington to Brad Pitt to Matthew McConaughey… and surely we blocked it out… Mel Gibson in 1985.
As for how our tastes (and expectations) have changed, the requirements for the ultimate in sex appeal have grown by leaps and bounds:
… The Sexiest Man Alive of this moment is reliably white, straight, mid-30s, handsome to women, relatable to men, ideally suitable for both your grandmother’s coffee table and your niece’s Tumblr, mired in no known scandals, famous enough to have starred in a blockbuster film or high-rated television show in the past year, but desperate enough to agree to subject himself to a revealing shirtless pictorial and embarrassing psycho-sexual interview in People’s pages.
Holy Heartache, Batman! Can’t I simply hunker down with my dreams of Ham(m) on Wry? Could we all just fix our gaze on George – and be jealous of Amal?
(Seriously – it’s an entertaining article. Go check it out!)
What DO Women Want?
As for deciding what women want (from a man), and not according to glossy covers or pec-alicious movie stars, where can our fine fellows turn for wisdom?
Google may lead me on a merry chase, but trying to discern what “women” want (in my opinion) is like trying to identify reasons people smile… There are physiological aspects and there are commonalities across cultures.
Happily, there are nuances that are highly individual – and we can say the same of what all of us want – from each other.
To learn what women want in a man, we have “Ask Men” of course, to steer us (or the guys) in the right direction. Well, in some direction. Ask Men provides their views on what “attractive” women want in a man, and I find their recommendations… how shall I phrase this… concerning, and also (sad to say), frequently true.
When it comes to the qualities they’re looking for in the guys who constantly approach them, looks and money don’t even make the top 10.
Surprised? Pas moi. The top 10 do include intelligence, attentiveness, and… “sexual mastery.” Also included… drum roll please… “dominance.”
Now, now. Ask Men is savvy enough to qualify the term, and suggest we’re speaking of the strength of knowing what you want and acting on it, rather than anything that makes a woman “feel intimidated or uncomfortable.”
Special Pass for Beautiful Women?
But what do we think of this?
If you act indifferent and aloof to beautiful women, if you make them think that you’re only calling because you’re bored, and act almost disinterested sexually, they’ll often do their very best to get your attention.
Is this true? Really? Do the most beautiful women seek something different from the rest of us? Is this old school nonsense about treating a woman with a measure of disdain still part of our culture, based on the belief that we want what we can’t have?
Age and Stage
Naturally, what women want – or men, for that matter – varies based on our age and stage of life.
At 22, I wanted adventure and passion. I hoped to find a partner (not necessarily long-term) with whom to enjoy both, but I was absolutely unwilling to sit on the sidelines in any state of wait – for either.
At 32, I still craved passion, but smarts smarts smarts were my personal marching orders. I had experienced my share of adventures (traveling the world for pleasure and for work), and I wanted an intellectual equal – preferably a funny one!
At 45 and newly solo, with two boys still to raise, what this woman wanted more than anything was a man with integrity. Yes, intelligence and wit, too. Sure, money is always helpful. But the integrity thing?
Non-negotiable. I had come to understand the importance of character and values as a matter of all that I had experienced. I couldn’t know the challenges that lay ahead, but I suspected there would be many – and I was right – when it comes to single parenting.
Fundamentals That We All Want
Elite Daily’s list of relationship items gets to fundamentals that I find very similar to what I hope men would want from women.
Discussed in their article are character traits and behaviors like honesty, loyalty, and yes – the predictable elements of security, which is not necessarily about salary.
I especially like this, on “understanding:”
She wants you to know her – inside and out. Why? Because only then will you love her for her… The real us – not the people others perceive us to be. We may not all need such a confirmation of our value, but we all want it.
Doesn’t that work for all of us?
What We Want in Relationships Changes
It is self-evident that experience is the best teacher, and experience will shape what suits us and what doesn’t. I doubt this differs by gender, though our interpretations of our experience surely will. Moreover, the options that are available (by geography or age or other demographic) are not the same.
What women want in bed, or from a relationship, or for that matter – in marriage – are all a matter of personal taste and circumstances, don’t you think?
The “sexual mastery” referenced by Ask Men is highly subjective. What I may enjoy will not necessarily be your cup of tea, and vice versa; your experience with the nerdy guy or the business guy or the French guy will differ from my own; my lifelong need for independence will enable some relationships to thrive and others to flounder.
But what worked for me at twenty-something would never have worked at thirty-something, and surely wouldn’t work for me now. The dynamic would have to change, reflecting how we change, and as life changes us – on our own and liking it, in bed with a partner, in a long-term relationship or marriage.
Do you know what you want in a relationship – in bed and out? What about all the other “wants” to do with personal goals, accomplishments, experiences, contributions? Do you see how your needs and desires evolve?
Mine certainly have. Then again, I will always find George Clooney to be a “classic.” And smarts, humor, integrity… a winning combination.
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