Simple creatures, aren’t we?
It seems to be a valid question, doesn’t it? What is it that men really want in relationships? I think this query often misses the mark, though.
That’s what we’ll talk about here — not the things that men want in relationships, but what they really need that makes them feel truly loved.
The need being filled: Safety and security.
Some of you will recoil at the thought of this, wondering: Are men’s egos so fragile that they always need to be reassured?
Well, sort of yes. And, sort of no.
Men are conditioned from a young age to be the pursuers in relationships. It’s ingrained in both our society and our biology. We naturally take on the role of pursuer, but the unspoken consequence over time is that it makes us feel like we always need to be proving ourselves.
Yes, men should be earning your love and trust consistently — it’s always important to be putting in effort, and not to get complacent.
However, feeling like we could lose you at any moment is an uncomfortable and stressful place to be.
Helping him to feel reassured that you are committed to him for the long haul will give him permission to breathe and to know that you’re just as “in this” as he is.
The need being filled: Connection.
I’m getting this out of the way early on because you all knew it was coming. But — as I mentioned before, there is a need behind every want.
I don’t believe that the need for sex is as “surface level” as many make it out to be. Yep, it feels good, but it’s so much more than that.
Physical intimacy makes us feel connected to you. It helps us to feel desired, and wanted, and attractive — things that our society usually tells us that women want. The truth is that men need to feel these things in order to feel secure in our relationships (and ourselves), too.
Physical intimacy is one of the primary ways that these feelings are reinforced to us. If that begins to wane in the relationship, we’ll start to wonder whether or not you’re still attracted to us, or still love us, or still want to be with us.
The need being filled: Getting your approval.
Some men’s egos are going to argue against needing a woman’s approval, but I’d suggest that we are always, subconsciously, looking for approval from the woman we love. You might say you don’t need it, but let me know how you feel if you’re not getting it.
We want (whops, need) you to approve of the way we look, our accomplishments, or strength, our abilities…
When you compliment us, it helps us to feel secure in that area, even if we are already fully confident in it ourselves.
Imagine if the man in your life went days, or weeks, or months without complimenting you — would you start to wonder about his level of adoration towards you? The same applies in kind.
The need being filled: Recharging.
This might sound confusing, but needing to be alone, and needing time away from you, are two different things.
A man can simply need quiet time to think, or enjoy a movie he likes, or to read a book, or just to recharge — and it’ll have nothing to do with his feelings for you.
I don’t have a reason or explanation for why this is, that’s a a topic for a psychologist — I just know that it’s true.
If he feels too smothered or suffocated by the relationship, you’ll start to feel the tension. It may be counter-intuitive to strengthen your bond by putting space in between it — but it works.
Note: I’m not talking about days or weeks at a time here. Just an understanding that we all (men and women alike) need our individuality to remain intact, regardless of our relationship status. It helps us stay connected to ourselves and to thrive in all areas.
5: Physical affection.
The need being filled: Touch.
No, I’m not repeating myself. This point is not about sex, but physical touch like holding your hand, hugs, cuddling, resting your hand on his shoulder or chest…
The human need to be touched is real. From the moment we are born, that touch signifies love and caring, and the ways in which we feel it over time begin to evolve.
If the only physical touch in your relationship is during sex, it begins to feel transactional and cold. If, though, you also touch your partner in non-sexual ways, it sends a message of emotional connection and closeness as well.
6: Emotional support.
The need being filled: Emotional expression.
Whether we admit it or not, we all need the space to express ourselves in a relationship. This happens in many forms, depending on mood or circumstance.
At times, we need support. We could be having a “down day,” or struggling in our business, or facing a challenge with a friend or family member.
To know that our partner is always there for us (as we are for them) with a caring heart and a listening ear is what makes the sun break through the clouds. If that need is not filled in a relationship, a man can easily feel alone and isolated in the very place where he’s supposed to feel the most loved.
This will only lead to further isolation as he stops sharing his struggles, feeling as though there is no point. The divide will grow between you until you feel like strangers in the same house.
Mutual emotional support in any relationship is key to its overall health and stability.
The need being filled: Significance.
While self-worth needs to come from within, a man’s identity is inextricably linked to how respected he feels by those around him.
If he doesn’t feel respected at work, he will lose all confidence and question his own competency.
If he doesn’t feel respected in his family, he will feel isolated and alone.
If he doesn’t feel respected by his partner, he will feel inadequate and unlovable.
One could argue that you simply cannot love a person that you don’t respect. How could you? You won’t take their opinions, viewpoints, or ideas seriously, so how could you envision building a life alongside of them as a teammate?
The inverse, then, is of course true. If a man doesn’t feel respected, he will not feel loved, either.
8: Honest communication.
The need being filled: Mutual understanding.
We all know the old adages about how difficult women are to understand (even though they’re overblown and exaggerated), but that doesn’t mean that we don’t want to understand you.
The opposite is true: We need to understand you the best that we can in order to feel connected, secure, and safe in the relationship we have with you.
Any man worth his salt is going to want you to communicate with him so that he can know how you’re feeling, and why you’re feeling it. What he is doing right, and what he is doing wrong.
Conversely, he needs to communicate (the best he can) with you, as well — and for the same reasons.
To express wants, needs, desires, passions, fears, insecurities…if you can both create a space for each other to openly and honestly communicate, your level of mutual understanding will be strengthened and reinforced.
9: To feel like a priority.
The need being filled: To feel valued.
We know you have a lot going on in your life. Your career, Jimbo, the kids, obligations at home, family, endless responsibilities…
It’s easy, sometimes, to keep one’s relationship a top priority among it all, as well. They are “there” and “committed” to you, after all…we’re no longer trying to win them over, which sometimes causes our efforts to slip.
But, we mustn’t allow this to happen. Just as men should always be putting in the work, they also need to feel prioritized in return.
Part of consciously entering into a relationship is making the unspoken agreement that you will prioritize your partner.
If he always feels like he’s at the bottom of your priority list, he’ll start feeling undervalued and unwanted, and nothing good ever comes from that.
10: To share his passions with you.
The need being filled: Connection.
You might not (probably don’t) have the same exact interests as each other — though many couples do share in the same passions together.
If you don’t, though, that’s just as natural — it just requires a bit more effort to cultivate yours and his alike.
When we enjoy something and get excited about it, our joy is often multiplied when we get to share it with others. Maybe he loves racing cars, or playing guitar, or sewing giant scarves — whatever it is, your support and participation (at times) will help him feel even more connected to you, as he associates you with his personal passions.
Note: Just as he should willingly participate in your passions, it’s important that he feels you’re truly present when doing so. Not just along for the ride, or rolling your eyes, or asking when it’s going to be over. This just makes him feel like his interests are unworthy of your participation, and ruins the experience altogether.
11: To be your equal partner.
The need being filled: Having a teammate in life.
I sometimes refer to partners in relationships as teammates, and I do it for a reason.
The world’s most successful teams become that way because they empower each individual teammate to focus on their respective strengths in order to succeed. They balance each other out, forming a “puzzle” that fits together perfectly. If one teammate drops the ball (no pun intended), then the team as a whole will bear the consequences.
In life, similar principles apply. Regardless of what your goals are together, the best way to “win the championship” is to determine who is good at what, and to empower each other to focus on those strengths.
This is how the team wins the game.
12: For you to focus on YOU.
The need being filled: Attraction.
We all evolve over time, and mutual growth is key to staying connected with each other. If one partner starts outgrowing the other, there can be tension and resentment that builds.
If, though, both partners remain focused on their individual mental and physical health, then they will both be in an optimal position to thrive, both separately and together.
I have always believed that both partners in a relationship should care for themselves even for their own sake. Our mental and physical health directly influence our quality of life, and getting into a relationship is no excuse to “let ourselves go” simply because we’ve gotten someone.
We must understand that the same things which got that person’s attention are required in order to keep it. We cannot get complacent — and should not, either.
A relationship, while it is a “we” is still made up of two “me”s, both of whom must remain strong to form a solid foundation they can both be proud of.
Good men, when feeling loved, will do everything in their power to make their partner feel loved in return. He will give himself over to you to make sure that you are taken care of, valued, adored, and safe…just as you do for him in return.