Consider this the ultimate relationship cheat sheet. You're welcome.
Besides the meaning of life and the ingredients of hot dogs, many a man has questioned "what exactly do women want?" We're not playing coy here; we know we're complex creatures. And, true, we operate on a different wavelength than men — especially when it comes to relationships.
The best example of our gender difference comes from an article we read last year about why men cheat. The most compelling testimony was from a transgender man who'd undergone hormone therapy during his transition. Thanks to testosterone, the man noticed less of an emotional attachment to sex and more of a physical urge to engage, regardless of consequences. Fascinating.
So, we're different. But, woman aren't exactly the great mystery that men often make us out to be. The proof? We polled women we know and compiled a list of 10 simple things women want in a relationship. Note: you won't find diamond rings or other fancy things anywhere on this list. While many women really do want luxury goods from men, when you break it down they are just physical representations of some of the points on this list. We promise.
1. Respect. Show us through your actions that you respect our opinions, careers, interests, friends, bodies and minds. You don't have to agree with all that we say or do, but try to honor our opinions as valuable contributions. Follow the golden rule and treat us as you would like to be treated: Be honest, fair, kind, and considerate.
2. Sex. Yes, we love sex. But, remember that there are four bases to cover in the bedroom, not just one. Try stopping at each base instead of being so focused on the home run—believe us, we'll thank you for it! Likewise, remember small physical touches like massages. One can never, ever, have too many shoulder rubs. And scratching our heads is pretty great, too.
3. Romance. It's another night on the couch with take-out and TiVo? Just because we're staying in doesn't mean the evening can't be romantic. Light a few candles and see where the night leads. Treat us like your girlfriend, even after we become your wife. Date nights, making out in the car, kissing like when we first started dating—all of the things that made us fall in love with you don't have to stop just because now there are bills to pay, a house to be cleaned, and kids that need to get bathed. Bring home flowers for no reason. We're not talking $100 bouquets of roses here. Even the $10 bouquets from the supermarket are enough to make us smile.
4. Time. We understand relationships can't be all wine and roses; simply making the time to be with us and treating us like your top priority says "love" more than all the fancy gifts and lovely letters ever could. This includes helping around the house. The realities of a 21st-century relationship are that both partners probably work. If you happen to get home before we do, why not take vacuum the living room or throw in a load of laundry? If you take the garbage out without being asked, chances are you'll be getting a big ole smooch when you come back.
5. Dinner. Of the homemade variety. You may not be good at cooking and you may not know how to boil water. But greeting us at the door after a long day with fish sticks (or whatever you can wrestle up) makes us swoon, because it shows that you've been thinking about us and our hectic day.
6. Communication. Women are vocal creatures. We know you love us, but it's nice to hear you say it, too. We can also be insecure. We wish we weren't, but the reality is that we often notice our wobbly thighs and forget about our gorgeous eyes. So let us know when you think we're hot. Tell us we're beautiful. It helps us feel good. Plus, when we feel sexy we're more likely to act sexy. Words of appreciation aren't half-bad either. Tell us you love the lasagna we made. Thank us for driving the kids to school. Notice that we cleaned the bathtub. It doesn't have to be over the top, just let us know that you see the effort we put in, and you're grateful.
7. Consistency. This doesn't mean be boring and predictable. It means that we know you will (usually, no one is perfect!) give us the love and support we need. Knowing that you're coming at this with the same desires and energy as we are goes a long way to making us feel secure.
8. Engagement. Of the mental kind, not the "I'm getting married in the morning" kind. You don't have to like everything we like (we might be a little concerned if you do), but showing interest in our passions, be it career-related, a sport or a hobby, goes a long way. Listen when we talk to you. We're not speaking just so we can hear our own voice; we want to connect with you and this is one valuable way we do this. This also means paying attention to the little things. Whether it's the name of your best friend's husband or the fact that you hate Nicolas Cage movies, it's the little things you remember about us that's so endearing.
9. Humor and humility. These two tend to go hand in hand. This doesn't mean that you have to crack jokes or entertain us, but just being able to laugh at yourself is enough. Guys who take themselves too seriously bring everyone down.
10. Challenge. Not the kind that makes a relationship constant work, but the good kind that surprises and motivates us to do, be or achieve what we desire. Studies show that partners who prod each other to meet goals—in other words, don't support lazy or bad habits—are ultimately happier than those who don't hold each other accountable.