A question that has puzzled men for centuries: What do women really want in a relationship?
Gender differences can leave men completely clueless on answering this question. In celebration of International Women’s Day, we discuss how to find the right answers in understanding what women want in a relationship, particularly from their male partners. Every woman is a mystery of her own, and it’s important for men to familiarize themselves with it in order to keep them happy.
The complexities of women challenge even the brightest of men. Legendary astrophysicist Stephen Hawking was once asked about what confounds his genius, to which he answers, “Women. They are a complete mystery”.
This made esteemed psychologist Dr. John Gottman go through great lengths of research to write a scientifically-based approach in understanding women with the book, The Man’s Guide To Women. This book is dedicated to guiding men in understanding the emotional needs of women in a relationship.
Gottman believes that women hold the key in the development of a man’s wealth, social status, energy, motivation, happiness, confidence, and even how long they will live. At the same time, a man’s actions are variables to a woman’s happiness in a heterosexual relationship.
According to the author, there is simply one bottom line in all of this: It all depends on how a man understands a woman’s emotions and how he responds to them. There’s no right or wrong, nor a rulebook of dos and don’ts. It’s how eager a man can be when it comes to understanding her lady.
Below are some of the best tips from the book that can help you in understanding the woman in your life:
Attune to her negative emotions
Emotional security and connection are the foundation of trust. While men cannot control how to make a woman feel this with them, they can find their way through it by following Gottman’s principles of A-T-T-U-N-E:
Give her the attention she seeks. You cannot fully understand anything if you don’t focus your attention on it.
Turn towards her
Gender differences can get men and women confused about how to express love with each other. Women are fans of body language, reactions, physical touch, and eye contact.
Tolerance of her viewpoints
In every situation, there are two different viewpoints. Accept that her opposing views are equal to yours and that they matter in your relationship.
Continuously ask questions, observe her body language, show interest in what she’s saying. You don’t always have to solve her problems.
Listen and understand before you react or say something. Defensive tactics or cross-complaining won’t help.
Empathy goes a long way with women. Sometimes, female hormones are the culprit. Accept her emotions and make her feel better.
Validate her fears
Men and women react differently. Men generally show anger as their strongest emotion, while women’s knee-jerk response is usually fear. These gender differences can provide a great gap between understanding each other, or may cause conflicts in a heterosexual relationship.
Understanding these reactions by gender should work both ways, but here, we’ll be focusing on understanding women. Men should be open to the fact that women react from fear. May it be fear of being rejected by her partner, fear of not looking pretty enough, fear of being hurt, or abandoned, it all boils down to how men look at these fears and how they validate them. Once a man sees these fears and realizes how it affects her, they can learn how to minimize them and assure her that they won’t happen.
Get her to love herself more
No matter how many times women fight society to normalize their imperfections, every day, they are presented with unrealistic expectations of the way they should look, feel and think. It’s why salons, skincare, and makeup brands are raking big money no matter how tough competition is. They capitalize on every woman’s need to feel good about herself.
While you can’t control how society works, as her man, it’s important to show her how you love how she looks, smells, moves, thinks, or whatever it is you find attractive about her. Compliment her every time you have a chance. Make her feel good about her imperfections, or tell her why they don’t matter to you.
Pleasure, not pressure
Media representations and porn have engraved certain standards on a man’s mind. They show how easy having sex is for women when in reality, it’s generally the complete opposite. Sometimes, women in relationships turn down sex because of a variety of reasons. It’s a combination of both physical and mental factors, which, unlike for men, can’t be solved by popping a pill.
In addition, women mostly suffer from a lack of sexual satisfaction from their romantic partners, peer pressure, hormonal problems, and even fear. Sex should be enjoyable for both parties. To do this, Gottman suggests that you should work on being romantically involved with each other every day. Non-sexual kissing, cuddling, and showing intimacy daily can increase your familiarity with each other physically and emotionally. This makes having sex more passionate, pleasurable, and just natural.
Learn to listen and talk about conflicts
Stonewalling is a common response from men during conflicts. From a man’s point of view, it’s a way to keep a fight from escalating. Men usually respond to fights and conflicts by ignoring their female partner, giving her the silent treatment, rejecting her, or simply avoiding her physically and mentally. To a woman, this simply shows you won’t listen or don’t care about how she feels.
It’s important to know that during conflicts, a woman’s emotions are her way of proposing a connection to her man. By rejecting this, it poses a bigger threat to her anxiety, which may be the cause of much bigger problems in the future. Men should understand that conflicts can’t be avoided by not talking about them. They should know how to open and engage in necessary conversations to solve conflicts and avoid unresolved problems before they become worse.
Be her safety net
No matter how strong a woman is, fears brought by past experiences program her mind to react and feel a certain way. These reactions can be grounds for a woman’s toxic behaviors and her way of handling relationships. The good news is that a woman’s fears and anxiety levels can decrease by making her feel secure in a relationship. Making a woman feel secure isn’t always about protecting her. It has something more to do about trust and commitment.
Great relationships and marriages are built on trust and commitment. These two need constant hard work, but when done right, will keep you both happy and healthy in the relationship. To earn a woman’s trust, a man should know how and when to show his weaknesses and be vulnerable to her. Commitment, on the other hand, is giving her the security that you value her trust in you, and in return, you won’t let her down.
Courtship for a lifetime
Ideally, for couples, courtship shouldn’t end once you started dating, once she said yes to a relationship with you, or once you two are married. Courting her for a lifetime in fact benefits both of you in the relationship. Courtship at the start of the relationship provides excitement for both partners. When a man does something for the woman during courtship, a woman accepts through affirmation, increase in quality time, and sometimes intimacy– three of the loudest love languages of men.
Being consistent in courting her after marriage tells her that you still feel happy around her and that her happiness is as important to you as it was before. Giving her flowers on an unusual day, for example, is not just about giving her flowers, but the excitement and surprise that comes with it. As for men, constantly thinking about ways to court her and make her happy brings you closer to her, and keeps you invested in your relationship in the long run.
It’s true that women still remain a mystery to most men, but they are also built to be loving, beautiful creatures that make a man’s world more exciting, interesting, and fulfilling. Think about the last time a woman made you feel good about life and yourself— it’s time to thank and honor her today! This International Women’s Day, honor the women in your life and make them feel extra special– you know they deserve it.